Ligature,contraption for reeds, also defines the word noose

Actually, after playing for a lifetime and collecting many of these , the whole experience is a bit funny, a little extraneous, and, beside the point. I have several sets of crooked plastic drawers. They were never really straight, but always ideal for putting stuff in. If I open a drawer, which is always opned crookedly, I pull it out and find the following: several small screwdrivers, reeds made of every material I can think of. several unopened boxes of shaped wooden pieces that go on the mouthpiece of a clarinet and make a noise if you hold it or screw it on a mouthpiece. There are probably 20 or 30 of these things, mouthpieces as well. I used to try these mouthpieces with the pieces of wood screwed on. Like many of you, I was totally obsessed with the noise that the mouthpiece and the shaped sticks made. Every now and again, I was pleased with the noise that the thing made, would screw it on to the mouthpiece with a piece of metal or sometimes a piece of leather or some artificial material. When I was young I used to use a piece of shaped metal with two screws which I tightened almost into submission, I thought to myself, the tighter the better, a good seal. I was a dumb clarinet player kid, trying different things, making a lot of strange noises each and every day for a long time. These metal things are called ligatures. I have owned hundreds of them, maybe more. I had a very thin one, metal, kind of decorated, very light in weight, which I liked rather well. Perhaps it was the decoration of the metal, perhaps its weight . It had a name embossed into it. I think the name was Bay. I remember playing with a guy named Bay in the American Wind Ensemble. that group was conducted by a fellow who had married into a family that made soups. I think they were named Heinz. . He married the daughter of Heinz and a mediocre trumpet player became a conductor of band music. We used to play on a barge in Pittsburgh, Pa. Actually, it was a very good group of players, all kids like me who played hight and fast and impressed the trumpet player husband of Mrs Heinz. So, this group of university musicians numbered 56, the numbers of varieties of Heinz soups made at that time, Or maybe someone told me that story over a beer, ….. maybe a soup. Who knows? The soup had too much salt and probably killed hundreds , if not more, of clarinet players who had screwed their ligatures tightly enough to finally break through the metal, which was very thin and not strong enough to withstand the pressure of those little screws. All my reeds had marks made by the reed having been screwed onto the mouth[iece so tightly as to make a really good seal., I thought, idiot that I was.When I was finished with a reed, I would remove the ligature and the reed would be affixed to the mouthpiece as if welded there. I always got pleasure knocking the reed off its seal, and letting it fall to the floor, gone and forgotten. The longer I played a reed, the longer it took me to find another. I learned about that too, after repeating the whole procedure maybe a thousand times.. For a while I collected clarinets too, but never had as many clarinets as I had reeds, or ligatures, or mouthpieces. Once, I had a recital to play in Milwaukee at Alverno college, where I taught on a part time basis. It was on a sunday afternoon. I actually went through three hundred reeds, trying to find one that I thought would sound ok for the concert, I never found one and played on a piece of junk. and everyone offered me congratulations, and a friend took me out to a nice restaurant for a steak . After a long time, I began to understand how to pick reeds that might play through a concert, and provide me with enough security to play well enough. I never ever changed a reed during a recital, never moved it. Didn’t believe in changing reeds while playing. I had studied for a while with Fernand Gillet, who had been the principal oboe of the Boston Symphony. He would tell me ,  us, that one should never change to a new reed before a performance, Better use one that you had played , If the new reed was in any way strange, you had to cope with a new problem. I stayed with Mr, Gillets advice. He had told us that he was collecting two pensions: one from the Boston Symphony, the other from the Lamoureux Orchestra in Paris, as he had played principal in both orchestras. Gillet also told us that he never ever made a reed in his life. He used to get them from a guy in France, with whom he would trade an old suit for a bunch of reeds the guy made for him. Nobody ever did anything like that. Lots of people didn’t like Gillets sound but he could play anything that was put in  front of him. Perfectly He knew what to practice and how, and he taught us to learn in his manner. And it worked , always . Fernand Gillet was a great oboe player and an even greater teacher . At the New England Conservatory during that time, the teacher for clarinet was Mazzeo. If you didn’t get along with Rosie, you were soon  judged lacking in sanity, and you either left or got another teacher. Fernand Gillet ws also a wonderful clarinet teacher. He could look at you playing a passage and say, hold this finger longer, or accent this particular note. It always worked and he was an oboist. Lots of clarinetists used Gillets oboe method book.

stay well, and never play a concert on a brand new reed.



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: