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Midwest Musical Imports Blog
May 17th, 2013 by Jeff
At the heart of any successful lesson, rehearsal, or concert is a good oboe reed, and no one understands this better than our oboe department. Jeff and Steven are always on the look out for high quality, consistent reed-makers to supply a diverse selection of professional quality reeds. We certainly understand the frustrations of searching for a great reed and we make it our mission to have a reliable source of oboe reeds for our customers. So whether you’re a student new to the oboe, an aspiring reed maker still learning the ropes, a teacher who doesn’t have the time to make reeds for their students, or a seasoned veteran who just needs that one back-up “just -in-case,” we hope this guide will serve you well on your quest to find that ‘perfect’ reed for your next performance!
A Few Thoughts on ‘Reed Strengths’
One of the most common questions we get in the oboe department is “what strength reed would you recommend?” or “we’re looking for a _____ (fill-in-the-blank with anywhere from soft to hard) strength reed, which would you recommend?” We don’t like to qualify our reed selection with strengths simply because we find it to be very subjective. That is to say, what is ‘soft’ to one player could very easily be ‘hard’ to another or vice versa. Since every oboist plays the oboe differently (how we use air, how we use our embouchure etc) we instead like to qualify our reeds by tip-opening and level of resistance. For example, the smaller the tip opening, the less air required to get the tip to vibrate and less embouchure manipulation of the reed. This type of reed would therefore be more conducive for a beginner or less-advanced level player.
That being said, let’s talk about our reeds!
The AB Reed
The AB reed comes to us from the Chicago area, right smack-dab in the middle of the Midwest. Overall these reeds are consistent from batch to batch and we don’t see much variation, but as with all things reeds, there could be some variation. The length of the finished reeds will generally be between 69-70mm, shorter heavier heart, longer windows, and a proportionally shorter tip with not much room for adjustment. The openings of these reeds will typically be more open creating more resistance and more support to get the reed vibrating. We recommend these reeds for more experienced or advanced players.
Read the rest of this entry »
May 14th, 2013 by Trent
There are many ways to make and adjust a bassoon reed. The proper method of adjustment can vary depending on your shape, profile, forming method, cane density, wire measurements, and even which tools you use. Explore many different reed making styles and adjustment techniques and you’ll continually develop your own personal style. In an attempt to make an ongoing series on bassoon reed adjustments, here are some simple pointers to try on your own reeds. Read the rest of this entry »
May 6th, 2013 by Jeff
New Marigaux 901 oboes will be arriving to our shop in June just in time for the 2013 International Double Reed Society Convention! We are excited to welcome these wonderful instruments to MMI!
The 901 is a semi-automatic, grenadilla wood, silverplated keys.
The very heart and essence of Marigaux manufacture, the original sound according to Mr. Jules Marigaux’s standard.
- Wood rigorously selected, dried during at least four years.
- A traditional manufacture, true to the excellent reputation of French craftsmanship.
- A much easier and sharper low register(double correspondence on the bell).
- A high register which is even and direct.
- An excellent orchestral oboe played by the greatest ensembles worldwide.
- 3rd octave key, double F key
For more information, call MMI’s oboe specialists Jeff or Steven at 612-331-4717. And be sure to check out our online inventory of new and used oboes for inspiration until the Marigaux arrives!
May 1st, 2013 by Jeff
When it’s time to replace a musical instrument, sometimes purchasing a brand new instrument may not be an option. Midwest Musical Imports is pleased to offer a wide selection of high quality used instruments that will fit your needs. We also offer a 1-year maintenance and crack warranty included with the purchase of select used oboes, bassoons, clarinets, and saxophones!
Call our instrument specialists at 612-331-4717 for further information and trial availability!
April 29th, 2013 by Steven
Oboe embouchure can be a tricky subject to discuss. There are many different schools of thought, and most players are highly opinionated on the subject. However, a fundamental oboe embouchure does not have to be complicated. Here is a simple method for forming an embouchure appropriate for American oboe playing. A mirror is quite handy to make sure you are making the correct facial movements.
