<< -- 3 -- Jennifer I Paull DOUBLE REED DISORDER
I chose not to sidetrack here into the bassoonists' hypochondriacal woes. Their list is short and their reeds are rather like traffic lights: stop, get ready, go! Similarly, I shall dwell neither upon the excesses of air conditioning (the Refrigerator Syndrome) nor those of central heating (the Barbecue, idem), which are not without drama for reed, instrument and musician as all this is blatantly obvious.
Frantic explanations to uniformed, badge-tagged officials who have no idea at all about the requisites of the musician, are tedious and trying (euphemistically speaking). 'A sharpened knife and razor blades??????' How does one stay polite when 'Security' has never heard of 'an oboe' even if they do listen to it all the time without being aware? I've got you, Babe!
Bassoonists don't know they're born -- apart from having to acquire the aforementioned, advanced macramé technique, Olympic thumbs and the necessary bank loan, of course: minor, trifling details. The difference between many a Yamaha motorbike and a Yamaha contrabassoon is relatively minimal in terms of price, pitch and acoustical potential. Neither is safe for the driver, whether one steers upon the left or the right of the rite of passage.
The double reed makes a sound by itself, which is called a 'crow'. One learns to tell the quality of the reed by the quality of the crow, or lack of it. Some days are very fallow and previous, full-bodied crows mysteriously convert into budgerigar hiccups. These are days to claim a medical certificate. There is no point getting out of bed.
Certain reeds will have the fluidity for one type of music and lack the body for another, hence the blanched faces of the double reed sections during one of those modern, sandwich programmes with lyrical, bread outsides and avant-garde filling. Ideally, several reeds of diverse calibre are required for such atmospheric, mood-swing modifications. However, the hit-and-miss technique is the most frequently employed, due to the time constraints of the entire reed-making merry-go-round. The duties of MDF -- Marriage, Domesticity and Family (NB: oboistic MDF is neither Medium Density Fireboard nor the Manic Depression Fellowship), are not compatible with reed making. Something, somewhere has to give and initially, reed making time and the stoical energy it demands, fall victim (at least temporarily). The double reed dictum can only be, 'Scrape not, want: want not, scrape!' Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the oboist is often a frequent-flyer member of the extended family. Multifarious certificates habitually abound in h(er/is) lifestyle.
Copyright © 30 July 2005
Jennifer I Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland