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Your opinions, please...

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Alvaro Martín Gómez A., Jul 7, 2005.


  1. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Hi again.

    From some time ago, I've had the idea of arranging the fifteen two-part inventions by J.S. Bach for two basses. I know that such work has been done before, but I want to create my own version and, if possible, look for the way of releasing a book with it. Of course, this is intended as a didactic material. Right now, I've adapted the inventions # 1, 8 and 13. I created the score for two basses and a separate part in standard notation with fingerings for each bass. Of course, a work like this is not complete without a recording, so last night I started working on that and now I want to share my effort on the two-part invention # 13 (yet another one?). It was done with (guess what?) my 5-string Bongo with these settings: Full piezos, full bridge pickup, no neck pickup, full high-mids and treble, low-mids and bass slightly cut. The two track recording was done with Adobe Audition plugging the bass direct into my SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Platinum sound card and the only effect I used was a compressor. No reverb or chorus, for instance, so you can hear the real tone of the Bongo. Bass # 1 is panned fully to the right and #2 is panned fully to the left, so they can be isolated for you to play along (and hear my mistakes in detail ;) ). The opinions I'm looking for are about the quality of this recording as a teaching material to be released to the public. I know that Bunny Brunel did this and I haven't heard it but I guess that the arrangements and recordings must be monstruously good. In my case, I just want to know if you think this recording meets a minimum quality standard. I mean, if you have the chance of trying this, would you buy it? The YouSendIt link below has a zip file with the recording, the score and the parts for each bass. The biggest problem I'm facing is that I chose to play these pieces at a moderately fast tempo and so many punch-ins should be done for getting this the best possible (specially for the first bass. I only did one punch-in for the second). I know I can record them much slower and use the software for speed them up, but I don't want to do that. I want to be as honest as possible with this. There are lots of mistakes, but I want you to tell me if those mistakes are so prominent to ruin the work or if, on the other hand, they contribute to the "warmth that the human factor adds to the recording". So please let me know your sincere opinion on this work (I'm ready for anything :bag: ). Again, think of this as if you were at your local store and were looking for such material for you to study. Thank you in advance!

    Link:

    http://s21.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=2VPI2SFUGD2MB0Q4BMY66AVMUE
     
  2. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    It sounds good! There were a few rattled notes on the left channel that distracted me in the beginning, but the tone is very clear and the playing solid. I hope you'll post more elaborate arrangements as you get them recorded.
     
  3. I thought it was very good. String noise is pretty much inevitable. Unless you want to do a lot of punching. It kinda adds character anyway. There was a guy who did MIDI sequences of classical guitar stuff and used the Fret Noise MIDI instrument to add artificial noise to the file. It was pretty convincing. Occasional slight mis-frets are probably okay for an educational CD. They'd be worth fixing for a normal CD, I think.

    I also thought that the performance was very good. You should feel free to add some more character to the phrases by doing more slurring and dynamics. Though, many people play Bach fairly straight. I like both. In my own playing, I try to add my own interpretation to the pieces. For example:

    http://www.jsbach.net/bass/audio/Bach-Variation_No_1_in_G_Major.mp3
    It's not perfect. I did this for the Talk Bass MP3 CD. I think I did a bit too much vibrato on a few parts. It's note-for note on my 7-string. Recorded with my Hanewinckel 7-string using Adobe Audition. The voices were obviously done separately. I did a bit of punching on editing on that one. I probably should have fixed the mistakes but I ran out of time

    If you're really into playing Bach on the bass, you should consider getting a 6 or 7 string. I think that every Bach solo work can fit on a 7-string if it is transposed down an octave or two.

    - Dave
     
  4. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Thank you for your comments, Mr. Grossman! I know how is to be a self-demanding person, but let me tell you that I loved your performance. Your bass' tone is very sweet and I like a lot your attack.

    I notice what you say about dynamics and interpretation. In my case, it made me remember my piano classes at the university. I had to study some of the "Little Preludes And Fugues" and I had an edition with plenty of interpretation marks and suggestions from the editor. My teacher hated that and always remarked that baroque music should be played straight and that the only adequate ornament is the trill with all of its variants. Maybe that had some kind of influence on me. According to him, even the final ritardando is wrong, but I did it here because I've heard lots of Bach versions with that. I'll try some "alternate" versions with dynamics and slurrings anyway.

    About the string noise... I know that and also know that it could be easily remedied by rolling off the treble, but in fact, all that string noise is because the piezo pickups emphasize all those details coming from the strings and I love that! I mean, the Bongo is my first instrument with piezo pickups and never thought I'd fall in love that much with that sound.

    Again, these recordings are intended for educational purposes. I'm thinking of adding a (very quiet) countoff for anybody who wants to play along with one recorded bass isolated and need a reference guide to start to play.

    Thank you again! I feel very motivated to continue with this.
     
  5. Thanks!

    I've heard the same thing on occasion. However, that is only an opinion, I think. Since dynamic markings on Baroque music is generally sparce or non-existant, some people probably interpret that as the way it is supposed to be played. However, it can be argued (and has been by many) that the composer expects the performer to interpret the work to their own tastes. I wish I could cite some references but I don't have my Bach books here.

    The best argument for interpretation comes from the music itself. So many of Bach's phrases benefit so greatly from additional interpretation as opposed to being played straight that it seems inconceivable to me that the intent was to play them straight. Listen to the solo cello and solo violin works and you'll hear what I mean.

    Don't sacrifice your tone to get rid of a little string noise. Find a good balance between your sound and hiding the string noise. I have never heard a Bach stringed instrument solo performance that didn't include additional instrument noise (bow squeaks for bowed instruments and string noise for guitars and lutes).

    Good luck,

    Dave
     
  6. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Hey!

    For anybody who has listened my recording, I've noticed a really weird thing: Normally, I play my mp3s in Winamp, and this one sounds as expected when played there. But I've just tried the Windows Media Player, and the second (left) bass sounds annoyingly weak! I have no clue about this. Even weirder: I tried playing the original .wav file in WMP and sounds OK. The problem is just with the mp3, but again, it sounds fine in Winamp 5.09. So, if you've been listening in WMP, please try it with Winamp. Maybe you'll have a different impression. Here's a fresh link to the file, just in case:

    http://s38.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3AMR8SCXCW88U3HOT8DQARJTKH