Infinite Variety

KURT ANDERSON: When you wake up in the morning and you sit down to practice, as I assume you do, what do you first play?

YO-YO MA: I do something like [plays long, random notes that sound like tuning]. I become friends with the instrument. I try not to tax it too much. It's really like warming up a car or warming up your body. You stretch it. You don't go into a fast run. You don't take it to sixty in three seconds. Because what's funny about an instrument made out of wood, every day the humidity is different. EVery day the temperature is different. And wood, as well as our bodies, are slightly different. I think it's actually making that relationship happen.

KURT: And once you do get it warmed up, what are you inclined to play?

YO-YO: I might play some Bach, which is something I started learning as soon as I started playing. And it's also something that's written for cello alone. This is music that is somewhat meditative...I think of the flow of water. The afternoon light playing on leaves. If you see something that is familiar and yet it's different every day. What's amazing is that with a great friend, you could see them thousands of times and you don't look at them and say, Well today I'm really bored with you. ...Bach was a pictorial composer. One of the things that he coded was infinite variety. Instead of materiality, of saying, this is the same thing, I need a new product, it's something new every time.

From Studio 360 (Oct. 19, 2007)



Yo-Yo performs J.S. Bach's "Suite for Solo Cello
No. 1 in G Major: V. Menuett" in Studio 360.