31. July 2007 · Comments Off on Canoe Imagine? · Categories: Ramble

Okay, okay, that was pretty bad. But can you imagine doing opera … from canoes?

(And have you ever thought about what a weird word “canoe” is?)

31. July 2007 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

It has a tragic ending which is often hard to sell to producers in movies, but in opera they seem to love it.

-Bruce Beresford


30. July 2007 · Comments Off on I Agree · Categories: Other People's Words, Read!

Thanks to Twang Twang Twang (Helen Radice) I have now read this poem.

Maybe you should too?

30. July 2007 · Comments Off on Yep. I can relate. · Categories: Ramble

I have a big CD collection, so I’ve had the capacity for listening to a wide range of music in the car at high quality for some time; but it’s so much work to pick out a CD, get it to the car, put it in the player. Laziness.


I, too, have a large CD collection. But I can stand in front of them and just stare. Maybe it’s not really laziness, though. Maybe just indecisiveness? But I like the idea of letting someone or something else decide for me.

… but then be sure and read Mmmusing’s other posts … because this one—just click the image! (below the one above) has a great music clip of … well … just listen to it!

30. July 2007 · Comments Off on But … but … but … · Categories: Ramble

She added that she found it unlikely that aspiring gang members would want to hang around an outdoor spot that plays “uncool” music.

“I don’t think classical music is a type that corresponds with criminal behavior,” she said.

And I was feeling so darn cool before I read this. Not only that, but I had these plans, you know, for like, well, robbing a bank or something.



(I found it humorous that the psychologist had never heard of using classical music as a deterrent before. Obviously she hasn’t read this blog!)

30. July 2007 · 5 comments · Categories: Ramble

Bolcom sees a danger of the computer replacing the composer’s imagination instead of sparking it. He tells of visiting Igor Stravinsky and finding that he had dampened his piano strings with cloth: “He’d play and the note would just be this ‘plink,’ and in his mind, he would assign the shape and the color of the note. That’s what’s missing — that hearing it in your mind,” he says. “The ear isn’t as developed because there are too many helps.” A member of the younger generation shares Bolcom’s concern. “I’d much rather hack through something really badly at the keyboard,” says fellow Andrew McPherson, “because it requires a certain extra leap of imagination.”

Thoughts? Composers … agree or disagree?

I’m not a composer. Not at ALL. But I occasionally play new works by young composers. It’s often quite interesting to watch their faces as we play their pieces. They seem surprised by the sounds. While they use their computers and, they think, hear an oboe tone, it isn’t the same. There’s something about our sound … I’ve never heard anything close to realistic by a “fake” oboe! And the way we attack notes, or cut them off, can’t be duplicated. They are also taken aback if we aren’t able to play their complicated rhythms at first glance like their computers could. The ones I played for this past year were also surprised that we had to ask questions about some of their notations and requests. (I really wondered if some had actually heard live instruments before, or studied an instrument at all!)

But I’m not really writing about that.

Well, that’s a lie, isn’t it? I did just write about that! But still …

The article just got me to thinking about something else I lived without until I was in college: the wonderful world of tuners!

When I started up with oboe back in, I think, 1968, those little tuners weren’t invented. Or at least I sure didn’t know about them. (I do remember hearing about this “black box” when I was in college. Many of us put our noses up in the air and thought it was cheating to use a box to tune an orchestra rather than one’s ear. Silly of us, eh?) We did have a huge machine that we could tune to at school. I think it was called a Strobe-a-con or some such thing. It had a different window for every note, quite unlike our handy dandy little tuners that know which note we are playing (or at least they think they do; sometimes a student is so sharp it decides the note is a half step higher!). Aside from that tuner at school, I had to use my ear. And a tuning fork.

To tune a group, I’d hit the fork on my knee, press it up against my ear, and then play an A to match the fork. Hardly a precise way to tune, but then the principal oboe is the boss, so whatever. (And we should make our reed to play on pitch, yes?)

