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Sail Away, Ladies is a well known traditional American song which is found in numerous variations. This version for solo viola opens with a passage inspired by the  Middle Eastern taximi, an introductory improvisation exploring the modality of the piece. The body of the piece then is a series of free variations on the tune, blending the techniques of traditional fiddle with those of more formal classical string solo.

I haven't followed any particular source for the melody, constructing it from memories of many live and recorded performances I've heard, and in fact I've altered the traditional melody enough so that I might have been justified in listing myself as composer.

I get the impression that multiple stops are something of a specialty for the viola. Since I don't play viola myself I've depended on the multiple stop charts in orchestration books to tell me what double stops are possible on viola.  But I understand that what is actually playable may not map directly to the charts.

As always, comments welcome, especially from performers, even if this was posted a long time ago.

The score and software-generated audio file is on MuseScore.

Or if you prefer on YouTube.

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Very jolly tune which you appear to have treated as a quasi air with variations. The first variation that occurs after the second pause (you have a penchant for pauses in your music which I feel are sometimes unnecessary) seems a bit early in the piece and may be better placed towards the end (notwithstanding your belief that music should have gripped the listener within the first few bars).

I envisage a hoedown with country folk dancing merrily away so it's quite an evocative rendition.

Thanks for posting (I must get to reacquaint myself with strings' stops which are clearly effective in this piece).

Thanks for the comments; I will keep them in mind.

A country fiddle tune is indeed the style, or at least part of it.  One thing that gives it that flavor is what is sometimes called the Scottish snap, beginning a phrase a beat before what would usually be its first note in a measure, as in measures 98-99.  I used this sparingly though.

Hi Jon,

Nice work here. I am with Stephen here. It's a jolly tune. I play intermediate violin. Not very familiar with viola as such but I know a few people who are. It seems a bit unusual to write a tune mainly for viola since that instrument is most often complimentary to other instruments. The idea works well here though and undoubtedly would be reason for optimism for any violist looking for something more exclusive.

Nice work! Thanks for sharing it.

Thanks for the comment, and for liking it.

I've seen one or two calls for scores for solo viola pieces, so they aren't totally unknown.



Timothy Smith said:

Hi Jon,

Nice work here. I am with Stephen here. It's a jolly tune. I play intermediate violin. Not very familiar with viola as such but I know a few people who are. It seems a bit unusual to write a tune mainly for viola since that instrument is most often complimentary to other instruments. The idea works well here though and undoubtedly would be reason for optimism for any violist looking for something more exclusive.

Nice work! Thanks for sharing it.

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