Thursday, November 8, 2007

A failed experiment

I have this reed. A really good reed. One might even call it a miraculous reed, as it revived itself from mediocrity to be a rich, deep, easy-blowing, full-range reed that has lasted a very long time. In fact, it was starting to look a little...gross. But it still sounded amazing, if slightly past its prime. I was trying then, since it was old anyways, to think of a way to disinfect it with something I could put in my mouth. And I though, mouthwash! It's antibacterial, and it's made for your mouth. So, I soaked the reed in mouthwash. And...well, it still plays, and sounds good, and it is "antibacterialized",'s blue. Stained from the mouthwash. I'm not sure I can bring myself to play it in public: who wants to have to explain that story in person to a fellow musician?

I've been doing a lot of playing on English horn lately, what with double reed trio, the current orchestra concert, and Romeo and Juliet, and the one problem that persists is that I am always sharp. Because this holds for all of my reeds, reeds which should play in tune, it stood to reason that the problem was my bocal. I only have one, and when I got it I didn't have much choice. And while I love the tone it gives, it is so sharp. So I decided to try the bocals from the school's English horn, which had two 3s, of different shape, and a 1. (All, I believe, Loree- I don't have them with me.) Mine's a 2, and it's Howarth. I found one of the 3s makes me play pretty much in tune, and it also increases my volume, which is a bonus. I sometimes have trouble projecting English horn. It's a little buzzier than my 2, but I really like it. I may have to, um, switch them. I do have permission from my teacher. :-) I also got distracted, when doing this, with the school's EH. It's a Loree, and while I've never found a Loree oboe that I like as much as I like my Howarth, I do like Loree EHs. I went back and forth between them for about half an hour or so, toying even with the idea of borrowing it for the concert, just for fun. But the keys feel really different, and I would have to do a lot of playing to get Daphnis on a different horn, and at the end of the day, it seems I always come down on the side of my English horn. Which, you know, is nice, since I own it.

For my lesson this week, I had to write half a cadenza (a continuation of one in the edition that I like) of the Mozart Concerto. It was quite hard; I'm really not a composer. I've come up with something which I kind of like, but it's very boring. I just can't get past the obvious to the more cadenza-like material. Mine's stuck in scales and arpeggios, really. But I'm going to take it to my teacher, and see if he has any suggestions.

Tonight was the first rehearsal for Carmina with the choir. It was stunning. I spent the entire time, when I wasn't playing, grinning madly. We've only heard one of the soloists, the soprano, but I highly approve of her, so hopefully the others will also be good. Tomorrow's entire rehearsal (it's orchestra week time again) is Carmina, so hopefully we'll get through a lot more material than we did today. I like the choir conductor (who conducted us for a year), but he does get distracted.


Craig said...

I used 50% mouthwash (standard flavor Listerine)all the time. My reeds last a lot longer when I use it. I guess it keeps the enzymes and bacteria from eating the wood, and the standard flavor does not discolor the reed. Good Luck.
Craig said...

I talked to my microbiologist bro-in-law and he said to disinfect reeds you'd have to soak them for eons in most solutions. His suggestion was hydrogen peroxide, which he says works better. I dunno for sure.

There is that stuff Forrests sells ... "reed life" maybe? I have it. Can't tell what it does.

Some, instead, use one of those jewelry cleaning machines that vibrates the gunk off of reeds. (They only use water ... no chemicals.)

Mostly my reeds wear out before they get yucky. Probably a good thing!

racheloboes said...

Craig, good to know! If I do it again, I'll try it with a diluted solution, which makes a lot of sense.

Patty, yeah, my private teacher says that a lot of people use hydrogen peroxide. This is really the first time I've thought to try something like this- my reeds never last such a long time!

Steve Ziemba said...

People worry about the dumbest things! Every art man has devised has reached a moment where someone has to make that first exotic colored version of something. Well you did it for Oboe Reeds! Get over it, and exploit it! :)

Steve Ziemba