Thursday, February 2, 2017

Projection

I walk out into the silky smoothness of the night air after heroic rain storms have washed clean some of the toxins of years of draught. I am coming from an oboe lesson with a student. I will try to teach him the difference between playing chamber music and orchestral music as played by the musicians of our era. When he plays in orchestras, he will project his sound at all times if I am successful in conveying the idea, and if he receives it. When he plays in chamber groups, his sound will flow like water. His fingers will move like a rippling brook dancing to the melodies of of the music in all venues. His ear will seek out the nuances of the harmony and his body will adjust the pitch accordingly.

Projection is an exercise in selective hearing. The oboe reed vibrates inside the player’s head, so the instrument creates the false impression of sounding loud to the player when in fact it’s not loud at all. So I tell the students, do not listen to the sound in your head. It is not the way you sound to the audience. The way you actually sound is only what is conveyed by the room. If you succeed in making the room vibrate, and the walls themselves dance to your sound, then the sound that comes back to you is what you actually sound like.

We start into the great oboe solo in the second movement of the Brahms Violin Concerto, trying to make the walls themselves vibrate to the melody, seeking points of climax, seeking the high point of each phrase and the backing off in preparation for the next phrase, looking for the phrases we will connect, and the ones that will stand on their own with a slight pause before the next phrase begins.


We give ourselves over to the work. Time disappears. 

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