Saturday, July 25

Why make reeds? (part 2.c) / Pourquoi faire ses anches? (#2.c)

These are my own impressions on very small sample of reeds. Evaluating a reed for any other person is a terribly delicate issue, even when people play together frequently. To evaluate reeds for people we have never even met, possibly inhabiting distant countries with vastly different climates and geographic considerations is almost ridiculous.

Any reed instrument player with any reasonable amount of experience will agree that, from any same reed producer, a dozen reeds can play very differently. I have tried only one reed from each maker, so my opinions cannot be considered representative of their work.
Je m'efforce au bilinguisme, chers lecteurs francophones, parce que vos visites me font franchement honneur! Mais cet article est assez long et la grande majorité des mes visiteurs comprennent l'anglais, pas le français – alors puisque je ne reçois aucune rémunération ni faveur quoi que ce soit pour ce blogue, je réserve le droit de préserver un peu de mon temps libre pour mes autres loisirs… Merci de votre compréhension!

Why then even write this post? Well for one, I promised Vicky I would... which is fine because I actually do like the reeds she sent. Also, it might be interesting for the reedmakers to get a distant opinion. But mostly, I hope this will encourage oboists when reeds don't always meet their needs – and possibly provide and idea of what to expect when making or buying oboe reeds as well as some insight on what mind-frame to adopt when evaluating them.

General Observations

When Vicky offered to send me reeds to try, she asked me what strength I prefer. I really had no clue, so I just answered something and she sent me one reed from each maker. This means that I could have made serious mistakes in my choices with no way of knowing!

Each reedmaker produces reeds of different strengths and styles for different levels of experience and/or physical ability. This is where experience and the ability to order different samples from the same place comes-in handy.  And no matter how careful a person may be in selecting cane, it remains the product of a living plant, not an engineered polymer! Arundo donax (a variety of grass!) is a living organism that will always behave in unexpected ways. So, having just one reed from each maker is really not a good representation of their work. Also for this reason, I prefer not to describe scraping profiles or measurements.

What is a "professional reed"?

I have very happily corresponded with a number of reed makers via the internet. Some makers consider “professional category” reeds simply to be more resistant reeds (harder, but still ready to play right out of the box) whereas other makers understand that many professional level players will want to fine-tune reeds to their own tastes. In the case of American scrape, I think the ability to adjust them is even more important, because individual styles are so much more sensitive and impactful.

All the reeds Vicky sent me are professional grade, except the Tipple which is medium-soft, designed for high-school students. The hard reeds are too much for me to play on for more than a few minutes at a time. BUT despite this, they are among the most responsive reeds I have ever played on! Strangely, it takes lots of air pressure (perhaps because of the climate/geographic change) but responsiveness is so easy it’s almost scary! I have never worked much at developing double-tonguing, but despite the hardness, these reeds help me do double-tonguing more easily and clearly than my own reeds. They also all appear to prefer an embouchure that does not change.

I got the reeds in late April, so I have been playing them once-in-awhile from early spring to mid-summer. The change in the weather has drastically changed the reeds behaviours: some have completely exchanged characteristics to the point where I have to look at the thread color and my notes to remember which is which! This supports my assumptions that:

  • The reeds are made for professionals, whose facial muscles become strong with several hours of playing every day.
  • I believe that if I went to the city where they are made, they would be much easier to play, even for me.
  • I would imagine that just ordering their softer versions of the reed would leave me fully satisfied.

    All reeds are excellently bound/tied: no sideway slipping of the blades at all – I really appreciate that! I find reeds that slip (overlap sideways) have a warmer, more velvety sound with perfect stability, but they also make me feel very choked when playing and I tend to get dizzy spells with them. However, a number of professionals from different countries told me they prefer reeds WITH a slipped overlap, so it's a matter of personal preference.
    One recommendation I would make to all reed makers using wire: don't ship them without some kind of cellophane to cover the wire! Not only does it prevent the lips and/or fingers from bleeding by accidental yank, it also keeps the wire in place. No matter how well you tie the wire, it is in the middle of a curve and will drop really easily, thus messing-up all your fine-adjustments! Back in the 1980's, "gold beater's skin" (the natural membrane used to wrap sausages) was popular and despite its delicateness, it worked rather well. Plumber's tape and food wrap can do well, but they tend to unwrap when wet or strangle the reed. My favourite modern cellophane is "Parafilm M" laboratory tape: it stretches and clings firm and resists friction as well as soaking – revolutionary, in my opinion.


