Pachelbel’s Canon–the original version based on the earliest original manuscript and performed on instruments from the time of Pachelbel–listen to the authentic baroque sound!
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Q. What is Early Music performance, or historical performance?
A. We play on instruments from the time of the composers, and we use the original music and playing techniques: it’s a special sound.
Q. Why are there no conductors?
A. Conductors weren’t invented until the 19th century; since we seek to recreate a historical performance, the music is led from the keyboard or violin, or the music is played as chamber music~or both 🙂
Q. What are period instruments or original instruments; how are they different from modern instruments?
A. As instruments became modernized in the 19th century, builders and players tended to focus on the volume of sound and the stability of tuning. Modern steel strings replaced the older materials, and instruments were often machine made. Historical instruments, built individually by hand and with overall lighter construction, have extremely complex overtones—which we find delightful. Modern instruments are of course perfectly suited to more modern music.
Q. Why is the pitch lower, or higher?
A. Early Music performance uses many different pitches, and these pitches create different tone colors on the instruments. See https://goo.gl/pVBNAC
Performed on original instruments by San Francisco Early Music Ensemble Voices of Music. Featuring Katherine Kyme, Carla Moore & Cynthia Freivogel, baroque violin; Tanya Tomkins, baroque cello, Hanneke van Proosdij, baroque organ; David Tayler, theorbo.
About the performance: the canon is played using not only the instruments but also the bowing techniques from the time of Pachelbel. As you can see from the video, especially if you look at the high definition version, the string instruments are not only baroque, but they are in baroque setup: this means that the strings, fingerboard, bridge and other parts of the violin appear just as they did in Pachelbel’s time. No metal hardware such as chinrests, clamps or fine tuners are used on the violins, allowing the violins to vibrate freely. A good example of baroque bowing can be seen in the extended passage of repeated notes: the musicians play these notes on one bow—the shorter & lighter baroque bow—to created a gliding effect. The players also hold the bow very differently which affects the balance and touch. Both the style and the amount of vibrato are based on baroque treatises which describe the methods for playing, bowing & articulation in the late 17th century. The narrow, shimmering vibrato blends with the baroque organ. The organ used is made entirely of wood, based on German baroque instruments, and the pipes are voiced to provide a smooth accompaniment to the strings, instead of a more soloistic sound. Another feature of the video is the subtle differences in not only the sound and color of the instruments, but also the different techniques of the players. All three are playing baroque violins with baroque bows, yet each person has her own distinct sound and bowing style—each bow has a different shape and balance. If you look at paintings of 17th century players you will see that they are all different, because that individuality of sound and technique was highly valued. This allows the players and the listeners to hear and appreciate the “Voices of Music.”
Many comments refer to the pitch. D Major is a key, not a pitch; this piece is in D Major at A=415.3 Hz. We chose a baroque pitch and temperament from the time of Pachelbel. You can see the original manuscript that we played from here, clearly in the key of D Major with two sharps http://voicesofmusic.org/images/PachelbelKey.jpg
Detail of the interior of the baroque organ used in this recording
Recorded in St. Stephen’s, Belvedere, California
Title: Canon in D
Composer: Johann Pachelbel