Posted by: eaubeauhorn | March 16, 2008

oboe/violin duets

Yesterday my friend R. and I got together to play duets, he on violin and I on oboe. We are both getting on in years, with R. being nine years my senior. However, he played violin as a kid and has decided, at nearly 70, to take it up again. I started the oboe as my umpteenth musical instrument, last August (2007.) I suspected we would be pretty well matched, and it turned out we were. I had given him the 2nd violin part (“teacher part”) to a set of beginning-intermediate violin duets (Pleyel book 1) and had looked at the first duet enough to know I could slog through it on oboe, with occasional notes played up an octave.
We had fun! Of course with both of us struggling a little there were parts that sounded like an unhappy cat conversing with an unhappy duck, but in general I don’t think we frightened the neighbors all that much. Since we are both competent on other instruments, things like rhythm and staying together weren’t large challenges; the challenges were getting the right notes to come out of the instruments with some semblance of correct intonation.

We played the first duet (two pages’ worth of music) and then decided to read the second one. Since neither of us had looked at it, it didn’t sound as good, but we made it through. We both wore out at the same time; he said his brain was tired (which he found odd because it doesn’t tire when he plays tuba) and my chops were tired. The brain thing I have experienced myself, when playing an instrument that I’m not completely familiar with physically, meaning not only do I have to listen to the other person and stay with them rhythmically and intonation-wise, but also I have to translate the music on the page to unaccustomed physical motions on my new instrument. They say that this kind of mental exercise is very good for you.

We had such fun that we plan to do it again next week.

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