Ensemble Playing in the Age of Covid: A Group of One

The year behind us brought some serious challenges to musicians. The idea that we could not perform as usual gave rise to a creative use of online performance. That is, the Ensemble of One.

Creative ensembles of one have been around for some time already. However, people who may never have considered recording each part of a Duet or Quartet or Sonata began doing so and making their own arrangements.

I had dabbled in this method of “self-ensembling” but never on a regular and serious basis. After the shutdowns had taken effect and no end was in sight I began in earnest.

The longer the shutdown lasted the more videos I saw cropping up in my recommendeds or in my video feed of “self-ensemblers”. It was obvious that I the majority of musicians would be partaking in this new normal.

The new normal has been quite standard for a year now. I have produced many “self-ensemble” videos now. Duets, trios, quartets, sonatinas, character pieces, symphony excerpts, vocal works, Classical, Jazz, Folk, and Gospel hymns. These range from original works to arrangements I did myself.

There is one nice attribute to these self-ensembles. You have complete control over every aspect of the sound of the music. One down side is that you are always playing to a recorded track and therefore have less of a live feel. Although, I rarely splice anything. These are typically full takes.

In the the next blog post I will go further into how I record and why I usually do it that way.