A personal peeve is the ridiculously high horn writing in almost all of the finalists’ scores. But who is to blame them? A computerized horn can hit a hundred high Cs over the course of ten minutes without blinking. But I definitely wouldn’t want to be in the room when the fourth horn player in the LSO attempts the same.

I read this over at Lawrence Dillon’s site. I’ve heard horn players mention this. Computerized oboes can hit low notes with a perfect pianissimo too. (I just stuff my swab in my oboe unless the note is a low B-flat or B.) I’m so weary of these composers who think we can do what a computer can do. But I do tell students who end up playing these things to just do their best without stressing too much; the composers will quickly learn. I hope.


  1. I recently performed a world premiere of Jay Sydeman’s Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano at the “Music in the Mountains” festival in Grass Valley, CA.

    Although there was only one high C in the horn part, some of the writing was ridiculously fast; lots of thirty-second notes above the staff. It resembled more a clarinet part.

    The computer realization of this piece, which I listened to repeatedly on CD, of course was PERFECT.

    As a composer myself (in addition to playing horn) I try to limit the instruments I write for to those that I actually PLAY (horn, harp, piano and recorders). If *I* can play the music, chances are that others will be able to, also.

    If I don’t play a particular instrument, like violin or oboe for example, I make darn sure to show the parts to people who play those instruments, and make sure that the parts are playable.

    Too many times, composers who create at the computer forget that REAL PEOPLE have to be able to play the music!

  2. Yep … computers … no soul, but there’s always perfection.

    Perfection is over rated. 😉

    NOT that I don’t strive for that. But if folks want CP (computer perfection) they should probably just use computers, don’tcha think?

    Real people are kinda nice when it comes to real music. 😎

  3. PS Not that I’m opposed to computer music … I guess I should at least say that. But it’s a different thing to this oboist.