Brant Taylor

HIP, To Be Fair — by Brant Taylor

During my years in high school and college, discussions of what is now referred to as historically informed performance (HIP) could generally be summed up like this: a player belonged either to the “modern/romantic” camp or to the “authentic baroque-y” camp. Highly impressionable students forming fledgling opinions tend to view such things through an unnecessarily black-and-white lens. But something’s also changed in the larger musical community’s awareness and acceptance of what “historically informed” means. While a certain tribalism existed during the early decades of the HIP movement, today we are in a more enlightened and accepting place where, for example, wonderful and highly varied performances of Bach’s Cello Suites are noticed first for their musical merit rather than for whether the player uses gut strings or an endpin. In teaching [...]

Beneath the Surface of Brahms — by Brant Taylor

Brahms' 3rd Symphony Cello Excerpt A successful audition performance involves showing many different sides of yourself, musically, in a condensed period of time. Therefore, it is useful if not imperative to conceive each excerpt on a list in its own distinct world of character and color. Despite being works from the same composer, the well-known cello audition excerpt from Brahms’ Second Symphony, which we previously discussed, and the cello audition excerpt from Brahms’ Third Symphony, which is the subject of this post, present quite different opportunities. While these suggestions are not the only solutions to the challenges presented by this excerpt, they are a starting point for practice and discussion and illustrate some of the details that must be carefully considered in any successful performance. Sound Production In thinking about [...]

The Holy Sextet (Part 2) — by Brant Taylor

Part 1 began an exploration of three bow variables that—in addition to the three well-known concepts of weight, speed, and contact point—make up a sextet of basics that should be known and practiced to maximize your control over the string with the bow.  We discussed the first and most important, bow angle, in Part 1. The remaining two variables may seem relatively minor, but they are by no means unimportant. If practicing means attempting to find solutions to the challenges of successful instrumental control, you should attempt to understand every potential reason for success or failure with the bow. FLATNESS OF HAIR, or how much of the hair makes contact with the string. Many cellists hold the bow with the stick tilted up (toward the fingerboard) to some degree. This means that [...]