Barcarolle by Coste

"Barcarolle - Folk song sung by Venetian gondoliers, or a piece of music composed in that style..."

This piece is quite famous and his composing ability beyond question, but when Napoleon Coste fell and broke his arm it put paid to a promising career as a guitarist that may have led to great heights. It didn't, however, stop him from composing some more very fine pieces that are only now, in modern times, being appreciated. If only he could have used the mighty music notation software by Finale - It might have been a little less painful to compose.

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According to the Collins Encyclopedia of Music, a Barcarolle is..."properly a boating song sung by the Gondoliers in Venice, but the name has come to be applied to any piece of vocal or instrumental music in the same rhythm (6/8 or 12/8)."

Coste wrote this tune in 3/8 timing, but I have kept the performance of the piece more in line with the above-mentioned description i.e. more in the slower tempo of a 6/8 or 12/8 piece. I feel the piece is well suited to this approach, being a Venetian Gondolier's song. One can imagine as the scene is conjured of the slow moving boat, the almost romantic notion of the trip down the Venice canal. With Coste born in the Romantic period of music and this piece being known as more a style of writing from the Romantic period, it is therefore well suited indeed.

To assist in this overall feeling of enchantment I employ several classical guitar and other musical techniques namely: vibrato, rubato, rolled chords, glissandos, slurs and damping. Vibrato literally means "shaking" and is a device employed to "extract" more emotion from the piece. Too much vibrato is always distasteful so be careful not to overdo it here.

Rubato literally means "stolen time" and it is a way to add musical character and more emotion to a piece. This is achieved by the slowing down and speeding up of music at certain points in the score in a tasteful manner. According to wikipedia.com (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubato)..."It was used liberally in the Romantic period especially in piano music."

Wikipedia also says that a glissando..."is a musical term that refers to either a continuous sliding from one pitch to another (a "true" glissando), or an incidental scale played while moving from one melodic note to another (an "effective" glissando)." The glissandos in this piece are executed in the 3rd and 11th bars and the 17th and 25th bars.

You'll notice in the video that I use my 3rd finger of the left hand for the glissandos on bars 3 and 11 and the 4th finger of the left hand in the 17th and 25th bars to do this. Additionally in the 25th bar I execute a "Segovia-Like" stopping of the bass notes to enhance and highlight the "B" note even more. This device or technique also is in keeping with the style of this type of music.

Remember to keep the slurs "snappy' and clean by pulling the slur note downwards and towards the floor. This makes the slur sound properly as in accordance with the romantic notion of the piece. Damping of the chords in this excellent little Coste Barcarolle helps to highlight the rubato effect throughout the piece.

Video of Barcarolle...

Here is a video of the piece by Napoleon Coste. It's a little longer than the actual sheet music as I have videoed both hands so that you can see what they are doing...

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I hope you enjoy this piece!

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