FOR THE CURIOUS CELLIST

The Beatles: Help

It is often difficult to find bowings that mimic on a string instrument the variety of articulations that the singing voice has when it articulates the lyrics of a song. This is especially so when there are many syllables sung on just one note (pitch) because we can’t use slurs between notes that have the same pitch. This song gives us some very good examples of this problem: the first and third lines of every verse (for example,  in the first verse, “when I was younger, so much younger than today” and “but now those days have gone I’m not so self-assured”) have 12 syllables in each line but 11 of them are on the same note. This means that we will be obliged to use a lot of separate bow strokes.

Trying to copy the spoken/sung rhythms also present some problems because notated rhythms are sometimes (often, usually) too precise to reflect the large degree of rhythmic flexibility of a vocal (sung) delivery. So we don’t need to be too religious about the metronomic perfection: so long as we stay more or less with the accompaniment we are normally doing fine (see Rhetoric: Sung or Spoken)

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