Orefici Melodic Studies

Orefici's Melodic Study #13. Exploring the two concepts of context and connection. Discussion and performance by Terry B. Ewell. BDP #345. www.2reed.net.

[Excerpt from Orefici 5, performed by Terry B. Ewell]

1. Welcome this is Terry Ewell. The key words I think for this thirteenth study are context and connection. Let me illustrate context with a Biblical passage and then let me illustrate connection with a musical example.

2. So, there are two interesting verses in Proverbs. This is chapter 26 verses 4 and 5; it goes like this.  Verse four is: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him.” Verse five has: “Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

3. So, this is sort of strange. One verse says, “Do not answer a fool” and the next verse says “Answer a fool.” There is an apparent contradiction here. On the surface the two Proverbs seem to disagree. This is not a Zen absurdity. Nor is this an example that writers of the Bible were just stupid.

4. Wisdom is knowing what to do at the right time. This is exactly the issue with bassoon fingerings. Some fingerings are just the needed solution to certain musical passages. Knowing which to use and when can really improve your playing.

5. Now, for the musical example for connection: I was fortunate to be a student at the Aspen Music Festival in 1977 and we were given free tickets to all of the concerts. So, I attended virtually everything I could. In one concert I attended I heard the cellist Yo Yo Ma perform. Usually, I sat in the back of the hall but for some reason I sat up closer. I can tell you the astounding thing I found about his playing was not what happened in the notes, but what happened between the notes.

6. I have heard a lot of cellists with great quality sounds, vibrato, expressivity…but what was so startling with his playing was the connection from note to note was so smooth and quick and musically appropriate that I found that rather astonishing. I began to realize that it is often those connections between notes that we overlook and that we really need to study. This is what I want you to pay attention to in this study. Let me explain.

7. So, in this opening first measure there is a slur from Eb4 to Ab4. [music] Now, that was not with my normal fingering for Ab4. Here is my normal fingering for Ab4.  [music] I don’t know if you can hear, there is a slight little “hiccup,” a slight little thing going on before that tone comes out. [music] just a little “huh.”  The alternate fingering I use avoids that. You can hear that it is a little bit smoother.

8. So, in this context. Actually for the first time in my playing, I am using this alternate fingering. I am trying to improve my playing. In the performance you will hear I add the F key instead of my normal fingering there.

9. Another thing, throughout most of this movement, I use the full D flat fingering. I find that it is smoother moving among the notes.

10. However, there are some connections on the bassoon that I have just puzzled and work on. I have tried to get the fingers to work correctly. But there just seems to be an acoustical problem with it.

11. If you look at line 2, the third measure, A flat to B flat 3 [music], no matter what I do, no matter how much I practice there is always a little “kuh,” there is always something happening between those two notes. If I do the other way from the B flat to the A flat [music] it is as smooth as can be. I have not found a solution to that yet. Sometimes these things on bassoon drive you crazy. I suspect… the B flat on bassoon is a weird note. If you ever pull off the B flat key it has three holes for that particular key. It is a problematic note.

12. As I am trying to be attentive to my playing, as Yo Yo Ma was, I am finding that there are these imperfections that I just have not yet overcome.

13. Another choice of context is the trill [music]  from G to Ab 3 on line 4. I use the thumb to trill it. I find that I have a little more control than the little finger here.

14. So, as you are studying this piece, pay attention to the context to the connections between notes as well as the shaping that you are doing there. I hope that you enjoy the performance coming up.

[Performance Orefici 13, performed by Terry B. Ewell]

[Excerpt from ending of Orefici 5, performed by Terry B. Ewell]