During the first half of the Music Academy Remote Learning Institute (MARLI), you’ve already been treated to six such performances, and there will be more to come. The sudden proliferation of this kind of videos is certainly of the moment, necessitated by closures, cancelations, and the need to social distance. The techniques behind them, though, are staples of recording practice.
To paraphrase an oft-used proverb, a performance over a thousand miles begins with a single recording. Musicians in separate locations simply cannot perform together in real time. They can have the fastest internet connection, the best computer money can buy, and a team of technical experts on hand and still it wouldn’t make a difference. There will always be some level of delay. And so, you begin by recording a single part. If the performing forces are small—two people, for example—this can be as “simple” as starting with the piano part and then having the soloist record themselves playing along with it (simple is in scare quotes because, truly, none of this is simple). Sometimes, musicians may also use a click track, a metronome recording that keeps them honest when it comes to tempo.