But I ramble. (Surprise!)

I love my tuners (yes, I have a number of them). It’s so much easier to turn that on to check my pitch or my reed crow. It’s wonderful to have the tool, and I’ll never stop using mine. I will continue to tune an orchestra with it; no one can tell me I gave a sharp or flat A if I use the tuner. Well, okay, they can, but they’d be wrong.

[Short story, for example: Years ago I was hired to play as a ringer for, I think, a university orchestra (the memory is somewhat vague, although I’ll never forget the concertmaster’s name!). After giving the A, the concertmaster—another ringer, mind you—looked at me and shook his head. In front of an audience. I’m not terribly brave, but in that instant he just pushed a button I guess, because I looked up, shook my head back at him, and held up the tuner. Note to students: That was poor form on his part, but it was probably also poor form on mine and I should have just played another A and gone on with things. Still, it did feel good to be right!]

BUT (and you knew that was coming, right?) … I think some musicians use the tuner so much that they forget to listen. I think some of us become so set on seeing the pitch we turn off our ears. And that can be a big problem. This is why I don’t let my students see my tuner when I have them play an A. I’ll ask them to play an A andI will then turn the sound feature on on my tuner so they can hear it. “Sharp or flat?” I’ll ask. They frequently get it wrong for a while. Eventually they start to really hear. Or I’ll play an A and have them match the pitch. That is, after all, what we have to do when we are playing with a group; we have to match. Being a perfect 440 when everyone else is playing 442 means the 440 person is wrong.

When we are playing in orchestras most of us aren’t hooked into a tuner. (Yes, some players stay hooked in the entire time; that, to me, causes other problems. I won’t deal with that right now, though.) Listening is a very good thing to do. Really.

30. July 2007 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

We tune because you care.

-Herb Pederson (bluegrass musician)

I’m watching a Volkwagen ad and they are just so cool and, well, don’tcha just want to buy one because of their wonderful ads and, after all, they are the people’s car, right?

But I read this and it just ticks me off. You’d think Volkwagen could do better by the people who’d possibly buy their cars. It’s really bizarre that they only had to give 24 hours notice. And how can they be certain all the volks … um, I mean folks … have received the notice? This all seems so wrong.

And yeah, I’m rambling ….

Ahhh, parking! Parking is often an issue for musicians. Some employers provide parking. Some don’t. I once had to park so far away from the concert hall for a Symphony Silicon Valley concert I had to race to get on stage to warm up, and had to have someone escort me back to the car because of the rather questionable neighborhood where my car sat. (I had tried every lot near the hall and they were full.) And recently? The job I played recently paid less that most of my jobs, and then I had to pay for parking. Where was it? Well, of course … the same place Volkwagen was filming: San Francisco. Go figure.

29. July 2007 · 2 comments · Categories: Ramble

So a poster for the Tim Burton Sweeney Todd movie is out. I’m still reserving judgment. I’m a Depp fan, to be sure. I just have a difficult time seeing him in this role, and I’m not at all sure about that streak in his hair.

But after yakking about that here at home I said, “They should make a movie “Teeny Weeny Todd — The Short Movie.”

Sorry. I had to. Really. No. Choice.

But c’mon … you know you want to add to this.

Update … Dan suggests “Puccini Todd”. 🙂

29. July 2007 · Comments Off on Tailgate @ the Opera · Categories: Ramble

Yep, I said “tailgate.” Not sure if it’s true, but let’s say it anyway — The Santa Fe Opera is the only opera in the world with bona fide tailgating.

Here’s how it works:

Opera-goers arrive at least 2 hours before the performance, park their cars, and commence setting up the most elaborate feasts in the parking lot. No expense is spared. We’re talking wooden tables, tents, champagne stands, table cloths, and other miscellaneous finery.

Sounds like fun! (Although if I ate a lot and drank before an opera I’d probably either fall asleep or have my RLS act up.)