Studying the Shostakovich score

Hello everyone. I thought I’d show you a peek at the Shostakovich Chamber Symphony score. This is actually a fairly easy score to read because it’s only for string instruments.  So, normally an orchestra conductor’s score has a separate line for each woodwind, brass, string and percussion which can add up to 25 or more lines to read all at once!  In this case, there are only five lines for Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello and Bass.  I’ll share a full score of a big orchestral work with you sometime.  Shostakovich has added “down bows” in two places.  You can see them in the third measure, and the ninth and they look like upside down square U’s.  You see that there is a slur (a curvy line) that connects these two bars together, which means that he wants both of those measures to be done with the same single “down bow”, and then the third note will be an “up bow” which looks like a V (not marked here).  An up bow always has the sound of growing – starting softer and getting stronger.  It gives anticipation.  The down bow gives strength and power.  These black notes that you see have clash, violence and power.  They signify knocks at the door, Shostakovich’s fear that the authorities would take him away in the night as they did so many others.  Or, some believe that they are gun shots as he was shaken by his trip to Dresden and the aftermath of war when he wrote this work.  They have accents to emphasize this, and the orchestra will play them at the lower part of the bow which has the most power in the bow for the optimum strength here.

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