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"Most blokes [are] going to be playing at're on ten all the way up...where can you go from there...where? What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? Eleven." - Nigel Tufnel, This is Spinal Tap While the idea of having dials and levers that go up to "eleven" predates Spinal Tap, this expression from the documentary continues to capture the imaginations of musicians who dream of being able to look beyond the established conventions of musical expression and make the communication between musician and listener more immediate and captivating. Certainly, the idea can transcend mere louder volume when considered in light of 17th century instruments designed for smaller acoustical spaces. Pushing beyond established conventions is at the heart of the historically informed performance movement. Attempting to understand what type of musical expression was valued by musicians 400 years ago can work as a catalyst for moving beyond the prevailing and prescribed ideas of interpretation and ensemble. For Rook, exploring different expressive tools was essential for our unusual instrument combination. Standard limitations of the instruments were ignored in a desire to unify our aesthetic around the speech-influenced musical dialogue of 17th century music, and each instrument brought different strengths to this quest. The trombone and bass violin adopted the facility and speed of the violin. String instruments adopted the variety of articulation and dynamic shaping available to the brass. The entire ensemble adopted the freedom and control of time inherent in expressive harpsichord playing. Equal tension strings were added to both violin and bass violin to better compliment the projection of the trombone. A 15th century slide trumpet and a baroque alto trombone were used on some of the tracks to create an even wider color palette. Recently, a student of the baroque violin picked up Jakob's instrument and, after playing a few notes remarked in exasperation, "What is this?!?" These instruments are designed to go further. The violin is played down on the arm, allowing the bow to gain articulation power from the down bow motion. The bass violin is tuned to Bb to create a more distinct bass color and allow access to the low Bb essential to perform the bass solos of Selma y Salaverde. The bass violin is also played standing to facilitate ensemble communication and unity. It is these skills of ensemble unity and communication that all chamber ensembles from 16th and 17th century ensembles to string quartets to rock bands strive for, and where playing with Rook really becomes exciting. It is this unity, beyond unusual instruments or radical playing techniques that yields the intensity and immediacy in performance, that gives that extra push over the edge, that turns this music up to "eleven."


  1. Sonata No. 4 from Book 1
  2. Qui Veult Aymer
  3. Canzon No. 11
  4. Lachrimae Pavan
  5. Ingiustissimo Amor
  6. Sonata No. 8
  7. Pavan
  8. Chiccona
  9. Baisés Moy
  10. Canzon No. 1
  11. Christus Resurgens
  12. Susana Pasegiata
  13. Three Dances: I. Pavan
  14. Three Dances: II. Dance
  15. Three Dances: III. Courant
  16. Fantasia No. 1
  17. Sonata No. 11 from Book 1

Product Details


UPC Number: 136000751911

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