Sunday, August 21

Reed Season! – New Repertoire.

Physical update first:

Because my physiotherapist is on vacation, I’m actually skipping a month of treatments. Increased activity at the gym is a mixed blessing: I do feel generally more awake, but I do get extra sore the morning after. Every fitness and therapy person I speak to agree that it’s a matter of doing too much too fast. Right now, I can’t do much in the pool and too much time in the hot tub appears to seize my neck muscles resulting in passing headaches and pinched nerves.

Oboe-wise: my fingers are feeling great! I don’t get the fatigue and the soreness in the fingers themselves anymore (“Mashala”, as they say: “God made it so!”). These past few days, however, I’ve been getting those twinges in the forearm and shoulder that remind me of tendonitis. They are not tendonitis, I’m sure, but either a pinched nerve in the neck or a few tight muscles. I know this for sure because my fingers are playing just as smoothly as they have in these past few months, which is more than ever in my best days.

Reed Season:

I’m starting to think that there is something special about the end-of-summer / beginning-of-autumn season for reeds. In the past couple of weeks, my reeds have been much easier to make than usual and showing clearly if they are good or bad; that is, a bad reed shows it has no hope so I can break it without regret and the good ones clearly show what they need to become their best. My reeds have also been sounding generally better than usual…. that is, they can sound bright or dark, but there is no doubt as to their character.

I have recently made excellent reeds on rainy days, so the notion of sunny days are necessary to making good reeds is now demolished. However, this is pretty much the opposite season to February, which typically gives the worst sounding and behaving reeds. So I think the notion of seasons and climate is well evidenced.

New Repertoire: copy-cat or comparison?

I received a shipment of Music Minus One (MMO) material last week. I got some really good baroque repertoire for oboe, recorder and flute (fluteAltissimothat will all be played on the oboe) and discovered a baroque composer I did not know before: Veracini. I also got some straight-forward jazz and Brazilian repertoire for flute. These will be interesting because they really use the high register of the flute. I will need to practice note in the following range:

Telemann, Son. G-Dur mvt.1
Included in that shipment is a collection of Telemann duets for flute with no continuo. The MMO CD has a flutist playing flute 2, but the sheet music has both parts. I thought it might be nice to record some of these with the flute on CD and with myself playing both parts. By Murphy’s law, someone had done this and posted it on the BBoard! That someone is Craig Matovich, whom I respect quite a lot as an oboist and as a person: we disagree on some aspects of reed making and tooling, play very differently, but we share many ideals including:
  1. Telemann, Son. G-Dur mvt.2
    Pursuing oboe performance for the sheer joy of it to spite any difficulties.
  2. Using technology as an ensemble when we can’t get people to play with.
  3. Sharing our experience in the hopes it benefits and/or encourages others.
  4. Exploring classical, world-folk, jazzy and fusion of musical styles.
  5. Telemann, Son. G-Dur mvt.3
    The love of music and life overall and hope for peace, understanding and caring in the world.

I had intended to work on another sonata, but Craig agreed that it might be interesting to compare the same work with our different sounds and styles. I personally think he did a remarkable set of recordings. So while I prepare for mine, here they are his. His knowledge, experience and tooling (hardware and software) are far superior to mine, but still accessible to the amateur home-producer.

Mental obstacles to technique

Reading through these have been very enlightening in terms of how my body reacts to technical passages. I know from my old repertoire that my technical abilities are decent… for example, I have shown in a previous post that I can paly Telemann sonatas well enough. But when I read a new Telemann piece that is of equal technical skill, I fail miserably. I observed that my mistakes mostly come from 2 mental processes:

  1. Expecting notes and rhythms that are not actually what is written.
  2. Not knowing what to expect and therefore fumbling at every note grouping.

So, improving technique for me, at least in baroque repertoire, is essentially training the mind more than the fingers. I have to see if the same is true with Saint-Saëns, Poulenc and others.


Anonymous said...

Robin, thanks for the kind words and this should be more great fun.

Your note about fumbling grouping in the Telemann...Ha, me too. Its violin music in some places and not easy on oboe w/o lots of slow practice.

That is one reason I've put out mostly the slower pieces for now...have to practice A LOTin order to do the others...:)


RobinDesHautbois said...

when you say "violin music" I don't know if you mean the 1st flute part "arpeggios" in the 12/8 movement of the G-maj. sonata. I noticed CLEARLY that my problems occur when my muscles get stuck: the right-hand index finger looses independence from the middle etc.

I'm sure physio exercises are essential here... musicians who never needed to go to a physio might also benefit: they might have a milder version of the same problem without realizing.

I sure wish "phys. ed." in high-school actually educated about the physical workings of the body!!!!