    From left to right:
    Qing Lin, Kai Rapsch, Laura Arganbright, Koje, Tamo Ramirez, Tipple



    I did make recordings to compare the reeds. I have a new microphone, and when I combine it with my old one, I get a very good sound, almost true-to-life. But when I play back the recordings of the reeds, the difference in sound is so small they almost sound the same. I used 4 different head-sets and 3 different loud-speaker setups: each setup sounds different overall, but on the same setup the reeds only show minute differences in tone colour. This is unfortunate because when playing them in person, they really do sound different. I think the lessons here are:

  • Do not trust recordings to judge an instrument, a reed or a musician: it really takes excellent recording equipment AND playback equipment AND sound engineering experience to provide anything close to live performances.
  • Try many different reeds (keep them to try them again at different times of the year), try different instruments, ask the reed makers to use different producers of cane and try those.
  • Do NOT choose your reed for very small differences in tone colour – besides, I have reeds that sound fantastic at home and became buzzophones in some concert locations (vice-versa as well)! So you might as well choose reeds for how they allow you to play the most comfortably and with the most expressive articulations and dynamic range (according to your tastes and goals).
  • Different reeds will have big differences in sound in the same location. So choose your favourite sound in terms of big differences: leave the small differences to work on embouchure and breath.
  • All the above should also be true for instrument makers…. don’t bother asking a vendor to make comparative recordings of different instruments, it’s pointless! Try the instruments and go for general comfort while playing. Yes, tone colour is part of that comfort, but only if the difference is clearly evident: subtleties can be caused by so many other things.


    Observations on each maker:

    Qing Lin (China/Germany):

    a new professional, already distinguished in performance. I had the real pleasure of hearing him play one of the Lebrun concerti: the prize for winning the Gillet-Fox competition at IDRS 2013. Harder than the others and also more fluffy on articulations, these reeds provide a very beautifully haunting sound.

    One thing I always wanted to try (but never did) is something he does on all his reeds: where books say to cut the corners (making the tip narrower) he leaves the "ears" on from the shaper! Again, understanding that the change in geography and climate can exaggerate the strength of the reed, this reed testifies to his current stay in Germany with an absolutely stable reed built for solid professionals who want the plushest sound.... I have to wonder if this might be in the lineage of the legendary sound of Lothar Koch...

    Koje (Malaysia):
    Is a reedmaker from Malaysia that is starting to be well known in Facebook land. It is run by oboist Yong How Keen, important oboe teacher in Southeast Asia and innovative quality reed maker, increasingly respected at home and abroad. The few videos I can find of him playing show a really free sounding full-range of expression and articulation: I would expect his reeds to answer my tastes quite well. But the reed I got is a special production model, designed with and for the divine oboist Michaela Hrabankova. Surprise for me, and don't let her delicate charming looks fool you: this Czech girl is a powerhouse on the oboe, and needs a reed up to the challenge! His reed provides the ultimate baroque-esque sound; no exaggeration! Just looking at it, I don’t see anything out of the ordinary, but when playing it I am struck by its sound: very broad, warm, dark and resonant, like I’d expect to hear from Marcel Ponseele on his baroque oboe! Absolutely stable in pitch on the whole range of the instrument, it takes only a small increase in air power to reach its dynamic potential.
    Laura Arganbright (USA): 

    American scrape has never been in my favour, so I don’t want to risk misrepresenting her reeds.  But, I hear many, many American oboists sound very crystalline or metallic despite the reputation of that scrape: Laura’s reeds are among the warmest, darkest, silky sounding reeds I’ve played from any style at all. Her philosophy, concerning professional reeds (and I do agree with it) is that professionals will want personal fine-tuning, so she does leave room for finishing touches.

    Her scraping is clearly very well controlled, clean and I am very impressed with how perfectly the blades are aligned (two aspects not always characteristic of American Scrape). Actually, her scrape is so clearly meticulous it almost looks like a component for the Mars Rover! In line with her philosophy on pro-reeds, I think it is a fantastic starting point for any professional who wants to save time and effort and fine-tailor the reed to their own stylistic preferences: the scrape leaves room for any variant of American scrape I have ever seen.

