Archive for June, 2017

June 29, 2017

“Expect The Unexpected” – aka “Pick A Clef, Any Clef” – aka “Who Was This Zelenka Person Anyway?”

I was sent advanced notice of a piece I’ve not played before – Zelenka’s Simphonie a 8 Concertanti (link goes to IMSLP).

Was somewhat perturbed to see this in the first movement:

Alto clef? on a bass? The problem is the same in the bassoon & cello parts. We think the top note is meant to be a B, so Alto clef is right, but it’s still wrong. If you see what I mean. I guess we’ll find out when we actually rehearse this thing in September.

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June 4, 2017

Grat[ear]Plug: ISOLATE earplugs

Yeah, it’s been a bit quiet here of late, and that’s not because of the earplugs…

I’ve been in some rather loud concerts lately – the joys of playing with upcoming professionals, I guess. I also work in a rather noisy office environment. These two things (and some discussion with friends) led me to decide I needed some earplugs. But what to get?

I googled, and found these ISOLATE Earplugs. Not the cheapest things in the world, but seemed to be well thought-of, so I ordered a pair and gave them a bit of a going over.

Some highly unscientific and objective observations.

Positives

  • Effective, oh yes, so effective.
  • I tried them in the office. Couldn’t hear people who were talking to me. Bliss.
  • I tried them on the bus. Couldn’t hear people’s noisy headphones, phone conversations, the engine of the bus… I was sitting right at the back, on top of the engine, and I could hear very little of it. Quietest ride home ever.
  • I’ve even tried them in rehearsal. They’re a bit too effective when used as a pair! For me, anyway – as a bassist, I’m usually right out on the edge of things, rather than in the middle… But when I use a plug in the right ear, and leave the left one open, suddenly I can survive even the loudest rehearsal (or concert). I’ve used them in a Firebird gig like this, and could hear the music and had no idea that Sam (the bass drum) had opened a can of whup-ass and scared the audience out of its collective skin. I’ll be using the same technique in tonight’s performance of Shostakovic 10.
  • three different sizes supplied; refills available once you work out which size is best for you.

Negatives

  • Small, and easy to lose. The pouch that they come in takes up less space than my bass rosin pot.
  • A bit fiddly – if you don’t get them inserted just so, then obviously they are less effective. Tricky to do one-handed.
  • Price. £25, give or take. And they do a more expensive one too…

Overall Verdict

Worth it.