The Virtual Jami Blog Progress of creating a virtual performance of Sorabji's Jami Symphony


3rd Movement Complete

Filed under: Uncategorised — David Carter @ 02:42 pm

Here it is, the complete 3rd movement

Although I completed the performance in November 2019, in an attempt to encourage greater engagement, I decided to make a commentary which runs for the whole 2+ hours. This turned out to be more time consuming than I had envisaged.

The commentary consists of my factual/prosaic description of the music as it progresses intermingled with text about, and quotes from, Sorabji as well as a technical description of how the performance was created. Permission was obtained from professor Roberge to use material from Opus Sorabjianum and from Alistair Hinton to use text from Mi Contra Fa and Around Music.

I have always envisaged presenting the complete performance of the symphony alongside a film of some kind. Perhaps a collage of text/film/pictures associated with Sorabji and this symphony.

Just using text is not ideal, but a start, and I quickly realised I needed to be far better organised about what text and how placed and this aspect will need re-visiting when the whole symphony has been done.

One moment of serendipity has encouraged me though. The placing of Sorabji’s description of the music in Szymanosvki’s 3rd Symphony at one of the most ravishing moments in the Jami Symphony is goosebumpingly uncanny. 1:17:04 in the video.

I would be really interested in any comments about any aspect of this performance, good or constructive. What wonderful music. On to the 1st Movement next.


The opening of the 3rd movement

Filed under: Uncategorised — David Carter @ 09:48 pm

I have stitched together 5 moments from the opening 21 minutes one fading out and in to the next.

The opening is loud and complex with every section setting out its stall. It foreshadows, by some 2 hours, the end although that is very, very loud and very, very complex. This opening statement ends with a strings full stop followed by a brief acapella choir section.

We fade back in to the culmination of a lengthy melody in the violas and then violins with full orchestra rising to a solid harmonic climax on G major with a typical descending, close harmony, parallel major triad movement in the bass instruments. This leads to a sudden halt followed by a not uncommon quite pulsing rhythm in the strings over which the 1st violins play yet another variation of the main theme of the whole symphony.

The next excerpt starts with a beautiful gesture from the Sopranos and Altos echoing each other in contrary motion (who’d have thought!) and is followed by a long melody in the tenors which also peaks on a lush major chord, this time E major (with additives) and an extra lush violin glissando.

More singing in the next excerpt but this time in 32 parts, a huge joyful section for the chorus. After a climax the 32-part chorus sing acapella quietly with a hint of main symphony melody in the sopranos.

The final part of this selection leads to a big climax but is preceded by a most unusual section for just woodwind, brass and percussion. The brass marking the beat whilst the woodwind scurry around like a swarm of insects, the chorus and strings can’t help but finish it off though.

It’s interesting to note that neither the organ nor the tam-tam play in this opening section, neither joining the foray until around 25 minutes in.


MS Page 432

Filed under: Uncategorised — David Carter @ 10:03 pm

Chronologically, this is the 2nd of 8 excerpts. The whole 3rd movement is likely to come in at over 2 hours and this excerpt is 0hr 21m to 0hr 31m.

Its notable for several significant trumpet solos including the quotation from a symphony by Chausson. There are two lengthy sections for full chorus, orchestra and organ. After the second, at the end of this except, is one of my favourite moments when unison cellos and basses lead into a long, quiet, sustained B major chord spread across multi divisi strings which is at first disturbed by movement in the lower strings but then settles back and over which 4 sopranos distantly intone a variant of the main motive of the whole symphony. Stunning.

That leaves the final chunk of the 3rd movement to do which is the 1st 20 minutes. That’ll take a while what with the start of the new music season and several band contests and orchestral gigs coming up but I am hopeful I could have the whole of the 3rd movement finished by Christmas.


MS Page 492

Filed under: Uncategorised — David Carter @ 03:00 pm

So I’ve completed another retrospective chunk of 16 minutes plus and can offer you a most generous 11 minute plus portion. My thinking at the moment is not to post everything and not to reveal the whole movement at least until it’s finished and then maybe not then as I’m contemplating some sort of “World Premier” performance of the whole work, maybe on line via YouTube, maybe in a performance venue, maybe both.


There’s a nice bookend to this extract which begins and ends with a bass oboe solo. At 23″ the strings all expand to 4 parts each, 20 overall for quite a stretch. Sorabji employs a variety of playing techniques in this section. At the start the 1st violins are playing very high rapid chromatic lines in block harmony (major 7th chords), the 2nd violins play glissando figures in block major/minor chords, the violas play melodically in block 7th chords, the cellos provide steady pizzicato in major/minor block chords, the basses have sustained notes in this case major and minor 2nds doubled at the octave. Each group will swap what they’re doing and there are also tremolo passages, artificial harmonics, scalic rushing, arpeggio figures and trills all constantly passed around. This is a fairly typical passage. Over the top of this string melee there are snatches of melody in the wind and chorus as well as accompanying figures. At 36′ there is another common gesture when a steady staccato semiquaver pointing starts in the clarinets then moves to the other wind then to the brass.