    Cayetano “Tamo” Ramirez (Spain):

    his is probably the closest to how I make reeds. I don't mean what the scrape looks like, but rather how the reed behaves with respect to articulation and air pressure. The sound is also very warm, but more clearly defined in a reed that really does want to play along with my whims. It is also the reed that plays most easily in the altissimo range (especially above F). This is where I really believe the geographic/climate conditions are making all these reeds harder than they are really supposed to be: Ramirez reeds play so much like how I design mine, that I find it hard to believe they are truly this hard. What he told me is that, in Spain, they do like reeds a little bit harder compared to many other parts of the world, but not as hard as the Germans like them.

    Kai Rapsch (Germany):

    Despite being hard, I really like it! It will be a source of study for me. Like the Ramirez reed, it behaves the way I like reeds to behave, but with a heavier sound: possibly designed for an instrument that demands more support from the player, it also tends to play 2nd octave key notes flat (compared to the others) on my Lorée. From my experiments trying instruments, this reed would be great with a Marigaux M2 or a Mönnig 150 where I have found the 2nd octave notes sharp (according to professionals I have chatted with, sharpness/flatness seems to vary with geographic location).

    The tip is the shortest I’ve ever seen in my life! But this takes nothing at all away from its responsiveness: I can articulate notes the way I like to, period! Like my own reeds, his reeds sound very clearly defined, but unlike my reeds, there is not a hint of crystal or buzz: sheer oboe warmth.... it makes my Lorée sound like a Ludwig Frank!

    Tipple (UK):

    mission accomplished! He wants his reeds to play just fine “right out of the box”, and I concur this to be true! Perhaps Suffolk, England has similar climate to Ottawa? Whereas the reeds I have from other makers are professional grade, the one I have from Tipple is a medium-soft (high-school) reed: so I must hold back my power. The scrape is short but the cane shape is narrow (like American reeds): this helps maintain precision and quality of tone-colour for people with less air power, likely very suitable to many adult amateurs. This reed is very well designed to promote good embouchure and breathing habits in students: biting on this reed will kill the tone whereas a relaxed embouchure will allow any articulation you want. Being narrower, it would likely be a great starting point for habituates of American reeds who want to explore European scrape.


    I personally, will not start buying reeds.  I have been making them for 30 years: as a hobbyist, making reeds is part of the excitement of this oboe journey. With my engineer's attitude, even if I played saxophone I would probably make my reeds and even mouthpieces! However, this experience has been very enlightening about the possibilities for reeds and the usefulness of buying some (from time to time and from very different makers) as a source of study.

    headerBannerI think for professionals who want to save time (devote more time to practice and family in a busy performance schedule) buying reeds from Vicky (her website here) and/or other well reputed venues is an excellent idea: the professional can then spend only a few minutes fine-tuning them as needed without worry. I am very curious to try the reeds Koje plays on himself: apparently much easier to blow. For someone like myself, who likes to explore and experiment, these reeds are a fantastic source of investigation using the Ramirez and Rapsch reeds: I will be doing lots of comparisons and experiments on my own reeds.

    I think students and amateurs, who have teachers who really answer the student's goals, getting these specific reeds would be an excellent start as the teacher can fix the reeds to suit the student perfectly. Also, these reeds are excellent to show students what to aim for, and acquire the skills to fine-tune a reed that is already quite good.

    For students and amateurs who need a reed to be ready for concert right out of the box, Tipple should be quite good, and I really suspect that getting a softer Koje or Ramirez would be advisable.  Qing Lin and Kai Rapsch (also the "Michaela" by Koje) should be considered for more advanced students who want to develop specific sound qualities.

    Do Contact Vicky (and your local reed maker) with questions – I know she is continually trying other makers and sources to provide the best possible product for her clients.

  • Friday, July 10

    Why make reeds? (part 2.b) / Pourquoi faire ses anches? (#2.b)


    These are MY opinions: I encourage everyone to try for yourself and come to your own. I think this blog is most useful if it starts conversations and helps people ask more intelligent questions (maybe help people realize they are not crazy if they have difficulties with reeds). Not everybody will share my opinions and that is good: the more contrasting conversations we can have, the better!

    I wanted to discuss this topic in 2 parts:

    1. the definition of a good reed
    2. comments on the makers.

    But some conversations I had on Facebook lead me to insert one more discussion in the middle.


    Ceux-ci sont MES opinions: j'encourage chacun à essayer pour soi et se former ses propres opinions. Je crois que ce blogue est utile à démarrer la discussion et aider aux gens de poser des questions intelligentes (peut-être à confirmer que la difficulté avec les anches n'indique pas la folie). Plusieurs ne partageront pas mes opinions et c'est bien ainsi: toujours bien d'avoir des discussions contrastées!

