Bassoon as a double

I’d like to say up front that I really love the bassoon. I do.

The bassoon was the last of the major woodwinds that I added to my arsenal. Looking at it from a strictly pragmatic standpoint, I think that was the right choice for me, and would be for most doublers. Let’s face it: when it comes down to time and money, for woodwind doublers, the bassoon demands a lot of both and doesn’t always return a lot of either.

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DRQOD: Ghandarvas and powdered wigs

I always enjoy Patty Mitchell’s “BQOD” (Blog Quotes Of the Day) over at oboeinsight. I’m in the thick of dissertation writing these days (technically, it’s “doctoral document” writing, since I’m working on a DMA, not a PhD), and this morning I ran across a couple of items that won’t make it into the finished product but are too fun to keep to myself. And so I present my Dissertation/Document Research Quotes Of the Day:

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Flutist spotlight: Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III

Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III, who heroically piloted US Airways Flight 1549 to a safe emergency landing in the Hudson river, was first-chair flutist in his high school marching band, according to the New York Times.

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Just like tying my shoes

I like to use shoe tying in my teaching, as an example of what regular practicing—even just a few minutes every day—can and should accomplish.

Playing a woodwind instrument involves a number of complex physical actions: coordinated finger movements, a delicately balanced embouchure, well-timed breathing, and more. And musicians mostly need to execute these physical elements without a lot of thought, so that they can mentally focus on things like expression and communication. The way to do this is to practice the physical stuff regularly and consistently, so that it happens automatically.

Like most people, I think, as a small child I found shoe tying to be a complicated proposition. It’s a sophisticated task for little fingers. But once I got the technique worked out, I just did it every day, day in and day out, until I didn’t need to think about it anymore.

Or so I thought.

Imagine my dismay when I discovered, just this morning, that I have been doing it wrong all my life.

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More woodwind blogs

I’ve added a number of new woodwind-related blogs to my blogroll (to your right). All are blogs that I read regularly.

If you don’t already use a feed reader, I suggest you check out Google Reader for keeping track of all your favorite blogs in one place.

The new ones as of this update are:

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Mario Rivera (1939-2007): Latin saxophone and flute

I recently got a copy of the 1984 Tito Puente disc El Rey. I’m sorry to say I wasn’t familiar with the names of any of the other musicians on the album—everyone sounds absolutely incredible—but I was blown away by the flute and tenor playing of Mario Rivera.

A quick Google search later and I can see that the late Mr. Rivera ranks among the heavies of Latin Jazz, and I have been missing out on his playing before now. Pick up a copy of El Rey and check out his virtuosic charanga-style flute playing (on Puente’s Oye Como Va, for examplethat’s right, Tito Puente wrote it, not Carlos Santana) and some really tasty tenor sounds, too (check out the Latin cover of Giant Steps).

Or, surf on over to YouTube for some videos from a Bern Jazz Festival appearance. Hear some breathtaking baritone  playing, some really nice flute duets (not to mention piccolos, timbales, and scat) with Dave Valentin, and, if that’s not enough, Rivera on vibes and even trumpet(!).

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Free download: New orchestration of the Creston saxophone sonata

Italian pianist Marco Ciccone has done a new orchestral transcription of the Paul Creston saxophone sonata. I haven’t heard it, but I got email from Mr. Ciccone about it and thought I would pass the word along.

The score and parts (you have to provide your own saxophone part) are available here in PDF format, presumably for a limited time, as the arrangement is slated to be published soon. [Update: looks like this is no longer available.] According to the “warning” document, there are some restrictions on performances made with the free parts, but in any case it seems worthwhile to download the score and check it out. Instrumentation is eight woodwinds, five brass, two percussion, strings, and, of course, alto saxophone solo.

Speaking the language of woodwinds

There are some terms I sometimes hear woodwind players use that make me think that they don’t know what they’re talking about. I could be wrong. But that’s the impression I get.

I think as woodwind doublers, when talking to players of single instruments, we sometimes give the same impression that obnoxious foreign tourists give—that we have read a few paragraphs out of the guidebook and now consider ourselves experts on the local culture. If you’re a woodwind doubler hoping to function as an honest-to-goodness oboist or clarinetist or whatever, I think it’s worthwhile to speak the language like a native.

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Getting started with ethnic woodwinds: your holiday wish list

I’ve got ethnic woodwinds on the brain lately, and no end in sight since they are the topic of my doctoral dissertation research. If you haven’t added any ethnic instruments to your arsenal yet, here’s what I recommend for a relatively easy to play, low-maintenance, inexpensive, and versatile beginning to your collection.

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