Beyond Early Music - Carpe Diem 2013

Much time has passed since I last took some time to write here, and even more new developments have come across my path since then. My work as a music producer and balance engineer is becoming more and more intense and time-consuming (maybe too much, speaking of sustainable and healthy workloads), the label (Carpe Diem) has grown to an apparently well-respected and not anymore completely unknown company with a nice catalogue of special, mostly well-done, sometimes irritating CD releases, and that is basically how it should be.

Some of you may have noticed the change of our company slogan from “Excellence in Early Music” (which was not completely untrue but still a bit showy maybe) to the much simpler “Recording Magic”, and that is a much more precise term to describe what all my work, efforts and ambitions are really about. Regarding the field of Early Music, not many interesting things are currently going on (except those I am not aware of, maybe). Repertoire has been largely recorded, and if new material shows up, it is rarely worth mentioning, or even if it is, there’s no world-changer among them, recently.
Interpretation is another thing: Historical accuracy in performance practice has proven dead boring, while inaccuracy or conscious denial of accepted practice often failed to convince due to lack of skill and wit, quite neccessary for creation of significant art. Often I cannot bear witnessing today’s performers and ensembles trying to reinvent the reel with superficially crafted performances, not at all aware of the fact that musicians before them did it all, and better than they ever could. I enjoy listening to old recordings from the 60s or 70s these days, more than I enjoy most of the current stuff. Some of those are really gorgeous and I wonder why the heck do people dare to record this or that piece over and over again without adding anything new, anything better, anything more valuable? How many Goldberg Variations, how many Schubert songs are there out on the market? Just trying to answer that questions reveals the absurdity of our current music market situation, and we still call it art and are proud as punch if we manage to add just some more water to the soup. It will not get much tastier from that alone.

So what is there left to do for us? I am no fan of demotivation speeches and prophecies of doom. If we look at the world we inhabit, and at the society we are coping with in our everday lifes, it is obvious that there is loads of things to do. We have one crisis following the other, may they be of economical, ecological, social nature: The world is in constant movement on all possible levels, and it is moving fast at the moment, and the music world, being part of the art world, being part of those people who give meaning to life and being since the first days of our existence, that music world should not just stand still, lament over declining sales, aging fans, deteriorating situations.

Not long ago I heard someone in a music industry speech say that we should focus on the repertoire, not the artist, because the repertoire lasts longer and will not outfashion so soon. I would say the repertoire is dead (in the case of Early Music since at least 400 years or so), while many artists are very much alive, willing to perform, to contribute, to create. I want to work with living artists, not with dead ones, and I mean that not only literally.

I am curious what musicians these days are able to create. I don’t want them to play the same stuff over and over again. That is boring and if they say it is not than it’s pretentious. I am into recording magic. That means bringing new ideas to people, trying out things nobody tried before, without being afraid of stepping out of the box here and there. Magic lies in the moment, not in the planning. Magic becomes real and comprehensible if we open our minds and let us fall into trust, if we open the eyes to see the world around us without preconceptions, prejudices, and without fear. Ever played (or listened to) a single note with a totally true heart? That’s what it is all about. I want artists to be true, so that their art can unfold its magic in their environment. The world would be so different if there was more true music, less pretentious art-faking, more generous passion, less egocentric self-display. I mean it could really make a difference. It could change politics, societies, everything. We, the artists, are so powerful. We are the ones that create the beautiful illusions, that shape the way people feel, that make the world a more peaceful, more interesting, more stimulating place. So let’s just do it and stop wasting time and energy on copying and faking, or worse, lamenting on the fact that we’re wasting and faking, or even worse, listening to those who lament.

I close with a quote from Daft Punk’s new album, where Giorgio Moroder says:

“You want to free your mind about a concept of harmony and music being correct, you can do whatever you want. So nobody told me what to do, and there was no preconception of what to do.”

Well he is a magician. He invented electronic disco music and changed the world. How do you change the world?

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