Friday, July 22, 2016

My Uniform Stage Furniture

I have been crafting a couple things for performances—following a consistent design. I will now use all my recorders, which are tenor, alto and soprano. The design of my candle stands follow the bicolored recorders. The rustic oak tone style already reminds of a way back past and the time travel character is supposed to be as radical as possible: No microphones and from now on no electric light. 

In February I had found a guitar player and there have been a couple rehearsals with her. But she is not ready to perform and work on a program consistently. That's why I still work with play-alongs I make at my spinet Wilhelmine. Still I hope to find the right accompanist for my program to ban all electricity out of 1716. The guitar is always the ideal instrument, although an authentic lute would be better. But my violin and recorders are not historic, so I have to lower my expectations. A small clavichord or spinettino could be an option, an electric keyboard would not. Just listen to the difference in my article from August 11, 2015, "Forget Digital Harpsichords—Only the Real Thing Swings": The electronic sound is lifeless and it doesn't look right.

My stage furniture can be dismembered and put in my backpack.

The song & dance character of my program is authentic. In the late 1600s and early 1700s there have been soloist performers who were singing and dancing. Menuets and other dance tunes had often lyrics which made them even more popular. The profession of the chansonnier is still to find in Walter's 1732 Musicalisches Lexicon, which is long forgotten in what the 21st century calls baroque music. I have added lyrics to Menuets, Gavottes and other pieces by Bach, Handel and Telemann. These pieces have not necessarily been composed by these masters, which often arranged popular melodies in their Suites. There's a popular example: The Menuet in G Major from Bach's Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach had been composed by Christian Petzold. For a long time we had assumed this was a Menuet composed by Bach himself, because it was part of his keyboard work. But it was the regular work of a composer back then, especially at court, to compile and arrange melodies which can be performed for amusement. We hyped the old masters and their music up to supernatural myths—I want to bring it all back down on earth.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Passacaille d'Armide

These days I'm rehearsing my new act for an open stage project and it's going to be something from Jean Baptiste de Lully's Opera Armide. The Passacaille in there is famous, at least since the film Le Roi Danse—the good old days of the sun king in the 1680s.
As always, I improvise and record a spinet play-along and use violin and recorder on stage with it
In the opera this Passacaille is to hear twice and in the middle is a very pretty tenor air. I don't care whether it's tenor or soprano, I'm transposing anything anyway to a key fitting my voice best. After all I'm not an interpreter of classical music or ancient music—I cover and do it my way. You will never hear the instrumental  theme completely from me. I play the first 16 bars of its melody and then go over to improvisation. Only my vocal solo follows the original melody—just its first part to be precise.

My version of Lully's Passacaille d'Armide

In this recording it sounds like I'm dancing after the vocal part, which I will, but right now it's fake. These days I'm going to make the choreography for that baroque dance part. It's going to be interesting, for I will have to start dancing during the last long note of my vocal.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The History of My Galant World

Musica Poëtica is a blog of the empire. I call it an empire since it grew so big over one decade. Now, that I incorporated blogs like Musica Poëtica, the empire grows even bigger. My website bases on an URL I actually own and pay for and the same goes for its webspace.

The empire is often spelled galantewelt.te (te = Teutschland) or galantewelt.sri (Sacrum Romanum Imperium). Of course it has nothing to do with the "Reichsbürgerbewegung" (reich citizen movement)  in modern Germany, which is a form of right-wing radicalism. Galantewelt.sri is about culturally living the same time and empire like Bach, Telemann and Herr Hendel (until he moved to London and became Mr. Handel). Herr Hendel (Mr. Handel) had been my idol at least since I was eleven years old, until jazz infected me at age 15. In my high-school time I already performed with jazz bands, then in my 20s earned serious money with a swing combo, playing singing and tap dancing. In the late 90s I struggled to find musicians for a new jazz band. In this stagnation good ol' father Handel came back to me. He told me he had not forsaken me over all those years, he had been an improviser all his life and that in a way jazz had been existent long before jazz. How did Herr Hendel speak to me? My experiments with  'Handel Swing', correct terms are general bass / continuo music, began in late 1998. In the following year music wasn't enough, because I was dying to know everything about this time. In a couple weeks I binge-read all the secondary literature I was able to find in libraries. These books informed me, there were actual reprints of original books on the market. Herr Hendel did not write books, but his Hamburger friend Johann Mattheson was a musician and author. Authors like him not just taught me music, like it was taught in those days—they also made me a speaker of the Teutsch language. In other words, I was learning pre-modern/early modern German on the level of a native speaker. The Calendar switched from 1999 to 1699 and in 1700 and 1701 I read even an original newspaper three days a week chronologically. Once a week I had my own radio programm on politics of the days before the War of the Spanish Succession¹ which was all spoken in Teutsch.