    Je voulais discuter le sujet en 2 parties:

    1. la définition d'une bonne anche
    2. commentaires sur les fabricants.

    Mais quelques discussions sur Facebook m'incitent à insérer une autre discussion au milieu.

    Also, this experiment on reeds made by other people coincides with more elaborate experiments on my own reeds with new and old cane from different producers. I have found that different sources of cane favour very different tone colours AND feelings while playing: two sources can sound the same, but require very different embouchure habits – this is not an easy thing to modify while experimenting! Aussi, cette expérience avec les anches fabriquées par d'autres coïncide avec des expériences plus élaborées avec des roseaux par différents producteurs. J'ai trouvé que différentes sources de roseau favorisent des timbres ET des sensations bien différents de l'une à l'autre: ceux de deux producteurs peuvent sonner presque pareils tout en exigeant des habitudes d'embouchure différentes – pas une chose facile à modifier en expérimentant!
    Finally, I just acquired a new microphone. It is quite good, but almost the opposite from my old one, so I'm debating the possibility of recording sound clips from the different reeds.... with just my old microphone, it is very difficult to capture the small differences that are a big deal to us oboists, and that we hope the audience actually hears! Enfin, je viens d'acquérir un nouveau microphone. Il est excellent, mais presque l'opposé de mon vieux, alors je jongle avec l'idée de faire de courts enregistrements avec chaque anche… avec mon vieux micro tout seul, il n'est pas facile de capter les détails sonores, si importants aux hautboïstes, mais qu'on ne peut qu'espérer que l'auditoire perçoit!

    Remember one of the slogans from last post (here): "A reed can play easily OR sound great, but not both". This leads to the question: what is a good tone colour on the oboe?


    Harsh tone or harsh playing?

    Back in the 1980'-90's, when I was a music student, MANY people were criticizing Heinz Holliger for sounding like a swarm of flies in recordings he made in the early 1980's. I don't know if the recordings were faithfully reproducing his sound or if sound equipment and expertise at the time were inadequate, but it's clear that his tone colour is completely unimportant when you start grasping his unique expressiveness, vitality and the artistry in his ornamentations of baroque repertoire.

    Still, I think most people prefer a more velvety sound. For sure, I am trying to move away from the Indian snake-charmer sound oboes give in old black-and-white movies. But if sounding like a plush toy means getting headaches from blowing like an air compressor or being unable to extend a range past p-mf, then I'll leave that sound to other people.


    Many years old and still one of my best playing/sounding reeds ever!

    Plusieurs années à me servir et sonner le vrai délice – reste une de mes meilleurs anches jamais faites!

    Rappel d'un des slogans du dernier article (ici): "Une anche peut bien jouer OU bien sonner, mais pas les deux". Ceci mène à la question : c'est quoi, au juste, un bon timbre de hautbois?


    Timbres durs ou dureté du jeu?

    Dans les années 1980-90, pendant mes études musicales, PLUSIEURS personnes critiquaient le timbre nasillard de Heinz Holliger (ses enregistrements au début des années 1980). Je ne sais pas si les enregistrements véhiculaient fidèlement son timbre ou si l'équipement et l'expertise de prise de son à l'époque manquaient d'expérience, mais il est claire que son timbre n'a aucune importance quand on commence à saisir l'expressivité unique, la vitalité et la musicalité de ses ornementations dans le répertoire baroque.

    Toujours est-il que la majorité du monde semble préférer un timbre plus velouté.

    Sans aucun doute, je vise à délaisser le timbre des envoûteurs de serpents de l'Inde dans le vieux cinéma. Mais si sonner comme un ourson en peluche équivaut à des migraines parce qu'il faut souffler comme un compresseur ou me limiter à p-mf, alors je laisserai ce timbre à d'autres.

    When I started being active in Internet groups, I felt only very dark, baroque-like sounds (e.g. Louise Pellerin or Cynthia Steljes were good and everything else was bad musicianship. Over the years (thanks to You-Tube, Vimeo, Arte-Web, etc.!!!) I have come to appreciate edgy sounds, or clear sounds with a hint of a buzz in it, which I consider more "living" or "pastoral" (country-side) sounds. In high-school, beginner oboists honk their way through band class, so we want to stay away from any kind of hollow, strong sound. But as a performer reaches the control of the professional, a sustained goosey tinge to the sound, I find, is actually very nice in many respects. My own personal taste still prefers the tone of the Baroque Oboe (Marcel Ponnsele or John Abberger) over all others, but I now find quite a lot of modern oboe sounds to have pleasant qualities that simply don't occur in the period instruments.

