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REPOST: “The Performance was on Tape. So What?”

Given how much of the planet, regardless of their political viewpoint is going nuts over Beyonce(!) lip-syncing at the Inaugural yesterday, I thought it would be good to resurrect a post from four years ago when it was discovered that cellist Yo-Yo Ma and others taped their performances.

Move on folks, unless you think that watching instruments freeze up and get wrecked is worth seeing on international television?

Ooh-rah to the Marine Band for man­ning up for game time.  (Sadly, not all the time yesterday…)

As some­one who’s played the slide trom­bone for nearly 20 years, I can relate to the con­cerns of Mis­ters Ma, Perl­man and their col­leagues.  It’s not every­day you get to see a classmate’s clar­inet or alto sax­o­phone lit­er­ally ‘freeze up’ as the fin­ger­ings become impos­si­ble to move in cold weather.  Or seen the valves on a trum­pet become unable to move because the com­bi­na­tion of value oil and the player’s own saliva did what comes nat­u­rally to these liq­uids in temps below 32 degrees.

Take the time some­day to ask any brass player in a col­lege march­ing band if they own a plas­tic mouth­piece and they’ll tell you when it’s used.

Since I never played one, I can’t imag­ine what weather would do to string instru­ments like the cello and vio­lin, or the tun­ing of a piano.  Who can blame these musi­cians, many of them in the pos­ses­sion of antique instru­ments, for try­ing to ensure their per­for­mance wasn’t altered by the environment’s effect on their instru­ments.  After all, most mod­ern instru­ments are now designed and built for play­ing indoors, not in weather like on Tuesday.

That being said, I can relate to this essay in the Wash­ing­ton Post today about the thrill of hear­ing a per­for­mance “live.”  As hav­ing per­formed more con­certs than attended, it’s always been a joy to hear peo­ple after a con­cert tell you how your con­tri­bu­tion to a piece made them feel.

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