Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer: Bach Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major, BWV 530: I. Vivace from their forthcoming recording Bach Trios.
Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer: Bach Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major, BWV 530: I. Vivace from their forthcoming recording Bach Trios.
I love this stuff for a couple of reasons.
First they look like they just came from Brooks Bros. with their new coats and suits. Mr. Ma has worn them more often, but they do want to make an impression. My mother would love this. Ha, ha.
Second; they do make an impression. Going from folk music to classical music which has a much more critical eye, IMHO opinion, going back a few hundred years of talented virtuosos and critics. Dare to compare yourself with the best in history? Why not?
Third, it is just plain fun and good music as well. I want to hear more classical music on 'bluegrass instruments'. (Yea, this has a cello instead of a guitar and banjo. But you get the idea. ) I love the sound of the instruments, and in the right hands, this music can assume a whole new sound. I felt the same excitement when Dawg music visited jazz in the 1970's. And it is still an exciting sound. Bach next. Yes, and yes!
Can't wait for the CD release.
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WOW… that is going to be an amazing album. Those three are astounding players.
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Love this. Can't wait!
I guess Stuart Duncan couldn't make it this time
I suppose when you're a video director, or marketing department, faced with a project like this it must cause minor palpitations.
'Do I stress the beaten track or the off-beat?'
For me, i have to say, the opening section of the clip, the 'brooks brothers piece', is at total odds with the rest of the recording.
The piece itself, for me, has a lightness, a brightness, a joy, thats at odds with the more formal, besuited, bedecked, frame.
I have to say, that, while i am excited for this release, i'm also, kinda ... happy; i'm happy that these guys seem to have found a great working relationship. The music seems to spark of a lightness, a vibrancy that can only come through trust.
Sure, i'm happy that i get another record for my collection but, more so, i'm happy that these guys are building a relation and pushing and moving each other to create more recordings.
Long may it last.
Serious men, about to commit music.
But playing in jeans. Different vibe if video opened with them emerging from surf after kiteboarding, for instance.
Thile is using white pick, discuss.
I can't wait until this is released in April. But it certainly makes the wait easier when Thile has just released a record with Brad Mehldau, has done a tonne of great Punch Brothers stuff recently, not to mention the Bach record and the record with Edgar Meyer not that long ago. And on top of all that, I get to hear him (and often see him online) every week on PHC. This week Mehldau is on, a few weeks ago Andrew Bird was on and Thile joined him a couple of times, and a few weeks before that, we had this:
What an age we live in!
Thanks so much for posting this! I'll buy that for sure.
For wooden musical fun that doesn't involve strumming, check out:
Handcrafted pennywhistles in exotic hardwoods.
That's gorgeous. Classical on bluegrass instruments has been around for a while, for those new to the format. Bela Fleck and Ben Sollee did Danse Macabre, a great version, and of course, the originals to the genre, Edgar, Mike Marshall, and Darol Anger have done Bach for a good 30 years. The more we see musicians cross the genre lines, the better for all music. How many bluegrassers would listen to Yo Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer play Bach of Chris weren't involved? Our last three concerts featured three bass players who came out of Ithaca College's famed classical bass performance school, and one was in an alt/old time band, one with Darol Anger's holiday show and Mr. Sun, and one playing jazz with Joe Brent and 9 Horses. This skill level is the new normal, and it's just great to hear and see this. I hope they sell a million copies.
The very top classical recordings in the U.S. are lucky to sell over 100 physical copies per week, most far less. You read that right, and that info is available online. Quote from Alison Brown at Compass was that streaming is generally a half cent per listen. x 1 million is $50,000. Three people, right, not so bad? But wait, lots of slices of pie like the label, studio expenses, marketing and much more, then taxes. In the end the artist with a million streams--won't happen with this recording and likely no others in classical--isn't getting anywhere close to rich. Touring? Better, depends on who you are. Being a musician, except for a very few at the very top (hint, count out any type of folk music, classical is not that much better), is still an awful struggle. Doubt Thile is in that league. He likely added one, possibly two zeroes to his salary when he took over PHC. Being a musician making a good living is harder than making the NBA.
