“Sonata sopra la Monica”

One of our favorite pieces in Dragonas and String Theory is called “Sonata sopra la Monica” arranged by Sarah Wallin Huff. It was originally written by Biagio Marini (c. 1597 – 1665), a Baroque violinist and composer who lived and worked in northern Italy. Born in Brescia in c. 1597, Marini served as violinist under Monteverdi at St Mark’s in Venice from 1615 – 18. He also worked as a court musician in Parma from 1621 – 3 and as a Choirmaster for S. Maria della Scala in Milan in 1649[1].

We owe much to the violin music of the Italian Baroque, for it was this style which first helped bring the violin to the forefront as a serious instrument. It was compositions such as “Sonata sopra” which were disseminated throughout Europe, giving the violin a permanent place in European and later world music.  Northern Italy is the birthplace of the violin, and Marini really knew how to write for the instrument! “Sonata sopra la Monica” is a flashy piece typical of the Italian Baroque. Written for two violins and basso continuo, this marvelous piece alternates between homophonic textures and sections which are more like a “competition” between the violins who answer each other with “one-ups”.  The piece welcomes the addition of improvised ornamentation in the forms of trills, runs, mezza di voce, and an over-the-top final cadence. Its opening statement returns frequently in between sections of contrasting texture. You can find the original score at the IMSPL Petrucci Music Library website:


“Sonata sopra la Monica” has been brought into our 21st century music ensembles by composer and violinist Sarah Wallin Huff. In the long tradition of the true composition process, Sarah has taken pre-existing material and transformed it into something new. “Sonata sopra” was the pop-music of the Baroque, full of life and vitality. It was the “in thing”. But to modern ears it sounds as if it were from a distant century, and it is! Now, with Sarah’s new composition, the “Sonata sopra” has a new life and still maintains it’s brilliant Italian flare. The new instrumentation includes electric bass and electric guitar, drum set, flugelhorn, and two violins. As Sarah and I are both trained as Baroque violinists, we are able to play the piece in a true Baroque style against the backdrop of a modern rock band creating a collision of time and space.
“Sonata sopra la Monica” is a permanent part of our Dragonas set, so anytime you come out and hear us, we’ll most likely play this awesome piece. We’re also in the process of creating an album, so be on the watch for recordings. This Friday, String Theory will be out on the Promenade in Santa Monica from 8 – 10 pm, so if you’re out that way, be sure to stop by and hear the quartet version. We like to call it “Sonata Santa Monica” when we’re out there 🙂 Cheers!

[1] “The Oxford Dictionary of Music”, revised edition, ed. Michael Kennedy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 549.


String Theory: Next Performance, Dec. 2!

“String Theory” is the name of our super fun quartet with Sarah Wallin Huff on violin, Ken Glaser on guitar/bass and vocals, Keith Buerger on percussion, and myself on violin.  Our group is called “String Theory” because of the parallel sound universes we incorporate 🙂 Our set includes Rock, Celtic, Blue Grass, and Baroque music. The next performance will be out on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, on Friday December 2nd from 8pm-10pm. It’s a fun town to walk around in, shop, and hear music. Hope to see you there! You can also check out what the quartet is up to at facebook.com/stringtheoryquartet. Cheers!

Ongoing Learning from Horsemanship and Violin Playing

People thought I was crazy when I wanted to do my DMA paper on Horses and Music! Haha it turned out to be a really eye-opening project! There are so many ideas we can gain from crossing over into other disciplines! And it’s fun to keep running into them! Here’s a couple ideas I’ve been thinking about lately while teaching and performing:

*Impulsion: That’s when the horse has energy and power moving from his hind-quarters forward. He’s not holding back or running away, but with control and vitality is moving forward, accepting where he is and where he is going moment by moment.

*Accepting the bit: The horse accepts the bit when he does not shrink back from it but takes in the information which is passed along the reins to his mouth. The violinist does this when he or she, without seeking to escape or become tense, lovingly accepts the information the violin, sounds, environment, and muscles are telling him or her. This “accepting the bit” allows for leaning and interaction with the moment to take place.

You can check out the whole paper at https://daniellerosariaviolinist.wordpress.com/dma-project-paper/.

Celtic Spring

Celtic Spring is an inspiring band comprised of one amazing family. Comprised of six siblings and their parents, the group combines music and Irish step dancing into an unforgettable artistic experience. This weekend I was able to see and hear them perform a the first ever American-based International Pro-life Youth Conference held in Downey, CA internationalprolifeyouth.com/. It was wonderful of these artists to share their gifts with us. You can check them out at celticspringband.com/index.htm?id=14045.

Clan Dragonas Returns to the Anaheim Art Crawl! Update: Day Change

Announcement! Due to the chance of rain this weekend, this gig has been changed to November 19th at 8:00 pm.

Clan Dragonas will again take the stage at the Anaheim Art Crawl downtownanaheim.com/artcrawlexperience Saturday, November 19, 2011 from 8 – 8:45 pm. We’ll be out in front of Anaheim Ice on the Food Tuck Alley Stage downtownanaheim.com/Home/map-and-directions. It’s a super fun event with local artists, food, music, and a night on the town. Here’s a rundown of the performances:

6:00pm-6:45pm    Glastonbury Tor
7:00pm-7:45pm    Simply Put Acappella
8:00pm-8:45pm    Dragonas Celtic Rock

Our band performed at the Anaheim Art Crawl back on August 13th of this year. You can check out the photo gallery from that gig at clandragonas.com/anaheim-art-crawl-experience. Also, here’s a video of Suil A Ruin and Prince Charley taken that same day. Hope to see you there this weekend! Cheers!