Thursday, February 17

Old Cane and Rubato MIDI

It seems the full moon is having its effects: work gulping my practice time and great reeds going bad just because the cane is too youngGirard Oboe Reed.

Free advice for new reed makers:

In my posting wimpy [ weather cane mouth | reeds ], I mentioned how the weather is public enemy #1 for reeds… well, freshness doesn’t help either! Ever since my own student days in Montréal, we always said that you just can’t make a good reed out of green cane: good cane is ripe cane! Today just confirmed that for the ump-teenth time! For the past few years, I had been experimenting with shapes made on request by Roseau Chantant. I was always impressed with the quality of his cane and workmanship, but tonight, I fell upon one piece that just won’t play. When cane is not ripe, you can make a reed that will play wonderfully just after you scraped it, but the next day it goes dead (no more crow). Scrape it again: it plays great for 15 minutes and goes dead again. Scrape it again, and the same thing over and over again…

I have tube cane from 1994, and this never happens. Using almost any shaper, this cane will make from good reeds to fantastic reeds, rarely bad (except, of course, where the grains were always wrong to begin with). You’ll know “green” cane by a kind of very-hard soapy wax-like feeling when you scrape: it doesn’t feel like cane, it doesn’t scrape like cane. There is also a yellowish-greenish shine to the grains under the bark.

I know this will not provide comfort to new oboists on a budget, but there is really only one thing you can do to prevent this: buy lots of cane, and let it age at least 5 years!

MIDI accompanimentmidi_music_editing_software

Leading up to my 1st video (Gammal fabodpsalm), I mentioned preparing the accompaniment as a MIDI file (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) to be played by my computer. Well, luckily I have some very powerful software, but the neat thing is that there are tons of free music editing programs out there; you can also get almost any piece of music in MIDI format for free off the internet. You can see how this becomes interesting to students and amateurs!

I’ll write more on that later after trying out a few things, but this is what I consider important in an editing program:

  1. Easy computer keyboard note entry: mouse entry looks easy, but it is actually very tedious, hard on the wrists and prone to mistakes.
  2. A way to change tempo in chunks of music: in other words, select a few bars and say “do a rallentando” or “do an accelerando”.
  3. A way to change the dynamics (in MIDI, this is called velocity) in chunks of music: in other words, select a few bars on one instrument or several instruments and say “do a crescendo” or “do a diminuendo”.

Those seem obvious and natural enough, no? Points 2 and 3 are surprisingly hard to find! I have only found 1 freeware program that does tempo changes, and this is not even rall./accell.! Finale, one of the most popular programs (and one of the most expensive) does it all, but not easily. But looking for freeware is hard because doing a Google search for “MIDI editor” will bring thousands of results, most of which for ring tones and drum beats!

At any rate, for my next few recordings, I want to concentrate on sound quality (of the oboe) during the recording process, so I’ll use Music Minus One and other recorded accompaniment I have instead of . Also, there is a Linux distribution (Ubuntu Studio) designed especially for multimedia artists, so I’ll try it and hope it will allow my lap-top to communicate with my digital piano. Installing Ubuntu Linux (and its variants) has always been flawless for me, so I have hope!

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