28. September 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

I never used to wear ear plugs when playing; I hate the way I hear myself, including my tongue clacking—yes, it sounds like that—against the reed. I can’t stand not hearing everyone else clearly. And I hate “ear plug tone” from my oboe and English horn. But recently I have had to don ear plugs on occasion. I just assumed I was getting more sensitive as I aged for some reason.

But Alex Ross writes, “…everyone knows orchestras play louder than they ever used to…”.

Silly me! I always think it’s about me and, in this case, thought it was about me and my ears. I’m guessing he’s right; people are playing louder.

But you know how it goes … higher, faster, louder … doesn’t that make for good music?

(My students will know I don’t mean that; I tell them that I’m much more impressed by those who can play softly and slowly. It takes so much more skill and control! And everyone knows about low notes and oboe. Don’t they?)

I do recall, though, that a friend of mine decided to try out “classical” music. He emailed me to ask what was up with the music; he had to keep turning the volume up and down because otherwise he either couldn’t hear it or it was too loud. I had to explain dynamics to him; most popular music is pretty much the same dynamic, or so it was with the stuff he was listening to. And I do want dynamic contrast. That is one of the (many) things I love about what we do.
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