Songs in the Key of Corona, Part 2

As I explained in Part 1, I was cleaning up a big chunk of my technique, and I realized that even after decades, there was always room for improvement. My strength was coming back day by day. The first days, I could barely play 10 or 15 minutes before collapsing and having to take a nap. That’s how much this virus can take out of anyone who has it, even those with only milder symptoms. After a while, I could play for much longer, take a break, and start again. I was simultaneously getting my technique and my stamina back, and I was enjoying it.

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Songs in the Key of Corona, Part 1

These have been strange times. Our artistic lives have suddenly been stopped dead. Lots of us don’t know when or even if our careers will resume at some point. Some people are getting entirely out of the music business and orienting their career paths in completely different directions, because they see no other way forward.

Some of us have also been directly affected by the coronavirus. I’m one of them.

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When you are forgotten by history

I recently acquired a lovely book by my late teacher, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, entitled Wir sind eine Entdeckergemeinschaft (We are a Community of Explorers), published by his wife Alice (Residenz Verlag, Salzburg – Wien, 2017). The book tells how Concentus Musicus Wien started, and mentions the different people in Vienna that were part of the long story of that group. It goes on, through several chapters, to chronologically cover what things they did, where they performed, what they recorded, and it’s lovely to read it and to remember all the fabulous people that I had the honor to meet, work, perform, and record with, way back in the 1970s and 80s. Read More

Bows without arrows …

I have to address, once again, something that I find quite maddening: the question of underhand and overhand double bass bows in baroque music.

Actually, this shouldn’t even be a question.

By now – and I have talked about this extensively – any bass player who takes early music and authenticity seriously must know that during the baroque era, the classical era, and even part of the romantic era, underhand double bass bows were the only trick in town. Overhand or “French” bows did not exist, as far as I have been able to tell, before the 1840s at the very earliest. Read More

A few words on accompanying singers

Maybe at some point you’ve heard someone say, or you yourself might have even thought at some point, that accompanying singers is too difficult. That can give the impression that it sometimes isn’t attractive to play continuo. But remember, it’s absolutely something that most continuo players can learn to do and all continuo players must learn and be able to do.

Simply said: if you can’t accompany singers properly, don’t play continuo. Read More

Corrette or incorrette?

So it seems that it’s Michel Corrette’s birthday. I suppose we could just say “happy birthday” and let it go at that, but there is a little bit more to talk about than just his birthday. Otherwise – as you can imagine – I wouldn’t be here writing about it.

Corrette wrote methods for all kinds of instruments (most of which he did not play himself) during the second half of the 18th century, including a bass method. One of my pet peeves for a long time has been bass players today actually taking this method seriously and/or giving it way more credit than it deserves.

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