Wednesday, March 30, 2005

About intonation and wonder reeds

So I've been obsessing about intonation lately. I was happy to read that it's not just me. That intonation is notoriously difficult on the oboe. That made me feel a bit better.

One of the bad things about being an adult learner (and a type-A personality) is that I tend to be ultra hard on myself. Every time I'm struggling with something I think about all the little 12 year olds who've been playing for years already and have overcome this hump. I need to get over my frustration about not having started as a kid. There's nothing I can do about it now and dwelling on it will not help matters.

Anyway, so after the untimely death of Wonder Reed No.1 I was finally able to find a decent replacement. This new wonder reed had a softer sound (in terms of dynamics) but I've managed to get good intonation from it. The only notes I have to be careful with are A and B-Flat. If they don't have adequate air support they can be a bit flat. And G#, C, C# can be a bit sharp if attacked too hard. But fine, as long as I keep all that in mind I am pretty happy with my tuning.

In fact last night I was able to play along with a CD! I really like the Sinfonia Concertante (the one that was maybe written by Mozart (K. 297b)). There's all this debate about who wrote it but I really like the piece regardless. I got the score for the oboe solos from I didn't realize that it would truly only be the official "solos". It doesn't have the other orchestral oboe parts. Thankfully I did also get a mini full score so I hope to make personal enlarged copies of so that I can try the second oboe part. Anyway, I'm able to play all the solos from the Adagio since it's so very slow. Well, minus the trills since I haven't learned any yet. It doesn't sound beautiful yet but it's soooooo much fun to be able to play the whole thing. When the day comes that I can play in an ensemble I am going to be the happiest (budding) oboist in the world! Anyway, so I played along with the CD last night and didn't get annoying beats so I know that my tuning is pretty darn close with Wonder Reed No. 2.

Alas, Wonder Reed No. 2 is nearing the end of its life. The other day I banged it on my Mom's table and it has a little piece that dangles off on the side. Its sound was never loud and it's getting even softer now. I'm trying to use it very sparingly and am working on three other up-and-coming reeds. The one that has the best response was playing quite sharp throughout. So I've been struggling with whether to play on that new one (in an attempt to save WR2) or just keep playing with the other one even though it's dying. The sound on the new one is decent despite the sharpness. But last night I decided to try to adjust it some because I was starting to fear that playing on that sharp reed would affect my ear. I've been hesitant to adjust it because if I mess it up AND WR2 dies, I will be back to having nothing to play on and my lesson is not until Friday. I could no longer bear to play 30 cents too sharp and took out my new bevelled knife (bought it this weekend at Rayburn's downtown). I both elongated and took some wood off the back. The pitch dropped somewhat but it's still a bit sharp. However I'm starting to feel that its response has been negatively affected so I probably won't adjust it more for now.

For tonight's practice I guess I'll use WR2 again. I just want to make sure it makes it until Friday.


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