Episode 1 of The Counterpoint Club is titled Once Upon a Time. In this episode, we discuss creating characters in our music as we rehearse, and constructing a narrative arc across each movement of music. In the History section, Skyros Quartet cellist Willie Braun takes a deep dive into the second movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet in F major, Op. 18, No. 1, supposedly based on the story of Romeo and Juliet. Willie’s analysis uses clips of a performance recorded by the Miro Quartet, which you can buy online.
Here is a recording of the complete second movement by the Attacca Quartet. As you listen to the complete movement, think about the emotions and characters Beethoven writes into the music. Ask yourself what types of devices (phrase lengths, dynamics, colors, accents, etc.) you hear that create different emotional effects, and how those develop and change throughout the movement.
Live performance of Beethoven String Quartet No. 1 (Op. 18 No. 1) 2nd movement from by the Attacca Quartet
As educators, one of our favorite memories from the 2019 Tuned In! Summer Student Festival was seeing our student’s character ideas come alive. Each of our student ensembles at the festival created colorful and vibrant chalk drawings to represent the character and narrative arcs in their repertoire. Here are some great examples of their character maps.
Listen to Skyros Quartet violinist Sarah Pizzichemi’s Technique lesson in Episode 1 as she talks about character mapping. You can view or download the worksheet of instructions to print out and bring to rehearsal to help you create your very own character map with your musical colleagues. This is a great exercise for any music you are working on, from chamber music, to unaccompanied solo works, to concerti.
Be creative with your character maps! Here’s another example of one that was drawn directly on a musical score by Franz Schubert.
We are thrilled to have Shaunyce Omar as our first Counterpoint Club guest artist. At Tuned In!, Shaunyce’s Theater Arts classes are always so much fun and a fundamental part of our students’ growth! Each day, Shaunyce leads our students through a series of classes, taking us through a wide variety of improvised games and skits, from “90 Second Fairy Tale” to “Laser Beam” to Zip Zap Zop. Check out the video below of her in performance.
You can listen to our full interview with Shaunyce online.
From the Wedgwood Drama Studio website: Shaunyce Omar has performed on stages all around the world. She is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association and some of her credits include: Barbecue, Crowns, Black Nativity, The Wedding Band, My Heart is the Drum, The Pajama Game, Rejoice, Chicago, Hi Hat Hattie, The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Menopause The Musical – National Tour. Her TV/Film Credits include The Librarians and Last Seen In Idaho to name a few. Shaunyce’s voice can also be heard as the character Madison Grant in the State of Decay video game. She is also the recipient of a Footlight, Broadway World, and the 5th Ave Theatre’s Subscriber’s Choice Awards. In addition to stage and screen work, Shaunyce is a teaching artist and has taught in both public and private schools, arts organizations and overseas as a Master Sensei in Japan. She holds a B.A degree in Theatre from Southern University and A&M College. Follow her at Facebook.com/ShaunyceOmar
Do you have a question for the Skyros Quartet? Fill out our online form or send us an email with your question attached as a voice recording! We’d love to hear your questions about our ensemble, chamber music, or being in a string quartet! We’ll try to answer as many questions as we can during the Q and A at the end of each podcast episode.
Stay tuned for Episode 2: One Pulse to Rule Them All!