THEO B TOBANI Hearts And Flow­ers

Brid­get ar­ranges and tran­scribes a tune that’s been used for decades to sym­bol­ise sad­ness and de­spair - but you’ll be happy to learn it!

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

For this month I’ve ar­ranged a pop­u­lar song (and then in­stru­men­tal work) by the Ger­man Amer­i­can 20th cen­tury com­poser Theodore Moses Tobani. Al­though not a house­hold name, Tobani was a fas­ci­nat­ing in­di­vid­ual. Born in Ger­many in 1855, he took to the violin at the age of five and had be­come a con­cert vi­o­lin­ist by the age of 10. He also had a re­mark­able com­po­si­tional knack, writ­ing so many works that his pub­lisher Carl Fis­cher ad­vised him to use mul­ti­ple pseu­do­nyms, as no one in their right mind would be­lieve that one per­son could pro­duce so much mu­sic. His most well-known work – and what we are tack­ling here – is his song Hearts And Flow­ers (pub­lished by Fis­cher in 1893), which had re­mark­able suc­cess, sell­ing mil­lions of copies dur­ing his life­time.

It re­port­edly took Tobani just half an hour to com­pose it, us­ing a theme from a waltz by the Hun­gar­ian com­poser Cz­ibulka (18421894), adapt­ing it from waltz time to a du­ple me­ter and ad­ding ad­di­tional ma­te­rial and

THis is noT one oF THe HARDeR pieces in THe se­Ries, BuT THeRe’s no LiMiT To How ex­pRes­siveLY An Ap­pAR­enTLY siM­pLe piece cAn Be pLAYeD lyrics by Mary Brine. The song was also pop­u­lar but is now re­ally only known as an in­stru­men­tal work (usu­ally for solo pi­ano, solo violin or violin and pi­ano). It is in th­ese in­stru­men­tal forms that the piece re­ally em­bed­ded into pop­u­lar cul­ture, its highly ro­man­tic melody be­ing a go-to (and some said overused) cue for ro­man­tic mo­ments in silent films, where pi­anists would play it from ‘pho­to­play mu­sic’, edi­tions of mu­sic to cover a range of on screen ac­tion.

It was also used in count­less ‘talkies’ and plays as un­der­scor­ing both in earnest ro­man­tic scenes, and comedic par­o­dies. The highly pro­lific silent movie ac­tress Vi­ola Dana (1897-1987) re­port­edly used it be­fore shoot­ing a scene to bring her to tears (which was later par­o­died in the 1928 film Show Peo­ple). It con­tin­ues to be used in TV, film and car­toons to evoke a nos­tal­gic (usu­ally over-sen­ti­men­tal) ro­man­ti­cism.

De­spite th­ese ac­cu­sa­tions of over­sen­ti­men­tal­ity, the piece works be­cause it is beau­ti­fully writ­ten, and the en­gag­ing melody is sup­ported by lush har­mony. Al­though largely in the key of G Ma­jor, its rel­a­tive, E Mi­nor and a C Ma­jor mid­dle sec­tion, there are some sump­tu­ous mo­ments in­clud­ing sus­pen­sions (such as the F# on top of the C Ma­jor in bar 9, beat 2), ac­cented pass­ing tones (the D# on C in bar 11, beat 1), 6th and 13th chords (bar 21 and bar 32, beat 4), and sec­ondary Dom­i­nants (B 7th chords in bars 1-4). Bars 37-40 in par­tic­u­lar in­clude some un­usu­ally so­phis­ti­cated chords given the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the work).

Tech­ni­cally, this is not one of the harder pieces in the se­ries, but as I al­ways re­mind read­ers, mak­ing a melody legato and clear against an ac­com­pa­ni­ment with a clear tone and flow­ing rhythm is al­ways a chal­lenge, and there is no limit to how well and ex­pres­sively an ap­par­ently sim­ple piece can be played. NEXT MONTH Brid­get ar­ranges and tran­scribes John Dow­land’s glo­ri­ous Fan­ta­sia

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