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Robin - A Notion/VSL Project - Introduction

Some folks on the various online communities that deal with Notion and virtual orchestration have encouraged me to post a blog to explain some of the specific techniques I use to create my recordings. This is the first of a series of posts explaining my workflow and techniques for creating what I hope are compelling recordings using these powerful tools.

The particular piece I'll use for this blog is "My Robin Is To The Greenwood Gone," a composition by one of my favorite composers, Percy Aldridge Grainger.

"My Robin is to the Greenwood Gone" or "Bonny Sweet Robin" is an English popular tune from the Renaissance. The earliest extant score of the ballad appears in William Ballet's Lute Book (c. 1600) as My Robin Hood is to the Greenwood Gone. References to the song can be dated back to 1586, in a letter from Sir Walter Raleigh to Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester saying "The Queen is in very good terms with you now, and, thanks be to God, will be pacified, and you are again her Sweet Robin."

Although the words have been lost, it is suspected that the character Ophelia, of Hamlet (who is specified in the First Quarto to be a lutenist), sings the last line of the tune ("For bonny sweet Robin is all my Joy") during her madness (IV, v, 187). Some scholars believe that Shakespeare's choice of the song was meant to invoke phallic symbolism, but personally I don't quite get that.

Grainger's setting of the tune was first published in 1912. He took only the first four bars of the old song and created what he called a "room-music ramble" on it. Grainger wrote three instrumentations: solo piano; violin, cello and piano; and the version I will be working on in this blog, for strings, flute and English horn.

Next post: Transcription techniques, or getting your music into Notion.

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