Monday, August 12, 2013

Bach and I

Like many, I have always been fascinated by Glenn Gould. I cannot remember when I first became aware of his existence but I am sure that it was sometime during my years as a guitarist. I loved to play the Bach transcriptions most of all and one cannot be into Bach and not discover Gould!
Although I enjoyed a long, fruitful and passionate relationship with the guitar, I had always been frustrated that the repertoire was so limited in breadth and quality compared to the more mainstream instruments.  Eventually, as you would well know, if you have visited here before, I ended up giving the guitar a way entirely and choosing the piano so as to give myself the opportunity to explore that instruments huge repertoire and particularly to explore the vastly greater availability of music by Bach. In the last half year my abilities have improved enough so as I could spend time exploring 3 Inventions and 2 of the Preludes and the Cm Fugue from WTC 1. This has been most rewarding and definitely further aded to my technique. Apart from choosing to play Bach because I love to, I am also particularly doing so to gain the greater degree of hand independence that playing contrapuntal music provides. This is so as I can apply it to my ability to improvise which is probably my raison d'etre for being a musician in the first place.
Back to Gould. When he plays you can see how deep he gets into that expressive space as he sings voices, sways his upper torso around and conducts himself with his left hand if it happens to be free.

That is the place I also strive for when improvising and if I know a non-improvisatory piece of music well enough to do so also. These mannerisms of Gould's have caused so much controversy over the years but for me it merely adds to the experience of watching and hearing him play. I empathise very much with his need to physically express the music. This has been another frustration I have had with the classical guitar as the movements required to play it are all so small and the sitting position so constrained that much of the time I felt it tempered my ability to express the music I was playing in the way that I wished. Standing up and playing and improvising on the electric guitar suited me far better and I am constantly on the move as I am unable to stop myself from physically manifesting the emotion I am feeling as I play. Although also a little more constrained as one is sitting too, I find the piano far more liberating than having to keep control of a guitar on the lap. Ironically, considering I have dedicated so much effort and time to the guitar over the years, I think the piano is actually a more suitable instrument on which to express myself musically.
The main reason for the post though is to let you know how much I have been enjoying reading Kevin Bazzana's biography "Wondrous Strange - The life and art of Glenn Gould". Apart from gaining great insight in to Gould the man and his activities during his life, the experience of reading it had been added to immeasurably as I have it downloaded to my iPad mini. This remarkable device allows me to instantly explore as I wish beyond the book when I ever I read something of interest that I would like to more about. It is far lighter than the standard iPad and it has become my constant companion.

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