Nothing amazing happened this week! Google alerts brought up nothing, youtube was a dead end, and my sources were busy this week. No one released a new album in the new/contemporary classical music bassoon circles. No one did anything especially crazy on youtube. Come on bassoonists! I’m looking for some inspiration here!
On youtube, it was basically the week of pop songs, rearranged for the bassoon. Like this guy….
Gah! As liberal as I am with the “Bassoonists should be able to do anything anyone else can!” trope, I draw the line at this. Breaking Winds and the Bassoon Brothers aside, I kind of loathe arrangements of pop songs for bassoons. If its a good arrangement, and I mean, G.R.E.A.T. I love it, and squeal over it like a 13 year old school girl. If it’s not so great, I start to wonder where my life has gone if this is what the bassoon has come to. It was like playing pep band tunes in high school or college……if I ever have to hear Land of 1000 Dances again……
Ok, rant over. This is still a segment of my blog where I can talk about my inspirations. And as promised last week, we are going to talk about Johnny Reinhard.
The first time I heard anything about Reinhard, I was having a hard day and another bassoonist sent this youtube video to me as a joke, thinking it was the most hilarious thing he had seen all day. Here’s this grainy 1970’s video of this bassoonist that is using the bassoon in every unimaginable way you could find. I could feel several of my bassoon teachers cringing in panic and disgust.
Some of you probably laugh the first time you see the video. I know I did. But I watched it again, again, again….. it evolved in front of me. Like watching a car crash. At first you can’t look, but them you can’t look away, and then suddenly you see the beauty of the mashed metal and breaking glass. Something about it sucks me in. It feels visceral and real. My cats seek comfort under the bed when I play his music.
This is the score from Raven (if you click on it, you can see it better, for some reason, it doesn’t like WordPress). A piece from his 1999 album of the same name. (Don’t worry, composers….it’s on his website. I didn’t steal the score or anything)
Reinhard inspired me to really expand the music I was looking for. Until then, I was still sifting through the mid 20th Century, not even looking at microtonal music or new music in general. After hearing him and his music, my mission changed. I wanted to hear what was new. I wanted to hear what my friends were doing…..I wanted to hear something different and experimental.
When we start growing as musicians, we have that moment where we break away from what our teachers are telling us. Like 16 year olds with a driver’s licence, we exert our independence. Sometimes, even stupidly, we crash ourselves head on into the unknown. His music represents that moment for me. That moment where I realized that the bassoon could really make me happy in a way that I hadn’t thought it could. But that’s another blog for another time.
Also, he finished Charles Ives’s last symphony, Universe Symphony, and you can listen to parts of it free on the website.
I will finish with the only other video of Reinhard on youtube doing a solo piece.