Between 1996, when I fell in love with the Mexican violin playing of Juan Reynoso, and late 2006, I made roughly 20 trips to Tierra Caliente del Balsas, where Guerrero and Michoacán meet. I studied three hours every day with Juan, and visited over a dozen other violinists to study with them as well.
I recorded all of every lesson. Now I have over 1300 hours of DAT audio and another 1500 hours of digital video. Whenever possible, I made transcriptions of the tunes while the violinists played. In other cases there wasn’t time to transcribe the tunes as they were being played so I transcribed them later from the recordings. In the early years I hand wrote the transcriptions. More recent transcriptions have been made using the Finale computer music writing program. Soon all of the tunes will be in this format.
I have close to 700 transcriptions. Juan Reynoso had a passion for harmonizing the pieces he played for three violins, so over 200 pieces are arranged for violin trio. I have further arranged two dozen for string quartet and string orchestra.
It was never my intention to collect these recordings and transcriptions to hoard them. Rather, my over-riding goal has always been to share this music with the world. The more people who have the chance to hear these remarkable pieces, the better. To that end, I’m constantly posting the best performances of the music to YouTube. Visit our three YouTube channels—Juan Reynoso, Juan Reynoso Live and Paul Anastasio, with around 350 tunes posted.
Copying and indexing the entire archive has become a daily habit. This re-visiting of the material allows me to do something I’ve wanted to offer “Private Lessons with Juan Reynoso and Friends.” These lessons will generally include a DVD of Juan or one of his fellow violinists playing a piece with a matching Finale transcription of the same piece. In some cases, where I’ve not yet located video footage of a tune, I will instead offer an audio CD of Juan playing the piece. If I have a recording of the session at which I learned the tune, I’ll include that. In other cases, I’ll offer a disc with multiple performances of the tune.
Here is the reason I pair recordings with transcriptions, and why I offer them as a set. While I endeavor to present the most accurate transcriptions possible, a great player such as Juan Reynoso plays with many subtleties. The best way to play the transcriptions is to first have the opportunity to hear how Juan intended the tunes to sound.