Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dynamics and intonation

The biggest things I'm struggling with, in the university orchestra, are intonation and volume. The bassoons were being constantly shushed in the first couple rehearsals, and several times I got called out for being out of tune. Since intonation is an ensemble thing, maybe it's not surprising that I would struggle when jumping into a new group, particularly one that has much higher standards. Still, it's embarrassing at best. I spent some of the weekend playing perfect intervals against a loud synth tone from my iPod, and maybe it helped. At least, the conductor never once bothered to interrupt the entire orchestra in order to single out my intonation, so that's an improvement anyway.

Dynamics is another matter. Some of it is just focusing on being quiet in the quiet bits, and trying to do more with the phrasing. So 90% is okay, but not perfect. But there's one spot... a ppp open F, soli 2nd bassoon entering with 2nd clarinet, in the Egmont overture right after Egmont gets his head cut off by the violins. He's spent rehearsal time on it in every rehearsal, I spent my lesson time on it, I've worked on reeds for it, I've blogged about it, and it's not there yet. I think I can do better, but it'll be work. Double reeds just can't get as soft as other instruments, something that's worthy of a technical blog post at some point. I did talk to the clarinettist, to beg for a bit of mercy. Apparently he was trying to hide in that entrance, since he was uncertain about the pitch. (He's got an open G, I think?) Hopefully if I can convince him to come up to pp or so, we'll be able to have a bit of balance while I can have a decent chance of sound coming out. The other tricky part of that passage is the rest of the notes. It's supposed to be very legato, but my tonguing at the edge of sound production resulted in too big a gap between the tones. Maybe I'll just try slurring everything.

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