The Urban Dictionary definition is as follows:
goat rodeo (noun): 1. A chaotic situation, often one that involves several people, each with a different agenda/vision/perception of what’s going on.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s definition is a little bit different: “If there were forks in the road and each time there was a fork, the right decision was made, then you get to a goat rodeo.” It’s a proposition that is equal parts skill, logic, and luck. The Goat Rodeo Sessions is an album from a quartet of world-class musicians that tests the limits of all three of these elements.
As if heading into a recording studio and rolling tape on this chance-based experiment wasn’t dangerous enough, Yo-Ya Ma, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan have taken the show on the road and are doing it live. They’ll be at the Hollywood Bowl Sunday night.
Recently, I caught up with Yo-Yo Ma to ask him about this idea of music that comes together against all odds, taking risks on stage, and trying new musical things. You can listen to the conversation here, read the transcript below, or catch the radio feature Saturday at 8a on KUSC’s Arts Alive.
BL: I’d like to start with something that Chris Thile told me a while ago. He likes to talk about how there should be no genre distinctions in music: he uses the terms “formal” and “informal,” meaning formal music is written down; informal music is not written down. How do you feel about that? Are genres helpful?
YYM: I think that is a very interesting question. In order to learn, we have to make categories–”I like this; I don’t like this”–but in order to keep learning, you actually have to take away the categories and form new ones. So it is a constant process. Continue reading