Part 3 of my 7-part series (read part 2), about Randy Avers.  Randy is one half of the fabulous duo, Les Frères Méduses, who are writing and performing the original, live film score for us that will be performed on June 22nd to open our summer series.  Info here.

When the Alamo’s Tim League asked me about creating an original film score for one of his favorite silent films (“The Unknown,” 1927, Dir. Tod Browning), I knew that no other duo on the planet was more perfect for the task than Randy (who is based now in Norway) and his amazing French duo partner Benoît Albert.  Randy and I went to college together and I wanted to share a few stories.


On occasion Randy and I went out for the same competition.  One year (1996) we were both heading to the finals of the American String Teachers Association national competition in Kansas City.

Competitions have “set pieces”, pieces that everyone must play.  It helps the judges compare apples to apples, I suppose.  As I recall, Randy I were both preparing the famous Prelude to the E Major Violin Partita (listen to Heifetz play it on violin here) by JS Bach for that competition.  So, as you can imagine, we spent a great deal of time working on it together, coaching each other (him coaching me, really), visualizing the piece without playing it, playing parts of it together in unison, etc.

My two favorite exercises were when Randy suggested we alternate measures at tempo!  He would play measure 1, then I would play measure 2.  Tricky!  Because you would have to keep concentrating every other measure that you were “sitting out” and then jump back in, in real time.  We actually managed to make it all the way through the piece, more or less together… separately!

The other one – that I’ll never forget – was also Randy’s idea.  He thought it would make for a good concentration exercise to have one of us touch random strings and frets of the other’s guitar while playing the piece at tempo.  The result was random wrong notes coming out of the guitar during the entire performance through which we had to concentrate – and try really hard not to laugh!  In my mind’s eye even today I can see his face, close to mine, deeply concentrating – with right index finger extending toward my fret board – trying to determine which string/fret to press in order to make the funniest and most disruptive sound next.

Read Part 4, “The Burning” …