Over the past couples weeks I've had the pleasure of going into the recording studio to record a collection of songs from the musical Katherine Burger and I have been working on for, well... a while. :) A big part of this process was finding just the right pianist to play the hell out of some tricky and oddly quirky music. In Mary Feinsinger, we found not only a wonderful musician but a real gem of a collaborator. After only a few hours of working with Mary at the piano, she really "got" my music.
When you put notes on a page, you're really putting down a blueprint for music-making. And a lot is up to interpretation. How you make the music "breathe" through phrasing. How fast or slow. How consistently fast or slow. How loud or soft. Where to suddenly get soft. Some of these things can be notated but a lot of the nuances of how dynamics and articulation and tempo relate to the essential thrust of the music are beyond words.
When you sit with another human being and together you "agree" on a certain choice about how the music will flow from point A to point B without ever putting it into words, it's like nothing in the world. And as my collaborator Katherine is quick to point out, an elecronically-generated rendition of a song can never begin to approach the impact of the same played by a human being.
By way of example, listen to this excerpt from one of the songs from BATVIA as executed both ways. Although both are sung by human beings, in the first example, the accompaniment is computer-generated and therefore slaved to an exact meter throughout, giving a somewhat mechanical feel. The vocal line is also being croaked by the composer. In the second exerpt, Mary Feinsinger plays the hell out of a piano reduction of the score with the wonderful Lawrence Rush singing.
To my ear, it's like night and day.
To hear another song from the show, click here.