Favorite blog posts, June 2019

See the woodwind blogs I’m following, and suggest others!

Favorite blog posts, April 2019

See the woodwind blogs I’m following, and suggest others!

Favorite blog posts, November 2018

  • Stephen Caplan embraces plastic oboes. Related: Elizabeth Brown lists some signs that your wooden oboe has a crack.
  • Clarinetist Miranda Dohrman gives advice on building a freelance career.
  • Jennifer Mackerras provides solutions for recorders slipping and sliding around in your hands.
  • Peter Westbrook shares a 2003 interview with Herbie Mann, covering aspects of jazz flute playing, woodwind doubling, and more.
  • Oboist Jennet Ingle offers some suggestions on a good mindset for solo performance.
  • Clarinetist Jenny Maclay lists some reasons you might not be improving as much as you would like.

Favorite blog posts, April 2017

Dissertation: Woodwind doubling on folk, ethnic, and period instruments in film and theater music

My doctoral dissertation is now available online through the University of Georgia library:

Woodwind doubling on folk, ethnic, and period instruments in film and theater music: Case studies and a practical manual

It was completed in 2009 so some things are already out of date. Also, lately I’m trying to steer away from the term “ethnic” instruments (“world” instruments seems slightly less problematic until I can find a better solution).

Enjoy(?).

ABSTRACT

Woodwind doubling is the practice of playing instruments from more than one woodwind family. In musical theater and film music, woodwind doublers are valuable for their ability to produce the sounds of a varied woodwind section for a fraction of the cost of hiring a specialist musician to play each instrument.

Since the 1990’s, composers and orchestrators in musical theater and film scoring have shown increased interest in instrumental sounds from outside the traditional symphony orchestra. Many have featured folk, ethnic, or period instruments as solo instruments, bringing authentic sounds to scenes set in faraway locations or historical periods, giving an exotic flair to fictional locales, or simply adding new colors to the usual palette of instrumental sounds.

Composers of film and theater scores have used ethnic woodwinds, in particular, in their scoring. To meet the demand for ethnic woodwind sounds, many prominent woodwind doublers on Broadway and in Hollywood have adopted these instruments, in addition to their usual arrays of modern Western instruments.

Eight folk, ethnic, and period woodwinds recently employed in film and theater scoring have been selected for study in this document: bamboo flutes (especially the Indian bansuri and flutes used by some flutists in Irish traditional music), the Chinese dizi, the Armenian duduk, the Native American flute, the panflutes of Romania and South America, the pennywhistle, the recorder, and the Japanese shakuhachi.

For each instrument, a representative example of use in theater or film music has been selected and transcribed from a commercial audio recording. Each transcription is discussed with emphasis on demands placed upon the ethnic woodwind musician. Additional discussion of each instrument includes suggestions for purchasing instruments, fingering charts, description of playing technique, description of instrument-specific performance practices, discussion of various sizes and/or keys of each instrument, discussion of instrument-specific notation practices, annotated bibliographies of available pedagogical materials, lists of representative recordings (including authentic ethnic music and other music), and information on relevant organizations and associations of professional or amateur musicians.

Read the full text at the UGA library website

Favorite blog posts, December 2013

Here are the woodwind-related blog posts that made my “nice” list for December. (One from late November seems to have slipped in here, too.)

Enjoy!

New sound clips: Faculty woodwinds recital, Aug. 27, 2013

It’s time again for the annual post-mortem on my on-campus faculty recital. This year’s program was all Telemann, which was fun. Since some of my most formative years as a musician happened back when I was primarily a saxophonist, I still feel a little out of my depth with Baroque style, and preparations for this recital turned into a great opportunity to study, listen to recordings, and work on my ornamentation skills. (I found Victor Rangel-Ribeiro’s Baroque Music: A Practical Guide for the Performer to be invaluable, and it even has a chapter specifically on Telemann.)

I’m fairly pleased with how the A-minor oboe sonata turned out. My intonation has improved in leaps and bounds since I got some excellent reed advice at the John Mack Oboe Camp a summer ago (what a difference a change in tie length can make!). I did struggle a little bit on stage with the Mississippi Delta August humidity making its way into my octave vents, which you can hear in places in the following clip.

I have also been working on my double-tonguing on the oboe, and while it’s not perfect yet, I think it turned out quite well here. The fact that I wanted to use it on this piece probably belies some issues with my Baroque interpretation: it might have been more authentic either to slow down or to slur more, but I liked the effect and felt good about at least partially mastering the technique.

