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#1 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 07:24

I enjoy trying new instruments, but, although I've known and listened to saxophonists since the 70s, I've never tried one. I think the reason is (apart from a minor aversion to the clarinet, which is only vaguely relevant) it's impossible for me to choose between tenor, alto and sop; and to do all three you need time and plenty of money and to devote yourself to the instrument. I have a friend who bought his gf a bari for her birthday (when he worked for a bank, lol).

The sop has always been my least favourite, although I love Lol Coxhill, so maybe it was always down to alto or tenor.

But the other day I heard a very cool (replacing a censored word!) tenor solo and thought, yes, maybe tenor was always the one I'd most have enjoyed playing. 

But it's too late to worry about it now.

There are 1,000 instruments to choose from, and you have to stick with one, don't you. I'm not multi-talented, I have to slog.

Anyway, some of the meds I'm on make me a little breathless, so perhaps I should steer clear of woodwind!


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#2 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 08:28

Good luck in your journey, Gordon.

 

I made the mistake of trying a school friend's tenor sax once thinking it would be just like the clarinet... Suffice to say I couldn't get a note out of it! rofl.gif


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#3 Arundodonuts

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 20:37

Anyway, some of the meds I'm on make me a little breathless, so perhaps I should steer clear of woodwind!

On the other hand, playing woodwinds has been shown to have a positive effect on asthma sufferers.

 

I think I'm right in saying the alto is the one most commonly used as a beginner instrument. I particularly like the sop but probably because tonally it's closest to my instrument. However it is apparently the hardest sax with regard to intonation.


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#4 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 08:26

I made the mistake of trying a school friend's tenor sax once thinking it would be just like the clarinet... Suffice to say I couldn't get a note out of it! rofl.gif

Interesting. One of the things that appeals to me is that clarinet and saxophone reeds come in standard thicknesses, so you can get a selection and find which works for you, whereas there's none of that on the oboe.


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#5 Tenor Viol

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 16:45

Beginners usually opt for either alto or tenor. Soprano is harder work.

 

You can get decent saxes second hand. 


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#6 Arundodonuts

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 21:56

Interesting. One of the things that appeals to me is that clarinet and saxophone reeds come in standard thicknesses, so you can get a selection and find which works for you, whereas there's none of that on the oboe.

 

 

 

Oboe reeds come in different grades of hardness.


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#7 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 07:32

Ugh, I was hoping I wouldn't have to go through this - you can scrape thin cane thick, you can scrape thick cane thin, there are French and German reed profiles (and others).

When attempting to scrape thick cane thin there's always the psychological temptation to scrape it thicker each time to get better sound, even if you favour a French sound. My reed maker (Jonathan Small) used to play in a style that made the first oboe of the Berlin Phil sound like Heinz Holliger, so I always had to put up with his ultra thick cane (when I was making my own from his pre-gouged cane instead of buying his ready made), and getting consistency was impossible.

Going to a shop and getting 1-6 thickness sax (or clarinet) reeds and doing perhaps a little bit of your own scraping on top seems much easier to me.

 

I should probably apologise - I've never bought an oboe reed from a shop, except once out of necessity, and it was a disaster.

At university we put on the British Premier of a Prokofiev opera under Howard Williams of the ENO, so it was a big pro-am affair, and the ENO players supplied a lot of the exotic instruments (bass bassoons, bass trombones, etc). I played second oboe, and the guy playing first oboe was a philosophy student called Clive (studied with Jonathan) who had a performer's diploma from the RCM. He had three dozen reeds on the go - a good dozen in his oboe case, a second good dozen elsewhere for safety in case the first got lost, and a third dozen work in progress. I mentioned this a little while ago to an amateur cellist who almost violently opined that Clive was mad and no pro oboist needed more than three reeds, and he knew one and that was proof of it. And then by coincidence in South London Music a week ago I found that the guy there was an oboist who buys reeds from a shop, and he only owns three. But at £20 a throw you aren't going to buy 3 dozen, are you! And no pro who makes their own is only going to make 3 either. There's a different ethos.


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#8 Arundodonuts

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 10:16

Yes I know, I'm an oboist.

 

I buy my reeds directly from makers (oboists). I have attempted to make my own from scratch but eventually felt the time was better spent playing. I keep saying I'm going to get back into making them since I (apparently) have a bit more available spare time these days. I will sometimes do a bit of adjustment to the reeds I buy but normally just play them in over a period. It's not unusual for an oboist to have a dozen reeds in a case, some past it that should probably be discarded, some playable but a bit different to each other, some playing in.

 

Mind you even professionals have widely differing views, from making new reeds every week for the following week's rehearsals and concerts then discarding them, to only making 3 or 4 a month.


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#9 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 10:42

My violin teacher complains that the oboists are constantly whittling reeds in the orchestra pit, lol. Nutters!

My advice to an aspirer would be, don't bother gouging your own cane - buy pre-gouged, but you have to know what thickness you want.

I used to like Leon Goossens' autobiog. I think it had a little info, although he had a professional reed maker make his.

Anyway, this is a sax thread. Sorry. Anyway, I'm now off for the w/e. bye! (rush, rush)


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#10 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 09:44

 

Anyway, some of the meds I'm on make me a little breathless, so perhaps I should steer clear of woodwind!

On the other hand, playing woodwinds has been shown to have a positive effect on asthma sufferers.

 

 

Interesting. May be worth a thread on it. I only notice my breathlessness when talking. I can sing ok. I suppose the difference is in singing you can plan breaths, but in conversation it's harder to plan.


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