Posts Tagged ‘teamwork’

first and last – 60 years (and a few) of skowroneck harpsichords

March 11, 2019

© Tilman Skowroneck 2019

Just as I was writing that Martin Skowroneck’s unfinished harpsichord no. 90 now reaches completion in the Oldenburg workshop of Dietrich Hein (see also here), Menno van Delft sent me pictures of the first Skowroneck harpsichord, which is on display in the Berlin instrument collection.


(Photo: Menno van Delft 2019)

So this is “no. 1”, a rather ambitious project with a 16′, 2x 8′, 4′ and buff stop, built in 1953. According to Martin Skowroneck (Cembalobau; Harpsichord Construction (Bergkirchen: Bochinsky, 2003), 261–62), this instrument is very globally based on a sketch of harpsichord no. 316 (known as “Bach-Cembalo” at the time) in the Berlin collection (which explains why it looks more or less historical in shape and especially, why it has this particular disposition). The inner construction is more or less modern (in want of better information at the time), with heavy frame members in ash, ribs under the bridge and a thin 4′ hitchpin rail. The boards for the case had to be prepared at a machine pool in Bremen, to be carried on foot across town for assembly in the basement of Skowroneck’s rented house in the Gravelottestraße. Knowing only this story, I was quite astonished to see such a neatly finished and gleaming harpsichord-shaped object on Menno’s photo!

Fast forward sixty years, to harpsichord no. 90. (more…)

you- and other -tubes

June 10, 2010

A post-lunch attack of ego-googling (we all do it, why not admit it) a few minutes ago brought forward a selection of material stored in various other locations that clearly has been borrowed from this very website. So, for example, some helpful spirit uploaded my versions of the anonymous “Barafostus’ Dream”, Morley’s “Nancy” and Fux’s “Ciaccona” on Youtube, correctly identifying me as the performer but omitting the source. Since (as I have explained in an earlier post) the original CD that contained these pieces has a specific sound profile due to poor filtering of some kind, I am quite positive the material was copied from my “Recordings” page on this blog.

I am aware of the mechanics of open-access publishing, and I wouldn’t like my comment here to be seen as a complaint. I will mention nevertheless that the material here, albeit freely available, is (naturally) my property. I sign for it, I have to answer for it, and hence, it is under my personal copyright. The least you can do if your mouse-finger itches to drag and drop things from here to somewhere else is to properly cite the source and mention the date you accessed it. If you’re unsure about how to do this, drop me a line and I’ll assist you.

This applies to all content, no matter whether it’s pictures, text, text snippets, or bits of music.

Thanks for your (to be anticipated) consideration.

recitatives (dry)

December 19, 2008

Most choir directors (if they are into oratorios or passions at all) conduct perhaps two bigger works each year (I’m thinking of those who also have church services to attend to, and a restricted budget). An average choir conductor can only go so far with the preparations of these concerts – there is so much to see to. Initiatives from the musicians are generally welcome, even expected. You hire a baroque orchestra – you expect that they know their stuff. Many arias go un-conducted at these events.

The cellists and organists offer a special recitative service to suit the situation. A very large percentage of our conductors rely happily and benevolently on that service: the continuo players and the singers get time for getting used to each-other’s style and for testing all the recitatives once, and that’s usually it. (more…)

the democratic ensemble

November 29, 2007

In a comment yesterday, Thomas D. rightly identified as problematic my provocatively not-annotated use of the word and concept “democratic” in combination with chamber music playing (see my post about rehearsal culture). Thomas writes: “What is ‘democratic’ chamber music playing anyway? In reality, one part is almost always musically leading (not always the same part!) – and there is no such thing as an artistic compromise.”

Let’s take a closer look.

A classic method to make a work team understand that true collective input significantly enhances the quality of the result is to give this team a test on a completely unknown subject: I remember that our Baroque ensemble once had to answer several pages of questions about lifeboats, knots and anchors. First, the test is attacked by each member individually, who has to answer the questions, without a dictionary, just like they feel the right answer might be. Then the whole group works through the questions, by means of a collective discussion, and the answers are then given according to democratic principles. Naturally, the result achieved by the entire group is, in terms of measurable correctness, strikingly better than even the best individual one. Surprisingly, though, I have seen a whole group of musicians, including myself, being fooled by this result. (more…)