I read the papers of January 1701 in January 2001, and March 1701 months later, following their week numbers.

December news from Madrid in January 1701 (mail is slow in 1700): France gets the Spanish throne, leading to....

....war preparations on the German side of the Rhine. My lead-in, as always, then picked correspondent report.

Papers around 1700 printed the letters of their correspondents unedited, never commenting.
In the middle of a health struggle, I moved to Berlin in 1701. I was highly specialized on the time of the late 1600s and early 1700s—there's no history professor in the world fit to hold a candle to it. But my hope I was entitled to study history was belied. Being an utter stranger in a global city should have worsened my health issues, if I hadn't been protected by the ramparts of my parallel world. I hardly noticed the insane traffic and modern architecture—my world were original media in Berlin's archives. My calendar went from 1702 to 1703 etc. which went on until late summer 1709. From the year 2009 on I was able to switch between the two centuries, because I had some other work to do. What had happened over the decade before, was quasi-socialization into the culture of the Holy Roman Empire. Believe me, I know actual people there very personally, I know my generation there. The famous composers of my generation are not generally known anymore. Handel was 16 when I moved to Berlin! I had pen friends too. Liselotte von der Pfaltz (the sun king's German good sister) wrote just 'to me', but I had real correspondents. They were not as much at home in the 1700s as I was, but it was ideal to express myself in Teutsch. Liselotte von der Pfaltz wrote a lot of letters to her relatives in Germany. I found seamlessly chronological sources in libraries. Watching the datelines in there, I got letters several times a week. Liselotte became sort of like a beloved aunt to me. She did her part in socializing me within the early 1700s.
I wrote this letter on October 30, 1706, like to all pen friends of those years

What I Learned in the Holy Roman Empire

In the meantime I learned my lesson about what history actually means. Those are just stories the present writes about the past, but they aren't necessarily true. In one of the Berliner palace museums they told me, they didn't need my authentic show, "People like the cliches better than authenticity." The professor of history, who is making money by publishing books about "baroque" knows that two. And what did I learn on public radio: "Every time creates their own conception of history." I can tell, lots of what they create is fake! In 1715 nobody calls their time "baroque"—this is just an abusive word of the 1800s, to defame the ancien régime. This could be forgiven, because the b-word sounds kind of nice, if this wasn't an umbrella term for falsification of history. The b-word is outlawed in the empire, not just because it once was a cussword—it is a lie in a broader sense. Germans in 1715, who believe in fashion and philosophy of gallantry, call their time galante Welt (gallant world) and see themselves as the gallant generation. I met quite some history geeks who objected, trying to explain why this wouldn't match the official concept of historiography. First rule on is: 1715 is now, it is not about history, it is present! Since they didn't let me study history, I can do what pleases me. Studying history would have been studying common lies. Working within a concept of lies wouldn't have pleased me. Why should I do that now and without even pay? The secondary literature you've read on history is full of lies and this is worth nothing here. Not anything in there is falsification, but you have to go deeply into sources to tell the difference between facts and lies. I don't trust any history book. People are mostly biased, that's why the media on the market are full of bias.

