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It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!
No offense taken I myself can't listen to classical music on synthesizers often and it's mostly a matter of mood for me. I've had periods when I couldn't listen to anything other than acoustic piano for months.
With that in mind I realize these Bach arrangements on synths are not for everybody. I have listened to my own arrangements, in particular the last Fantasy I posted, and I have switched from enjoying it to being annoyed with the squeaky sounds, back and forth...
Anyway, I still think that a lot of Bach music, for the reason of being contrapuntal, benefits a lot from synths because the separate voices can be recorded separately and panned differently and that would make it easier for the listener to distinguish and appreciate them. That's what I tried to do with that last recording and I think I achieved it to some degree and I enjoy it. Of course, I also suffer from these bouts of purism which is the reason why I can't stand Pianoteq for example. Or any synthetic sound, including my own synths, or other people's synths. I have periods when I laugh at Wendy Carlos arrangements 🙀 For instance some trills are just lame... And on the next day I may just melt listening to it.
Ultimately, it's a very niche field in an already declining part of the music (the classical music) and as such is very underground and nerdy. It also serves to satisfy my own engineering and geeky part, since it involves programming synths which requires a lot of technical knowledge.
I love this adagio since I was a kid. The final part contains some insanely cosmogonic ( 😜 ) harmonies that I always found were getting smeared on most organ recordings, so I specifically wanted to create a very warm, smooth and balanced saw pad that would make them justice.
Everything is programmed by me on a ASM Hydrasynth (polyphonic aftertouch for the win!) except for the bass which comes from a Behringer Model D. Mixed in Logic Pro X where a bit of reverb and EQ were also added.
And apologies to the purists I know some people don't like these arrangements. I've even received a comment that it sounds like a mockery... I can assure you that I do these out of my greatest respect for Bach whom I consider out of this world and one of the best composers ever existed on this planet.
There’s no aftertouch on the piano, so you can’t create expression after you played a note. Also, the sustain of the notes is not endless and if you listen to the Fantasy above, there’s a pedal bass for 10 measures. The same note on the piano decays for 2 measures. Also, Bach pieces are contrapuntal and so on a synth I can use different timbre for each voice which makes the separate voices distinguishable.
But finally, I do it for pleasure. It’s OK if you don’t understand it 🙂
I'm trying to arrange the intro choir "Herr, unser Herrscher, dessen Ruhm in allen Landen herrlich ist!" from Bach's St John Passion. This is a difficult task, so it's unfinished and will probably remain like that. I'm exhausted and not very happy with the result although it's been fun. Music is always fun
Sharing it so far to get some feedback. What do you think? Is it worth it?
A funny story is my 3-year old kid suggested that the music sounded as though it was from the Sleeping Beauty and depicted the scene where she's about to prick her finger and fulfill the curse. What's depicted by Bach isn't that far, is it? It will be Easter in a few weeks here.
I used almost entirely U-he Diva software synth and some Logix Pro X effects. There's a tiny choir patch from Logic's Alchemy synth.
Sorry if this is too OT and if this has already been posted (probably multiple times)
A man must love a thing very much if he practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practice it without any hope of doing it well. Such a man must love the toils of the work more than any other man can love the rewards of it. G. K. Chesterton
I'm trying to arrange the intro choir "Herr, unser Herrscher, dessen Ruhm in allen Landen herrlich ist!" from Bach's St John Passion. This is a difficult task, so it's unfinished and will probably remain like that.
What I don't like: the lead synth sound (those long trumpet-like notes soaring above like an eagle) is not the best sound for that important part: to my ears, it calls attention to itself as a synthesizer sound: "hey look, folks, check it out: cool sound, huh?"
[now let me listen again].
Okay: I don't like that the video starts with 13 seconds of dead air.
What I do like: the bass is powerful. Awesome. It's the straight-to-Bach experience for me. The is what sells me on this version. It is a vehicle that transports me straight to Bach. When the circle-of-fifths bass sequence starts, it is an amazing experience. The sound of the bass is good. The tempo is good. The strict rhythm is good. The stereo panning of the different parts is good. And I am interfacing with Bach himself (no distracting middleman). Such a powerful reminder of who you're dealing with (Bach). Unerschöpflich. Unergründlich. Bach was dead wrong when he said something about "anybody who works as hard as I do can achieve the same result". He didn't seem to understand the aristocracy in music (and that he was born as a king).
The other part was very good too. What do you call that, the ostinato part. It stayed in the background. Maybe too much in the background. Maybe it could use a crescendo or something. Just so nobody takes it for granted.
The brass sound is actually a bit of cliched sound first used by Vangelis in the Blade Runner soundtrack, originally from a Yamaha CS-80. Indeed it draws too much attention to it. It’s also heavily overused and often sought by synth novices. I fell in that trap too. Besides, I didn’t create that patch, it was a preset and I prefer creating my own patches. I will replace it with something else.
I was looking exactly for this kind of feedback 👍🏻
And I fully agree with your comments regarding Bach, I feel the same about his music. Sometimes I can’t believe how such a modest and at the same time uncompromising genius was born in that rather early stage of music.
Harpula, she’s a fine pianist, for sure. Her integration with electronics a little less so. She didn’t really take any chances and the strings were pretty cheesy. I’d say this was a piano piece with a synthesized backing track, not an integrated work. Just my opinion, of course.