One note … one lousy note … can ruin your whole night.

Or maybe it only ruins mine. I don’t know. Could be that the audience didn’t go away saying “Good opera, but too bad about that one lousy oboe note.”

Then again, since it is all about the oboe, maybe they are all saying that.

I hate it when I am disappointed in a performance due to “merely” one note, but there you go. I make mistakes. Or the reed doesn’t respond. Or something just goes awry (the latter was the case in this instance). And there are no “take backs” or “do overs”.

That’s live music, folks.

I hate to admit, though, that I prefer live music to studio work. With studio work you have a whole lot of “do overs” … but the whole time I’m in the studio I worry that I’ll be the one who makes us all have to do another take. No one wants to be that person.

Anyway, I thought the opera went well. It’s difficult for me to tell, since I can’t hear the singers much, but it appears that the audience was pleased. I’ll be curious to talk to some who were there. (I’d write about my son’s thoughts after he heard and saw the final dress, but I don’t want to color any reader’s notions until after I’ve heard from any who went to the performance.)

So … one wrong note. (Yes, I like to dwell on things like this.)

Now I have to play it 7 more times, trying each time not to dwell on tonight. Sigh.


  1. terminaldegree

    Been there. Played a concert tonight that was so painfully out of tune
    that I wanted to cringe. The loading dock was left open too long and we
    had a cold spell. So the back half of the stage had a refrigerator-like
    chill, while the front half of the stage was cookin’ under the stage
    lights. The clarinetist was setting up the sound equipment, so he
    didn’t warm up with us. The trumpet was at least 20 cents flat. The
    oboe was a young player (a ringer) who didn’t understand that she
    needed to match the piano’s A for the piano concerto (it was at A=444,
    and hers was at A=439). No matter what I tried (and I can usually bend
    a pitch quite far), I couldn’t get my pitch high enough to match the
    strings (who wisely matched the piano, not the winds) until I had time
    to adjust. The tuba? Half a step flat. Painful.

    Luckily the room temperature evened out by the second half. My clarinet
    colleague was warmed up, I adjusted to bring my pitch up, the strings
    all crept sharp (at least they were together), and the oboe got a quick
    lesson on giving the A. The second half sounded great. (The weird thing
    is that we’d sounded fantastic on the first half the night before!)

    Anyhow, we all went out for beer and pizza after the concert and ran
    into some astute audience members. They noticed the intonation (“a
    little bit, I guess”), but their main comments were about the piano

    So it’s all perspective, isn’t it? WE know the audience is dwelling on
    our mistakes. The audience, on the other hand, is thinking about the

    (The conductor? Well, I suppose he was wondering why we didn’t follow
    him well. Might have something to do with the fact that there aren’t
    five beats in common time.)

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    Oh yes … I know what you are talking about! We’ve had major temp problems in our pit. (They seem to have settled down now.) We’ve also had temp problems on stage — and that always feels worse to me.

    This “one note” I’m talking about, well, it was just me. All alone. after silence. I was so pleased with the entrance (you know how it goes — those solos where one player has to come in all alone and play for a few bars, and of course the dynamic is piano; as easy as the note is at home, it suddenly is frightening as can be?) and then the third note … where things should be feeling just fine if the first note is happy … didn’t sound properly. I don’t even have a clue what happened! I also am not quite sure how long the “bloop” was … I have this odd tendency to block things out when they go poorly. (Maybe everyone does that?)

    Now I haven’t any idea how many in the audience even heard it. Years ago I really blundered through something and according to everyone I spoke with they had no clue.

    But still … I’m not playing for the audience, really. For me it’s first God (sounds silly, but there you go) and then my colleagues. And my partners in crime (but not THAT crime!) heard it. Of that I’m certain.

    What is always very helpful for me, though, is to go to live concerts on occasion. Then I realize how insignificant one “bloop” is … and how insignificant one person is, too. (Aside from major soloists of course.)

    But back to you … an A439 vs A444? Yikes! 444 wins, of course. Sharp always wins. How painful that first half must have been. Ouch.