From the Desk Remix! – Bach and Creativity.

Earlier this evening I was watching an online concert (if the link becomes available I will post it!) focusing on J.S. Bach.

Johann Sebastian Bach has been one of my musical/creative heroes ever since I bought a cassette tape (you may have to search-engine that, depending on your age!) of his Concertos for Two Harpsichords. I purchased it because I had read that he was influenced by Antonio Vivaldi, another hero.

The concert involved a cello player, a violinist, and a composer.

The Violinist, Jonny Gandelsman, has recorded Bach’s solo cello suites on a five-string violin.

The concert was part music and part conversation about the differences which came to the music with the differing instruments and how Bach wrote the pieces.

It brought to mind the documentary of the ‘Addictive Sketcher’ Adebanji Alade attempting to recreate the painting of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, using the artist’s original techniques. At one point he had to decide whether to complete his version in its current state, with yellowed varnish, or choose the original paint colour which had been revealed in a studio version. In the end he chose to paint the figure of Lisa in her current colours but the background in the original colours.

Unsurprisingly, in these two examples, the creatives involved spoke about the learning which had occured as they moved through this process of working closely with works of Bach and Da Vinci. Both genuises have had an unrivalled impact across the creative spectrum, let alone in the field of their specific endeavours.

I think the ‘Pandemic Period’ has provided an uncommon time creatively. Individual endeavours and collaborations, in ways which would not have happened previously, have caused us to push at the boundaries of our art. There has been a space and a mindset to look again at our preconceived notions and experiment and learn again.

Being innovative isn’t necessarily about creating ‘new’ but can be taking the old and applying it to the new we already have.

What happens if you paint a Hopper image in the style of Van Gogh, or even Mondrian?

The classical music world is well ahead of other creative fields in arranging contemporary music into a ‘classical’ style, and a number of Rock musicians have played the works of Bach, Paganini, Vivaldi, for years.

In your area of creativity, which old masters can you revisit, or which ways can you reinterpret the new or the old?

Day 464 – A List of Recommendations.

Pre-amble:

It has been a day of sunshine and torrential downpour during a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon.

The sunshine was still warm but – it seems – typically for August – well hidden by cloudy masses, but for the brief periods it did emerge it was glorious. I have really noticed that the light has changed over the last couple of weeks and it seems significantly weaker, indicating the quick changing of the seasons.

The torrential downpour – including hailstones – was spent under a canopy of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. I mused briefly if they were trying out new special effects for a performance of Macbeth. We soon made quite a large and disparate group of shelter-seekers and I genuinely felt sorry for a young woman who made her way over, just as we were thinking it was safe to head out, who looked like she had just dived in the river, and was wringing out her jumper in a resigned shrugging of her shoulders.

The Recommendations:

Sitting outside Holy Trinity Church, I finished reading Where the Wild Winds Are by Nick Hunt. I mentioned this book back in Day 446. It is well written and blends travelogue with cultural history. Definitely worth a read.

Before we left for Stratford I listened to a couple of great radio programmes – apologies in advance if you can’t access them outside of the UK.

The first was The Early Music Show focusing on Bach’s Orchestral Suites. J.S. Back is my musical hero/legend so this was an easy listen, but the information and different recordings used to illustrate the history of these suites was awesome. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b08c2n8h

The second programme was Soul Music and focused on telling the story of the South African hymn/anthem Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Inspired by a tune from a Welsh hymn writer, through the Apartheid struggles, and into Nelson Mandela’s vision of a united South Africa, this programme tells the whole incredible story. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b06qjtqs