April 5, 2011

From the middle of the orchestra

Filed under: 20-minute,music — Mark Dalrymple @ 3:00 pm
Tags: ,

PP orch

People know I’m into Classical Music. I can usually talk intelligently about it. And I can recognize most any piece of popular classical music, or at least identify the composer. I have a decent collection on my ipoodle.

Everyone assumes I have some kind of kick-ass audiophile music system, with tuned dual-response gold-filled nitrogen cables and $5000 stereobarydynmaic headphones to eke out the last gram of awesomeness from my 512-kpbs losslessly-encoded music files.

Much to to their horror I show them my favorite headphones : $10 Sony MDR-W08 that I get from K-Mart. I usually rip my CDs using the iTunes default settings. I enjoy listening to music on car manufacturer stereos. I really don’t need hyperaccurate reproduction of music. Mostly I use it to set moods or provide general enjoyment, but the listening is not an end-goal in itself.

That’s because I play classical music. Passive listening to something like Beethoven’s Seventh or the Brahms Haydn Variations absolutely cannot compare to hearing it from inside the orchestra. Being a bassoon player I’m right in the middle of the wind section – clarinets to my right, oboes in front, and flutes in front of the clarinets. The strings are in front of us. The brass is behind me. Horns to the right, trumpets behind, low brass to the left.  There have been times in the past I’ve asked brass players to point at my head during great parts, such as the end of Brahms Symphony #1 has an amazing build-up to an incredible brass and winds chorale, easily my Favorite Single Musical Moment in the literature. Being on the receiving end of that figure has been one of the most transcendent experiences of my life.

When we play, I’m totally awash in sound. Granted, I play in community orchestras and the quality of the sound does not match that of the professional groups, but the overall effect is the same. You’re in the middle. You’re surrounded. And, most importantly, you’re contributing.

It’s one thing to point at a cool photograph and say “This is really cool. I bought this print at an art show.” It’s another thing to point at a cool photograph and say “I made this. This is me.” Same with music. Being in the orchestra takes the enjoyment level up a notch. Or twelve.

1 Comment »

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Nothing quite like being in an ensemble and making great music. My problem is making sure to count the rests and not get TOO caught up in it!!

    Comment by Torin — April 7, 2011 @ 1:45 am | Reply

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