Long Tones and Drones | Scales and Arpeggios |  MIDI Accompaniments | Daily Warmup |  Techniques and Concepts  | Without Instrument | Fingerings

Long Tones and Drones

Ideas for Using Droning Pitches in the Practice Disks

In an article in The Journal of the International Double Reed Society, "Bassoon Lessons with Arnold Schwarzenegger..."  (page 102) Terry Ewell noted that playing passages of music over a droning pitch is a great aid to improving intonation.  While electronic tuners (such as a KORG) have their place, tuning to another pitch better simulates true performance conditions.  Electronic tuners make use of the eye not the ear for pitch adjustments. Students may become quite adept at visual tuning yet all the while neglecting to tune with their ears. Tuning to a droning pitch, however, helps student develop the aural skills they need to play in tune with other musicians.

A second article, "Keyboard Technology in the Double Reed Studio," The Double Reed, Journal Issue 22/2 (1999): 57-61 contains further details on using MIDI files.

Drones (sustained organ tones) for pitch levels at A440, A442, and A444 are in the IDRS MIDI index at https://www.2reed.net/MIDI/MIDI/MIDI/Drones.htm. Here is a link to MP3 Drones at the A440 pitch level.

Here is a list of some ideas you might wish to use with droning pitches for bassoon, oboe, and English horn and for contrabassoon:  

Long Tone Exercises
Octave tuning (for instance, play every "C" on your instrument over a C drone)
Tune Passages of Music (set drone for the tonic or dominant pitch of the passage)
Check the Intonation on Low Register Attacks

Videos on using drones in the Weissenborn Studies: (W1, 8, 28, 32)

Scales and Arpeggios

More Than... 101 Uses for Scales by Mary C.J. Byrne

Ideas for Using the Scale and Arpeggio MIDI Files

On the IDRS Site Practice disks 1 and 2 contain scale and arpeggio files. This are helpful for practicing in certain ways. There is a clear difference between "pure" and "tempered" intonation.  Practicing with the drones will enhance your ability to adjust pure intervals.  However, in many instances the double reed player needs to adjust to equal tempered intonation, especially when performing with a keyboard instrument.  Practicing with MIDI files containing scales and arpeggios will aid your placement of pitches in equal temperament.

In addition to practicing the scales in unison (the same pitch), you might also want to practice the scales at the intervals of a 3rd or a fifth apart from the scale played on the piano in the files.  For instance, when the piano starts to play a C major scale on C start playing your C major scale on the note E.  The piano then plays D, you play F, etc. Likewise the arpeggios can be varied.  Try playing one note before or after the arpeggio played on the piano.  For instance, when the piano start a C arpeggio on C, play E; when the piano plays E, play G; etc.

Midi Accompaniments

The Intenational Double Reed Society MIDI website has many accompaniments for double reed students to use. There are hundreds of files on the site. The index is at https://www.2reed.net/MIDI/MIDI/MIDI/1Readme.htm and a page of explanation is at http://www.idrs.org/multimedia/MIDI/MIDI/midi_hp.htm.

Making use of the Orchestral Excerpt Accompaniments

The mastery of a difficult orchestral passage is dependent not only upon technical mastery, but also upon an understanding of how the solo part fits with the accompaniment. The MIDI files for orchestral accompaniments for select excerpts are included here to further the student's understanding of each passage and to provide the student with the feel of performing the excerpt with an orchestra. In many instances I have reduced the orchestral accompaniments to just 4 or 5 principal lines (tracks). Consequently many doublings are omitted.

We encourage double reed students and teachers to refer to the orchestral score when practicing the excerpt with the MIDI accompaniment. This will greatly clarify how the solo line should be played with the MIDI accompaniment.

Daily Warmup

Oboe Warmup by Martin Schuring, Oboe Professor, Arizona State University

Long Tone Exercises by Barrick Stees, Assistant Principal Bassoon, Cleveland Orchestra.

Techniques and Concepts

The Difference Between Playing and Practicing by Douglas Yeo, trombone, Boston Symphony Orchestra

Thoughts on Practicing by Martin Schuring, Oboe Professor, Arizona State University.

"Approach to Practicing." Trueman E. Allison III. The Double Reed, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Spring 1990)

Without Instrument

"Practicing without Instrument.The Amateur Oboist - Reed Practice," Robert M. Hawthorne, Jr. The Double Reed, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Fall 1991 )

"Tabuteau's Musical Concepts." Daniel Stolper, “A Conversation with Joseph Robinson,” The Double Reed 4/1 (March 1981): 16-26. 


Video on the difference between perfection and excellence