Geachte heer Bach, In de afgelopen decennia heb ik, bij het bestuderen en bewerken van uw muziek, zoveel vragen verzameld dat ik, zou het mij vergund zijn om eens een middagje met u door te brengen, niet zou weten waar te beginnen.
Why is it that singing is generally considered more personal than instrumental playing? Why is it that we appreciate folk music as sincere and authentic? Why do we long for some jazz or rock music after having listened to classical music for a while? I think that the thoroughly-felt emotional link that singers, pop, folk or jazz musicians have with their music is a good trade for skillful reproductions of existing compositions.
But also, sometimes, we fall for the big picture of an elaborate composition, and want to know about the form, try to understand why a seemingly rational piece of music touches us. We examine what is behind the formal concept, finding the abstract root of this particular piece of art. And sometimes, we are so moved by it that we want to possess it, make it part of ourselves. From the abstract basis, we build up a new piece of art of our own, rightful in itself, albeit not completely original. That is when a good arrangement is born.
Arrangements have been given a bad reputation. Often, arrangers don’t know exactly why the music was written in the way it was written. They stay close to the original even though their choice of instruments does not fit with the idiom of the original. A true arrangement is a new composition, with new premises, based on the original idea, but completely stripped from its formal aspects. To get there, the arranger must find out what is content and what form, and sometimes that is pretty difficult.
When a musician reaches the point that he knows exactly why every note is played and how, we can feel that true relation between composition and performer again, and the arranger can rightfully write his name next to the composer’s.