My preferred method of forming a beginning embouchure is to say the following syllables: “Ooh, aah, awm.” I take a few seconds on each syllable and move smoothly from one syllable to the next.
1. With “Ooh,” my lips move out into a puckered position, as in a kiss.
2. Then I move to “Aah,” which opens the jaw and the lips, but maintains a rounded mouth shape.
3. “Awm” is the final syllable; at this point the jaw stays open, the lips close back into a puckered position while moving back between the teeth.
Go through these syllables a few times without the reed. Then, place the reed on the lower lip, with the tip at the line between the outside (dry) and inside (wet) parts of the lip. The reed stays planted at this point for forming the embouchure. Then go through the syllables “Ooh, aah, awm” with the reed.
The final embouchure can be inspected against the following criteria (mirror time!):
1. The lips should be puckered but drawn between the teeth slightly.
2. Avoid folding your lips over your teeth and biting, as this embouchure will not seal as well around the reed and your pitch will be quite unstable, usually sharp.
3. Your chin should be pulled down and flat; if your chin is wrinkled, you may have too much of the lower lip in contact with the reed.
4. Your jaw should be relaxed and open (in the “Aah” position) with the lips holding the reed, not the teeth. Again, watch for biting.
Watch if you are drawing the reed into his mouth during the “awm” syllable, as I find most beginning players believe that more reed in the mouth means more control. The opposite is actually more accurate. The reed is thinnest (and therefore, easier to manipulate) at the very tip. So, this is where you want your lips to be located in order to have maximum ease and control in the embouchure. Do not set the reed on the lips at the thread. Your embouchure will have no effect on the reed at all at this point.
Other ways to mentally picture the oboe embouchure are to say “eee” with your tongue and “ooh” with the lips (as in the French “tu”). A whistle shape of the lips turned inwards is also a good example.
I definitely do not take credit for coming up with this embouchure method. One of my teachers, Anna Mattix, who plays English horn in the Buffalo Philharmonic, taught me this exercise in my undergraduate pedagogy class. I hope you all find it as helpful as I do!
April 26th, 2013 by Jessica
Spring is finally here in MN and to celebrate we’re offering free shipping on all standard domestic accessory orders, this weekend only.
Use code SPRING at the checkout, or ask us if you prefer to phone in your order!
April 23rd, 2013 by Jessica
Refine your bassoon skills this summer at the Curtis SummerFest, June 16-20, 2013!
Workshops and masterclasses will be with bassoonists Daniel Matsukawa, principal of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Christopher Millard, principal of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Canada. Learn more about the faculty.
You can participate as either an active participant or as an auditor. For more information, including a schedule, please visit: Matsukawa Millard Bassoon Workshop.
April 23rd, 2013 by Trent
I’m a strong supporter of new music. After all, as they say on Composers Datebook, “all music was once new.” For me, a thing I feel we have lost in “classical” music is the art of improvisation. Baroque masters frequently improvised, but it seemed to become unimportant for classical players. Jazz musicians frequently speak of the freedom they feel while improvising, a way of expressing themselves that can’t exist when playing what is strictly written on the page. As a senior at Lawrence University a student composer wrote a piece for me in a modern classical style that included extended improvisational sections. The desire to improvise more increased through grad school when I eventually was turned on to the music of Paul Hanson. Paul, for those of you that don’t know, is an improvising jazz bassoonist that uses a lot of interesting effects on the bassoon to transform it into something different: an electrified bassoon. Mind blown, as they say.
So I started to emulate his ideas, started practicing jazz music, and developed my own electric bassoon pickup that I now use with a wealth of effects, or “stompboxes” that are all primarily designed for guitarists. I even made the focus of my doctoral dissertation about elements of jazz in more standard bassoon literature.
This week I have the wonderful opportunity to play as one of the original members of a new improvising, new-music, ensemble in Minneapolis called The Cherry Spoon Collective. The “orchestra” consists of mostly traditional band and orchestra instruments: violin, cello, clarinet, bass, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, but also guitar, drum set, spoken word artist (“rapper” isn’t quite the right term in this context), and I play not just bassoon, but electrified bassoon. The members of the group are modular, with no set instrumentation for every performance, and everyone is an improviser at some level. We perform all new music, most of it commissioned for this ensemble. Many of the works are incredibly loose in structure, requiring the musicians to play in contemporary styles of rock, R&B, and hip hop, follow unusual road maps, unusual harmonic structures, solo over chord changes (or over no chord changes). It’s a far cry from Tchaikovsky, but just as listenable!