And, of course, it is great fun to play with harpsichord and cello. As we sadly do not have a full string faculty here at Delta State, I had to convince a cellist to come in from out of town. It’s scary to meet and rehearse with someone for the first time on the day of the recital, but the recommendations I had gotten for her turned out to be solid, and she played like a total pro.

I was determined to finally perform some recorder repertoire on this recital. My initial thought was to do the Telemann recorder suite, but since I already had the basso continuo lined up, I did some more research and discovered the delightful sonata in F major. The humidity had a fairly significant effect on this instrument, too, especially with me perhaps over-practicing on it in the weeks prior to the recital, so my tone and stability aren’t what I would have liked them to be. Too many cracked notes and response issues in the extreme upper and lower registers. Still, bucket list item checked off.

One definite doubling blunder: I went from oboe to recorder on stage, and wasn’t fully in recorder mode when I started the first movement. The recorder’s breath requirements are much lower than the oboe’s, and so I started off the movement with a rather ugly cracked note (not included in this clip…). But I am quite happy with how the slow movement turned out; here it is in its entirety: Continue reading “New sound clips: Faculty woodwinds recital, Aug. 27, 2013”

Faculty woodwinds recital, Aug. 27, 2013

Bret Pimentel, woodwinds
Kumiko Shimizu, piano
Nicole Davis, cello

Works by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767)

Faculty Recital
Delta State University Department of Music
Recital Hall, Bologna Performing Arts Center
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
7:30 PM

Program

Sonata in A minor for oboe and basso continuo, TWV 41:a 3 (c. 1728)

  1. Siciliana
  2. Spirituoso
  3. Andante amabile
  4. Vivace

Sonata in F major for recorder and basso continuo, TWV 41:F 2 (1728)

  1. Vivace
  2. Largo
  3. Allegro

Sonata in F minor for bassoon and basso continuo, TWV 41:f 1 (1728)

  1. Triste
  2. Allegro
  3. Andante
  4. Vivace

Fantasie no. 8 in E minor, TWV 40:9 (1732)

  1. Largo
  2. Spirituoso
  3. Allegro

Concerto in A major TWV, 51:A2 (c. 1728)

  1. Largo
  2. Spirituoso
  3. Allegro

Sonata I from VI Sonates en duo, TWV 40:118 (1738)

  1. Vivace
  2. Adagio
  3. Allegro

Notes

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767) was a leading composer of his time, celebrated both critically and popularly. He is reputed as one of the most prolific composers of all time, with over 3,000 known works (count among his honors an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records). His output is not only staggeringly large, but also very diverse, sometimes to the chagrin of the churches that employed him; his operas and other secular projects were sometimes regarded as unseemly. Still, composers of the stature of Handel and J. S. Bach were students of his works. Continue reading “Faculty woodwinds recital, Aug. 27, 2013”

Recorder notation vs. band/orchestral woodwind notation

At the request of a reader, I’m going to try to clarify some things about notation for recorders. (I touched on it previously in an article about woodwind key nomenclature systems.)

Those of us who play modern band/orchestral woodwinds are familiar with a system in which, within a family of instruments, a notated pitch always corresponds to a certain fingering. No matter how large or small the instrument, the same fingering always corresponds to that same written pitch, even though the smaller instruments produce higher sounding pitches and the larger instruments produce lower sounding pitches. For example:

E-flat clarinet B-flat clarinet A clarinet Bass clarinet
Notated pitch
Fingering
Sounding pitch

This is convenient for clarinetists because, essentially, they only need to learn one set of fingerings to be (in that respect) prepared to play any instrument in the clarinet family. Note also that even the bass clarinet is notated in treble clef, as are its even lower cousins. All the major modern woodwind families (flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and saxophones) use this approach: consistent clefs, and consistent correspondence of notated pitch to fingering. The transposition is a function of the instrument’s size.

Because of the prevalence of this system in the Western woodwind tradition, it’s an understandable error to assume that the recorder family is notated in the same way. But recorders typically use a different system, in which each instrument is notated in concert pitch, and the fingerings change depending upon the instrument. Or, to be more precise, each instrument is notated in a sort of “concert pitch class,” since some of the recorders are notated as transposing by one or more octaves, but a notated C always produces a sounding C. Bass recorder and lower are notated in bass clef. Here are the most common ones:

Descant (“soprano”) recorder Treble (“alto”) recorder Tenor recorder Bass recorder
Notated pitch
Fingering
Sounding pitch

Recorder players must learn two sets of fingerings, one with the instrument’s lowest note being C (for descant and tenor recorders), and one with the instrument’s lowest note being F (for treble and bass recorders), and must be prepared to read in two clefs. Continue reading “Recorder notation vs. band/orchestral woodwind notation”