Next week I’m playing second oboe. We are playing the Brahms Requiem, which I love, and the composer’s Variations on a Theme by Haydn, which I really don’t care for. (Truth be told, I usually don’t care for Theme & Variations sorts of works.) The biggest issue with the Theme and Variations is the darn theme. Low second oboe. With no rests. It’s a pain. I’m guessing I’ll end up muting it. I just cram a swab in the bell and that works for me.

But I did see a very cute idea for a mute here. I’m not sure, though, if management would want to see the colorful mute on stage when we are all in black. Hmm.

I also hope it isn’t taken too slowly. Below is the start of the work at one tempo … one I wouldn’t mind, although I even like it a notch faster:

Slower (no thanks!):

And the tempo I really prefer … moves right along!:

Tonight is our first rehearsal. So hoping I have a cooperative reed!


  1. I’m working on Dorati’s “Cinq Pieces”, which calls for an optional mute in one of the movements. I’ve found that using a simple kleenex/tissue inside the bell (about 3/4 of a tissue, actually) mutes the sound only slightly without distorting it and allows a stronger articulation without the sound of a harsh attack, so it might help you on those pesky Brahms second oboe passages. A tissue works better than a swab, in my opinion, because the swab is thicker and dampens the vibrations too much for my liking. When the tissue is barely placed into the bell, it seems to work best for me, and once it’s inside the bell, it’s not noticeable. Hope this suggestion helps,


  2. As it turns out I don’t need to mute at all on either of the works. The reeds are working, and it’ll be just fine. (I really do like my swab mute, though; works for me rather well.)

    Thanks for commenting!