Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Oh, my music department...

They almost did something right. The practice rooms are open now, albeit with temporary doors, and you know? That's infinitely better than lessons in practice modules, and better in some smaller way than lessons in abandoned offices upstairs. But...the temporary doors are REALLY not soundproofed, and the acoustics are pretty bad. My reeds sound about 10 times brighter than they do in the practice modules. But, eventually there will be new doors, and I'm going to try to get the Music Dept. to put in some stuff on the walls to help with the acoustics.

This, plus the fact that it appeared for a while that they didn't own a copy of the Mozart concerto, means that they have not quite succeeded. At least, though, it turned out that the Mozart was just hidden in a place that was not the oboe solo sheet music or the oboe concerto sheet music. Go figure.

HOWEVER. I did find David A. Ledet's Oboe Reed Styles in the music library, and I have got to say, this is a pretty awesome book. It's from the early 80s, so it doesn't have many current players, but it has basically an illustrated history of the oboe reed in England, France, Germany, the US, and a few other places. (Some of the more famous players (more well known to me at least) included are: Evelyn Rothwell, Peter Graeme, Robert Bloom, James Caldwell, Fernand Gillet, Marc Lifschey, John Mack, Joseph Robinson, Tabuteau, Richard Woodhams.) Seeing all of the European reeds makes me very curious to try making one in a French or German style. However, I've been chatting with an oboe player in Germany with whom I might do a reed exchange. I think that would be really interesting, and probably provide me with a more representational reed than from trying to mimic the pictures in the Ledet book.

Speaking of reeds, I haven't posted in here much about them recently, partly because I've been doing less experimentation. I seem to have settled down, at least for now, in a fairly Philly-style reed, with a higher heart and thinner back than my reeds through most of the summer.

I only had a half hour lesson today, though we spent the rest getting the music library to order a couple pieces and looking through the oboe solos. Mostly this was because I'm learning the Gillet etudes, which are incredibly hard. Thus when I'm learning one of those, doing a further brush up on minor scales and double-thirds, getting to a reading familiarity with a duet, and slowly going through Le Api, I don't have a lot of time for another solo piece. But for next week I have three to look at, so I suppose it balances out.

Going along with finishing/re-learning Le Api, I'm supposed to be working on my circular breathing. It's rather tough going- I've gotten to the point where I can circular breathe on a held note, but once I add any finger movement other than a one key trill, I lose it. But that's okay...I have until, um, April?
I've also been given the Berio Sequenza, which, frankly, I hate. But it's one of my teacher's absolute favorite pieces ever, so I'm pretty much learning it, or at least working on it, regardless.

I've had a few "sudden realizations," by which I mean things that people have been telling me for years, like my posture, or my thumb position, or my tonguing, or my wrong fingering for high D, finally clicking into place. I'm really glad it happened (I wish it'd happened when they started telling me), but man, it's hard going fixing it. Well, that's what all of my practicing is for.

I'm rather looking forwards to orchestra tomorrow night...not that I'm ever not. But it'll be the third rehearsal, and seeing that last week was the second rehearsal of the first concert, and therefore the roughest rehearsal all year, I just want to see how everything's coming together.

I continue to think about my recital program and my audition program, which I must start picking. Also, holy cow, I must start looking at summer things ASAP.

I've started my research for my recital program notes. (The least amount of writing you can do for a Distinguished Major is program notes, and while I plan on writing fairly substantial notes, I really don't have time for more.) This means I've been reading from Taruskin's History of Western Music, which is fascinating and frequently quite amusing- I just finished the section on Neo-Classicism, with crazy Stravinsky, and the early 20th century's "sexy androgeny."


Patty said...

I own that Ledet book, and I'm pretty surprised at what people say it costs now. I guess out of print made its value rise a lot, eh?

So how DID you finger high D? I'm curious to know the incorrect fingering! (Sometimes those actually come in useful if they are in tune, you know?)

I've never mastered circular breathing. I'm not even willing to try now. I use "I'm 50" as my excuse. ;-)

racheloboes said...

I (did/do) finger high D just like high C#, but with the first finger on the right hand raised, though now I always at least put down the second finger on my right hand. So, back, 2, 3, 2, (sometimes the ring on 3,) C.

What I'm working on is getting the back octave off, and my first finger on half hole. I'm about halfway successful right now, and pretty much all the way successful if I'm playing slowly.

I kind of like learning circular breathing, even if it's not strictly necessary. If nothing else, it's kind of fun and a good parlor trick. :-)

Patty said...

Hmmm. I'm not sure I'm understanding ... for me the fingering of D only differs from C# in that you "exchange" index fingers. (For C# I am entirely off the half hole key, and D I use half hole ... no bottom octave on either of them.)

Then if the high D is slightly out of tune I add the ring finger and even fourth finger, right hand (as we usually do for English horn)

I actually now finger C# differently on my "Oboe 1" though: 0XX - X0X (NO C key) It keeps the pitch down for my rather sharp C# oboe.