Congratulations! I love the concept of so many different styles on one disc, and to tell you the truth, was very moved by Believer, your playing is very intense, raw, bluesy, but also sweet…

Jacob TV

JACOB TV (aka Jacob Ter Veldhuis, The Netherlands, 1951) is one of the most performed contemporary composers. The style of his works, a kind of blend between classical and modern music, with very critical texts and lyrics on different subjects of nowadays, has successfully connected him with all kind of audiences.

Read more about Jacob TV here

Details of the work

Boombox Holland, Doorn (NL). You can purchase the piece (optional with the video, of you want) in this page from the composer’s website. 7 pages. Duration: 7:20 duration. Contemporary music with some influences of the symphonic rock from the 1970’s.

INTERMEDIATE-HIGH level. Range (written): Bb2 – Eb6

Technical skills: Bisbigliandi. Glissandi and portamenti. Different sorts of vibrato. Growl. Intonation. Flexibility: large intervals. Slaps. Control on the altissimo register.

Performance skills: Coordination with the audio. Colour changes according to the character of music and lyrics.

Meaning and structure of BELIEVER

After having played PIMPIN’ many times, I wanted to discover this other work for baritone saxophone by Jacob TV. The Dutch baritone saxophone player Willem van Merwijk (for whom it was written) told me what it was BELIEVER and this made me eager to work on it and to play it in my concerts. Later, I didn’t doubt to record it for my first solo album and title it with the name of this piece (apart from other reasons that aren’t now the case).

BELIEVER is a deed and intense work. Although it describes a specific moment of the recent history (the military invasion of Iraq by the USA Army in 2003) and is based on a Christmas interview by Bill O’Reilly with President George Bush for Fox News in 2004, this is unfortunately a recurring subject in the history that can be extrapolated to other situations with different protagonists.

The commitment of the composer with subjects of our day to day in the Western society through his music is undeniable. When I play or hear this piece I always have a double though: it is indeed a critique of war but also a halo of hope in a better world. I don’t want to talk now about the consequences of war (for me, a completely despicable and unjustifiable act, like any kind of violence) or politic decisions that lead to it, but it is so curious to see the paradox of the work: to believe in freedom and peace through weapons and bombs.

I invite you to read the lyrics and to watch the video made by Robert Sirvent, flute teacher at the Conservatory of Music in Tarragona (the voices from the audio are the interviewer and interviewed, distorted):

O’Reilly: So you are indeed a true believer?
Bush: I’m a believer in the power of liberty to transform societies
I’m a believer
And I believe we have a duty!

O’Reilly: So you are indeed a true believer?
Bush: I believe that piece is coming
This world is getting better
And I believe we have a duty!
Transform societies…
I believe that piece is coming…

Etc.

We climbed a mountain and now we see the valley below
I really believe that
I believe that piece is coming
And uh I believe that we’re more free

Watch the video:

How to work on it?

BELIEVER is not a technically difficult work but it has some elements that must be played with lot of subtlety, mainly the notes and phrases in the altissimo register taking care of the tuning, the quality of sound and the expressivity, even more when adding the vibratos, portamenti and growl keeping the slurs.

Large intervals appear often in the work (up to 2 octaves in slur excerpts and more separately), for which you will need to fix your embouchure very well and have a solid but flexible column air. The excerpts with slap are not very long and fast but you should have practice in this technical element.

Before playing with the audio, you should of course practice on the score (with tuner and metronome) in order to do not get lost later. The score also includes some performance practice suggestions by US saxophone player Connie Frigo. They are very helpful and useful.

The score of BELIEVER often has 4 staves: the first one contains the voice and lyrics, the second one is the baritone saxophone part and the two below are contain the harmony of the work. These guide are a great help, since the audio has no beats and the rhythms are no always clear due to the large reverberation of the audio. In these cases, as the composer suggested me when I was working on it, you should just follow the music you hear even if it does not correspond strictly to what is written in the score.

As it happens in the major part of works with electronics, you have to balance the sound of the saxophone with the audio very well. If you play amplified, you should find an equalization the closest to the blend of saxophone, cello and electric guitar of the audio (for example, I recorded the baritone part with more metallic and aggressive sound that I usually play). If you don’t play amplified, try to produce a sourer and forced sound but controlling the technical aspects that I mentioned before.

Try also to adapt the sound palette of your saxophone to play according to the musical context: look for the colours of the voices, the electric guitar and the cello when playing with them. The composer wrote some very suggestive indications: “bleeding soaring sound”, “dolce doloroso”, “cry like a dying animal”, “sentimental”, etc. The lyrics and the sound atmosphere will help you to find the best character to play BELIEVER.

Finally, you should know that Jacob TV recommends to the audience have access to the text (or lyrics) of the piece you play. An excellent way to perform BELIEVER live is with the video because it contains the full text and stunning images. You have to pay a little bit more for this option, but it really worth.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to know more about BELIEVER.