Wind Speed

JMk: Of course, needless to say, low notes were in principle played nearer the tip and high notes with the reed moving into the mouth. The oboe was played in principle with the mouth open, not shut, and the tone was carried by the wind, and the dynamics were a result of the composite, what you might call an indirect ratio between the wind speed and the lip pressure. That was spelled out to me in my very first venture as a sixteen year old, that that was what it was, that you had more lips and less wind or wind speed (He always used the word speed.) He wanted to think of the wind as something traveling and alive, never something like just pressure. He didn’t like the idea of talking about it that way, so he used the expression “speed,” which I think is quite fine.

LVB: One thing that I forgot to ask you about was the term “drive.” I wanted you to explain that.

LT (Laurence Thorstenberg): Well, what he called “drives” were long tones with crescendo and diminuendo, which were carefully graded. One would start on a level next to nothing, which he called number 1. Then you’d take maybe four, six, or eight beats crescendoing and with each beat you would have an increasing intensity number. Then you would take an equal amount of time to diminish into nothing. This was something that I worked on for some time in the beginning of lessons with him. Of course, one has to have a pretty good reed of a sort to be able to do this, to do the lower end of the dynamic scale so controlledly. I don’t know that he really explained that, I guess he just took it for granted that he knew you’d find out, that you’d better fix up a reed on which you could do that. [Laugh]