Wednesday, April 8, 2015

6 Bulletpoints on Bach's No. 6 (and a few more)

In my professional work, I'm committed to using music by artists with whom I'm (at the very least) professionally familiar. It's part commitment to my community, part commitment to sharing the work of other artists, and part logistical in getting permission to use someone else's creativity for public consumption and my own inspiration. (More on permission and legal rights of artists in another post, but, yes they are real. Yes, artists have rights to their creative work, and yes, the internet has made that a bit more challenging.)

David Cullen has been playing in my ear for over ten years now, and I'm still star-struck every time I attend one of his performances. He graciously granted me permission to use his interpretation of Bach's Cello Suite No. 6 for (in)visible veins. Thank you, David! Check out more of his work, his performance schedule, and get some of his music: David Cullen's website

Bach's Cello Suite No 6. was particularly interesting to me because:

1. The very first solo I performed professionally was to one of the movements to one of the Cello Suites. (I was too young to know much more than that and too emotionally effected by the experience to think objectively about the music. But I am so grateful for that opportunity and that solo!)

2. Bach is timeless. Horseshoe crabs are timeless. The female experience is timeless. Dance is timeless. It's an organic gathering in time and space!

3. I didn't recognize No. 6 as one of the more familiar of Bach's Suites. (I'm also hesitant to use familiar music because [a]- Audience members bring their own experiences to the work, including their experiences with music and [b] I prefer to use less familiar music to support and share things that might be overlooked, but that still have importance and relevance).

4. Clear craftsmanship in the composition and the performance!

5. David Cullen played the Suite on the guitar - taking something "created" for one instrument (the Cello) and translating it into a new medium. (Yes, it could be argued that the Suites weren't created for one specific instrument, but it's in the title. And I believe in backing up what one says. They're not called the Trumpet Suites or even the String Suites or even Suites made for Stringed Instruments.)

6. David Cullen is taking a classic structure and a classic vocabulary and giving it contemporary value by putting it in his repertory and on his album "One Night, One Guitar". What's contemporary? By definition, anything that's happening now.

As I do, I did more digging. And I discovered even more reasons why Bach's Cello Suite No. 6 is relevant to (in)visible veins. (Please note, this is not a scholarly paper and these are my - perhaps artistic - interpretations of the research that I uncovered).

1. The Cello Suites weren't meant to be public phenomenon. They were structural and foundational and created for that purpose.

2. The Cello Suites No. 6 are the only suites that use the alto and soprano octaves or "voices" as I read. Alto and Soprano are classically female voice parts. The Cello Suites No. 6 are the only ones that include the female voice!

3. The Suites were written to be cyclical. Like the tides, and life cycles, and story-telling. (So relevant to this research!)

4. Seemingly foundational/ elementary/ simple music structures + seemingly foundational/ elementary/ simple movement structures + seemingly foundational/ elementary/ simple ecological structures + seemingly foundational/ elementary/ simple relationship structures = so much complexity!!! = (in)visible veins

5. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. In structure and performance. Boring? Perhaps. But repetition provides me (my viewers, dancers, and collaborators) with an opportunity to experience something again, but with more information and a new perspective. Bach has repetition in his Suites. I use repetition in my choreography.

6. The Cello Suites No. 6 were written in D Major. D Major is associated with joy and triumph. (Insert big sigh here.) Joy and Triumph = Community Building. Coming together to share stories. Continuing to do the Hard Work (of creation), despite Advisory and Obstacle.

I'm especially inspired by the idea of "Triumph."

I wonder - what will you feel after the experiencing the work?

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