Friday, September 21, 2007

Pre-performance Note

If there is a particular section of hell for musicians it will probably consist of a two hour rehearsal where it feels like I am the only person there who ever even heard of the headliner, much less bothered to run through the sheet music that was so conveniently faxed to my home two weeks ago. The task at this level of hell is to not throw things at these dipsticks, or tell them how fucking unprofessional it is when they ask stupid questions on subjects they should already have down. I know it's a benefit and it will be hard to piss anybody off, they've spent their money for this good cause and will walk away full of banquent chicken in glue sauce and satisfaction for their devotion to charity.

Still, I think that as professionals there are certain standards that must be upheld.

I also know that anytime I feel I have surmounted and transcended this level of hell the endless hell of soundchecks awaits.

(puff! puff!) (tap - tap) check . . . check. . .check mic one. . .

(puff! puff!) (tap - tap) check . . . check . . .check mic two . . .

DISEMBODIED VOICE FROM THE DARKNESS ABOVE:

Ahhhh, can I please get a level on the harp?

Me: Which one?

DVFTDA: Ahhhhh, what to you call the big one?

Me: the big one.

DVFTDA: Ok, let's start there.


Trust me folks. It only goes downhill from here.

Although I'm meeting my daughter MedskoolGirl for dinner in about half an hour. Life will be pretty damned good from then on. She's going to be backstage at the show and will be coming home for a five day visit afterward.

I still hate rehearsals and soundchecks.


Big Brass Blog

16 Comments:

Blogger Sherry said...

i like the part about what do you call the big one?
i'd have no idea and probably would ask it that way but i would hope that someone that makes a living in music would know.

it has to have a name doesn't it?
or is it just "the big one?"

anyway, you'll have fun with your daughter. i'll be seeing my little granddaughter sunday morning. can't wait!

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Competency issues much, MB? ;-)

- oddjob (who recognizes a fellow Myers Briggs "NT" personality when he sees one)

4:47 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i have always hated rehearsals. i figure the way things should work is they send us the charts and we show up with the chart down, as written. then the musical director can use the rehearsal to tighten, enhance nuance, and pencil in any changes. sitting around while somebody figures out stuff they've had for two weeks bugs the shit out of me.

sound checks are necessary, but always a fucking bore.

tonight, the big one was a full on concert harp. it wasn't mine (which was great, i didn't have to lug it, only tune it)

usually harps are called after their style. lap harp, lute back, gothic, celtic, etc. some folks give their harps names and stuff. i'm not that sentimental about my tools.

7:20 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

i had no idea there were so many different types.

me, i'd name em. i've named cars and even a few favorite plants or trees.

but, that's me and i've always been about a half a bubble off plumb. ; )

8:13 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

the ancient celts believed that their harps had souls and always named them. the more famous harps were sometimes more renowned than the harpers that played them. kinda like the way some of the stradaverri instruments have a rep beyond their current owner.

it was said that turlough o'carolan had a harp named "tir connell" that was carved from a single burl of cherry wood. of course, they said it was strung with fairy gold, or virgin's guts, i forget, maybe both, gut on the bass strings and gold on the trebles.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would gold work? Wouldn't the wire be so pliable it wouldn't tune well? (Yes, I know I'm taking a bit of a legend and treating it literally. No, that's not my point. It just got me to thinking about whether gold strings would actually work or not.)

- oddjob

10:00 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

my uncle in san diego has a piano that was built in the 1820's (it has the distinction of being played often for abraham lincoln) and it's original strings were not gold core but were wrapped with a layer of gold (i'm not sure of the percentage) wire. that's how most of the bigger strings are made. there is a core, usually bronze, brass, or stainless steel, that is then wrapped with a padding and insulating agent, usually silk or cotton, that is then wrapped with another, very small guage wire. bronze is the most popular because it hits the middle, it's not as durable as stainless steel, not as bright as brass but it's brighter than steel and more durable than brass. i use brass on my acoustic guitars and my celtic harp. i built the little harp myself from plans that came from ireland. i wanted to string it with all brass like the old celtics but the harps under mass production would never stand the tension that would be generated by that much wire stretched to pitch. i had a luthier guru once quote me the tension generated but i promptly forgot it. usually i just say "it's a shitload." it could have been that somebody saw brand new brass strings and thought they were gold, it could be some folks just making stuff up. you're right though, gold strings would simply not ever hold a pitch, i can't see them being all that resonate either.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been told before by a woodwind pro that gold makes a superlative flute (better sounding than silver), but of course that's an altogether different animal when it comes to the minimal tensions involved.

- oddjob

12:47 PM  
Blogger seventh sister said...

It was most likely the Golden Faery's virgin guts with which "tir connell" was strung.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

nah, leave out guts from the story.

i love it. it's perfect that way.

2:24 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

what the hell is a story without some guts sherry?

next thing you know they'll be passing out books without pictures or conversations. what's the use of a book without pictures or conversations?

2:28 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

there are guts and then there are guts. ; )

me, i happen to like the original fairy tales and folk tales and have quite a few books from different cultures about them, but fairies and guts, especially virgin fairies that never had a chance to
well...


no thanks. : )

4:26 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

oh and books without pictures, nah, couldn't have "my pet goat" could we?? ; )

4:28 PM  
Anonymous amish451 said...

Walked past the band at a benefit this afternoon ....overheard one of them say, "I'd be really pissed if I was getting paid!" Kind of an incongruous statement when you think about it ....

8:44 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

i've heard that more than once in my life with volunteering for fund raisers and such.

4:52 AM  
Blogger Mr. Natural said...

Seems to me gold would be too soft...would stretch. like you say, maybe (maybe) to wind around and around as a buffer...my favorite is a blues harp...(-;
Nice blog ya got here...lots of thoughtful stuff tumbling out of your brain through your fingers...I suppose that follows for your harp too, eh?

10:35 PM  

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