Violinist Roman Kim experimented with newand interesting techniques to arrive at his arrangement of the famous work,part of Bach's Orchestral Suite no.3
June 23, 2015
The idea to transcribe Bach’s Air came tome, while practising at my music college in Cologne. That day I had heardBach’s Air on YouTube. The music inspired me: the melody, the harmonies and itspolyphony.
While practising, I tried to play the toppart together with the bass line. It sounded nice but it was not easy… So Iplayed the melody and plucked the bass with the left hand (a nice exercise!)But then one of my best friends, Jure, knocked on the door. He had heard myattempts and said, just for fun: ‘Hey, why don’t you play all voices together?’He always has crazy ideas! ‘Why not? I’ll try,’ I thought.
I quickly realised that it wouldn’t workwithout scordatura, so I tuned the E string to C. As I played the first fewbars we laughed because of the unusual sound – like a small string quartet on asingle violin. That was amazing!
For the next two weeks I worked almostexclusively on this piece. My primary object was to retain as many voices fromthe original score as possible so as not to lose Bach’s marvellous harmonies.Sometimes the physical limitations of the instrument forced me to emphasise theparts differently than in the original version. The equilibration of thecounterpoint thus places demands on the player that may at first seemunexpectedly and subtly difficult.
While I worked on my transcription Idiscovered some new ways to play the pizzicato with the left hand. For examplea ‘reverse pizzicato’ – not plucking the string inwards, as we are taught, butthe other way round. This makes it easier to play the part in combination withpizzicato. Sometimes I was forced to grip the string with the fifth finger – mythumb. This new ways made possible a lot of things I couldn’t imagine before.
I’m looking forward to the release of myarrangement by Barenreiter and would be very proud and glad if youalso played this amazing piece! And it would be my great pleasure to answeryour questions regarding the transcription. This wonderful music cannot helpbut inspire persistence and, in the end, will sound simply beautiful. I wishyou success and a lot of fun!