    I'm not trying to be politically correct or sensitive to the preferences of others: there are still big names whose sounds bother me to the point of not being able to appreciate their artistry. And now I consider many professionals with heavenly tone-colours play without feeling or soul – in my opinion, of course. I have just come to appreciate variety: this makes my quest for the "one single ideal oboe" even more difficult!


    Cynthia Steljes
    Louise Pellerin
    Heinz Holliger
    Marcel Ponsele

    Au début de mon activité dans les groupes Internet, je croyais que seuls des timbres très sombres, riches et baroquescants (tels Louise Pellerin ou Cynthia Steljes) se respectaient et que tout le reste trahissait un manque de goût artistique. Au fil des ans (merci You-Tube, Vimeo, Arte-Web, etc.!!!), j'apprécie maintenant les timbres plus carrés, clairs ou même avec un soupçon de buzz, que je qualifie plus vivant ou pastoral. À l'école secondaire (le lycée), les débutants vont plutôt klaxonner leur hautbois. Par conséquent, nous cherchons à délaisser un timbre creux ou rude. Mais lorsque l'artiste acquiert le control professionnel, un soupçon de cacanement (cri de l'oie) soutenu à son charme. Mes goûts personnels favorisent toujours le hautbois baroque (Marcel Ponseele ou John Abberger) mais j'apprécie beaucoup plus les timbres modernes pour avoir des qualités plaisantes qui sont simplement absents des instruments d'époque.

    Je ne vise pas la rectitude politique, ni la sensibilité aux préférences d'autrui: il reste des grands noms dont le timbre m'achale au point de ne pas pouvoir apprécier leur musicalité. Je trouve aussi que certains professionnels avec des timbres célestes peuvent manquer d'âme dans le jeu – mon opinion, bien sûr. Mais j'apprécie maintenant la variété: ce qui rend plus difficile ma quête pour "l'unique hautbois idéal" encore plus difficile!

    Best reeds: machine made or all handmade?

    Vicky's website is called "Handmade Oboe Reeds" and I know there is generally a general bias in favour of making reeds by hand rather than machine. But I think most large-scale makers of short-scrape reeds now start their reeds with profiling machines and produce first rate reeds; there are even profiling machines to make American reeds. Most makers will test and finish their reeds by hand; in the end, the only thing the machine did was speed up the process and prevent accidental chopped-off corners or holes where you don't want them.

    Which is better, American (long) scrape or European (short) scrape?

    This is probably the most emotion-packed and verbally violent debate among oboists in international discussion groups. Well, let me begin by pointing out that "long scrape" does NOT imply "American scrape". Actually, the very notion of "American" reeds actually becomes fuzzy because there are important variances and I have seen sketches of similar scraping styles characterizing Dutch reeds.


    Looks can be deceiving:
    NOT American scrape!

    Gare aux apparences: n’est
    PAS le grattage américain!

    Meilleures anches: fabriquées à la main?

    Le site web de Vicky s'intitule "Handmade Oboe Reeds" (anches faites à la main) et je sais qu'il y a un parti-pris général contre la fabrication à la machine. Mais je crois qu'en gros, les fabricants de style européen commencent les anches à la machine et produisent ainsi d'excellentes anches; il existe aussi des profileurs pour anches américaines. La majorité des fabricants vérifieront personnellement les anches ainsi produites et les termineront à la main; en fin de compte, la machine sert à accélérer le travail de gros et prévient les trous et coins rongés par accident.

    Quel est mieux, le grattage américain (long) ou européen (court)?

    Voici sans doute la question la plus remplie d'émotion, provoquant des "débats animés" dans les groupes de discussion internationaux. Commençons par préciser que grattage long n'implique PAS le style américain, notion qui devient floue parce qu'il y a nombreuses variantes et j'ai vu des esquisses semblables décrivant le style hollandais.

    In my own personal definition, "American" scrape is always nearly full-cane-length and requires one very special characteristic: the back "windows" must be thinner than the heart, with the heart typically rather thick. A reed can be scraped very long, but if it the thinning is continual from back to front without an important hump, then by my definition it is not American scrape. Many of my own reeds look American because of a long W behind the heart, but the back "gullies" (as I call them) are thicker than the heart: these reeds are popularly called "hybrid" (i.e. half-way between American and European scrape). The length and gullies serve to control opening on obstinately open reeds.