Wish it wasn't that way but the realities are brutal in the music industry, and aren't getting better. Don't think this is true? Ask a professional musician.
Administrator, you're looking at the pure recording and royalty aspect, and are not including any assumptions about up front payments, whether draws against sales or not (which for these top musicians are normal parts of their business deals).
Also, consider that for the videos, these musicians are compensated for the live performance, and then additionally for recording sales and video replays. They all do fine, because they are the best at what they do, and people will always pay to see/hear the best.
It's the average musician (no matter how talented) who struggles to make enough at a performance to pay for transport, food, lodging, and then send any home. The average group also doesn't have 100k+ in recording equipment, plus a top engineer and multiple videographers in order to ideally capture every show so that they can release the live recordings.
Well, I hate to agree with The Admin (Scott), but all the revenue sources you mention are either nonexistent for most artists (up front payment, draws, etc) or in the case of touring, beat down by the expenses of touring. Video revenues are highly overrated save for the pop stars.
One band we worked with frequently before they decided to call it quits spent years doing 250 gigs a year worldwide. That meant another 50-60 days tacked on for travel. After all those years, and the cd's sold, they found that they had just broken even on the cd sales/expenses. Touring was;t much better. But they did have a lot of fun. Here's the main kicker: if you're in this sort of acoustic music which isn;t mainstream, and that includes just about all categories represented here, you don;t get an advance for a cd, you share in the production cost. I'm not sure I'm supposed to give some inside deals, so I won;t, but I can say that at most of the labels, even the large, well-known ones, the artist has to pay at least half of the cost of production. Then they get to purchase cd's from the label to sell at shows, at $7.00 a pop. Those were numbers from a couple of years ago, so it might have changed a little.
This is why most artists who aren;t in the stratosphere have gone independent. Jaime Stone just spent about 30k producing his latest album, slightly less than half came from crowdfunding, the rest out of his own pocket. How many does he have to sell before he breaks even? That's a pretty easy 4th grade word problem. On the plus side, he keeps everything after the sells the amount needed to hit the break point.
On to touring. Most paydays for really good touring bands (not the elites, like Punch Brothers, or Del and Dawg, or Rhonda Vincent) will average about $1500-$2000 for a three day weekend, and this can include the really good bands like a Mr. Sun. There might be a higher number thrown in, but there will also be some that tank. Yeah, there are guarantees in any contract, but those are bent lower for the smaller venues that sometimes are needed to get three days in a row. Without those three days in a row, a weekend becomes a loss financially. So take an average of about 5k for a weekend, do the splits (depending on the band, it may not be equal shares) subtract for expenses, taxes, blah blah blah and then realize that amount you end up with is your pay for the entire week.
Classical musicians have it far worse. Forget sales at all. Here, Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer fall into the elite category, so we'll leave them out of the mix. The vast majority will go one of two ways: finish with a 4 year degree in performance, hope to catch on with a symphony and supplement with teaching, or go for the master's, practice 6 hours a day, put up with the grueling competitions and auditions, incur more debt, and eventually hope to catch on with a symphony, work about 120 days out of the year, and supplement with teaching. Just hope you really like teaching, as a bad teacher attitude can really turn students off. A good friend's daughter finished with her master's in harp performance 2 years ago. She finally got the chance to audition for on open harp position at a symphony in St. Louis, I think. One position, 83 harpists showed up, and two of the other hopefuls were her teachers at the conservatory she studied at. Now she's coding gaming software.
Videos? If you don't go viral, forget it. 9 Horses, with Joe Brent, is one of the more crazy-talented trios around. Sara Caswell on violin teaches at Berklee and at Juillard, and their show with us was considered one of the very best by many of our regular subscribers. Their video view total of Snow Musik, one of their more popular tunes? 1187. Lots of videos with Jeremy Kittel, John Jorgensen, Jason Anick, Jayme Stone, Crooked Still, and so on, have views numbering in the hundreds. Not income producing totals, I'm afraid. Some artists try to control the sheer number of videos out there by asking that no one record a performance with their cellphones, but get real. That request is comical, and serious attempts to control them, or even argue why people should respect the artist's requests are laughable. It's the times we live in, so move on. The lucky viral videos are pretty much all in the pop world. About the only alternative string player who made it big is Lindsay Stirling, whose music I'm not a fan of, but I'm absolutely cheering her on for work ethic (huge), professionalism (a role model) and inspiration to lots of young violinists learning the instrument. She does pull in double-digit millions a year, and good for her.