At 2’08” the strings reduce in texture to an ascending running scale from basses to violins punctuated by short tremolo jabs whilst the wind descends from on high with a rapid staccato tonguing passage. Most of the orchestra then joins building to a semi climax with stamping bass and timpani which dissolves suddenly into an entirely different mood and tempo at 3’09”.

Talking of tempi, this next passage is interesting as it has several changes, gearing up gradually from pulse = 50 BPM to pulse = 180 BPM. Now, you must remember, there are absolutely zero tempo indications anywhere in the score. Everything is at the discretion of the performer and in this case entirely made up by me. The initial 50 BPM section is another typical Mediterranean style passage, long languid melodies in middle strings and wind, steady rhythmic pulse in lower strings and percussion, skittering around in upper strings and wind. This gradually increases in texture until we move into 2nd gear which is a doubling of the speed at 3’57” and a 3/4 pulse marked out by the cymbals and tam-tam. There’s some heavy lower brass interjections and a lot more movement through the orchestra. This doesn’t last long before we move into 3rd gear at 4’08” and a tempo of pulse = 116 this time in a 4/4 feel marked by the gong repeating a leap of a 5th. Again the action increases with more activity in all sections. At 4’20” we arrive at 4th Gear with the pulse at 180 BPM with huge rapid running passages in wind and strings and plenty of energy in the brass and timps and noise from the choir. A pretty thrilling passage.

This passage peters out into calmer quieter fair at 5’20” where we revert to ideas similar to the passage at the beginning of this extract with the strings again divided in 20 parts. I’ll leave you to your own imagination for the rest of the extract but listen out for a nice heart beat thrubbing in the bass drum and lower strings at 7’04” accompanying melody in the chorus and gong. There’s a fuller “Glory Glory” section at 8’48” (without organ).


MS Page 565 – Violins divisi a 16

Filed under: Uncategorised — David Carter @ 01:56 pm

I have completed my first effort to retrofit the performance of the first 72 minutes of the 3rd movement made in 2013 onto the 2019 performance of the remainder of the movement. It’s been tricky making sure various settings, particularly volume settings match and the performances sound seemless. Much work was necessary for the keyboards, tuned and untuned percussion. It’s taken a couple of weeks and hopefully it’s worked OK.

This excerpt is the last 6 minutes leading up to the excerpt posted on 22 June 2019 commencing MS Page 591 so you play one after the other and judge for yourself whether the performances sound seemless.

The notable thing about this section is it contains the lenghty passage when the 1st and 2nd violins divide into eight parts each. This is the 3rd time I have tried to render this passage and is hopefully the best. However the texture around the violins is itself extremely dense so picking out detail is difficult.


End of Movement 3

Filed under: Uncategorised — David Carter @ 10:26 am

The climax of the third movement.

I’ve said before and I’ll say again this must be one of the most climactic moments in all western orchestral music. It has been extremely challenging although my hardware and software have coped remarkably well. My musical faculties have been sorely stretched to cope with the very end. When you have 4 timpani, bass drum, side drum, field drum, 2 triangles, 2 cymbals and tam-tam (not to mention the castanets and tambourine trying desperately to join in) all rolling at treble forte, the organ at full blast every singer and instrumentalist singing/blowing with all their might, nigh on 500+ musicians busting their guts, you gotta expect a lot of noise. The problem has been to try and make not just noise and if you listen closely you should be able to pick out the voices and maybe the brass and certainly the squealing Eb clarinet as well as the bass instruments vomiting up some sort of C# major/minor arpeggio type thing. The final chord, which is preceded by a long pedal G, is rooted on a C#/G# fifth in the bass with the male chorus, lower wind and brass on a Bb minor chord, the female chorus and upper orchestra on an A minor chord and the upper woodwind wailing out a tremolo Bb to C.

The lead up to the final cataclysm is full of Sorabji’s usual extraordinary invention. There’s a lot of important moments for the tuned gongs and I’ve been imagining them as the voice of Apollo signalling the end is nigh.

Decent audio equipment will improve the listening experience. Turn up the volume and let the room shake.


MS page 682

Filed under: Uncategorised — David Carter @ 12:45 pm

This extract opens with a characteristic Sorabjian mediterranean dance with castanets, tambourines and harps. The static accompaniment in the strings (quasi strummed guitar?) building from 6-part bassi and celli adding each section until we have 17 parts and extremely high violin harmonics. Over this static accompaniment the violins start a sultry/languid tune and the wind and chorus take over. This reaches a peak (2’02”) which dissolves into quiet accapella singing and gong strokes which soon leads to another full bodied multi singing polyphonic section without the organ. During this passage a meandering quaver bass line starts (3’07”) which will dominate the next two sections. As the choir and upper strings fade away the persistent meandering quaver line emerges in the basses alone (3’48”) and then wanders it way up through the cellos, violas and 2nd violins. When it reaches the 1st violins it is then joined successively at octave intervals back down through the strings plus woodwind until we have four unison octaves which continue to descend and build into a huge polyphonic slightly disturbing Glory Glory section (5’36”). The organ re-enters, the meandering quavers continue in parallel harmony in the upper woodwind and violins, there are massive punctuating chords in the brass, the chorus sing the glory and there is a quasi-chorale like accompaniment in the lower wind and strings. What a marvellous section. The volume is pared down after a while and the chorale breaks up into more complex polyphony. Stamping percussion (7’05”) signal the climax of this section which abruptly breaks into rapid semiquavers in wind and violins with rhythmic marking of the beat in brass and percussion. The semiquavers get faster and faster building up through the whole orchestra before suddenly breaking off into….. (watch this space).

