HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Marlowe Music Week 2009: Wednesday chamber music

Posted by HelenEdith on August 12, 2009

Today’s evening activity for Marlowe Music Week was a wind dectet session. (I expect that there was string chamber music going on somewhere else.) We gathered at the home of one of the participants and worked our way through a set of short dances, the theme from Delius’ Koanga, a Tchaikovsky arrangement, and the Souza Washington Post march, among other things. We were a horn short, but we managed. We also had a conductor. She would have loved to have been playing, but a recent broken wrist had made that impossible. Her skills as a conductor were much appreciated, though. Keeping a group that size together is much easier with someone out the front to direct matters. 🙂

Margaret and I shared out the first and second bassoon parts, although I think I ended up with more first than Margaret did. She reckons that I sight-read the tenor clef better than she does, so anything with tenor clef on it comes my way. I expect that turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I still have to admit to not reading every note I saw on a tenor clef this evening. (I left a few quavers out in the interests of staying with the beat. 🙂 )

I’ve got two reeds going this week. I tried out my new reeds on Sunday afternoon and got an idea of how they played, picked the worst one and scraped it and decided that it was much improved afterwards; and have been playing chamber music and orchestra on it ever since. One of the reeds is very free-blowing and loud. That one I’ve reserved for band use. I used it on Tuesday evening, and it will come out next Sunday when I’m on the Horniman Gardens Bandstand. I think it might overpower an orchestra or chamber group, but it’s great for holding one’s own when in the company of euphoniums and other heavy brass.

I’ve put my plastic reed away and not had recourse to it at all. Unlike my late lamented one which split last year, this one has not yet mellowed to the point where I would choose to use it for orchestral playing or for chamber music, although I have used it for orchestra when I didn’t have a cane reed that worked. I quite like the plastic reed. Maybe it is because it has such a long life and I can become more attuned to it, but when the plastic reed is on the end of my bassoon, I can feel as if the whole instrument becomes one with me. I don’t quite get that feeling with cane reeds, but I think that it’s a state that I should aspire to, as the feeling that my instrument is an extension of myself is a truly satisfying experience.

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