Our piece has 5 movements, and in the third, I will get to improvise on modern cello in a French Baroque style. Before I discuss the “modern,” “French,” “improvised,” and “Baroque” parts of this statement, I’d like to mention that the different characters of the improvisation are communicated through me physically by Natalia in her gestures. In fact, the name of the third movement is “communication.” This past year Ken worked with Tommy DeFrantz on many pieces, which integrated the Microsoft Kinect. Because time was of the essence in this collaboration, Natalia and I developed a vocabulary for five pre-programmed event motions such that her motion cues to me change which part of the texture I am in. Using the Kinect she can hold on to recorded musical material and layer it. Thus, there is potential in the improvisation to create a five part texture by overlapping the different parts.
Now for discourse on “modern,” “French,” “improvised,” and “Baroque.” I choose to use the modern cello, because of the implications for performance practice. The modern instruments have a entirely different technique in Baroque music than the Baroque instruments. In largest philosophical difference is that Baroque instruments hold the execution of the gesture paramount in practice, and then consider intonation most important in performances. The modern technique focuses on intonation in the practice room, and the gesture in performance. Because Ken plays guitar with a bow in an English Baroque style (reminiscent of a consort) in a previous movement, I choose to play in a Baroque style to highlight that it is somehow more socially acceptable for a modern cello to play Baroque music than a guitar with a bow. I chose to play in the French style for this specific movement, because the dotted rhythms of Natalia’s heart beat from the first movement “signal.” Although the outer movements focus on music from the English Baroque in d minor, this middle movement uses French style in Bb major. Finally, the idea of improvisation in a Baroque style is something that academics may or may not find appropriate, but it is something that can be practiced, and it is something that adds a new level of performance artistry for performance musicians.