Fountains of Rome is one of the most difficult excerpts that can be asked during the first round of an audition. As with all the excerpts, maintaining a consistent style is vitally important. This excerpt, more than most, can benefit from a complete break down of the musical construction.
Exercise 1 is designed to establish the note shape and style of a waltz. There should be firm, clear attacks with the body of note decaying about a half to a full dynamic level. Follow the breath marks, as they will help to transition from exercise to exercise.
The goal of Exercise 2 is to maintain the note shape and style across an octave leap. Use the upper octave as a model for the lower octave. If you need to lower the volume level to achieve correct style between the octaves, do so; and then repeat the exercise at slightly louder volume levels.
Exercise 3 adds a quarter note on beat 3 of each bar and also places the pitches in the same octave. As with Exercise 1, strive to achieve consistency with attacks and note shape. The “B” quarter note should act as pick-up across the bar-line; thinking harmonically (V-I) will help create the sense of forward motion. The taper of the half note before the breath mark will help to allow the breath to be part of the phrase.
Exercise 4 is the culmination of Exercises 2 and 3. Remember to maintain the style of the pick- up notes, regardless of whether they are descending or ascending. The low E should also mimic the waltz style that was previously established.
Exercise 6 is just the downbeats from Rehearsal 12 to 14. Use this to help create the waltz-like style, as we did with the opening vamp section. This “waltz” should be slightly more aggressive than the opening section, which means slightly less note decay. Try to make four bar phrases with this exercise. Towards the end of the exercise, two A’s are marked in parenthesis. Practice this exercise with both octaves.
Exercise 7 is similar to Exercise 3, keep the quarter notes moving forward across the bar-line, especially after the breath marks. The quarter notes that have been added are also taken from beat 3 from the actual excerpt. If needed, return to Exercise 6 to find the correct style of the downbeats.
Exercise 9 has removed the rhythms on beat 3, and inserted the pitches that occur on beat 2. The addition of the quarter notes on beat allows us to reinforce the aggressive waltz feeling that should be constantly driving forward. Observe the breath marks and take note when they occur after beat 1 or after beat 2. For breaths that occur after beat 1, treat the remaining two notes in the measure as pick-ups into the next downbeat. For breaths that occur after beat 2, treat the remaining note as a single pick-up.
Exercise 10 adds back in the notes on beat 3 of every bar. As before, use the third beat to propel the music forward into the next bar, almost like a very subtle crescendo. Observe the breath marks, and keep the style of the waltz throughout.
This is the final exercise before you should move to the actual excerpt and play all the notes of every bar. The correct rhythms are now on beats 2 and 3. Try to use BOTH beats to propel into the following downbeat. Play the notes as long as possible within the tempo; the music will have a sense of fluidity and connection, both of which lead to a more musical performance.