Among classical musicians and students, a distinct culture has developed. Because music students dedicate so much time and thought to their art, it only makes sense that we would dedicate many of our conversations to it as well. At UNCSA, one can find students in the music school discussing composers, compositions, rehearsals, practice sessions, and various instruments and instrument types. Outside of the community, the subject matter of these conversations may seem strange, extensive, random, and boring, but they are an indication of the extent to which music is a part of our lives in every way.
Currently, the social aspect of music comes in when there are discussions and demonstrations of musical works. For instance, in one of our recordings, UNCSA music students talk about what they think about Bruch’s 1st Violin Concerto, written in the 1860’s. When people have common interests in music, they can create and maintain stronger friendships by talking about music and playing it together, and can forge a stronger connection to the musical past. In another one of our recordings, a violinist talks with her friends about a harpist’s wonderful playing in orchestra. This shows that complimenting others’ musical skills and collaborating musically are vital in sustaining powerful relationships with many musicians.
But the most fundamental way in which musicians’ interactions are shaped is by music history. Among musicians at UNCSA, this plays a vital role in everyday conversation, though it presents itself in many different ways. One of our recordings, for example, is of a college pianist discussing J.S. Bach, a great composer of the 18th century. This is an example of someone who is very enthusiastic about and knowledgeable of music history as a subject. He clearly believes that Bach’s background in the church played an important role in his music, and that it is important to understand when interpreting his music. Another one of our recordings, however, is of a group of violinists making fun of violists (a common occurrence in the string player world). This can be explained by the fact that, historically, viola is an instrument only taken up by failed violinists. In more recent years, viola has come to be respected as a unique instrument and pursuit separate from the violin, but because of its history, these jokes prevail.
However music presents itself in conversations among UNCSA music students, it can be tied to events, customs, and cultural developments of the past. Because classical music has so much history, and because we spend so much time studying, playing, and analyzing it, we are constantly connecting the past our present lives.
This recording demonstrates how there are plenty of people at uncsa who are very passionate about music history. This pianist clearly demonstrates that his knowledge of Bachs life affects how he interprets his music. Bach is potentially the most discussed figure in musical history. Alongside Mozart and Beethoven he is one of the most influential composers of all time. Here we see this influence compounded in the mind of a college student. The students passion for Bachs work is demonstrated through the clear enthusiasm in his voice, and through the careful way he chooses his words. The way he carefully chooses his words is similar to how carefully Bach thought out his music. This is an example of how music history directly affected the way someone at UNCSA approaches their work and life. His passion for the subject is clear. This recording serves to represent the personal importance of understanding music history to some students at UNCSA.
In this sound demo, we hear two musical friends named Joshua Alley and Gabrielle Cone discussing Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor at the UNCSA Community Festival. We should observe that when she plays, pitch and volume are directly proportional to one another. The violin’s loudness increases with its frequencies, and vice versa. This phenomenon also applies to the human voice. As we speak or sing higher, our voices will tend to be louder.
In this sound sample, the sound of the violin is not one hundred percent pure and constant. Rather, we hear the violin playing very vibrantly; vibrato and expression are present throughout. We also hear points of rubato, expressive changes in the violin player’s tempo.
This sound demo was recorded in a carpeted reception hall in UNCSA’s School of Music building using sound recording software on a Nintendo 3DS. Carpet doesn’t allow the violin’s sound to reverberate as much as tiled floors. Nevertheless, the directly proportional relationship between volume and pitch, as well as the times of vibrato and rubato, serve to create a pleasantly musical ambience.
There is a social aspect to analyzing this music as well. We hear both Gabrielle and Joshua have a wholehearted conversation about what they think of it. Music can truly bring people together from all over.
This is a recording of a group of UNCSA music students (mostly violinists) making fun of the viola. This is something that happens a lot, at UNCSA and in the music world in general. Because of their similar appearances, the viola is often compared with the violin. The violin is generally viewed in a more positive light though, and has always received much more respect, attention, and repertoire. This is due, in part, to the fact that a viola’s range is lower than that of the violin, but also to the fact that violas, which would be impossible to play if they were any bigger, are actually too small for their register, creating a set of challenges that violinists don’t have to face. For these reasons, viola was viewed for much of its existence as a sort of secondary instrument to violin--one only taken up by bad violinists. Although this stigma has started to disappear, many musicians still enjoy making jokes about the viola. At UNCSA, one can hear jabs being made at the violist or viola section during ensemble rehearsals, and even in classroom and social settings. Although most people think it’s all in good fun, many violists will tell you that it does get old.