excerpt from 'In the Orchestra' pp. 11,12-13 (308 words)

excerpt from 'In the Orchestra' pp. 11,12-13 (308 words)

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In the Orchestra

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It can be even worse when the intonation of a particular phrase or scale played solo comes under the microscope, because personal methods of correction become involved... There was a particularly glaring example of this in London recently when the final pianissimo D flat in a tiny clarinet interjection in Beethoven's Fifth came under the magnifier. It was sharp - predictably, because that's what happens to a clarinet when you do a special pianissimo. The player of course knew this, and the next time *Parkinson came around he played it just a reasonable piano in dynamic - in tune. The conductor (not a wind player of course) wasn't happy at the solution. He wanted pp, so he got pp, and sharp. he then made the obvious suggestion of any fiddler - taking another 'A' from the oboe. What this as supposed to achieve was quite obscure, because the fixing of that 'A' on the clarinet could bear no relation to the D flat, which is an overblown harmonic on a part of the tube and not affected in any way by the adjustment of the 'A'. The player knew this - it was his job to know it. The conductor didn't nor could he be expected to have the intimate knowledge of acoustics of an overblown cylindrical tube with an attached single-beating reed, which was the basis of this little problem. So Parkinson did his worst, and a lot of valuable man-minutes were wasted on a problem which in fact needn't have existed, because the solution was quite simple. That afternoon, all the player had to do was to remove a couple of keys, clean out the tone hole for D flat, and insert carefully a tiny patch of sticky medical plaster before replacing the key... and upon such simple but far-reaching remedies do those Heaven-sent performances depend.

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excerpt from 'In the Orchestra' pp. 11,12-13 (308 words)


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