Thursday, March 30, 2006
On a different tack
Music. The beginning or manner of beginning a piece, passage, or tone.
Decisiveness and clarity in artistic expression: a careful performance, but one lacking the rigorous attack the work demands.
So now I know. I used to think it had something to with the “angle of attack”. Remember all those Biggles books and the Commando comics?
All these days I had this mental picture of Yo-Yo Ma lifting his bow and somehow banking into a steep turn before he vroomed down on his cello, taking care to come in out of the sun, a bandit at 5 o’ clock high, eyes slitted as his thumb seeks the “Fire” button and rat-a-tat-tat, Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites spiral to earth with pieces juddering out of their wings. As the last Suite crrr-rrumps into the ground and fireballs, the audience rise in unison, throwing their caps in the air and cheering wildly.
Y-Y Ma, ace extraordinaire, waves from the cockpit as he does two slow barrel-rolls before flying off into the wings. Loud noise ensues off-stage – a Montagnana cello is not equipped with landing-gear, retractable or otherwise, even if it comes from
Petunia?!?! Naaah. “Attack” ceases to have any relevance.
Now if it had been Jimi Hendrix with Machine-gun ….
Makes sense though. Just listen to the opening of the third movement of Moonlight Sonata. If that isn't ack-ack fire, I don't know what is.
BTW, attack is one of the 4 "physical" characteristics of a musical note or a sound. (The other 3 being delay, sustain and release, not counting volume or loudness.)
Now, I worship at the Temple of Jimi, but the guitarist with the most devastating attack technique is Eddie Van Halen. If he and Jimi could go mano a mano, that would be something.
I don't think Yo-Yo Ma attacks at all - what little I've heard of him he's quite lyrical (and to me, highly boring). for real attack, you need either jackie du Pre or Pablo Casals.