View Full Version : Concerto for Howitzer and Orchestra
02-05-2004, 09:23 AM
In some performances of the "1812 Overture" actual cannons are used during the big final movement. How is this represented in the score? I'm assuming that originally timpani or something similar was used for the effect, but did the score say "Something REALLY LOUD goes here."
Another, related question. In pieces where the timpani players may have nothing to do for a very, very long time, is their score completely blank for pages or are they following along on a complete score just waiting for their cue? If so, do they have to know how to read the score for other instruments?
I ask because I was reading an appreciation of George Plimpton recently and it mentions Leoanrd Bernstein berating him for screwing up a performance by missing his cue (Plimpton played timpani for a symphony in one of his "I'm A Complete Know-Nothing, But I'll Give It A Whirl" efforts).
02-05-2004, 10:56 AM
It's been a while since I looked at the score for 1812. As I recall, the score does call for cannons, but the part is not explicitly spelled out. Aside from the timpani and cymbal parts, most of the percussion parts are marked "ad lib."
About your second question, percussionist and low brass players are infamous for their different methods of passing time while waiting for their cues, including reading magazines while pretending to read their music. Issuing a full score to only a handful of players would be too expensive and unwieldy. Therefore, percussion parts will have dozens of measures of "compressed rests," with maybe two actual notes. This is the challenge for percussionists: they have to know the music inside and out to know exactly where their parts come in, and play them with machine-like accuracy, because the parts are so noticable.
02-05-2004, 01:56 PM
I'll check it out in the library. Unless someone beats me to it.
Large rests are represented in lots of different ways. Often, in multi-movement works (which 1812 is not), a movement with no notes for a particular instrument will just say:
Also seen, often in opera orchestra parts, is
Tacet a 4
which means, tacet until rehearsal number 4, which you should know by ear. Also:
followed by a cue that's easy to pick up. Cues might not be the most obvious musical thing happening at the time; sometimes it's an instrument near you with a less important part. In Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe 2nd suite the trumpets spend a fair amount of time looking over the third bassoon's shoulder.
Finally, sometimes you just get a lot of rests. And you have to count them. (Actually, it's almost always easier to get a score or learn a cue and mark that in yourself.)
Conductors don't usually care what you do during rests in rehearsals, so long as it's quiet and you don't do it during the concert. And if you're in a pit for an opera or musical, you can get away with pretty much anything so long as you're wearing all black.
02-05-2004, 05:20 PM
I don't know precisely how the cannons are notated in the score for the 1812 Overture, but I do know the dynamic marking.
I have the Kalmus score tucked away in a box.
I remember that is has an explicit part for "Kanon", bells and military band. The "ad libitum" refers to the bells, gongs and chimes, the Kanon part is spelled out.
I love how the how the first blasts come every 6 beats in a 4/4 rhythm.
I'll dig it out tomorrow and count the f's, there might be more than ffff
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