Guest contributor: Thierry Kauffmann
categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Jukebox
Hi, this is me, Anxious Bode. I told you about my battle with Parkinson’s. I told you about my concerto, too. The one I’m writing based on an improvised piano piece. I was going to behave, orchestrate it the standard way, with cellos and brass. But I was aiming too low. Not revolutionary enough. You know how I know that? When I aim low my health goes down. And it did. So I had to think of something big, outside the box. If you had to name one instrument that is guaranteed not to work well with with piano, it’s electric guitar. Chopin with electric guitar, you get the picture. And yet.
I know I dreamed of being a rock musician. I also loved classical music but most classical music is dead. Great for films, for journey, but when it comes to actual walking, it fails. Put Rachmaninoff in a disco people start crying. Classical music can move the soul, but the body needs something more earthy, closer to the ground.
It all started with an email. Someone, somewhere, had heard my music. My old piano music, Wish You Were Here, the one I had written for a dance class, modern dance, those were days of bliss. He offered to transcribe my music, write all the notes, so other pianists could play it. That had me jumping up and down. I heard telescoping orchestra sounds, Carnegie Hall, Grammy and back. After the crash of my orchestral dream,and health, I started to think. What was so irresistible in this old piece was not the music, it was the dance, the dance that gave birth to it. And that dance had been able to move an entire dance class only after I had let go of all classical piano. What remained was a mix between alternative rock, and Bach.
This old piece was my testament at the time. I had hit a wall, had to get a job and lay piano dormant for a while. So this resurrection sent a shockwave through me, after which I declared myself healed. I also started to lose sleep, wondering what to make with this new alchemy of sound. There was one way to find out, it was to play. Improvise my way through the concerto.
I’m sitting at my desk, I got my keyboard, small, three octaves, plugged into my phone. Inside my phone is a program, a virtual instrument, an Arp guitar. Out of two speakers comes the sound of the piano. I have placed the guitar aka the phone and the speakers as on a miniature stage. The whole band, is recorded by a recorder also expertly placed, to reproduce what I would hear from an actual band. Toward the end of the piece, the piano rises. I listen to the band with headset and I hear the guitar burn its way through the rousing piano, tearing away like lighting the pregnant sky and inscribing my will to live with letters the size of New York Harbor.
P.S: You can hear the result here. https://www.youtube.com/