    The words "European" or "short" scrape can be used almost interchangeably. Short scrape is a straight-forward technique and very likely the oldest: just always get thinner towards the tip (and the sides). People still talk about German or French or English scrape, but there are really numerous variances that cause impressive differences in sound and behaviour. People now adapt them to their own tastes and country-label is really only useful for discussion. Dozens of profiles and scraping length can vary from 1/4 to almost all of the cane length. In general, the idea is "not American".



    Machine-made American scrape.

    Grattage à l’américaine faite à la machine.

    Selon ma propre définition, le grattage "américain" couvre toujours presque toute la longueur du roseau et exige une caractéristique particulière: l'arrière (les fenêtres, "windows") doit être plus mince que le coeur, avec le coeur typiquement assez épais. Une anche peut être grattée longuement, mais si la minceur procède continuellement jusqu'au bout, sans bosse importante, par ma définition ce n'est pas une anche américaine. Mes propres anches peuvent parfois paraitre américaines en raison d'un W allongé derrière le cœur, mais ces cannelures restent plus épais que le cœur: on appelle souvent ce style "hybride" (mi-chemin entre européen et américain). La longueur et les cannelures servent à contrôler l'ouverture d'anches qui s'obstinent à trop ouvrir.

    Les expressions "grattage européen" et "grattage court" sont presqu'interchangeables. Le grattage court suit un profile intuitif et fort probablement très vieux: on amincit tout simplement vers le bout (et les côtés). Le monde parle toujours d'anches allemandes ou françaises, mais il y a de nombreuses variances qui produisent des différences importantes dans le son et le comportement de l'anche. On adapte le profile pour ses goûts personnels et le libel national n'est utile que pour la discussion. On retrouve des douzaines de profiles avec des longueurs de grattage d'un quart à presque toutes la longueur de l'anche. En gros, l'idée est "pas américain".

    So which is the better scraping style?

    The common "safe" answer is "it depends on your goals for sound". I'm never convinced of the sincerity of this answer because I would expect an explanation on which scrape is better for which sound.... and that rarely follows. Besides, I have found that any sound characteristic that can be found on American scrape can also be produced on short scrape. The preference for long or short scraped reeds is interesting because I find more and more Europeans trying (and selling) American scrape reeds. Conversely, a number of Americans and Canadians I know personally (and others via Facebook) are abandoning American Scrape and returning to short scrape.

    In my personal view, the ideal reed style should a function of your PHYSIOLOGICAL characteristics; how your own body responds to blowing and the resistance from the reed. Many people will say that short scrape requires more strength and biting: but I assure you my some of own reeds put an end to that idea! Many people will say that American scrape produces a softer, mellower, darker tone: but old and new recordings of oboes with very metallic and harsh tones are easily found with long scrape reeds.


    Very different hand-made (by pros.) Amercian scrape reeds.

    Anches professionnelles américaines très différentes faites à la main.

    Alors quel est le meilleur grattage?

    La réponse commune est "cela dépend de tes objectifs sonores". Cette réponse ne m'a jamais convaincue parce que je m'attends à une explication de quel style fait quoi…. ce qui suit rarement. De toute façon, j'ai trouvé que tout ce qui peut décrire le grattage américain est aussi disponible avec le grattage court. La préférence pour un style particulier et curieuse parce que je vois de plus en plus d'européens essayer (et vendre) des anches américaines. À l'inverse, un nombre d'américains et de Canadiens que je connais personnellement (et autres via Facebook) abandonnent le profil américain pour reprendre le grattage court.

    À mon avis personnel, le style idéal doit concorder à vos caractéristiques PHYSIOLOGIQUES; comment votre corps répond au souffle et à la résistance de l'anche. Plusieurs prétendent que le grattage court exige une embouchure plus forte et un peu de morsure: je peux vous assurer qu'un nombre de mes anches mettent fin à ça! Plusieurs diront que le grattage américain produit un son plus rond, sombre et velouté: mais des enregistrements de tout âge présentent des anches américaines au timbre métallique, nasillard et rude.

    Several players of European-scrape reeds told me they found American scrape reeds are much easier to blow and more responsive: I used to make American reeds for myself – I also have some made by other people in my collection – and I really disagree with that point of view: American scrape can be very restrictive and stop responding after a few minutes of blowing.

