The Conference is Over

June 5, 2011

The conference is finally over. It was a lot of fun while it was here, but it’s a lot to take in, and playing a masterclass really juggles up one’s priorities at the conference, or at least it did for me. I missed Robert Walter’s recital amongst several events because I was practicing at the last minute for the masterclass.

I got the courage to listen to the masterclass CD today. I tried to last night, but it was the combination of being utterly exhausted and still feeling quite raw that caused me to turn it off after a few minutes. The recording of the masterclass wasn’t as bad as I expected, and after listening to a couple parts here and there, I finally began to pick up on what he was exactly trying to demonstrate. It was very subtle, and it took repetition to finally figure it out, but I understand now.

I’m always jostled when I hear a recording of myself play, namely because I never hear myself from any distance other than the 6 inches from the instrument to my ear, and because oboe records so badly. After I heard the first sound on the CD, I immediately turned to my oboe friend and asked, “Do I really sound like that?” to which she reassured me I didn’t, but it still makes me think about projection, and what overtones don’t carry vs. what overtones project. If I had to do it over, I would have definitely gone in with a reed that was less covered/fat sounding, and chose something more compact, leaner, and flexible. The reed I was playing was a bit thick, and I had a bit of difficulty with articulating the notes EXACTLY how he wanted it. I intentionally chose to play on a reed with better tone because it was only a month ago I played my jury in there with a reed that didn’t have enough tone and it left me sounding small and tight. Decisions decisions decisions. I think the current sound I am projecting is fatter and more covered, but less clear. Playing next to Woodhams and hearing the recording of the masterclass, I realize that the sleek core of his sound carries to the back of practically any hall, but much of the complexity of his sound gets lost in the compression of recordings, which is a darn shame.

So I tried a handful of oboes this year, and truth be told, I wasn’t overly impressed with any of them. The best of the lot was a Marigaux 901 with the last 3 digits of 346. Perhaps I’m just happy with what I have, or perhaps I’m just not as crazy about shopping for the perfect instrument. The Yamaha 841 kingwood lined still feels good but the ones I tried felt small this time around. I did get to meet fellow reedmaker Jonathan Marzluf, who had an awesome Grenadilla Hiniker oboe. Drool. I didn’t remember my Hiniker being anywhere near the quality of his, but I guess that was a year ago.



2 Responses to “The Conference is Over”

  1. Recording the oboe is tough to say the least. What I’ve found works consistently well is having the microphone TO THE SIDE and pointing straight to the instrument: best it be at the mid-height of the instrument or higher. If the microphone is in front and under the bell, you’ll clear-up the sound and add buzz.

  2. Caitlin said

    Hey Coop, I am sure that you sounded great, but I know what you mean- it is tough to listen to that recording sometimes especially so close to just having ended the performance.
    I tried out some Howarth oboes, they were beautiful! I of course being girly liked the cocobolo ones, but $9200 is a little out of my budget 😉
    Hope you are enjoying some oboe detox time!

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