Room 50--Slip, slidin' away


No, You won't hear a Paul Simon song here! What if you want to have an effect in music where all the pitches are played in a certain range. If you have already looked at the rest of the Classroom you have already run across an example of this technique (called a glissando) in Room 32. It was the sound file used for the effect of sul ponticello. Listen to sul ponticello example again.

Glissando is indicated either by the word or its abbreviation, giiss., or by a stroke or wavy line between the highest and lowest of the notes to be played. This effect is obtained in different ways, depending on the instrument used: piano--drawing one fingertip (usually the third finger) or a thumbnail rapidly over all the white or black keys; violin, viola, cello--quickly sliding a finger up or down one string; trombone--moving the slide while blowing; other wind instruments (mainly clarinet, trum≠pet, horn)--increasing the lip pres≠sure so that each note rises in pitch until it becomes the next higher note; timpani-playing a roll with the drumsticks and at the same time changing the tension on the drum≠head with the aid of pedals; harp- -≠sliding one finger rapidly across all the strings. A glissando sounds quite different on different instruments. On the harp it has a smooth, almost liq≠uid sound, whereas on the trombone it has a comic effect.

To hear this in a classical piece, listen to the end of the Flute Concerto by Carl Nielsen. Itís rather amusing.

The most famous glissando in music is this one Listen!

Itís the clarinet glissando heard at the opening of Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. Since this technique is not normally asked for in classical music, it probably took a bit of practice for the first clarinetists who played the piece to accomplish it smoothly.

Hereís another glissando used in a piano work. Listen!

Those glissandi are from the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 10 by Franz Liszt. PLEASE NOTE THAT ANY PIANO GLISSANDO SHOULD BE EXECUTED CAREFULLY TO AVOID RIPPING OFF A FINGERNAIL OR OTHERWISE INJURING YOUR HAND!

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