Music Monday: LeBaron: After a Dammit to Hell

Let’s be real, this was pretty much inevitable. Music Mondays very deliberately don’t have a theme or central organizing principle (beyond being music I like), but still, there are patterns. Twentieth–Century works, works a little off the beaten path, bassoon features — these are all things I’ve come back to again and again. So how better to wrap up the last Music Monday with an off–the–beaten–path work for solo bassoon from late in the most recent century?

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Music Monday: Solomon: Rotational Games

So even tho this is technically my “getting back into the swing of things” post, today I’m going to be doing something a bit different. Instead of featuring music that someone else wrote and I like, today I’m going to be talking about a piece that I wrote. Specifically, I’m going to be talking about the work that I premièred on my recital in September: Rotational Games.

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Blame Your Tools

My low register was sharp.

This, in and of itself, was not terribly surprising. The bassoon is full of awkward acoustic compromises, and the low register on my instrument had never been particularly in tune, even under ideal conditions. I'd made some changes to my setup (including swapping out part of the instrument) senior year of college that had helped considerably, but still, it was hardly surprising that the first time I pulled out a tuner in LA, low B-flat was aspiring ever upwards.

So I did what I've been trained to do. I set about drilling myself with intonation exercises, training myself not only to be able to hear when notes are or aren't in their proper place, but also to be able to get them there from the moment they start to sound. For those of you unused to the joys of woodwind playing, this involves a lot of fiddly manipulations of parts of your body you don't normally think about: How high up in my throat is my larynx right now? Can I get it lower? What's the shape of the back of my tongue? Is there equal pressure coming from every direction around my mouth? All this while watching the needle on the pitch indicator stubbornly refusing to budge.

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JS Bach: Cello Suite No. 3: IV. Sarabande

Hey all! The fourth movement of my project to record JS Bach's third cello suite is now online! (You can find the first three movements here in case you missed them or want to listen again.)

For an explanation of why I feel justified in being as free with the score as I'm being, I devoted last week's post to talking about the question of textual fidelity, so check it out!