Copyright April 8, 2021 Kate E. Blaha
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Request to work with a Prepared Mind Grant
My name is Kate Blaha, I am 35 years old, and I have played cello for 29 years. Throughout this time, I have obtained a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Eastern Michigan University, a master’s degree in cello performance from New York University, maintained a teaching studio for over 10 years, and taught as an adjunct professor at Eastern Michigan University. My passions during these studies and work have been the history and performance of classical music, particularly Baroque string music and 20th century classical music. My mission as a musician and teacher is to broaden the appeal of classical music, particularly 20th century classical music, to a larger audience through both performance and lecture.
Project for the Prepared Mind Grant:
I would like to create a series of videos of myself performing and lecturing with the goal to post them on Youtube in an educational and entertaining series. The series will focus on the creative tools of the Dada art movement of the 1930’s, but using music scores from the Baroque era as the subject .The specific Dada art form I will use is the idea of photomontage and using an element of chaos, or randomness, to create what I will call scoremontage. Starting with the solo cello works of J. S. Bach, I will cut up print outs of Bach cello pieces into units of one measure, put the pieces in a box, shake the box and then take out each piece one at a time and glue them back into a randomly generated new score. I plan to perform the piece as originally written and in the new chaotic form. I will use this experiment as a vehicle to lecture about Bach, solo Baroque music, Dada art processes, performance practice issues that arise, and overall, to present this experiment of adding chaotic elements to a very planned and methodical genre of music. I hope to do so with humor, lightness, fun, but above all, a passion for music, music history, and discovering new ways to appreciate a very old art. I have many more ideas on how to expand this idea of scoremontage beyond this application, but would like a solid foundation focusing only on one composer and one performer.
I would like to produce at least 12 videos, each approximately 15 minutes in length, in 6 months. I can record them in my home but anticipate needing a webcam, a microphone, and editing software to bring it all together.
Episode map (each 15-20 minutes in length):
Ep. 1: The Chaos Bachs. I will introduce my idea of scoremontage and how I will use the Bach G major Prelude for Unaccompanied Cello for the first example. I will play a video of myself performing the prelude as originally written and one of the scoremontage version.
Ep. 2: Follow the Thread. I will show the results of the scoremontage and discuss how the end result is not as chaotic as anticipated. Play an example of a Dada poem (Karouane or similar) to show how chaotic it is in comparison. Discuss how Baroque music is self referential. Pose question (James Blaha cameo perhaps) of why messing with the order perhaps did not impact the piece. Present question: how far must it be broken down before it ceases to be recognizable as Bach.
Ep. 3: Present various versions of scoremontage on the prelude with half measure parts, quarter note beat parts. Discuss what I am learning about the reading of the score itself and how it is impacting my decisions on performance practice.
Ep 4: Explore why the Dada art forms of the early 20th century are speaking to me now, almost a century later. Will provide more historical context of Dada artists, particularly Hannah Hoch.
Ep. 5: Other movements of the first Bach suite, Allemande, Courante, and Sarabande. Perhaps introduce scrolling scores here (or maybe in ep 1). Performances of original movements juxtaposed with scoremontage version. Choose one measure piece because it sounds musical and explain why it is the best balance of old and new.
Ep. 6 Remaining movements (original and scoremontage) Minuets and Gigue.
Ep. 7 Composer Salad: mix together Bach and someone else.
Ep. 8 Musician/mentor reaction videos and Zoom interview
Ep. 9 Invite other cellists to try out the scoremontage Bach.
Ep. 10 Play scoremontage of several Bach Suites mixed together and see if my professional cello friends and mentors can identify which movements I am using.
Ep. 11 invites composer friends to send me a piece to put in a chaos box.
Ep.12 I plan to do more than one version of Ep. 8-11 as I can get participation from other musicians wanting to participate.
I am confident in creating focused content for the videos that is both educational and entertaining. I am a compelling performer who is very comfortable giving context to help this centuries old music live and breath in our modern world. I am excited to bring a 20th century technique to a baroque canon.
Anticipated weaknesses/areas I need help: I would like guidance on editing videos and knowing what types of equipment to invest in to bring my ideas to life. Any guidance and feedback on how to make each narrative/video as focused and clear as possible is quite welcome!
Other Resources to be Successful:
I will need an HD webcam, a microphone for recording cello, possibly a second for recording lectures, and software to bring it all together. I will need help building and maintaining a website. I would like advice on the best way to market and/or advertise the project beyond my current network and social media. I will welcome feedback on the clarity of my presentations.