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Bach Double: recorded separately, then combined on YouTube!

Ben Chan

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Published: February 6, 2014 at 2:10 PM [UTC]

I wanted to share a YouTube project with everyone here to showcase the power of the Internet in bringing violinists from all over the world together.

I found a violinist named Marc-André Gautier on YouTube and asked if he would like to perform the Bach Double with me. We've never met and I wasn't familiar with his playing style or Bach Double interpretation, but I felt I was up for the challenge.

I have learned A TON about my own violin playing through this process. Marc-André first recorded his violin part and sent the video and audio to me. I printed out the sheet music from, grabbed a pencil and watched Marc-André's video over and over again, writing down fingerings, bowings, and expression. I then practiced against his video, recording my takes and then listening back to determine what could be improved. I was amazed to find out how little I vibrate my notes vs Marc-André, especially the short ones. His video also taught me how to improve my tone and expression in the right hand. It was like a private masterclass that I could pause and resume as many times as I wanted!

Once I was ready, I recorded against his audio and mixed the two together. It took many hours to get everything synced together, but I'm proud of the final result and hope you will enjoy it as well. I'd also like to know how obvious (or not) it is that we recorded separately and then combined the videos together. The hardest part of this project was timing my playing with his in the absence of organic, real-time body language cues.

Thanks for watching and I'd love to hear your feedback on this! And I'm working on the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia with cellist Nathan Chan and will post it here as well if people like this one - the audio is complete but there's work to be done to get the video in sync.

-- Ben Chan

From Ellis Jackson
Posted on February 6, 2014 at 4:44 PM
I've seen this done on YouTube many times with many different pieces. It's certainly an interesting way to perform a duet--modern style! Great performance, Ben.

Looking forward to the Passacaglia w/ Nathan.


From Ben Chan
Posted on February 6, 2014 at 7:12 PM
Thank you, Ellis! Yeah, I agree that it's certainly something that people do more often these days and I'd love it if even more people did, especially classical musicians!
From Gene Huang
Posted on February 6, 2014 at 8:59 PM
Hi Ben -- Great job! It's not obvious that you recorded your parts separately. I posted this question on your facebook page yesterday, but soon after, I realized that it would be near impossible to do one take with both of you in separate locations and have it sound that good. Also, I could not tell where you made edits to the audio.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on February 6, 2014 at 10:21 PM
This is great, Ben, and I'm going to give the link to my students who are working on it. I love it when students discover that the Bach Double does indeed have three movements, each one better than the last, IMO!
From Ben Chan
Posted on February 7, 2014 at 3:08 AM
You're right, Gene - I had to record the different parts separately in order to time them just right, which took a lot of practice and patience! In the end, though, I can play the whole thing in one take far better than I could before!

Thank you, Laurie! And I agree, they do get better with each movement!

From jean dubuisson
Posted on February 7, 2014 at 1:42 PM
It's very nice Ben, and I couldn't immediately hear where you manipulated the audio. It is actually a very nice performance of the piece.

On technical thing I noticed is that Marc-Andre plays his sequences of eighth notes at the point of the bow, whereas you play them in the middle of the bow. That contrast kind of stood out when I was watching the video.

Thanks for making and posting this

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