Topic: High Altitude Reeds

Hi there,

Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions about reed-making in high altitudes, or what a higher altitude might do to a reed you made somewhere else?
Thanks!

Katelyn

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Re: High Altitude Reeds

Hi Katelyn:

Reeds do not vibrate very well at higher altitudes so overall the reeds need to be thinner.  Some will also use softer cane or a larger shape to get the reed to vibrate better.  If you take these reeds down to a lower altitude they will play very easily but may be too weak especially in the high register where they might collapse because they are too thin.  If you make a reed at lower altitude and then try to play it at a higher altitude it will probably be stuffy sounding and the low notes may not speak well.  The high register will be easier to play though.  It is like playing a reed that is too hard.  There are some articles that were written for the IDRS.  I am pressed for time right now so someone else may be able to find them for you or if you are a member you can search the IDRS journals on the website.  I live at 7000 feet and it is not easy to get reeds to play well.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: High Altitude Reeds

I should add that I am a bassoonist but I believe it is the same for oboe.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: High Altitude Reeds

If memory serves correctly there is an article about oboe and bassoon reeds at high altitudes by Dr. Gary Moody of Colorado State University. He is an oboist and a bassoonist and very fine on both. Perhaps you can find it in the archived articles.

Christopher Weait,
Principal bassoon, Toronto Symphony (1968 - 1985)
IDRS Honorary Member; Emeritus professor Ohio State University
www.weaitmusic.com

Re: High Altitude Reeds

This might help in your search.

Bassoon Reedmaking at Higher Altitudes: An Investigation: Ronald Klimko

How I Get Bassoon Reeds to Work at High Altitudes: Gary Moody

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: High Altitude Reeds

Thanks so much to all for the helpful info!

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Re: High Altitude Reeds

From my experience,
When I played at a higher altitude venue (audition), I found a reed with a thinner tip to be the best result (and a thicker tipped reed for lower altitude).  For the higher altitude, the reed was from a Brannen X shape.  When I went to the lower altitude audition, the same reed was too easy to play, and had no control, and switched to a much harder reed, that offered excellent control and tone.

Now, I'm having to keep both kinds of reeds in my case, depending on which place I end up at!

Ronnal Ford
DMA Oboe Performance '16
Multiple Woodwind Performance/Theory Cognate
Adjunct Professor, Guilford Tech & Forsyth Tech

Re: High Altitude Reeds

When I have to play in Santa Fe or Colorado (and this past summer in Mexico City, on tour), I take lots of _old_ reeds that are now too weak for NYC, etc. I've always had good luck finding 2 or 3 (!) to work just fine. If you don't have time to make a reed specifically for high altitudes, these older ones can work for a while. I was only in Mexico City for a week, so they were sufficient for that short time. One thing - when you first get to a place of high altitude, DON'T do anything to your reeds (if hopefully you have a day or 2 to adjust to the place).  I've ruined some very good reeds by immediately scraping and working, when the reeds do adjust a bit after a couple of days. Just my 2 cents.  Jim

James Jeter, D.M.A., NYC Bassoonist
"To love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without that love, you really do not live." Soren Kierkegaard
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Mahatma Gandhi  "Mach' es kurz! Am Juengsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!" Goethe

Re: High Altitude Reeds

Another aspect of playing at higher elevations is what it does to your body. Jim Jeter's advice about reeds can be applied to your playing, too. If the elevation is much higher than you are used to, you will be short of breath, possibly have headaches and feel sleepy until you acclimatize. The shortness of breath translates as having to take more breaths while playing. Higher elevation also affects the way you hear the sound of your instrument. Until you get used to the new altitude, it can sound thinner and grainier.

If you already live and work at a high elevation none of that applies. Good luck.

Christopher Weait,
Principal bassoon, Toronto Symphony (1968 - 1985)
IDRS Honorary Member; Emeritus professor Ohio State University
www.weaitmusic.com

Re: High Altitude Reeds

Also, the headaches could be to dehydration-- plenty of water is the rule!

David Bell
Alexandria, VAS

David Bell
Alexandria, VA
amateur bassoon and contra bassoon

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Re: High Altitude Reeds

Absolutely correct David. Thanks for reminding us.

Christopher Weait,
Principal bassoon, Toronto Symphony (1968 - 1985)
IDRS Honorary Member; Emeritus professor Ohio State University
www.weaitmusic.com

Re: High Altitude Reeds

http://www4.nau.edu/oboe/pages/High%20altitude%20playing.html

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: High Altitude Reeds

Does anyone know when these two articles were published?  I'm having a hard time finding them:

Bassoon Reedmaking at Higher Altitudes: An Investigation: Ronald Klimko

How I Get Bassoon Reeds to Work at High Altitudes: Gary Moody

Re: High Altitude Reeds

In Santa Fé, NM, over 7,000 feet above sea level, you need to make reeds there & generally take more wood out of the reed over-all. There should be no change in the basic profile (looking at the edges of the reeds) & in the faces of the reeds backlighted.

Best,

john

Best,

john

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Re: High Altitude Reeds

I moved from Missouri to Idaho 2 months ago, and almost every reed I've made since I got here has cracked.  Is there some procedure I can follow in the higher, drier climate to help my reeds not crack?

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