Yet another Genesis tribute? Why not? Some of these songs have been so meaningful to me – and not only musically speaking – that I could not find another way to make them more living than transcribing them part by part, and playing them over and over, trying to find the inner secret they hide. I discovered that the ones which seemed so very complex were sometimes quite simple in structure, tempo and harmony, while others that we listen to without any particular attention are pretty complicated and demanding to perform.
But the greatest issue with Genesis music wasn’t just technical. “Why do I feel this sense of ‘past and gone’ when I listen to these pieces?” I wondered. “Why do not Hindemith, Mozart or even Bach look as distant in time to me as this music, which has been written and recorded only some thirty years ago?” The answer is this simple: I keep on playing Bach, Hindemith and Mozart, and they live again each time (o rather, they never die), but Genesis music is there only in records, always the same, listening after listening. It belongs to your ears and your mind, but not to your hands. The only way to make it live is to play it by yourself, in a sort of musical catharsis, getting rid of all the dust of memories that have settled on your CDs.
Even though I am a classical trained musician, I was not interested in playing these songs with classical instruments alone, depriving them of their original power and rhythmical energy. When this kind of operation is done I always have the feeling that the aim is to give rock music a sort of sacred nimbus it does not need at all, or to try to admit it in the Walhalla of Great Music. As to say: “Hey, look what it could have been if only they wrote classical music instead”. I believe this is Great Music in itself, just as it is. The experiment of using an orchestra or a string quartet can be interesting and fun. Anyway, given the nature of rock music, which can hardly be divided from the kind of sound structures it belongs to, after a while this experiment sounds much more off-site than the opposite to me, like playing a Bach fugue with an electric guitar. A Bach fugue is pure music, regardless of the exploited instrument, but a rock song is its sound.
Furthermore, as Mr. Tony Banks stated during an interview about his orchestral suite “Seven”, a rock group, with its range of high technology electronic instruments, is able to bear such a powerful, tense sound, that the largest symphony orchestra can match only in very particular cases, like, for instance, with Prokofieff or Shostakovich, and not for a long time. Not to mention the tremendous rhythmical impact and unrelenting progression rendered by drum and bass lines. That’s why I preferred to keep a typical prog-rock sound and instrumentation, using the flute to supersede all the vocal parts and choruses, and the majority of the melodic lines originally performed by Banks on the synthesisers or Hackett’s electric guitar. I have tried to preserve the original mood of every piece, even with much freedom in instrumentation (and seldom in harmony), adding new voices to the different parts. The flute owns an expressive power which enables it to replace a voice, shifting the attention from the lyrics to pure melody, and that can’t be found in a synthesizer. Breath phrasing, nuances, dynamics, vibrato, have made those melodic lines a little different from the originals ones. Maybe the flute will cast a slightly new light on these themes, which Genesis connoisseurs know so well.
I hope the listening will be fun for them, as playing was for me.