This is a remake of BDP#4.

<Music: Hummel, Bassoon Concerto, III, Terry B. Ewell, bassoon, and Peter Amstutz, fortepiano, Oct. 1997, Kent University.>

We are going to begin by looking briefly at four reeds in order to give you an idea of how to do the visual observations. It will be difficult for you to fully see on camera what I can see visually myself. Naturally it is hard for me to adjust what you are seeing on camera as well. We will do the best we can.

When looking at reeds, observing the grain, we are looking at the fibers of the grain, seeing how they run down the blade of the reed. This first reed, for instance, (This is our wire up side. I identify that be the first wire.) has grain that looks pretty good. I do notice, however, right in this area here that the profiler might have taken out a little gouge (too much). Now I turn it over to the wire down side. I notice the topography. These grains are a little bit heavier than over here. This is seen in the coloration. As you get more toward the bark the color is more yellow in the grain. As you get towards the inside part of the cane, it is more white.

Now let’s take a look at the aperture. You will notice that the wire up side (here is the wire)is stronger than the wire down side on this reed. And I also notice that this side over here is weaker than this side.

When the reed closes, notice how the aperture closes off center.

Now you can always tell which side is stronger because it is a little bit like a wrestling match—two arms wrestling. You can very clearly see that this blade here (wire up blade) is stronger than the wire down blade. It is pushing this this direction, like that. That is a real good visual cue.

OK. Let me do the finger test now. I am testing with my fingers. I feel along the reed. Yes, I feel that this wire up side is heavier. You can see how that wire down side is collapsing more. I am feeling this way as well.

Then we can put in the plaque. We will test with the plaque in the reed. Here is the first wire. We were saying that the wire up side was a little bit thicker. It does appear to be a little bit thicker. Observe.

So those are the observations that would help me even out that particular reed.

Let’s look at another one. I see some nice straight grains going all the way through. I am not observing problems on that side. I am trying to get the right angle so that you can see the grain. It looks like in this area I may have taken out took much cane. That may have been off of the profiler. Let’s take a look at the aperture (tip). The wire is up here. Once again, the wire up side is a little bit stronger. When I close off this reed like that, pinching it closed, I observe that wire up this place is stronger than there. Also this is stronger than over there. Let’s do that again. The bubble ends in this area when I close it. OK.

Again we can put in the plaque. I ought to do my finger test. I forgot to do that. So I am just going to feel along here. Yes, wire up, I am definitely feeling that it is heavier particularly right here. It probably has something to do with the way I work on the reeds. (Pretend this is the knife.) Right handed people will take more on this side of the blade than this side. You tend to take off more cane closer to where your hand is than on the other side.

OK. Then of course you can put in the plaque to see if the sides are even. You don’t want to see any chunks or gouges taken out of the sides.

I have a reed here now that is one that I have performed with off and on for a while. Let’s take a look at the wire up blade. One thing I notice visually and I hope that you can see as well is that I took a little bit of a chunk right out there. See that little darker spot right in that area? Those are the things that you can visually see. I notice that the grain stops there. As you go through the layers of the grain it will change color. The fibers change. You can see the longitudinal fibers stop and then there is a color change. That indicates to me that I have a weakness in the reed there.

I always look at the reeds when they are wet. That side looks pretty good.

Let’s take a look at the tip and close the aperture. The wire side is up here.

I close that. It is pretty good. You see that the bubble closes right in the center. That is good. There are nice inflections on the sides here. This is a reed that will play a wide variety of dynamics very well. I don’t know if you can see this very clearly on the camera but the tip is better formed on that reed (on the right) than in this reed (on the left). The reed I am wiggling is yet to be fully finished.

Now we can do the finger test. After the fingers we can put in the plaque and see the sides. Yeah, I see those rails are thinner than the other ones (reeds) because I haven’t completed them.

In this particular reed the wire up side is slightly stronger than the wire down side. Just slightly stronger. I feel that in my fingers. This is because of the way the barrel formed. If you look carefully this barrel features a single crack here, which causes there to be more vaulting or a ridge along here. In the wire down side we don’t find a single crack right in the center. It is more evenly distributed. That is preferable. This will tend to have more of an even curvature to this side. So consequently and unfortunately it is an issue with balancing both blades.

Reeds are forgiving. None of us are perfect, except of course God. We deal with what we have here.

I want to just show you an older reed here. In this older reed you can really see how the fibers show up. As a reed ages you can see the difference in the fibers and the overall coloration of the reed. In this reed you can see the change at the tip. See those fibers? Just looking at a wet reed, see how that tip just “pops out” there? You can look at the fibers, the way they appear.

I hope that this has been a little bit helpful. Thank you.

Let’s end with a prayer. I thank you Lord, that you have given us the opportunity for another day to live. Thank you for the senses you have given us: touch and sight and feeling. Thank you Lord that can enhance that as we make our reeds. In your name, Jesus, amen.

<Music: Hummel, Bassoon Concerto, III, Terry B. Ewell, bassoon, and Peter Amstutz, fortepiano, Oct. 1997, Kent University.>