I leave the Reich in the world of 1715, whereas certain right-wing crazies want to make 2015 the Reich. It would have been much better for Europe, if Frederic the 'Great' hadn't ruined the Holy Roman Empire. This empire had been a republic since the middle ages and could be a democracy today. The two World Wars would never have happened, Poland wouldn't have been divided, Napoleon could have been repelled at the Rhine. This is my vision of the old Reich, if I watch from 2015—slowly evolving into a democracy within a more peaceful Europe. It is part of common lies, that Frederic the 'Great' is not seen as disturber of the European peace. As somebody who caused the main reasons for two World Wars he is admired too highly. Prussia's hegemonial ambitions benefited Napoleon and created a mess at the eastern frontiers. The German democracy after World War II is an actual happy end in history. Never before Germany enjoyed this kind of peace and prosperity. Only culturally it's awfully shallow, but that's not a big problem. I can always create a blog like Musica Poëtica and link it into my cultural empire.

How to Deal with

Even German native speakers call it "unreadable"—unless they don't at least have some experience with old sources. I know people who have worked with historical sources from archives for years, who still struggle. Because if you don't have the reading ability people of the Roman Empire had in the past, you will not read their newspapers casually at the coffee table. You will need all your concentration to struggle through those texts and it will tire you out after some time. Frankly, the only person I know, who reads these old media just casually, to find it just refreshing, would be me. I'm sure, there are a few more in the world, but they must be extremely rare. We need people with that kind of reading performance to open up the many unexplored sources in old mansion archives. Therefore I think, it's a good thing to offer reading matter in high print quality. As somebody, who shares the level of a native speaker with the generations of the late 17th and early 18th century, I am obviously supposed to do that. Because the conception of German history is frankly stupid these days. Modern Germany defines herself firstly anti-fascist—which is a very positive thing after the experience with the Third Reich. But then Germans see themselves still in the tradition of the Prussian Empire, which contradicts their anti-fascist identity. Because the hegemonial attitude of the Prussian Empire was the cradle of German fascism. After Napoleon's defeat, Berlin edged Vienna out and took the Rest of Germany. Before Prussia dominated Germany, Austria was the leading state of the Empire, but hardly anybody knows, what happened in that ancien régime. A past, stultified by the Prussian Empire since 1870, which clearly was a strategy to maintain the power. What Germans know, are the silly cliches of rococo courtiers, which had been made up in the Prussian Empire. They have almost no conception of Germany before Napoleon. When Austria was leading the Empire, Prussia was supporting Vienna (before Frederic the 'Great') and Germany was part of a trans-European alliance, which resembled NATO quite a bit—including peacekeeping operations, like in Danish Holstein (!). The Prussian dominated Germany, at the brink of World War One, was stupid to leave that reliable and safe alliance! It had successfully defended Germany against repeated invasions by the sun king, and it could have stopped Napoleon as well. If Prussia hadn't disrupted, weakened and finally destroyed the Empire. Without a united Holy Roman Empire, the naval powers of the Netherlands and England weren't able to stop France on the land. To me it always sounds like, "But Hitler built the highway", whenever people try to defend Prussia with abolition of serfdom. Which was the upside of Prussian centralism, like any centralist regime can force popular things, a republic needs time for.² The point is, the Holy Roman Empire had been evolving over eight centuries. Something that can be considered quasi naturally grown, whereas the Prussian Germany since 1870 was the result of Prussian subversion and overthrow. And this is what Germans identify with? Ignoring their actual past and instead focusing on just a couple ill-fated decades, which resulted in two horrible World Wars? Get your history right, Germany!

I want people to get interested in old texts. Those who manage to read the books I wrote for are fit to read original books of the 1600s and 1700s. The script fonts I use match the style about 1700, but they are cleaner than old prints—above all clearer than their digitalizations. I hope, some people find my website amusing and acquire some Teutsch reading abilities. The word is the key to culture, and the language of the past opens up the culture of the past. As long as you cannot understand the text, there's still a lot to explore: music, videos, dancing and more. Just try out the links, even if you don't understand their words.

The Galante Welt Empire Summary

  • galantewelt.delanguage: Teutsch (early modern German)
  • of another portal to language: Teutsch
  • point of all my galant media) language: English
  • — (my musical role in the 1700s) language: English
  • Galante Welt on YouTube language Teutsch (some films maybe in American English)
  • Galante Welt on Google+(what I comment on YouTube) English/Teutsch/deutsch
  • English/Latin/French/Teutsch/deutsch
  • "neo-classicistic" (Duden revising) German
  • "neo-classicistic" (explained over there!) German

¹ Those who understand German and wonder how political discussion sounded in 1700, should read one of my forums posts from 1706 (2006). On I debated a man who not just admired the sun king, but also pretended to be him. Funny, he was beaten up by someone who had done political journalism in 1700 and 1701:
"@ Louis le Grand
1. Es gibt übernationale Veträge, Euer Majestät vergessen das gern.
2. Die Guarandeurs der Verträge über Spanisch Niederland : das sind fast alle übrigen Mächte Europas! Haben a) den Niederländischne Krieg nicht vergessen, b) den unseeligen Pfälzischen Krieg. Und haben wir eben auch nicht die Verträge vergessen, zu denen Euer Majestät sich verpflichtet.
3. Ist Philipp von Anjou nicht der rechte Thronfolger in Madrit, sondern der Ertzherzog Carl von Österreich.
4. Haben Euer Majestät Dero eigene Landen und Volk fast in den Ruin getrieben und tragen offensichtlich Begier, das gleiche mit Europa zu tun. Das diese Rechnung nicht aufgehen wird, werden Euer Majestät bereits bemerkt haben ..."

² After the highly corrupt Christina of Sweden, the Swedish crown started a "reduction" policy (in early German also "Reduction"). It meant taking away land and power from barons and knights, to protect the peasant population. This policy became popular especially in the Holy Roman Empire: Vienna and state rulers saw, that the suppression by aristocracy was inhumane. There has always been a power struggle between monarchs and aristocracy. Kings, dukes, imperial counts etc. were often on the side of  the little people. I know regional cases, where people complained to the crown and the crown stepped in. But of course monarchs hadn't all power in those days. The Holy Roman Empire was a republic with a never ending power struggle. Only a fascist dictator can fore anything he wants to! It was similar to today's Middle East: We made the experience that we cannot change a cultural world by force. We'r even not helping them by eliminating their despotic leaders, which worsened the situation in Iraq and led to ISIS. Like Prussia cleared the way for the Nazis.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Forget Digital Harpsichords—Only the Real Thing Swings

I've been playing harpsichords on electronic keyboards for decades and always yearned for the real thing. This summer I made a bargain on Ebay: A used spinet, made in 1962. I called her Wilhelmine. A spinet is a small harpsichord, but Wilhelmine is the Silbermann type of the spinet, which is quite a bit larger, with a fuller sound. Silbermann was a harpsichord maker in the 1700s, the harpichord maker who made Wilhelmine was Kurt Sperrhake and he followed Silbermann's concept. 
Wilhelmine and me in my latest music video
Harpsichords are sort of plectrum guitars with keys. The way Wilhelmine is picking the strings makes the sound edgy and punchy. The difference to digital harpsichord sounds is very striking—they simply do not swing. Since I have Wilhelmine, my improvised general bass repertoire is rocking and swinging. Ironically I've been calling it Handel Swing since the late 90s. Now I can do the real thing. Just compare the following recording to other harpsichords I played in older posts of this blog. The difference is striking.

Ouverture of my uncompleted cantata—Wilhelmine in August '15

Same Ouverture, weeks before, via electronical harpsichord sound

With Wilhelmine I was able to really play this piece with feeling. Slowing it down is really nice, but it wouldn't have worked at the electronical keyboard, because this would have sounded not that nice, but rather dull. In the first version is clearly to hear, that Wilhelmine is inspiring me a lot, whereas the electronical had been nothing but a stopgap. I can even say, Wihelmine is teaching me to become a better musician, by showing me new ways to express myself. She's like, "Listen too the sound of this chord....isn't this reminding you of a couple CDs you heard from Handel, Muffat, Telemann, Bach, Erlebach etc./etc. ...." Because she is the real thing, she can inspire me and open these new doors. That's why the first version of my little composition is played much better.

There is no doubt about, I can create and play this, because I went so deep into late 1600s and early 1700s general bass music since early 1999 (1699!). It is exactly like we know it from jazz: you have to go extremely deep into jazz if you want to be a jazz musician! You have to be really crazy about no other music but jazz for years. You have to listen to jazz for hours on daily base. And of course you must work on jazz-typical theory of harmony and experiment with it in a playful way. Over years you will grow into your role as a creative jazz musician. You live it, you feel it, you can do it. I have always said, general bass styles about 1700 are very similar to jazz. In their own way they swing and this was improvised a lot at that time. But I wasn't able to live and feel general bass in the 80s, when I had lots of routine in performing with a swing combo. It took me over a decade to fully understand the essence of general bass! That was the point when I was able to play myself free—especially on recorder. On keyboard instruments my technical abilities are limited. But in my own way, I  am able to swing after years and years of hearing and doing it. But it was still rather fake until Wilhelmine came in late July 1715 (2015). Electronical keyboards are dead things—Wilhelmine lives. And I can only live what I internalized since 1699 (1999) since I have Wilhelmine. The essence of general bass is not playing a minuet on a spinet. You can do this on a modern piano as well. It is more like getting into a chord phrase like La Folia to create the drive. Handel has a wonderful chord pattern in his Organ Concerto op. 7, No. 1, in B-flat Major. HWV 306. I was rehearsing it the other day with violin and recorder. Wilhelmine is in the background, in my play-along:

Improvising over a rhythm pattern from Handel's B flat organ concerto, HWV 306

Wilhelmine is punching like a whole rhythm section, which I find incredible! All the harpsichords I have on electronical keyboards are unable to create that rhythmical tension and energy. This also goes for the play-alongs I record: the digital thing sounds very much weaker. I couldn't play that improvised recorder solo without Wilhelmine if I was just backed by my digital keyboards. I would play different phrases, without that much drive. When I go into double time bass at the beginning of the vocal, Wilhelmine raises the tension. An electronical keyboard would never respond that way, it would come across lukewarm. A piano tone has a different character. Pianos can also be great rhythm instruments, but only a harpsichord has the authentic character for general bass, in the way how they grab the strings. Because general bass music was created on and for instruments like harpsichords. Finally you hear Anna, my violin, struggle through the final choruses. On violin I'm an absolute newbie, I play it since May and it will take time until Anna will be able to keep pace with the rest. But in this recording she couldn't spoil Wilhelmine's celebrating the final part. There's so much drive and energy in it and the last bass note is incredibly powerful. Finally, it's kind of like a blues band ending and the drummer adds a last "WHAM!", hitting all the skins at one time. That's the moment when I release the keys and the harpichord springers fall back. They have little brass weights below, which create that percussive sound. I always concentrate on that point, let the strings ring out and then yank my hands off the keys. It is percussion and electronical keyboards don't get that punch. Conclusion: It was a good idea to change from digital to the real thing. Plus, overhauling old (and therefore affordable) harpsichords turns out to be not too difficult. It is lots of work, but I can do it.

Necessary Overhauling

There's not doubt about Wilhelmine being a pretty old girl, with worn out quills. I have to completely requill her and found out, that I am able to do it myself. I already changed those old leather quills which where already broken, using seagull quills. Right now she still has mostly leather quills and about half a dozen gull quills. It is not ideal, because these two kinds sound different. But to me she sounds great anyway. Here's how I do  the requilling:

What you see in this video was my first trial. In the meantime I certainly cut the old leather tips off. I just started playing it safe, for I wasn't sure my method would be practicable. It's better to have a broken leather quill, than no quill at all. I do not think, bird quills would be stable in those plastic tongues. That's why I leave the leather in there. But now, that I know my method works well, I can give up the old leather tips without worrying.

Wilhelmine's great charm is to hear on my latest page about early 1700s' current. Her short melodic phrases are improvised compositions. Wilhelmine makes it sound like a little radio drama.
The day after Wilhelmine came to me I made the following recording. It was supposed to be an accompaniment for Greensleeves and I was supposed to sing and play recorder to it. It ended up to be just Wilhelmine in a music video, because I loved her sound so very much.