You can’t see it in this photo, but I’m using a series of effects pedals to create some extra sounds, as well as provide some basic sound support for my instrument in order to be heard while a drum set is playing. In order to access the effects easier I stand to play.
The Cherry Spoon Collective is performing this Friday, April 26, at Studio Z in St. Paul, MN. We’re performing the same set of music twice, at 7pm and at 9pm. It’s free, and all-ages.
For more information on my electric bassoon, and on my other improvised and jazz related projects, visit my website.
April 23rd, 2013 by Trent
If you have any information related to the whereabouts of these instruments, or find any of them for sale, please contact us. This post will be updated as instruments are found or new ones reported lost or stolen.
Oboes & English Horns:
Fox Model 300 #23413
Fox Model 300 #23673
Fox Model 400 #23520
Fox Model 800 #23302
Fox Model 800 #23378
Fox Model 800 #23458
Fox Model 555 English Horn #638
Fox Model 500 English Horn #1271–owned by MMI, stolen in the Chicago area, October 2012
Fossati Tiery English Horn #8119
Fossati Tiery English Horn #8185
Fossati Tiery English Horn #8199
Loree Model c+3 AK #QD69
Loree Model c+3 AK #QC89
Loree Model cR+3 Royale #QA83
Loree Model cR+3 Royale #QC06
Loree Model cR+3 Royale AK #QC53
Loree Model cR+3 Royale AK #QE20
Fox Renard Model 220 #41133
Fox Renard Model 240 #41298
Fox Renard Model 240 #41516
Fox Renard Model 222D #41098
Fox Renard Model 41 #41212
April 19th, 2013 by Brandon
I’ll be performing in a quartet with with NYC drummer (by way of Cuba) Francisco Mela (member of Joe Lovano’s US Five, McCoy Tyner, Esperanza Spalding) at the MacPhail Center for Music this Saturday, April 20, 2013, at 8:00 pm. Francisco tours much of the year with some of the biggest names in jazz and also leads his own group called Francisco Mela’s Cuban Safari. Local favorites Tanner Taylor (piano) and Graydon Peterson (bass) will round out the rhythm section. We hope to see you there.
Francisco Mela is currently a favorite among elite jazz instrumentalists such as Joe Lovano (Us Five), John Scofield (John Scofield Trio), and Joanne Brackeen. He is a regular member of Kenny Barron’s working trio, all of whom cite his charisma, sophistication, and life-affirming spirit.
His first opportunity to perform outside of Cuba came when Hernández was booked for an appearance at the Cancún Jazz Festival. In 1997, Francisco returned to Mexico to perform in Cancún with his own group, the MelaSon Latin Jazz Band. Then, a chance encounter with Panamanian jazz pianist Danilo Pérez led him to a life-changing decision. “Danilo encouraged me to move to Boston,” Francisco reminisces. “He said, ‘Don’t worry. if you come to Boston, you’re going to end up playing with better people than me.’”
He initially planned to study at either Berklee College or The New England Conservatory of Music, but professional opportunities headed him in another direction. It wasn’t long before Francisco was the house drummer of Wally’s Café, one of Boston’s hottest jazz clubs. While honing his own sound as a jazz drummer and broadening his leadership role as leader of a quintet, he also had an opportunity to back such world class talent as Pérez, fellow Cuban Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and his longtime idol, drummer Roy Haynes.
Eventually, he started playing with music professors at Berklee. Then, one day, he received a call to teach at the prestigious institution. He currently balances a hectic schedule of appearances with the aforementioned pianist Kenny Barron, saxophonists Joe Lovano and George Garzone, bassist John Patitucci, and guitarist John Scofield. Francisco’s professional and artistic horizons continue to broaden as he collaborates with more and more musicians.