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Rhythmic & Chordal Playing
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Cello Lessons: Baroque Period: 1600-1750 - Aesthetic & Performance Practice

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The baroque period from 1600 to
1750 is the first period
of music that most
classical musicians play regularly.
And a lot of this music was written to
be performed in churches and courts,
and actually the word Baroque comes
from a word that means deformed pearl.
So actually, the name for
this whole period actually came from,
I think it was a music critic who
basically was criticizing this music for
being too complex.
And he felt that there was too many
ornaments and too many things happening.
And you'll see it in the architecture
of this period as well.
There's a lot of ornate things on the
walls and on door handles and door frames.
And so, it's all about ornaments and
having things be sort of like
really sort of, well, complex both
melodically but also harmonically.
Bach, in particular, who is sort of like
the pinnacle of the late baroque period.
His harmonic language is
incredibly complex, and was
inspiring to a lot of romantic composers
and even modern day like jazz players.
Who are getting into the harmony
that Bach was working with.
The general sound quality in Baroque
music though is very resonate.
We're gonna us a lot of open strings.
We're not gonna use a lot of vibrato.
You know, the churches and courts that
this music was played in were often big
area rooms, with stone or
tile floors and hard walls and ceilings.
So, very resonant spaces.
In fact, at home, I find myself, now that
I have a strap to stand while playing, I
find myself walking around the house and I
inevitably end up playing In the bathroom.
Playing Bach in the bathroom because
the bathroom in your home has a lot of
hard surfaces.
So you get a lot of resonance and
echo in your bathroom coincidently.
But another thing that's worth
saying is actually the cello
that existed in the Baroque period is
not the same cello that we play today.
One main difference is the endpin.
The endpin hadn't been invented yet, so
cellists in the Baroque period would
have held the cello between their legs.
Also the bow that we play today,
modern bow as it called.
Has a sort of a concave shape,
however the baroque bow was convex.
It arched the other way.
And so
what that means is with a Baroque bow,
you cant really sustain
to the tip very well.
You can't crescendo
through notes necessarily
as powerfully as you
can with a modern bow.
So even though I'm playing
a modern instrument and
a modern bow, I still want to draw
on the general sound world, and
sound quality of Baroque instruments, in
order to bring out the life of this music.
So that's gonna effect a lot of my
personal interpretation of Bach and
I'll talk a little bit more about
the kinds of considerations that you can
make when you come up with
your own interpretation.