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Cello Lessons: “And” Is the Most Important Word in Music

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[MUSIC]
>> One of the many life changing things
that I've learned from Yo-Yo Ma,
possibly the cellist with
the greatest melodic gift that has
ever graced the inner planets.
One thing that he says often,
in master classes,
is that and
is the most important word in music.
I'll show you what he means.
[MUSIC]
And,
[MUSIC]
and,
[MUSIC]
and,
[MUSIC].
And so on, basically,
no phrase is isolated.
If you wanna have a long
arch to a classical piece,
every phrase needs to be connected as
if it was like a big run on sentence.
You could do this is between phrases or
even at smaller notes.
[MUSIC]
And.
[MUSIC]
And.
[MUSIC]
And.
[MUSIC]
And.
[MUSIC]
And.
[MUSIC]
And.
[MUSIC]
And.
[MUSIC]
And.
So, this idea that you never
want to drop the ball,
you want to keep the audience and
the sound just continually levitated.
You never want to let things die.
Okay?
So, the question becomes,
how do you do this?
I actually struggled with this for a while
cuz I heard him say this a few times.
And obviously,
I could hear it in his playing, but
I couldn't bring it out in my own playing.
And then, eventually, I discovered
it all has to do with bow speed.
Okay, it all depends
how you release a note.
Okay, so if I slow the bow down
before it leaves the string
[MUSIC]
I slowed the bow down, and
then I took the bow off the strings.
When I do that the phrase dies.
[MUSIC]
Right?
But, if the bow leaves
the string at full speed
[MUSIC]
then you get this resonance.
Literally, the sound does not stop,
even though your bow is not
touching string anymore.
[MUSIC]
You can keep hearing the sound.
And this is how I was able
to capture this feeling.
So every time you have a phrase
that ends before a rest,
you have to pick the bow
off the string at speed.
Don't slow the bow down while
it's still on the string,
because that [SOUND] that
will kill your sound.
Let me demonstrate a little bit.
[MUSIC]
Lift.
[MUSIC]
Even though I'm day
crescendoing I'm gonna lift.
[MUSIC]
So ultimately your body language,
you're never gonna stop moving.
You're always gonna continue your gesture
[MUSIC]
as you conduct yourself into the next
phrase.
[MUSIC]
Keep moving.
[MUSIC]
That is how to make a really beautiful
melody that keeps its
eyes in the distance.
You never want your melody to die before
you get to the end of the piece, and
even at the end of a piece,
you can apply this, too.
At the end of the swan,
[MUSIC]
I'm gonna lift the bow off the string,
at speed.
Sometimes, I see Yo-Yo do this.
He'll end a piece.
And then he'll just
keep bowing in the air.
Until it's time to stand up because
there's a standing ovation and
everybody is clapping.
The point is you never
want your sound to die.
And the way to do this is
to keep the bow moving.
Lift it off the string while
you still have enough bow speed
to keep that sound ringing.
>> [MUSIC]