As a career, alternative string/niche folk musicians have a far better chance of making a reasonable living than their classical counterparts. There's a very interesting dynamic at work, where large number of students in this country eschew the classical grind after a couple of years in the conservatory and hit the alt/folk trail for the freedom and fun. They also see the dead end of competitions in front of them. This who stick with classical? For the most part, it's obscurity in a local orchestra and teaching. Take any issue of the Strad from a few years ago, look at all the plugs for competition winners, rising stars, label signings, etc., and see how many you recognize. I follow this stuff, and most of the time, the answer is zero.
I know all that sounds depressing, but after every show, it's all smiles from the audience, the volunteers, and most especially the band. They make some money, make a lot of friends, love performing in front of an audience that really "gets" them, and they leave energized. It's not about the money. Yeah, you need some to live, but it's the hunger to create live performance art that makes it worthwhile. But if you live to see your bank account grow, go into app development.
Such beautiful music. I'm happy to see the F5 mandolin being used in classical music as it was originally intended.
Question: Why is Yo Yo Ma the world's most popular cello player?
Answer: Nobody can pronounce Mstislav Rostropovich.
Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
When time is broke and no proportion kept!
O.K. you guys. Chill out. It is good to talk about this but the original post is about three musicians playing Bach and how inspiring it is. And thanks for the tip about Ben Sollee. (So many new leads come from Mandolin Café. It is incredible.) Ben has a video that makes me feel good. So smile brothers and sisters, it can't hurt.
I'd like to talk about how this piece was arranged for mando, cello and bass from the original. Despite the "trio sonata" name, I believe this piece was originally composed for organ, and most of the recordings you find of it are for organ:
"At some time in the vicinity of 1727 to 1730, Johann Sebastian Bach finished compiling a set of six organ sonatas that, records show, he intended as practice pieces for his oldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. It seems that the purpose was fulfilled; W.F. Bach got a prestigious appointment as organist of the Sophienkirche of Dresden, in 1733, and became widely known for his outstanding playing. The pieces in the set are sometimes called trio sonatas because in texture they resemble works of that period made up of three independent musical lines; two in the treble function more or less as a duet and a third is in the pedal register of the organ."
So I'm figuring someone broke this out along the line for three instruments, but cello is not exactly a "treble function" instrument so I am assuming it needed further tweaking. Thile is playing what I hear as the continuo - pretty much like a harpsichord - much of the time. Not sure where Ma is getting his lines from, although they could be a flute part down an octave.
Anyway, I love Bach and all three of these musicians, and being that bass is my other instrument besides mando - what's not to like about this? Can't wait until the full album comes out ...
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A quick check of the score shows that they're playing the three lines exactly as written, Chris the top, Yo-Yo Ma the middle (you'll see he's way up the neck most of the time the camera is on him) and Edgar, obviously, the bass line. The only change I can find is at one point towards the end Chris plays an A instead of an F because the line dips below the range of the mandolin.
Are they going to tour?
"...while a great mandolin is a wonderful treat, I would venture to say that there is always more each of us can do with the tools we have available at hand. The biggest limiting factors belong to us not the instruments." Paul Glasse
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Suspect this tour will sell itself out. Fact that the CD is just getting released is likely getting in the way of the news about the tour but that will be coming. A friend whose recording I played on got these two tickets as part of my reward for playing with her (I promise, I made interesting mistakes on her album). Wasn't even aware they were coming but happy to find out via a pair of seats for the performance. Those of you within driving distance, Kansas City's new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts where they will play is without question one of the finest performance venues in the U.S. If you can get here for it, the performance is certain to be memorable, and the venue is like one you've never witnessed.