Tuesday, March 15

First Video: Musical Offering to #BachChat

45 Countries have visited my blog for a total of over 3 500 visits! StarC'est la fêtePouce levé 
The bottom of this page has the list: please let me know if I missed yours!

The Twitter event #BachChat is on Monday, but I'm getting a wisdom tooth pulled out on Friday: I won't be able to play for at least 2 weeks after that. I will spend my "practice time", during those 2 weeks, gouging cane, shaping cane and tying reeds.... I'll get to try out that new Cane Guide gadget.

So I had to hurry-up and get my video together on the weekend and today. This is the 3d movement from Bach's Sonata for Flute in E minor BWV 1034.
First “public appearance” in about 15 years!
I call it "le corps humain" (the human body) because it was the theme song and background music for a documentary series (named "Le Corps humain") by Université de Montréal in the 1980's.
I have only been practicing an average of 30 minutes a day for about 9 months now, after a near total absence of 10 years (average 30 minutes a month).... my apologies for trashing this beautiful piece!

My endurance has somewhat improved since the 1st video: two months ago, I would not have been able to perform this piece at all (practice, yes – perform, no), let alone do several takes for the video! In the take used for this video I'm already tired, so the tuning went off at times, otherwise I think my tuning has actually improved compared to 15 years ago. This might be due to the revoicing done on my oboe and better reeds.

Explanation of oboe reed crowing.
The reed I used in the video was very good, not amazing, but very good: satisfactory concert reed. There were questions on the Oboe BBoard about crowing, so here’s a demonstration using the reed I used in the video.

This time, I did a little bit of a warm-up (maybe 5 minutes worth) before the first take. More warm-up would have been good: I noticed my reed got easier, better sounding and simply played better after the 3rd take.

I did the MIDI accompaniment and managed to get rubato and dynamics in the most essential places. The computer played out the speakers and the recording captured that with me on oboe as if it were a live performance. It’s really hard to synchronize a cadenza and start the return of the melody with a machine that does not hear you! En pleurs

Getting the right settings for microphone gain (sensitivity) was difficult: 5% on the microphone, mic volume of 30% and no more than 30% gain inside the Windows driver, otherwise, crackling noise was just deafening. I don’t know if these settings change the sound, perhaps more gain on the mic and less in the computer would be better?…. need to experiment. For sure, it would have been MUCH easier if I had done multi-track recording like in my 2nd recording. I think the video capture software that came with the webcam is not suited for the complex sounds in music: I did not have these troubles on the device directly or when using Audacity.

Which to choose: better sound? Video really annoying!
Making a video is HARD!

What did not help my endurance at all are the computer problems during the recording! How many times did I start over just because it failed to start recording or because the accompaniment went berzerk? If you get the impression my computerized accompaniment sometimes “yawns” and stretches a beat or two: it’s true! Some of the takes I had to reject had much worse breaks in the video than this.
Maybe I need to get more memory and/or deactivate the Internet and a bunch of other things, because at every few takes, the MIDI playback would slow down terribly for a few beats and then pick up again.... was Windows 7 running updates in the background? Also, because I recorded directly to the computer rather than in the recording device, the computer seems to have added pops every once in a while..... maybe I need a MacIntosh? I still have to try Linux (Ubuntu Studio). I could not use Windows Movie Maker at all because of the pops!

IMS #6:

last week (#7 tomorrow), went well, but this was a rough week. The weather heated up a lot and this caused my arms and shoulders to get painful again... not as bad as a month ago, but stiff and sore. Towards the end of the video, there are two arpeggios including is that infamous dominant 7th on D. They are not "clean" because of strain in the shoulder: a few weeks ago, I had no trouble with these at all.

Thanks again to everyone

I get visits almost every day from every country on the list. I guess this means there is something interesting here! I really enjoy your (rare) comments and e-mails: don’t be shy to criticize, that’s useful too! One thing is for sure, your visits really encourage me. I hope this can also encourage you and motivate you in your endeavours too!

Thank you:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Cyprus, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, U.K., Ukraine, U.S.A.,  Venezuela


Paulo S. said...

Hi Robin,

Nice job with the videos! Perhaps the technology may not be cooperating, but you made everything work very well. Keep up with the practice, and with the videos!

Howard Ng said...

a person practising 6 hours a day for 10 years would still find that difficult, absolutely, bravo for that!

RobinDesHautbois said...

It feels soooooo good to get back to music after a day of headaches fixing software bugs due to inadequate engineering.

Thanks for you encouragement Howard and Paulo! God willing, in the fall or in a year or so, I'll find some people to do music with at a decent level.

Wesbrow said...

Hi Robin!

You are to be commended for your oboe playing and for your engineering education.

1. The internet and You Tube are not very good for reproducing music. I'm not going to put anything on that I've recorded, although sometimes one cannot control what gets on there.

2. It sounds like you use European scrape reeds. While very fine music can be made(Holliger) on them, I prefer the less aggressive sounding American scrape. No two persons seem to make the same sounding reeds, however.

3. The reed crows are very important, but I have quite different tests and criteria from you. I have not seen very many discussions of this important subject which is so significant to me.

4. I have a masters degree in electrical engineering from USC and have never regretted it as it has given me a good living for many years. A lot of the work has been rewarding, though not so computer oriented as your work is. Music has been a great side career. Good Luck and keep playing Bach!

RobinDesHautbois said...

Thanks again for the compliments Paulo! And thanks for the encouragment vis-a-vis engineering ;-)

This is the 1st time I hear of American reeds sounding more aggressive than Euro reeds! Unless you mean my playing style. It's true that this is not at all how the Ensemble Arion taught me to play Baroque music... but I think it fits this special tune.... just need to get better accompaniment!

Maybe the reason there are so few discussions on crowing reeds is precisely because different people like different characteristics. I really believe its about physiognomy.

rachelcervantes said...

I enjoyed the Bach piece a lot!