¹ The sheets on top of Wilhelmine are a mess, since she's also inspiring me to new ideas I'm constantly drafting on little pieces of paper. I had not that many ideas before Wilhelmine came to me. I always need new kinds of chord sequences to improvise over. I'm sure, those Wilhelmine is showing me already exist in many works of composers 300 years ago. But these are exactly the patterns I've been desperately looking for already decades ago.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Reestablishing the Fashion of Disguising with Masks Here in Anno 1715

In the late 1600s and early 1700s it was fashionable among young women, to use masks. Years ago I found this picture in the Berliner Costume Archive and photocopied it. Today I tried to find more pictures like this on the internet, but got nothing but cheap garbage. It mostly wasn't about history, but just stupid people, exposing their vanity, using twisted cliches from the 1700s, or it was about someone selling masks (which partly were beautiful, but I was looking for historical facts!).

Femme de qualité allant incognito par la Ville : [estampe] / F. Ertinger sculp. ; dessiné par I.D. de St Jean

Now I searched the internet with original picture title and the name of the French drawer who make this picture in 1689—and found it. "Femme de qualité allant incognito par la ville"—by J. D. de St. Jean. You're only able to find it, if you have those precise data, otherwise there's nothing but garbage.

 Noticeably, this historic mask looks unlike those, "baroque" wackos use today—in color and shape this here is fairly simple.  The 'baroque' ball goers never cared much about historical authenticity. This mask from the year 1689 would probably look just 'unsexy' to them as the whole science of historiography. I later found the other woman (see foot) I have in my personal archive of photocopies from the Costume Museum and her mask is also black, shaped simpler still:  I am so in love with those pictures! This is the real world of the past without modern cliches added to. I am actually making a similar mask out of black cardboard and definitely plan to use it on YouTube and involve those videos here on Anno 1715—be it for moderation or demonstrating how to dance the menuet.

Femme de qualité allant incognito par la Ville : [estampe] / F. Ertinger sculp. ; dessiné par I.D. de St Jean

The point is, I don't want to present my face—especially if it's very close. Pictures of faces are to consider private data on the internet and I want to protect that. But nonetheless, I could act in front of a camera, using such a mask and I'm looking forward to it.
My white paper prototype—incisions at forehead & chin. Now black cardboard in the making.
Done. I like unicolored very much, but people can still see me through the eyes.
Just another painting from the early 1700s?
After seeing an historic mask with eyelids ( I decided for gold. My lids are
adjustable—in case more discretion is desired. Yes, it is. By the way, the woman 
in this link is gorgeous 
and her dress is too! Having her fingers in the mask's mouth is a nice 
idea—people can't peek in there 
then as well. They are way too nosy anyhow. I read several original novels from the early 1700s, where 
you often learn how awkward it is for a young woman to meet a male. The rumors are malicious, people
call you a whore if you only talked to 
somebody in a friendly way. The consequence will be, that you're
done with looking for a husband 
for lifetime (!) unless you move to another area. The woman in this link 
might be waiting for 
her lover and I fully understand why her mask is a very important tool to protect her
Despite the malicious rumors of the 2000s about the 1700s, most women are decent and far
from being whoring about. Maybe she's thinking about marrying him anyway.
More 1600s French Fashion on the Internet: I just found a gold vein, while unsuccessfully searching another historic woman with a mask. She's to see on pinterest,com who will only allow me to get to her if I go to Facebook—but I hate Facebook. At least  I learned on the book title she's to find in: "Recueil des modes de la cour de France." So I searched that title and got there! (The woman in question is there too: But look at all the others—I really stroke a gold vein!!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Anna and the Bow Maker

Two weeks ago I decided to learn how to play the violin. I played creative continuo music since the late 90s via recorder and harpsichord keyboard sounds. Now I definitely wanted to add the violin. Just Music offers a STAGG violin for 79 Euros.
Anna and Figuelotte, my Zen-On 'Pul Bressan' recorder
After purchasing a 3/4 violin I decided her name should be Anna, for this was a frequent name in the early 1700s. A week later I had to spend almost 50 more Euros on her, since her strings and rosin were garbage. So, last week she already sounded way better. But still there was the bow question. Violin teachers reject cheap bows, but good bows are expensive. Furthermore I got headaches over the bow hair issue: At least every 6 months a violin bow should be rehaired, which also is expensive. Bow hair comes from slaughter houses, so there's even blood on a common violin bow.
Anyway I didn't like the modern style of a violin bow, after researching bow of the 1600s. I decided to make my own bow and to use monofil sewing threat for hairing. The primitive test bow I made already worked better than my STAGG bow.

