How do you practice/perform concertos and/or sonatas?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by pedro, Oct 1, 2003.

  1. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    My son has been working on several classical pieces over the past few years or so. The Bach Cello Suites, Eccles Sonata in G Minor, Scarlatti and Marcello Sonata in G major.

    The solo pieces like the Bach and Scarlatti don't have any accompaniment so practicing and performing don't require you to adjust to another musician. But the other pieces have piano accompaniment and I was wondering how some of you have approached these types of compositions?

    Do you record a live accompanist? Use midi? Something else?
  2. MIDI is a great way to do it. Put the piano part into the computer and play along.

    There are even programs that will "listen to you" as you play, and adjust to your embellishments or rubato, once you're at that stage of performing the piece.

    Live accompaniment would be great, but expensive... try dating a pianist!
  3. I use midi. I do all my practicing at school so I throw it on a cd in a few different tempii. The downside to this is that it's always dead on with the metronome so it's difficult to develop your own personal 'feel' for the piece. Obviously this is a bigger deal on some pieces than others.

    Seeing your post KPO, do you know of specific programs that adjust to your playing?
  4. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    I'm a little fuzzy about this whole 'midi' thing. Okay perhaps not 'a little fuzzy' but more like in complete darkness. ;) Could someone start at the beginning? I do know that we have 'Finale' and he uses it a lot for composing but can it also be used to accompany, and if so, could someone take us from beginning to end as to how?

  5. The "Finale" music program - like writing in a wordprocessing program, except you write notes on staves instead of letters on lines. So you just write the piano part notes into the "Finale"program.
    Then the computer, which is connected by Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) to a KEYBOARD piano, makes that keyboard play the part back to you, and you play along with it when the notes come out of the keyboard!
    Plain enough?
  6. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    [So you just write the piano part notes into the "Finale"program.

    Manually? Can it be scanned in?

    [Then the computer, which is connected by Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) to a KEYBOARD piano,

    We don't have a keyboard attached to it. Will it play it anyway?
  7. Either/Or. But the scanning programs are just as prone to error as anything else.

    Not sure. I've only used MIDI connections on other peoples' setups; don't have finale myself. You should just try it, or ask this sort of thing on the doublebasslist ("2xbasslist").
  8. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    [You should just try it, or ask this sort of thing on the doublebasslist ("2xbasslist").

    Oops, what is 'the doublebasslist ("2xbasslist")?
  9. 2xbasslist is a fantastic online emailing list. somewhere around 600 bassist from around the world read it regularly; everyone receives The List as a daily set of emails, and any List recipient can reply to any thread by email - and everyone gets that reply in "real time," without having to come to an internet site.

    To join all you do is:
    address an email to

    [email protected]

    if your email address is [email protected], you would then type in the message:

    subscribe 2xbasslist [email protected]

    Send the message
    That's it. Just be sure to KEEP the first "welcome" email that has all the instructions for using The List.
  10. If you don't have a keyboard hooked to your computer it will simply play back using your soundcards synthesized sounds. The quality could be anywhere from 1982 Casio Piano to sounding just like the real thing depending on what kind of soundcard you have.
  11. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    That's the usual way to go.
    There are also downloadable midi files which can be played and edited by programs such as Finale.
  12. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    [If you don't have a keyboard hooked to your computer it will simply play back using your soundcards synthesized sounds.

    We do have a keyboard but have never hooked it up to the computer. How and where does it get connected?

    Thanks for the link olivier.
  13. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    I started using MIDI when it first hit the commercial market. I've written and arranged innumerable tunes with MIDI and I use it daily for bass practice as well.

    In addition to being a bassist I also play drum set and studied with a Berklee guy for a couple of years on drums. Drummers have a whole different vision of drilling and separating their skills into components. It is much more like athletics. So I learned to drill and practice along with the drum machine at increasing tempi. Now as a classical player I find there is no substitute for the skill of repetitive, segmented practice I learned as a drummer.

    I got a large number of my audition axcerpts at . They have MIDI as well as MP3 files. You can select your excerpt from within the MIDI file, put in on a loop, and practice it until you drop. Hearing the sound of the orchestra along with you is very driving and you will get a lot more out of yourself than you think.

    There are many MIDI-writing programs out there, even some you can get at Best Buy for just a few bucks. Most computers have a General MIDI sound card that is adequate for practicing, so you don't need a separate keyboard. Finale is quite laborious for handling most tasks in MIDI, and it does not store tempo changes within a piece, so it will ignore any that are in your MIDI file.

    Put your scales and etudes in MIDI too. I like to practice along with rhythms and grooves. One of these days someone will write a MIDI trainer for bassists. I think it really is the future for the way we will all be studying within a few years, and it can REALLY turbocharge your practice time. Needless to say it really improves your intonation and rhythm. And, it's not easy! You'll find it's much easier to play in an ensemble with a conductor than to sync up with your computer. It adds an extra challenge and you really have to listen to the other orchestra parts to stay in time.
  14. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    My teacher turned me onto MIDI during my last lesson to help me out in my practice. It's now my favorite non-human practice buddy.

    Beats my metronome hands-down.
  15. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    forgot to answer that part of the post...get a MIDI-to-computer cable at a music store (that has a keyboard or computer-recording department), or now some Best-buy-type stores carry them. I have one that came packaged with a MIDI software program. Another came with my sound card. If your sound card does not have a serial or joystick connector, you have to get a USB cable end. The end of the cable that says "OUT" goes to the "MIDI IN" jack on the keyboard, and vice versa.

    It should start playing no problem as long as the keyboard is GM compatible. If not, you have to do a lot more tinkering with the settings. On some older keyboards the MIDI IN/OUT is not turned on by default (WHY??) and you have to go in and set it. And there's more...suffice to say if your keyboard is less than 10 years old it should be General MIDI and you'll never have to dig around in the dark recesses of those settings.
  16. dblbassmike


    Apr 14, 2002
    Detroit, MI
    Playing along with midi would give an idea of what the solo will sound like with the accompinist. But it is not a good idea if the pieces have tempo changes and it is better to practice with a real pianist because the soloist will be more lyrical and play more melodic than being locked in with a steady tempo. Leave room to breathe!

  17. christ andronis

    christ andronis

    Nov 14, 2001
    The nice thing about midi is that you can program tempo, meter and key changes anywhere in the song as well as ritards and accelerando's(sp?). MIDI is a great tool....
  18. I'd like to throw in a plug here for Douglas Mapp and his great library of midi piano accompaniments. has a great selection of quality audio and midi files and he was very quick to respond to an order.

    I'd recommend some kind of midi-capable music generator (I use Cakewalk), but I was so impressed by the quality and response time that I felt I owed him back with a post here.
  19. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    If you use a comprehensive MIDI software program (as opposed to just Windows Media Player or other player) you can write in the tempo changes. Still the machine doesn't follow you, but practicing the rubati the same way every day will make you very consistent when you hook up with a pianist.
  20. Dave Whitla

    Dave Whitla

    Apr 25, 2006
    +1 Doug Mapp

    He can also provide transposed (printed) accompaniment parts for pieces edited for solo tuning.
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