Friday, December 21, 2007


Winter Concert

One of the local Montessori schools has been so kind to let us use their hall for our weekly orchestra practices since early summer. Tonight we gave a little back by playing a brief concert as part of their winter program. We only played two pieces. I'd give us a solid B, my own role was at best a B- (I messed up the repeat - I only bowed one extra note before I realized it and caught up with everyone, but still...)

Sunday, our orchestra will play a Christmas concert at a local church. Cellocracy (with one substitution) will also play five carols. Some of these pieces really sound nice with three cellos, and we've rehearsed them so much, we sound pretty good.

Z and his mother gave me an IPod (a blue 8-GB Nano) for my birthday last week ("it's time you joined the 21st century, Dad"). I'm going to be busy ripping some of my CD collection - especially my cello music. But now I am going to have to look for an LP-to-digital converter. I recently downloaded the new version of Audacity (v. 1.3.4 beta), which is recommended for cleaning up some of the pops and hisses when recording those old records. One of these days I'm going to have to figure out how to use it so I can start recording myself...

I do listen to some current "popular" music - my portal for all that is World Cafe - I usually like most of what David Dye plays there. But I still long to hear my older music - not the stuff that shows up on those 60s/70s "Golden Hits" radio stations (some of that is just so overplayed...) Instead I long for the "B" sides; those cuts from the rest of the albums that have stayed with me for more than 40 years, now. Hearing just a few bars - or even reading a few lines of lyrics - is usually enough to bring back the whole tune. Every once in a while my music-memory and my cello fingers come together and I'm able to start picking my way through some of the melodies.

You may have noticed that I haven't griped about my cello's sound for quite some time. That's because it sounds so good; even with the temperature and humidity changes; even with the occasional reappearance of the wolf (and that "refracted" wolf that sometimes shows up around C). Maybe it's the strings, maybe the new bow, or maybe it's just that I don't get so worked up about quality anymore (that, or my playing has made a step-change improvement). Whatever the case, I've begun to monitor more closely my bowing hand, my left hand shapes, and my various arm angles, and so on.

In my experience, that preoccupation with our set-ups is a phase that late beginners go through. My theory is that it gives us something interesting to obsess about while our motor skills begin the long road toward making reliably pleasant sounds. And eventually we do, and we realize that we are the most important component of our sounds, and not the strings.

But that said, it's not an unimportant phase. There's a lot of useful stuff to learn, and it keeps us engaged until we get hooked on the sound and it's too late to stop <g>.
The two DJ's who do the afternoon show on TakilmaFM use Audacity to simply record their show at home and email it to the station!
Too bad it is not available for Mac.
Will anyone record your show Sunday?
I bought the smaller nano for my trip to Turkey. Love downloading podcasts into it and listening when the eyes are too tired to read. Also good for the gym...not that I have been doing a lot of that lately...
Best wishes for the holidays.
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