Adaptation of Schumann’s Romances for Oboe and Piano shows banjos Can hold sustained notes

Schumann’s Romances for Oboe and Piano are known for their simplicity but require a great mastery of breath control, as they present several longer, sustained notes. One of the last compositions he wrote before being admitted (and eventually dying) in an asylum, he gave them to his wife Clara Schumann as a Christmas present.

Considering their overall “tranquil” mood and the long notes played on the oboe, how can a banjo arrangement even pull them off? Banjo player John Bullard set out to prove that he could. He cleverly recreated the effect of a sustained note with the tremolo technique.

Bullard was at first skeptical about arranging Schumann’s romances, but he eventually fell in love with them, describing them as “little programmatic musical scenes from some far-away life.” In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that Bullard’s version of Schumann’s romances would be an ideal track for an rpg: it would make a perfect inn theme.

Much of John Bullard’s online work is devoted to adapting classical pieces for banjo. You can get a sense of it by listening to this playlist.

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