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26. October 2006 · Comments Off on New · Categories: imported, Links

There’s a new classical music blog I’ll be checking out. Now you can too.
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In response to my last post

So we went over the oboe’s range. I talked about what is difficult with oboe. Darn low notes. Please don’t have us trill a low B flat to low B! Give really high notes to the flutes, doggone it. (But, “Yes, we can play some high notes and see how piercing they can sound?”) Oh, and we can appear to be a bit crazy. I talked about pitch bending (they seemed to like what we can do). I talked about those long phrases we play and how it’s not all that big of a deal for us. I talked about how we spend more time on reeds than practice, or so it seems.

And I talked about how we are neurotic. We fret a lot about reeds. And we don’t dress as nicely as the flutists who play shiny instruments. And did I mention we are neurotic?

Then I warned them about our sharp knives and razor blades.

And yes, I said, “Please be nice to us.” :-)

I’m on the UCSC campus right now. My first student (who comes at a very early 8:30) is ill, so I had a bit of time to ready myself for a orchestration class where I’ll be demonstrating the oboe.

It’s always an interesting thing .. deciding what to tell them. What I’d love to say is, “Be kind to oboists!” I’d like to say, “Don’t do to the second oboist what Dvorak did!” (He loved low notes for some reason.) Or maybe I’d say, “Don’t make us play in the stratosphere … give it to those flutes, please!”

But should I?

We have to play what’s on a page. Sure, we have all of our excuses. But composers don’t really care, conductors won’t accept them (very often) and audiences haven’t a clue, for the most part, as to what is tremendously difficult and what is not.

Say, for instance, the long lines we get. It’s not all that often we encounter a solo that causes a tremendous breathing difficulty. We can go on and on, and the more difficult thing, at least sometimes, is deciding we really need to put in a breath even though we honestly don’t need it. (Watch an audience when an oboist goes on and on … they often look like they are all dying for air!) Our problem is often that we need to “dump air” (really carbon dioxide), not take oxygen in.

And then there are the low notes. Sigh. Low notes starting on pianissimo. Double sigh. Low notes starting on pianissimo with nothing prior to those low notes that allows us to ready ourselves.

There aren’t a whole lot of note combinations that drive me crazy. but when I am given a solo that goes back and forth between low B-flat (or A#) and B I cringe. That’s not a fun one. I also despise using the “banana key” but if I have to I will. I’ll just be sure to complain first.

And reeds. Do I tell them about reeds? Today is miserably dry. On the radio they were calling it “Desert Dry” and it sure feels like that. My skin is cracking, my lips are chapped, and I can’t keep a reed moist to save my life.

But why should a budding composer care about that sort of thing? That’s our problem, not theirs.

Certainly I’ll give them the range of the oboe. It seems as if our upper range keeps getting expanded, but I’m not going to suggest anything higher than F for now; many of these composers will have their pieces played by students who simply aren’t able to get higher. Even an F is a stretch for some students! (I occasionally go to this fingering chart to try new high note fingerings. I have to admit I can’t really get anything higher than an G# to work for me most of the time.

Mostly I think I like to say, as I wrote earlier, “Be kind.” So I probably will.