How one man could imagine all this music is unfathomable.


32 part chorus

Filed under: Uncategorised — David Carter @ 10:11 am

This excerpt features an extended choral passage where they divide from their usual 8 parts into 16 parts and then into 32 parts.

A quiet mysterious opening reaches a first climax at 1’32” at which point the lower strings start a rocking figure in parallel fourths which emerges from under the receding choir. Additional layers join up thorugh the strings until we have 10 stacked fourths and a nasty shout from percussion, piano & strings at 1’44”. A return to pleasenter stuff leads to the start of the choral passage at 2’12” at first in 8 parts and then 16 parts at 2’38”. I’ve rendered this passage, and much of this section, as quietly as possible. There’s a five part male chorus moment at 3’13” marked “[i]ferme bouche[/i]” . The VSL chorus samples don’t have ferme bouche (humming) samples so I’ve used “ooohs” instead of “aaahs” which I think works as a nice contrast. After another climax at 4’08” the 32 part chorus kicks in. As 32 staves of Sorabji’s manuscript paper were taken up with the choir the orchestral writing is very thin and for much of the time the chorus is acapella. The density of the writing is extreme and it’s hard to make sense of it. The best tactic (as is so often the case in this symphony) is to let the glorious sound wash over you. At 6’45” the chorus returns to 16 parts and the orchestra thickens out. A gradual build up leads to a climax at 7’40” and another return of the mighty organ and a signature passage which occurs several times throught the whole symphony, a “hallelujah” grand joyous noise for everyone.


New extract MS Page 591

Filed under: Uncategorised — David Carter @ 07:04 pm

This extract starts where the last one from 2013 ended. I hope the quality of the performance is better. It sounds better to me. One of the significant changes is to add a second microphone on the virtual stage. One is in the 7th row and the 2nd is where the conductor stands. I’ve also overhauled the settings in the virtual mixer which allows me to increase the presence of individual instruments and sections far more than I could before. Now I can have the choir dominate if I wish. The sound of the performance is from the perspective of a live performance and not a studio recording.

Of note is the return of the big chorus, organ and full orchestral ecstatic singing at 2’55” so characteristic of the symphony as a whole, and when this returns again at 4’24” it is proceeded by nothing less than a complete descending F major scale. This section peaks at 5’35” on a clear F major chord and is followed by a lovely rippling section in wind and strings. Some quiet clusters in the chorus, harmonics in the strings and pointilistic hocketing in the wind at 7’48” leads to a step up in the tempo at 9’15” and the final part of this extract, a vigorous section for rapid winds and loud brass with several aggressive fortepiano crescendo chords in the brass (really hard to pull off in Sibelius/VSL).

I could witter on for ever about how wonderful this music is. It is wonderful. It is also very different to the keyboard music. I believe it is much more accessible. I have read concern about Sorabji’s vertical harmony and melodic invention. Well this symphony has melody in abundance and clear and obvious vertical harmonic progression to satisfy the nay sayers. This extract has both to hear.


The Numbers of the Beast

Filed under: Uncategorised — David Carter @ 08:28 pm

In case there are any computer freaks listening in I thought I’d post the specs of my new PC. The components which make it possible to cope with the huge task of creating this virtual performance are 64GBs of top quality RAM, the high end processor and the super fast Solid State Drives for the operating System and the Sample drives.

Motherboard Asus Prime Z-370-P LGA 1151
Processor Intel core i7-8700K LGA 1151 3.7 GHz
RAM Corsair 64GB Vengeance LPX DDR4 2666 MHz
Graphics Card ASUS AMD Radeon R5 230 2GB
Audio Card Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) USB AudioInterface
Monitor 1 Samsung SyncMaster S27B350
Monitor 2 Samsung SyncMaster 2693HM
OS Drive Samsung 970 EVO V-NAND M.2 500GB SSD
Samples Drives OCZ Agility3 500GB SSD x 2
Cooling Fan Corsair Hydro Series H80i V2 Liquid Cooler
Power source Corsair RM750x 80 PLUS Gold

The software I use hasn’t changed other than the several updates over the years. Sibelius 8.2 and the Vienna Symphonic Library. I use the VSL Symphonic Cube sample collection. I have not moved on to their newer “Dimension” or “SYNCHRON-ized” sample sets, just too expensive. The main VSL software is the Vienna Ensemble Pro 6 (the virtual mixing console) and MIR Pro (the virtual concert hall where the virtual performers gather).

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