This breech rod, with dark monofil, seems way too thin, though I might make a tiny bow out of it.

This Saturday I started serious bow making, using beech rod and oak strip for the frog. Sunday evening I brushed on wood stain and Monday I gave it an almond oil finish. For the bow hair I had bought nylon threat at the hardware store—it was impossible to get rosin on it.

Inspired by bow types of  the 1600s, I decided to knot the bow hair on. Makes it easy.... change and adapt—no longer inflexible and dependent on modern standardization.

Tuesday I bought Polyamide monofil from a sewing shop—definitely high quality threat, but useless to get rosin on in. The dark monofil remains I had used for my test bow came from a super cheap sewing kit, I had bought about ten years ago at a supermarket. I cannot get into that monofil science for it keeps me from playing the violin. So I slaughtered the STAGG bow and took about forty hairs from it. The rest of the horsehair I hang into my garment bags, which are well protected against moths and other hair consuming bugs—enough to rehair at least twice.

After getting used to the bow standard around 1700: Why would I want those clumsy modern bows? Especially my cheap bow was horrible, but why would I want metal parts anyway at my bow? In the 1600s they constructed complicated mechanics and it would have been no problem to add the primitive clamping mechanisms we have on modern bows. Modern bows are also longer, their frogs have to be broader to fix all the hairs and all this adds up to unnecessary weight. I have always been against the concept of classical music. It is nothing but musical fascism—the leader-subject dualism between master (called 'genius') and populace (assumed to be stupid). My musical revolution happened when I was sixteen—that was when the heads of the old masters rolled. That was when I decided to be independent from Bach, Mozart and all the other tyrants. Because I understood, I had a right to be creative myself, and that I didn't need the 'old masters'. I went back to Johann Sebastian Bach's early years at the Court in Weimar, where he was just a lacquey who also played in the court chapel. The job of composers was to prepare note sheets for those chapels—regardless whether they composed something or took popular melodies from stage works. They organized the chapel and the duke was one of the musicians. Which was more like family home concerts and unlike the modern conception of classical music. Fascism began later, with Mozart's generation, when the role of the composer became superhuman. Music changed to unnaturally hysteric, over-pathetic, simply insane—especially if we consider Richard Wagner. And in this tradition of unhealthiness I see the modern violin bow—a monstrosity. After all the way I evolved in music, the step to reject that kind of a bow is very tiny. I have zero inhibition to destroy such a bow to use a couple hairs. I think the talk about quality hair in better bows is highly mythical. Bow hair comes from China these days and is very inexpensive. I cannot imagine, somebody is looking at each single hair for bows they sell for 200 bucks. That might be the case for highly professional bows, which cost thousands of bucks. Music shouldn't be that fancy, that you have to pay so much money for a violin bow, because that's overdo and crazy. I say it again: Classical music is hysteric and simply crazy.
Finally I made a tiny bow out of the above test bow, using the old monofil remains.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Bach Syndrome

It admittedly sounds negative. Though, I'm not targeting Johann Sebastian Bach himself, but his idolaters. The composer wrote quite some music that I like very much. Most Bach freaks have utterly wrong ideas about their idol. He was not the great master of his time. Many other German composers were much more famous, and they didn't copy Bach -- Bach rather copied them. [1]

The Bach Syndrome started in the late 19th century. All the other composers of the French ancient regime and Holy Roman-German Empire were despised then. Their time was called "baroque/ barocco/ barock", which meant: crazy, odd, affected, queer, dated art. But they made an exception with one rather unsuccessful musician: Bach. Johann Sebastian Bach didn't get the jobs, that made men like Telemann famous. He mostly had to put up with church jobs, Telemann rejected. And it was the church music, that made Protestants of the 19th and 20th century adore Bach like a Catholic saint. There is this infatuated type of Protestant organist, who speaks about "the great Bach", as if he was the Almighty himself. After the 18th century Bach doubtlessly is a sociological syndrome -- often with symptoms of a neurosis.

Don't mess up this gallant cavalier, with those later powdered goops of the rococo generation! The musician of the gallant generation looks more like a rock star: A straight type, who makes naturally heartfelt, sincere music. This is an earlier, from rococo different generation, with a different style and taste. The common sense of the gallant generation considers affected manner the worst faux pas ever. Behaving and expressing naturally is a central rule of the gallant codex. This is the character of gallant music as well: straight, honest and natural.
I had drawn this little picture in September 2008; this is why I added the date of September 1708.

Actually there isn't just one Bach, because this composer developed and changed over the years -- as other composers did as well. The younger Telemann who composed Suites (Ouvertures) at the court in Darmstadt, sounds different from the later already rococoing one. Personally I'm a rococo-hater, and it seems Bach might have felt the same, when he finally broke with secular music. Rococo sounds awfully 'tra-la-la' -- playful in a silly way. It makes a lot of noise, but doesn't mean anything. I listen to Telemann-CDs before I buy, and dump them back into the shelf, if I hear those dull 'deedl-dadl-doodl' phrases of his later work. Many CD-boxes mix his early works with that rococoing stuff, and often you don't find any information about the period, when they were composed, in the booklet. This annoys me a lot, but, at least I can trust my ears: they hear it anyway whether it's swinging basso continuo, or shallow rococo for powered goops.

Well, I don't have that problem with Bach. It's just that I prefer instrumental music, that either inspires my own improvisations, or suits to gallant dancing. Besides I don't go much for church music, and absolutely avoid fugues. Because I don't want to waste my time with tricky composing. I just set the chords for improvising and arrange a few themes at the most. Would I get honored, if I wasted my time with figuring out complicated fugues? No, even Bach wasn't honored much for that during his lifetime. It's just an awful lot of work, but no fun at all. That is the problem I have with Bach, or let me say: with his freaks in our days. Like the older Bach, they still feel, music was supposed to be a struggle. They don't enjoy -- they kind of punish themselves. Creating music as sacrifice, listening an act of penance. This is the actual Bach Syndrome -- pure neurosis. The early Bach was different from that, he really wrote music for recreation. To those who even listen to the well-tempered clavier with put-on rapture: This was Bach's musical study. Even at his times there were a few slaves, who considered it beautiful music; Bach told them himself, it was not. I cannot listen to that stuff with joy for a long time, it just makes me nervous; but it's very interesting to listen concentrated to one of those exercises and analyse their chord conjunctions. Indeed you can use those as sonata patterns for improvisations, and later put them together to pieces. Frankly, Bach didn't leave much room for improvisation -- he expected his instrumentalists to play just his notes. This was the reason, why he was pretty unpopular among musicians: He took away the freedom they've been used to. In this matter Bach is already like the composers since Mozart: Master of musical slaves -- a dictator, idolized as almighty genius. This conception is still dominating, but it's wrong and it's crazy. But I don't think, the younger Bach was that way -- as court musician he couldn't afford to.

My favorite dance-music, written by Bach, is his 1st Orchestral Ouverture (or Suite). Lately I was discovering his Sonatas BWV 1033, 1034, 1035. It's great fun to improvise over them. I also consider to rediscover his Brandenburg Concerti, which I loved during my child days. They still belong to his early works, before he then was frustrated and gave up secular gallantry-music, for his duke had married an amusical woman. The successful stars were Telemann, and Handel in London. This is the tragedy of Bach's life. On the other hand okay.... otherwise he might have composed annoying rococo stuff as well....

[1] The most obvious example I ever heard was about one of his passions -- I think it was the St. Matthew Passion. Telemann's original (secular!) cantata was played at first in that radio program. Then they played Bach's version, from his passion: Bach had even copied Telemann's complete accompaniment for the singing solo tenor. The funny thing about it was, Telemann's original was quite a bit sultry! It was about a man, who expressed the heat of his love-passion. It really looks like Bach just did his job -- maybe he even didn't like to prepare that church music. Or he had not enough ideas to deliver every Sunday.