Archive for clarinet

Kind of Like a Dying Moose

With a wood reed, plastic clarinet, leather ligature, metal keys, and my face, many things can go wrong when all of these strange a various elements are put together next to a piano on a hot stage.  It began when I walked onto the stage, frantically trying to remember how and when to bow.  After an awkward salutory bow, my accompanist hit a B flat, which I tried to eik out of my clarinet to tune.  You see, since my clarinet IS plastic, it is inherently very sharp, and therefore nearly impossible to tune without attaching extra parts to make the thing longer and therefore not as sharp (for those of you who don’t know, if the instrument is sharp, make it longer, if it’s flat, make it shorter).  I did a little reed adjusting, “tuned” again, got close (I’m not very good at hearing whether I’m sharp or flat, especially when I’m under such pressure as having fifty people staring at you.  It’s a good thing I’m not a hideous beast).  So, I turn and look at my music and begin.

It began at a pleasant mezzo-piano (I don’t believe I got any louder than that the entire song), with a pleasant little dynamic-less theme.  Up until the trill and grace notes.  Which really sounded like I was caught completely by surpise. The rest of the theme wasn’t so bad, but the first variation was where all the fun began.  So much for all I’d practiced everything.  It all went out the window, and my Clarence ended up squeaking in utter despair a few times during this first variation.  A few notes even blatantly refused to come out because they were so ashamed of having to be on that stage with me at the helm.

The second variation was a little more somber and in a relatively minor key.  I doubt I came anywhere near the Fortissimos or Fortes written in the music, but remained a comfortable mezzo-piano to piannissimo (Forte = loud; piano = quiet).  I breathed in all the places my clarinet teacher told me not to, and the “turnabout” sextuplets ended up sounding more like I couldn’t find my note in a simple triplet or eighth note scheme.  But hey, I didn’t squeak when I jumped from the C to the high E flat!  That probably means nothing to you, but that was rather an accomplishment.  Anyway, the “sad” part of the song was really rather sad, because I couldn’t eik any real “sad” emotions out of Clarence because the only emotion he seemed to be feeling was confusion at my pitiful dynamics.

Oh, goodness, and then the final variation.  This variation was supposed to sound fun and carefree — kind of like frollicking through a circus full of happy animals in the fall.  In reality, it came out more like trudging through a low-budget emo circus in the middle of a swamp during the muggiest day of summer in Nebraska.  No amount of practicing could have saved me from that.  I thanked God when I reached the final high C (it was definitely out of tune, but I didn’t care — if I was a Sim, my charisma and artistic skill levels had already declined by as many points as possible.  No promotion for me!  Hootnburwatti!)  And then, finally, a repetition of the same, sad theme from the beginning of the song.  Reduced to a depressed and dejected mess, Clarence squeaked out the last few notes, accepting of his new renown as a pitiful excuse for an instrument of a poor musician.  In one last strive for defiance, he refused to hold out the last note, which was supposed to be a bit of a grand affair for more than a moment before finally commiting suicide whilst I gave a sigh of relief that it was finally over.

I should have been a percussionist.


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