The bassoon sometimes seems like the embodiment of a giant prehistoric bird… after all, we have a wing joint (only one though) and the sound that the reed makes is a crow.
Returning to my incessant rant about the necessity (though I know it is also a luxury) to make new reeds every day. The warmth, immediate response and clarity of a new reed is irreplaceable. I trim quickly and with reasonable success, yet always with a measure of honest relief when it works. I test the crow of the reed very near the end of my trim, looking for a fine grained caw with a disposition of medium, high and some low partials in the sound. Then I play, and adjust, play and adjust.
The wheel of time must be broadly understood in order to keep the reed cycle in order. I need a stash of at least 20 blanks to feel comfortable, and if I fall behind in this mandate, I abandon the trimming of reeds until the blank bank is full again. This means playing on old reeds until I can return to a logical daily rhythm that includes making blanks, wrapping blanks, trimming reeds and practising. Regardless of how well I understand this, it is a fragile structure of time that has to be carefully protected, something that is almost impossible given the complexity of our lives. Particularly heading into concert tours or recording, reed-making is never a straight path but rather a cycle of dips and backtracking, catching up and getting ahead then falling behind, all things that resemble the flight of the most insolent, raucous and clever bird, the glossy black crow.
Today, I finally was able to sit down in the bright light of morning to make a fine, responsive reed before heading off to rehearsals for my kids’ show with Guy (Buzz and Crow). I just feel more centred when the reed is shiny and new. Now back at the loft, I have time to practise some more though we are heading into the wee hours of the morning.