- Flutist Terri Sánchez blogged like crazy this month, with many downloadable exercises and practice ideas. A few I liked included this one-minute warmup, these harmonics exercises, these 100 ideas for getting “unstuck,” and this advice on creating your own warmups.
- Heather Roche shares some clarinet works by female composers. (Check the comments section for more.)
- Flutist Jolene Harju does an interesting video experiment with expressive body movements.
- Clarinetist Jenny Maclay suggests practicing recovery from mistakes.
- Ed Joffe shares his experience with developing a multiple woodwinds graduate degree program.
- Flutist Andrée Martin discusses priority scheduling for practicing and for life.
- Barry Stees offers some tips and tricks for playing low, soft orchestral bassoon parts.
- Flutist Vanessa Breault Mulvey shares ideas on being observant of your own playing [update: link dead].
- Saxophonist Sam Newsome recommends slow progress. He also shares some interesting experiments in “prepared” soprano saxophone.
- Cate Hummel warns against some small but problematic flute habits.
Interesting things from the woodwind blogosphere in June:
- Saxophonist Sam Newsome discusses slow practice and using clarinet reeds on the soprano saxophone.
- Oboist Jennet Ingle shares some ideas about how mindset affects aspects of performance, specifically intonation and phrase shaping.
- Saxophonist Bob Reynolds gives advice on professionalism.
- Patty Mitchell examines the mythology of the oboe and college scholarships.
- Kristopher King looks at some members of the bassoon family and why you might want them in your arsenal.
All of my favorite blog authors from June are ones I’ve featured previously, some many times. That’s fine by me but I’m always anxious to check out ones I haven’t been reading already. If you think I might be overlooking some, please get in touch! I’m in the process of updating my blogroll, and happy to add new woodwind-related blogs.
I am closing out July in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at ClarinetFest. Report forthcoming. For now, enjoy my best-of-the-woodwind-blogs for the past month.
- David Wells shares a useful, sortable table of Vivaldi’s 39 bassoon concerti, and discusses their complicated cataloguing.
- Heather Roche continues her project of documenting the clarinet’s extended technique possibilities with a chart of close-dyad multiphonics.
- Ed Joffe shares a 2006 interview with jazz saxophonist and flutist Lew Tabackin.
- John Witt explores some of the acoustical concepts related to oboe reeds.
- Jennifer Cluff addresses some questions about neck tension and the flute. (If you have pain, please consider blog posts to be supplementary information to that provided by qualified medical professionals.)
- Jennet Ingle exercises patience when returning to the oboe after a short hiatus.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake works on “microskill” projects.
- Trent Jacobs invents an improved bassoon A-flat/B-flat trill mechanism in the shower, and has one made for his own instrument. (As it turns out, someone else beat him to the idea, but it’s still cool.)
- Sam Newsome discusses the ongoing influence of soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, and shares a who’s-who of current jazz soprano players.
- Matt Stohrer comments on the potential viability of a 3D-printed saxophone.
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:
Bret Pimentel, woodwinds
Kumiko Shimizu, piano
Nicole Davis, cello
Works by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767)
Delta State University Department of Music
Recital Hall, Bologna Performing Arts Center
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Sonata in A minor for oboe and basso continuo, TWV 41:a 3 (c. 1728)
- Andante amabile
Sonata in F major for recorder and basso continuo, TWV 41:F 2 (1728)
Sonata in F minor for bassoon and basso continuo, TWV 41:f 1 (1728)
Fantasie no. 8 in E minor, TWV 40:9 (1732)
Concerto in A major TWV, 51:A2 (c. 1728)
Sonata I from VI Sonates en duo, TWV 40:118 (1738)
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.
I currently have over 400 woodwind-related blogs in my feed reader, and try my best at least to skim the new posts. In the past I’ve occasionally passed along recommendations about some of the blogs that I think are especially good. I’m considering moving toward something like a monthly list of some of my favorite individual posts instead.
Here are some from April (a few from late March sneaked in, too).
- The eminent Sam Newsome shares sheet music, a recording, and some commentary on a fun tune for solo soprano saxophone using some multiphonics: “Blue Swagger” – The Art of Solo Soprano Saxophone
- Stephanie Mortimore (of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra) offers a difference-tone-based approach to improving intonation over at one of the Powell Flutes blogs: Taming the Beast—Revolutionize Your Piccolo Intonation! (Part II). No reason this method couldn’t be used for flute or any other instrument. Part I is the usual boilerplate explanation of equal vs. just temperament.
- Ben Britton suggests saxophone subtone as a way of improving breath support (Benefits of Subtone and Diaphragmatic Breathing to Tone) and, speaking of multiphonics, explores a methodical way of discovering and using multiphonic fingerings (Multiphonics Dissected).
- Alexander Technique teacher Bill Plake gives advice: A Simple Tip To Help You Play Better At Fast Tempos
- From the Arts and Crafts department, David Wells shares his secret for cheap, customizable bassoon reed storage: The $3 Bassoon Reed Case
- Jennifer Cluff dives deep into the IMSLP and discovers some flute chamber music gems, free to download: Kummer Trios for free
Once the favorite son of his native New Orleans, as well as his many adopted European hometowns, Bechet’s recordings are now too often overlooked. Bechet, born in 1897, was a true virtuoso of the clarinet, and played a major part in establishing the instrument’s role in Dixieland and early jazz. His pioneering use of the soprano saxophone set a precedent that would come to fruition in a later generation of saxophonists. Bechet’s penchant for unusual instruments is documented in a few surviving recordings on the bass saxophone and the sarrusophone, instruments as nearly obsolete in Bechet’s day as in our own.
But Bechet’s genius transcended his choice of instrument. His abilities may even have rivaled his contemporary, and sometime bandmate, Louis Armstrong. The eminent Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet upheld Bechet as “the highway the whole world will swing along tomorrow.” Ansermet would no doubt be disappointed to find his prediction has been disproved.