      Plusieurs jouers d'anches européennes m'ont qu'ils trouvent le grattage répond mieux et sont plus facile à souffler: je fabriquais jadis mes anches à l'américaine, et ma collection comprend quelques-unes faites par d'autres – et je ne suis vraiment pas d'accord sur ce point de vue: le grattage américain peut grandement restreindre la nuance et arrêter de répondre après quelques minutes de jeu.


    The more I discuss with people, the more I am of the opinion that preferring long/short scrape and specific details is a function of climatic conditions: a matter of fitting the effects of climate on the cane and the requirements of your specific comfort at playing. Different sources for cane REALLY produce different kinds of cane (hard, spongy, waxy, grassy...) resulting in reeds that behave differently. So factors like gouge and scraping profile, I think, might suit one type of cane more than another. For me, personally, the sprightly nature of short-scrape, with its ability to cope with very weak and very strong blowing suits me better – but I also have preferences in cane to go along with it.

    Therefore, there is no correct answer to this question apart from: "try and decide for yourself". Furthermore, my own experience, a person's stamina and tolerance will change a lot in different climates... just as the reed will change its behaviour too. The important thing is this: if you're getting dizzy spells or turning red when playing, try a reed with a different cane, staple and/or scraping style!!!

    Hybrid Scrape (on the short side).
    Grattage hybride (plutôt court).


    Le plus je discute avec le monde, le plus j'ai l'opinion que la préférence entre grattage long/court et les détails techniques est une fonction du climat: question d'apparier les effets du climat sur le roseau et les exigences particulières de votre confort à jouer. Différents producteurs produisent du roseau à caractéristiques VRAIMENT différentes (dur, mou, spongieux, cireux…) ce qui donne un comportement vraiment différent à l'anche. Alors des facteurs comme la gouge et le profile, je crois, peuvent mieux s'appliquer à un type de roseau qu'un autre. Pour moi, personnellement, la nature dynamique du grattage court et son adaptation au souffle très faible et très fort me convient mieux – mais j'ai mes préférences de roseau pour aller avec.

    Il n'y a donc aucune réponse correcte à la question sauf: "essaie-les et décide pour toi-même". De plus, selon mon expérience, la vigueur et l'endurance d'une personne changera aussi avec le climat… tout comme l'anche changera son comportement. La chose à retenir est ceci: si vous éprouvez des étourdissements en jouant, essayez un anche avec un autre roseau, tube et/ou profile de grattage!!!

    Sunday, July 5

    Nerves and Oboe (,) bells / Poil-au-pavillons (de cloches et de hautbois)

    So I’m late with my next article on buying ready-made reeds…. this post might help explain why…
    Bon d’accord,
    Je suis en retard avec mon prochain article sur les anches vendues toutes-faites… cet article devrait expliquer…

    Yes, I made that poster with parts of the real brochure and my own stuff…

    Oui, j’ai construit cette affiche avec des parties de la vraie brochure et mes propres bidules…

    One more public performance!

    Today, I played oboe and handbells with the Trinity Hilltop Ringers at University of Ottawa! That means, since last Christmas concert (included), I have played more oboe in public than in the previous 15+ years combined!

    For my part with the handbells, I had 3 rehearsals and 2 tutorials to play a rather athletic and rhythmically complex tune the rest of the choir had been practicing for 3 years! I played half-decently in that one; no embarrassing CRASH-BLOING’s, so I’m actually happy!

    Une présentation publique de plus!

    Aujourd’hui, j’ai joué le hautbois et les cloches anglaises à l’Université d’Ottawa avec les Sonneurs Trinity Hilltop! Ceci signifie que, depuis le dernier concert de Noël inclusivement, j’ai joué le hautbois sur scène plus que les 15+ dernières années ensemble!

    Pour ma part à sonner les cloches, j’avais 3 répétitions et 2 tutoriels à jouer une pièce assez athlétique et de rythme complexe que le reste de l’ensemble travaille depuis 3 ans! J’ai joué raisonnablement pas-mal; pas d’énorme BLOOIINNNGG, alors je suis satisfait!

    Family discovery day:

    The festival Music And Beyond hosted an event at University of Ottawa where many musicians and ensembles played in various locations on campus. People could bring their children to hear and even try to play all kinds of instruments, from Chinese xylophones to Indian drums, to Jazz trombones and, yes even English handbells and chimes! The performers were top notch, some of them professors at the university or professional orchestra musicians.

