Several years ago I bought six dulcian reeds direct from Medir in Catalonia (Spain). The reeds were so good that since then I’ve been meaning to try some of the modern bassoon cane.
Finally took the plunge!
I’m play testing the first three reeds from a batch of gouged/shaped/profiled cane (Rieger 1A shape) and I’m very pleased. I notice that the cane is a bit hard but the sound is even and full up and down the range. Maybe the profile is thicker than usual for me–with medium density cane–but, I could always try re-profiling.
With any new cane, shape, etc., there is a learning curve. I cut the reeds to 57 mm overall length, that’s 30 mm from the front of the first wire to the tip, and finished the tips with my Rieger tip profiler (factory taper). On one of the three reeds I’ve worked on the back of the blades and sanded a little overall to get the pitch and response where it should be. All three new reeds respond very nicely with breath attacks at the top of the staff (a, b-flat, b, c). The forked e-flat is in tune without the help of the right hand. I think I’m not in a hurry to coax rich and noisy vibration out of these reeds yet, but with more sanding I’m sure I could get there. For now, it’s probably best to let the reeds settle down before further adjustments. Expect updates on the Medir cane story in the coming weeks.
Update: I’ve noticed that the Medir G/S/P profile is a bit heavy in the back. I usually aim for .030 inches at the collar. The Medir cane I got was on average .037 inches at the collar. I previously mentioned re-profiling, but I think it will work to file/sand the back of the profiled blade to get it down closer to .030 inches. That way, if this cane works better with a slightly thicker profile (say, .032 inches), I won’t miss it!?!
News about the GLICKMAN-POPKIN BASSOON CAMP – 40th YEAR!
10 Days at Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland, North Carolina
Monday, May 29 to Thursday, June 8, 2017
This year’s daily masterclasses will be given by our Camp founding father Loren Glickman, assisted by the legendary Leonard Hindell. We are also very pleased to welcome magnificent guest artists Xie Fei, principal bassoonist with the Baltimore Symphony, Michael Sweeney, principal bassoonist with the Toronto Symphony, and William Ludwig, professor of bassoon at Indiana University. Our program also features bassoon repairs for all full-session Campers by Paul Nordby, of world-renowned Paul Nordby Bassoon Repair. Our daily classes in Reed Making will continue this year, given by reed guru Jim Poe. Fox Bassoons will return to present their latest bassoon designs and innovations.
The lineup looks just terrific! Highly recommended!
Playing scale patterns in sharp keys can be challenging, especially in the upper register. In A major, the following fingering pattern emerges:
Notice the right-hand cross fingering between e, f-sharp, and g, and the left-hand cross fingering between e and f-sharp. Cross fingering patterns can produce snags if not carefully and methodically developed. So, here is the first set of exercises designed to work on these problems:
Each measure can be repeated multiple times. Begin playing slowly and gradually increase tempo to establish your “outer limit.” It is best to avoid playing too fast since we don’t want to practice these patterns with wrong notes, etc. Another sequence that can be very helpful in isolating glitches is this one:
Here, we work through the cycle and play one of the notes longer, the rest shorter. In the first measure, the first note (e) is long, in the second measure the second note (f-sharp) is long, and so on. Since for practical purposes, all of the intervals between these notes will be important, the next step is to mix them up:
If you find a particularly gnarly interval, especially when slurred, be sure to isolate and work on that fingering pattern. Investing some effort into patterns like these will yield great dividends, enabling you to play with confidence and poise as you conquer the technical challenges. (Thanks to SS!)
We’ve discovered a clever little “personal” etude this week. Here it is:
It captures the tricky b/c# interval that can always use more repetitions, crosses the break from e/f# with a touchy half hole, includes top space g for pitch accuracy and left-hand pinky precision, then descends to repeat.
With dotted rhythms, we can improve finger trajectories:
Then, for something a bit more involved, and useful for finding the latent lapses, here is the pattern in triplets (notice how it takes three cycles to come out even):
Later in the week we decided that a great way to really clean up the digits is to play short staccato:
Apply in liberal daily doses, rinse and repeat often. Add to your favorite warmup routine!
“Why do some people achieve outsize success? Given the competitive nature of the modern world, it’s a question many have spent time thinking about. The usual answer is that success results from some combination of talent, luck, and hard work. Tales of prodigies and “naturals,” born ready to conquer the world, tend to minimize the importance of hard work, but the whole formula may need a rethink. That’s the message of Peak, a new book by Florida State University psychology professor Anders Ericsson and science writer Robert Pool. Ericsson has spent decades studying the concept of “deliberate practice,” the sort of hard, unglamorous focus on improvement that gets results. This highly readable book distills Ericsson’s work for a general audience, while raising thought-provoking questions about what talent really is.” Read the full review . . .
I was a young bassoon student (the case almost touched the ground when I carried it by the handle) taking lessons once a week with Wilbur Simpson (for many years second bassoonist with the Chicago Symphony). One week, before we headed upstairs to his bassoon studio, he ushered me into the living room and said, “I want you to hear this!” He carefully laid an LP on the turntable, located the needle and turned up the volume. Enthusiastically, he exclaimed, “Wait ’til you hear this–a french bassoonist with a marvelous tone!” For my first experience hearing the french bassoon, I was blessed with the round sound of the incomparable Maurice Allard (1923-2004) performing Boismortier’s Concerto in D. Read William Waterhouse’s biographical sketch of Allard.