I love weddings. I am always inspired to see two people pledge their lives to each other in front of everyone they care about most. They are magical events, filled with ritual, tradition, and hopefully lots of fun.
I am in San Diego this weekend celebrating the wedding of one of my best buddies from undergrad, and I couldn’t help but draw some sequence inspiration from the event.
This sequence comes from Richard Wagner’s opera Lohengrin. Most low brass players know Lohengrin from the famous Prelude to Act 3, but even more people know this opera from the wedding march that happens immediately after the prelude.
Lohengrin is a mighty and magical knight of the holy grail, who is sent by god to defend the honor of the helpless, in this case Elsa. She was falsely accused of murdering her little brother for political gain, and has nobody to fight for her in a trial by combat.
Here is a clip from wikipedia to set the scene:
“Twice the Herald calls for a champion to step forward, but gets no response. Elsa kneels and prays that God may send her champion to her. A boat drawn by a swan appears on the river and in it stands a knight in shining armour. He disembarks, dismisses the swan, respectfully greets the king, and asks Elsa if she will have him as her champion and marry him. Elsa kneels in front of him and places her honour in his keeping. He asks only one thing in return for his service: Elsa must never ask him his name or where he has come from. Elsa agrees to this.” Full article HERE.
I chose this tune for the sequence because it has spread far beyond the opera world. This song has seeped into many cultures world wide, and well known songs like this tend to be incredibly effective for teaching and learning about one’s playing.
When you have the song locked in your brain before you even look a the notes, you can focus on bringing your mental picture to life instead of focusing on reading notes and rhythms. This is part of the reason why memorizing ones music can lead to higher levels of playing. Your brain has more bandwith available to focus on projecting your musical message and ideal sound, rather than using a few valuable bits of brainpower on reading notes/rhythms/details.
Play this sequence at a steady, measured pace, because brides don’t like to run down the aisle. Strive for a noble, refined sound, as if you are announcing the arrival of a heroic knight and a graceful maiden. Be sure the staccato 8th notes are long enough to hear the pitch clearly, and protect the pulse in the bar with the graced notes.
The excerpt starts at 3:30, but the opening prelude is too awesome to skip!
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