    Journée de découverte en famille:

    Le festival Music et Autres Mondes a tenu une journée portes-ouvertes à l’Université d’Ottawa où plusieurs musiciens et ensembles ont joué à divers endroits sur le campus. Les gens pouvaient apporter leurs enfants à entendre et même essayer toutes sortes d’isntruments incluant xylophones chinois, tambours indiens, trombones jazz et, oui même des cloches anglaises! Les musiciens comptaient des professionnels accomplis, incluant profs à la faculté et musiciens à l’orchestre symphonique.
    Rush-in, set-up quick, play and get out fast!
    This festival was actually full of excellent performers and ensembles. What this means for performers, is that while playing music, doors are opening and closing, people are talking, chairs are being dragged, helium balloons are exploding. This might sound barbaric, but it is actually excellent to build relations with the audience and help make live-human-music more a normal part of life in the community.
    Entrez-vous rapidement, vite avec le montage, jouez et quite sans perdre une minute!
    Le festival était plein d’exellents interprètes et ensembles. Ceci signifie que lorsqu’on joue, les portes ouvrent et ferment, l’auditoire parle, les chaises glissent et les ballons à l’hélium explosent! Ça sonne barbare, mais c’est excellent pour les relations avec l’auditoire et pour construire une culture qui compte la musique-humaine-en-personne comme partie intégrale de la vie normale.

    oboeBells     playing_IN_public    

    Hold on… what is this?… nervous?

    The time allotted to the handbell ringers was rather short…. we had 3 tunes played by the full choir (15 people: I played oboe in one tune and handbells in another tune), a quartet played 2 remarkable tunes and two duets each played 2 really impressive tunes too. So there was really no time left for me to show off the oboe at all.
    ….. well, while they were setting-up the bell stage, I “warmed up my instrument” by playing some rather advanced unaccompanied repertoire! Yes, I played this while my fellow handbell ringers were moving tables and positioning bells, music stands and so on…

    Attention… pardon?… nerveux?

    Le temps alloué aux sonneurs de cloche était plutôt court… le choeur avait 3 pièces (15 sonneurs: j’ai joué le hautbois dans une pièce et les cloches dans une autre), un quatuor a joué 2 pièces remarquables et deux duos ont chacun joué 2 pièces impressionnantes. Il ne restait donc vraiment aucun temps pour moi de mettre en valeur le hautbois.
    … Eh bien, lorsque l’ensemble a monté la scène pour les cloches, j’en ai profité pour “réchauffer mon instrument” avec du répertoire sans accompagnement assez avancé! Oui, j’ai joué ceci pendant que mes collègues traînaient des tables, positionnaient bruyamment les cloches, lutrins etc…

    Fearless Performance:
    The Newsletter is REALLY worthwhile!

    I played my repertoire well enough: no major mess-ups and decent control of my tone. But I’m kind of happy there was so much noise and bustle, because I as I was playing, I noticed that I was actually quite nervous at playing in public. It is not the difficulty of the repertoire that made me nervous: I would have felt the same way playing Mary had a Little Lamb!

    This really surprized me. I remember in my days as a “real” musician, I would be terrified of exams and very tense at auditions, but always very comfortable at public performances, even just in duet with piano. Actually, even last Christmas, alone with guitar, or a few months ago, alone with piano, I was very comfortable on stage…. so I really don’t know what happened. Perhaps this was due to the hustle-and-bustle and people not paying attention?

    I think I’ll have to go play in parks on the weekend to see where this all comes from…..
    J’ai joué le répertoire assez bien: pas de grandes gaffes et un contrôle raisonnable de ma sonorité. Mais je suis heureux du bruit et achalandage pendant mon jeu parce que je me suis trouvé assez nerveux. Ce n’est pas la difficulté du répertoire, je me serais senti aussi nerveux à jouer la Soirée du Hockey!

    Ceci m’a vraiment pris par surprise. Je me souviens de mes jours de “vrai” musicien, effroyé par les récitals-examens, plutôt tendu lors des auditions, mais très confortable lors des performances publiques, même si en duo avec piano. À bien y penser, l’an dernier à Noël, seul avec guitarre, ou il y quelques mois, seul avec piano, j’étais très confortable sur scène… alors je ne sais vraiment pas ce qui s’est passé. Peut-être dû à l’achallandage et que le monde ne me portait pas attention?

    Je crois que je devrai expérimenter à jouer la fin-de-semaine dans des parcs pour voir d’où vient tout ça…