<< -- 4 -- Jennifer I Paull DOUBLE REED DISORDER
The reed's centre is called the 'heart', which is quite logical. However here, all logic ends. The arundo donax cane is grown in plantations, the most well known being in the Var region of France. It is cut and dried lento in the warm sun (or accelerando in cheating ovens) before being stored, gouged, shaped and thrown away in frustration (abbandonato con frustrazione) by those who take off one hundredth of a millimetre too many or find unevenness in the grain (piangendo) after spending much, hard-earned cash to procure it (a piacevole, morendo).
For such days, an oboist may take consolation in the following:
The Oboist's Lament
The fruit of the womb
And the fruit of the gauge
There is nothing as raw as
A sliced-through, cut paw
Or a reed with abject
Allow time for a pause,
For self-pity, a tear
Shed in solitary, deep
We are all so alike
In our woes and our strife,
And the fruit of the vine
Gives an excellent wine with which
To find a brief
Exaggerate not with a glass or a tot
As Bacchus is not oft' forgiving.
But tell me, Dear Friend,
In which terrible haze,
Or besotted a gaze,
Even innocent phase,
Did I choose to do this
For a living?
Murphy's Reed Making Laws
The ability to make a good reed is inversely proportional to the urgency with which it is required by the performer.
The quality of the reed is never aversely disproportionate to the technical difficulty of the programme, the audience, its musical awareness and the amplitude thereof.
The absence of cane shavings upon thine reed bench is an omen of impending, post-slothal catastrophe and the herald of oncoming reed-withdrawal (guilt).
Delusions of adequacy in reed making skill (pride) inevitably bring about a plague of read drought (the fall).
Count not thine reeds before they are scraped.
Sell not thy reeds in vain (greed), neither lust after those of thine neighbours (the thread bindeth not greener on the other side of the section).
Hasty reed gluttony payeth not: (s)he who scrapeth fast, scrapeth not best.
The pain in the cane lies mainly in the grain of thine own reeds and those of thy section: nick them not as they too will be bacteria-infested (be grateful for this, oftentimes the only culture in close proximity).
Gird up thy thread, go forth and attempt to multiply all they that go down to the C without trips (not those lost at sea with ships).
Crow and the world crows with you: squawk and you squawk alone.
NB. Forwarding Murphy's Reed Making Laws to ten other oboists will not ensure that the next reed made will be a good one!
The Black Crow
Crow, crow soft reed,
Have you any heart?
No, I scraped off
Too much from the start!
One for 'St Matthew'
And one for 'La Mer'
And one for the little gig
In th' open air.
Illustrations by kind permission of Danièle Glotin of Glotin, France, who remains a true and loyal friend in spite of my atrocious, blasphemous calumny in which she plays no part, whatsoever!