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Hunter Moon Bach

This is a recording I made with the help of some friends during autumn 2022. I don't remember the exact date, but I do remember it was the full hunter moon.

The Recordings

Here's a link to the playlist on youtube.







About the Recording

This recording was initially meant to be a casual, warm-up recording to an actual studio recording session that would occur later, but which the gods converged to prevent from happening. With this hypothetical professional recording, I had in mind was to invite a small audience of elite listeners into the studio. There would be one take of each movement. Then they would go and drink wine, and I would do one take of each movement alone. Then they would come back after the wine, and I would do one take of each movement again.

This procedure would reflect two of my major convictions about music. First, that the audience has an effect on the music comparable to what the player has, and that being a "good audience member" is a real thing. I was imagining crediting the audience members as collaborators on the EP or whatever.

Secondly, it was a rejection of endless studio takes in the service of a notion of perfectionism, and favoring a more natural approach. (This post initially included a short rant about that but I think it's better for another post.)

This outdoors, warm-up recording followed these same precepts, with the addition of a few experimental elements. Firstly, it was an experimental approach to the acoustics of the geography. The location is a privately-owned campsite and holy place where earlier that day I was doing my First Ever professional photoshoot. Among other things, it is notable for the wide, flat rocks that give the impression of an open-air ballroom. In imagining a warm-up concert, I wondered whether the sound of the viola would sound really cool bouncing up off of that flat rock, or whether it would just disappear. The reality ended up being closer to the second supposition, but Scott's mighty microphone was able to capture enough that it sounds okay souped up with reverb. Or maybe it doesn't sound okay. I'm not an audiophile! Leave me alone! Jesus.

Anyway, this particular recording was originally intended to be audio-only, but Scott brought out his camera. It's a good thing he did, because as I said I don't really think the audio would be stand-alone successful. But we didn't really think the staging through because I was not thinking visually, hence why the mic is in front of my face a lot.

The second experimental aspect was to be in the interpretation. The plan was to play the whole piece twice: the first time respectably and conventionally; the second time freely, improvisatorily, wildly, like the heretic I so long to be. However, the photoshoot went longer than anticipated, so we only had enough sun for one take. The second take would have been possible in the dark if the temperature had not dropped so starkly; we were freezing, and my instrument refused to stay in tune. We gave up on the second take, but not before generating two quasi-movements of "after-hours" heretical, playful Bach that I haven't uploaded to youtube yet.

The friends who came along were indeed elite listeners: Beth, Brian, Kate, and Scott. All are smart, curious people with an expansive attitude towards life who have enjoyed my playing in the past; all dabble to some smaller or larger degree in music themselves. They sat on the rocks with their picnics and generated an aura of respectful admiration, and I felt their ears on my music. So it became OUR music. It was good! I felt successful about it.

And I think the music is fine. It's a respectable, conservative interpretation with some mistakes and some intonation problems. (And of course I played the courante and the allemande out of order, you can tell from the sky.) It is not radical in any way except maybe that it escapes the stifling shackles of intellectualism and repression that so often yoink the listener out of classical music, and prevent the player from sinking into it in the first place. In that sense I feel this is a good representation of my gifts as a conventional classical interpreter, in the year 2022.

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