20. April 2008 · Comments Off on Shapely Music · Categories: Ramble

So pieces of music have shapes. This says so. This says so, too.

I’m sure this is fascinating.

Me? I just love music. I love what it does to me. I love how it can make me laugh or cry or just be incredibly joyful. Or or or. It’s shape doesn’t mean a heck of a lot to me.

And it just seems so … I dunno … science-like to try to turn it into something understandable. Something visual. (I’m sure I’m not making sense. Go figure.)

I’m guessing, though, that some of you will find this all fascinating.

Question is, will a piece look like you thought it looked? And will it matter if it’s different?

20. April 2008 · Comments Off on Negligent · Categories: Ramble

I’ve been negligent in pointing out it’s TAFTO month. I wrote for this some years ago. Now, if I had it to do again, I’d try to write better (not sure that’s possible, as I’m not a great writer) and think a bit harder before that writing. But what’s done is done. And it’s in print, so there you go. What can a girl do?

Well, a girl can neglect to put a link to her entry here. Yes. She. Can.

But anyway, it’s TAFTO time again. I just checked out the entry by one of my favorite music bloggers and pianist Jeremy Denk. His blog includes this:

Love for Music is such a vulnerable, personal thing; it is fragile, changeable; it is hard to share. Any one concert is not going to do justice to it; it may in fact seem diametrically opposed to it; you must be prepared for disappointment.

But, really, just read the whole thing. K?

20. April 2008 · Comments Off on Dynamics · Categories: Ramble

I had written earlier about a piece that was pulled from a concert because of the decibel level. Now there’s another article about that and more.

While the work they are discussing is loud because it is written to be loud, using a tape of a machine gun to begin, for instance (although I have read that that is the softest part of the work!) sometimes we just play TOO DARN LOUD!

Oops. Was I yelling?

I rarely wear earplugs: it’s too hard to hear myself, I can’t stand hearing my own tongue clicking (yes, I do hear that!), and I just feel out of touch. But I do put them in for the 1812 Overture if we have cannons, and I wear them on occasion if my ears begin to hurt. (We do have sound shields in our orchestra, although I’m not sure how well they work.)

But what about just “regular” works we play. MUST we make our fortissimos so loud? And why is pianissimo louder now than it used to be? Oh, for a conductor who would demand that wonderful hush!

“This is the problem you find in many places, that the conductors are conducting more and more loudly,” Ms. Käch said. “I know conductors who have hundreds of shades of fortissimo, but not many in the lower levels. Maybe the whole world is just becoming louder.”

I tell my students that a whisper, making the listener lean in in anticipation and even awe, is an amazing thing to do. Whispering, for instance, “I love you” in a hushed manner, is much more powerful that screaming, “I love you,” in someone’s ear. Really.

I was reading about this—and commented—on the newly found (for me) Freeway Philharmonic forum. I think you can read it too, even if you aren’t a member of the group. (If I’m wrong, or if this link shouldn’t even be here, I hope the manager of that site will let me know. BC? Just say the word.)

Playing softly is much more difficult than a non-musician might think. It requires a lot of control, and pitch can be tricky. (On oboe we have to blow slower air, so our pitch would go down if we didn’t make an adjustment with our embouchure, but we tend to over adjust and become sharp. This is one of the reasons I work with a tuner on long tones, playing a variety of dynamics.) I’m assuming bow control is more difficult as well. But it can be done. It’s just hard work. And work is great, even when you’re playing.

Maybe we should all become rebels with a specific cause, and play dynamics that are written. Wouldn’t that be something? Sometimes a whisper is so much more powerful than a scream.

20. April 2008 · Comments Off on Brandon! · Categories: Ramble

Brandon (our elder son) is in print (in German, so I haven’t a clue if they like him, but there’s a nice picture there!). Here is another (in English). Is that just a translation of the first one? They both begin with “Brandon Mitchell is altair nouveau.” Hmmm. Brandon wrote to say he’s been written up in several music blogs.

No, he doesn’t do oboe music. Or “classical”.

He’ll have two releases coming out this summer. I’m excited!

20. April 2008 · 5 comments · Categories: Ramble

So … how many of you play the C# up in the stratosphere? (Well, that’s where it is as far as I’m concerned.) I think it’s called C#6.

Well, according to the Wikipedia entry (thank you, TD!) we play that high.

So … I ask again … how many of you play up there?

And how many enjoy it?