Bach Project - Bobby McFerrin
I’m surprised when you hear Bach's music that you don't just let yourself go.
It’s so uplifting, I mean, it is a dance. I think Bach understood that.
In classical music where you already know the answers before you even begin the piece,
you know what the answer is. Improv is you’re questing all the way through.
You’re constantly asking yourself, how does this go, where does this go, why does this go.
And not necessarily in my compositions but being an improviser
I know that I do travel in the Bachian sort of style and world.
I gotta tell you a story about the Bach Violin Concerto in A Minor.
I sang the entire concerto with members of the San Francisco Symphony standing behind me in a semi-circle.
And in the second movement, I got completely turned around and lost.
And the musicians were playing and you could see in their eyes, are we gonna stop, are we gonna stop,
are we gonna start over again, and they were wondering what I was going to do.
And so I improvised my way to a spot that I recognized and then took it from there.
Anyway, we finished the piece, intermission comes, and I’m very embarrassed
and sorry that I had put them through this experience, and I’m apologizing profusely to the players,
I was a brand new conductor and I had messed up and all that kind of stuff.
But one of the women in the orchestra was this older woman and she came up to me
and she looked at me and said, “Bach would have loved it!” And it was because I was improvising,
I was just sort of making something up. I’ll never forget that, I’ll never forget that.
You know it’s funny that the musicians that are revered in all the conservatories
and music schools were absolutely fabulous improvisers.
You know, Bach and Mozart and Beethoven. And it made it authentic and genuine.
And I think a lot of times in classical performances, we forget that, you know,
we get so locked up in technique and how it sounds and playing the right notes.
What people want to hear, they want to see the performer actually disappear into the music
so that all you hear is the music and not so much be enthralled with the performance
but enthralled with the experience of the music making.