The first edits of the 9 of the 24 Solos by Jean-Daniel Braun have come to my computer from David Bowles, my Berkley-based engineer and producer.
At the moment, I am making my first little splashing steps towards immersion in new music, improvised music, and electronic music, so listening to these small jewelled pieces is like waking out a dream and trying to find my glasses. Except that I NEVER wear my glasses. Anyway.
I am having a different experience from my normal reaction to hearing the first edits of my recordings and part of this has to do with listening on my computer… I have never done that before and there really are elements of the sound missing. However, with each repeated listening it all sounds better to me… David (my oh-so-calm engineer) says that the mp3 files, even the huge ones that he is presently sending, are missing data that we will hear on the final disc. Once the first stages of editing are complete, he will send the tracks on a CD and it will sound much more complex.
No matter how many times I do this, there is always a new dimension to the experience. One thing is for sure… the recording process and listening to the playbacks has informed my playing enormously and I feel (though I don’t know if it is true) that I could play these pieces much better now.
As I continue to teach the Solos to my students every week (these are fantastic studies for gaining fluency in voicing and articulation), I tell them that my only regret from the recordings was the realization that I was so entranced with the melodies that I did not develop my own variations and ideas to the point of absolute familiarity. All of my students are playing these works, from the relative beginners to the grad students. I tell them to first be wildly, extravagantly and possibly tastelessly inventive in the repeats of the Rondeaux and Minuetti… find the passages that seem true, find others that have humour, discover the notion of invention within other less obvious techniques, such as note lengths (including inégale), colouring of sound, timings … play it until some of the passagework and phrase shapings become part of your expectations and language, then take the music to a baroque superstar performer (i.e. a flautist, gambist, cellist, maybe a bassoonist) and get their ideas.
These are 24 tiny baroque sound sculptures, all under 3 minutes long. They have a reality and flexibility that make them endlessly fascinating despite the limited key range (13 in G minor, 6 in D minor, 3 in C Major, 1 in C minor and 1 in B flat Major).