Thursday, February 28, 2008

I have two musical "rants" generated by my classes, but I'll post those separately.

No more grad school news, alas. However, in a week I will be completely done with auditions, which is a rather nice thought, and I have actually been officially accepted by Mason now.

The Waynesboro concerts went pretty well, and with the two combined there were about 150 people in attendance, so good for them. I did have a lot of fun playing first oboe in the dress, and got a few very nice compliments from the director and clarinet soloist. It turned out that the soloist plays in the Marine Band, along with the conductor, and he played the Mozart concerto beautifully.

I've been doing a lot of work recently on the second movement of the Poulenc Sonata, and I'm becoming frustrated. Tonguing is a big weakness of mine, which I am trying very hard to improve. My method in Poulenc was to start at a quite reduced speed, and work the speed up one click at a time. I've gotten it up to 148, and I cannot go any faster. At 148, I hit all of the notes and all of the tonguing, and at 149 I start having flubs and getting flustered. So, any suggestions on how to work on tonguing speed?

A fellow Charlottesville-based oboist sent me some cool reed-making information, so I thought I'd pass it on.

Yes, Rachel, every time I get into a reed-scraping frenzy (which is mostly of late), I am reminded that I was going to write down for you a “standard approach” to tuning as you go … attributed to Valarie Anderson, Jeanne, Inc. I happened by when she was working with some students in her shop at JMOC 2005, and here’s what she said…

1. Test low B slurred to middle B.
If the upper is flat, clip the tip

2. Test low C to middle C.
If upper is sharp, thin the corners of the tip at the plateau
… Go back and test B to B

3. Test low D to middle D.
If upper is sharp, remove cane from back
… Go back to B to B test, then C to C, until all three are okay

4. Test mid-staff G by blowing easily with a loose embouchure.
If it doesn’t sound okay (???), refine the inception of tip off the heart

For advanced players,

a. Test B-flat above the staff against a harmonic B-flat (E-flat with side octave)

b. Test A above the staff against harmonic A (D with side octave)

If either of the above is not satisfactory, there must be something else to do, but it must be embedded in my notes further on.

Now I am so inspired that I may just go and write up the rest of these notes, as well.

If she sends me any further information, I'll post that here as well. She also sent me a website full of oboe-related things:

World Beat Music is a piece for what appears to be drums and electric guitar, whose sheet music creates a map of the world. The sheet music can be found here, and a recording here.

Also, here is a gallery of instruments (string and keyboard) created out of various everyday items by Ken Butler.

edit: And, for the easily amused, here is a creative interpretation of the words to "O Fortuna," done vaguely in the style of the llama song. (Vaguely not work safe and certainly strange.)

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