I had a recording session yesterday. I don’t do these very often, and I do find them stressful, because of course if I make a mistake it is right there for all to hear, and we have to re-record whatever it is I was playing.

This session was just me. Alone. I first played English horn. I had headphones on, so I could hear the singer and some instruments (Geesh, now I can’t remember if it was guitars only, or something else. How ridiculous is that?), and it all worked pretty well. For a while. With four sharps, left D# (of course!) and playing in the high range. (Later they moved sections down an octave to see if they liked that better and I think that’s what they’ve opted to go with. I did think the lower range sounded more lush for the part.) But … suddenly, going from G# to B was an issue. A key was sticking. Hmmm. It was second key, left hand (do you all call that the B key, as this guy does? I guess it’s called that because that’s the first key open when you play B?), and I thought maybe I just needed to clean the pad. That didn’t help. At all. Finally, after taking the EH up to a repair person who thought he might be able to fix it (he couldn’t), I realized that it was only when coming from the G# key that the key stuck. But if I used the right hand G# key, the key didn’t stick. Figure that one out for me, please. So back to the studio we went, and finished up with EH.

Then we added some oboe tracks. First up an octave. Then down. Then a bit of both, with a few other simple changes thrown in. Now I was hearing the singer, some other instruments, and my English horn via the headphones.

After that I went into the studio to hear what they did with me. Well … I sounded pretty good! I usually hate hearing myself, but this was great. Good microphones, good placement, and ah, that reverb. One can really sound good that way! After hearing it they (including the composer) decided more English horn could be put in in a few more places, so back to recording I went.

Of course now I have to figure out why a key sticks when I use the regular G# and not when I use the right G#. Anyone have an answer for that? Very odd!

But really, it was a great time, even with my nerves. The studio is walking distance from my house, too (not that I walked, since I had a bit to carry). I wouldn’t mind getting to do more work there!

4 Comments

  1. So now I’m fascinated and I have to pull out an oboe and look – the left-G# is not sticking itself? Just the part that pushes down the second key (I would call that the A key, myself, but then I’m a beginner)? It would seem more likely that the G# is returning to position more slowly, to me – the other part should be completely independent of which G# key is used.

    The one thing I can see is that the left G# pushes down at a different angle, and the shaft that it turns on (the little bit between the posts) might be sticking due to that – possibly it’s gotten worn and isn’t as tight a fit, so it’s getting slightly cross-wise, or possibly it just needs to be cleaned and lubricated? Dunno – it’s a hardware problem. :)

  2. I’m going to have to take it in, I suppose. Now it’s sticking with the right G# too. I *think* the cork on the lever that pushes down the “B” key (I want to call it A too, Tim!) might have an indentation that causes the metal to stick to it and then it stays down, but I’m not sure.

    I don’t play EH until Nutcracker, so at least I have a bit of time to deal with it.

    I like your hardware joke. ;-)

  3. That sounds like a really enjoyable and laid back recording session! Much nicer than trying to make audition tapes. :-)

    A sticky cork makes sense to me as a reason that it first stuck with left G# and then with right- there’s just so much more going on with right G# with the force of the extra springs.

  4. I tried cleaning the corks to no avail. A repairman said the quick solution for now would be to remove the cork from the arm (or lever or whatever) that probably has the indentation. I might try that for now.