Diary of an amateur viola da gamba player.  Former member of most of the world’s gamba societies, but edging back into membership ranks, starting with the VdGSA. Currently at around Middle Intermediate level, according to the VdGSA criteria, with aspirations to move to Upper Intermediate over the next five years. Opportunities for consort playing are limited to maybe only a dozen a year, which affects personal progress with sight-reading and tackling Jenkins and Lawes on spec.

So current focus is on solos and writing about music perhaps more than playing it. Prone to grave doubts about my lack of ability, talent and slow progress, resulting in my moving away from the viol for a year or three every so often… only to return as a Prodigal Son. Witnessing a Jordi Savall masterclass here in Sydney Australia in Dec 2008 resulted in my attending a five-day baroque music workshop a month later, which taught me a lot about ‘attack’ – playing more like a baroque violinist or cellist, with very clear starts to notes, almost non-existent final notes at cadences, playing with the entire length of the bow and a greater preparedness to play faster tempi. Basically, losing the timid, the cramped and the nervous.

That has led to this blog (early 2009), going back to university to study musicology (late 2009), venturing into choral singing and sound recording with Julia Cameron’s music creativity books to hand (2010) and on to YouTube-type home movies (2011). 2010 is shaping up to be my personal Year of John Jenkins.

Treble (Doug Eaton); Division Bass (Ian Watchorn); French bass (after Bertrand, 41cm string length, Matthew Bolliger) with bows by Eaton and Watchorn.

4 Responses to “About”

  1. Ros Says:

    Hi. Found your website while looking for references to Theodor Swartzkopff.
    What fun you’re having.

  2. rodbyatt Says:

    Thanks, though I should be writing less and playing more… I wish you well with your TS study!

  3. Allen Says:

    I have a couple friends who moved to a part of the country where there’s not a viol player within 300 miles in any direction. Without a consort group, they’ve been focusing on the solo and duet repertoire, a lot of which is technically a lot more demanding than a lot of the consort pieces we play weekly. But it also forces them to stretch their skills in ways they’d never do back here. Lately, they’ve been working up one of the Simpson duos that I’ve never even thought to try.

    I have two groups I play with here every week–one almost exclusively English consorts, the other a mix of English consort, madrigal tunes, and whatever else we think to play. Both of them pretty much set out to play as much as possible in the space of a couple hours, site-reading through a bunch of pieces and maybe playing the best pieces a couple times. It’s great to play with friends, but it’s also somewhat lacking when we never pick anything too difficult, and spend a lot of time tackling problems and working it out difficulties.

    My friends were back in town visiting a couple weeks ago. We played through some 7 part Purcell. They did both comment on how it great it was to be back with their old consort group.

  4. rodbyatt Says:

    I appreciate your observations a great deal. One can be a monk in a monastery or a a monk in a hermit’s cave, or move from one to the other. In something a ‘hermit’s cave’ state at the moment, I can profit by using that time by monitoring skills which are quite different from consort teamwork and dynamics. And contribute purposefully when I ‘rejoin the monastery’. It can tend to feel like one-handed piano playing in the meantine, but piano concertos for the left hand alone have been composed… But something like the 7-part Purcell awaits!
    Regards, Rod


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