29. March 2008 · 3 comments · Categories: Links

… well, for musicians, anyway.

This article is about David McGill, his new book, Sound in Motion, and includes a lot about Marcel Tabuteau and his numbering system.


  1. I’m sort of a heretic when it comes to the Tabuteau method. However, I must admit, I come by it only second hand, having taken a lot of woodwind coaching in my undergraduate days from a student of his. At that time, we were all dazzled by the methodology that seemed to produce consistently “musical” phrasings from us naive students.

    But, like any algorithmic approach to art, it is all to easily reduced to rote formula. I have become pretty skeptical about this “industrial” approach because it seems to smooth out important distinctions of style and period. There’s a very recognizable “conservatory style” of instrumental playing — we hear it especially in major orchestras. To grossly oversimplify, I’d say it’s defined by an emphasis on “the long line”, “the big sound”, and on overly-intricate parsings of sub-phrases. How many times have we heard a Strauss waltz larded with little hesitations and ‘echos’ — where a straightforward dance is appropriate?

    Sorry if I over-generalize. It certainly is not all the fault of Tabuteau. And anybody auditioning for the majors had better understand what’s expected in the current performance style.

  2. I bought this book recently and it’s sitting on my coffee table waiting for me. I’ll be interested to see what he has to say.

    Meanwhile, I can say that I read the Thurmond “Note Groupings” book and while it didn’t necessarily teach “musicality” persay, it did help me to understand motion in music, and to evaluate the music line more carefully and closely and has made me a better musician.

  3. I’m not thrilled with the number system, but it sure seems like a lot of folks love it. I find expression comes fairly naturally to me, though.

    If only reed making came as naturally! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Sound in motion « Adventures of Cooper and his oboe, Barbara.