Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Master class at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory 8/11/10
On 8 November 6 pm, Hongying, Joey, Yi Ying and I attended Bass Drum Bass-ics with Thomas Gauger at the Conservatory Orchestra Hall.
The master class began with a performance by the conservatory’s students. It was really impressive. And for those who attended, I am sure we learnt about the importance of 默契 and togetherness. Even for semiquavers, their strokes were totally uniform and synchronised, such that it sounded like one person playing.
After which, the Percussion Head talked about how he learned percussion and it was really insightful, as he mentioned how Mr Gauger, his teacher, taught him. He emphasised that focusing while playing is very important.
Soon after, Mr Gauger demonstrated. And one of the points I took note of was how he make marks on his score to indicate to himself that he needed to change instrument, as he was the only percussionist when he first began playing in an orchestra. At the start of the practice, get ready all your sticks and instruments and double check with the list at the top of your score which should state all the instruments used in that piece. Besides, by showing your strength while playing, one would then be able to play well.
For the bass drum, to get a low sound, tune it by tightening just like the pai gu. Ensure that the sound near every tuning knob is the same. For new bass drums, tighten them overnight and then loosen it to stretch the skin of the drum. Moreover, he also mentioned that bass drums with animal skin and fluffy mallets made from the sheep’s wool sounded nicer, thus creating a impactful deep sound. However, it is also possible to create a similar sound with a plastic head by playing closer to the centre.
For the playing of the bass drum, the general method is to bring the elbow in first followed by the wrist and then end with the mallet parallel to the drum. To play a staccato note, use your knee and hand to 灭音. The action has to be swift in order to create a sharp sound. The standing posture while playing the bass drum may appear to be hugging the drum but this allows for the percussionist to feel as a part of the drum.
To play continuous notes, try to dampen the previous sound from the previous note with your left hand. This is because after playing the previous note, the skin would be vibrating and going away from you. Besides, the ringing of the previous note would be carried over to the next note. Thus, when you hit the next note, the sound would not be so good and relatively softer (especially if it should be of equal volume or louder). As such, we can then achieve a consistent sound.
Mr Gauger also gave us further insights on more musical playing such as how to do phrasing. When doing phrasing, it should be towards the direction where the melody is going. Thus, apart from strictly following the beat and the value of each note, it would be good if one could use some rubato, eg. by allowing some notes to be longer or shorter. This would then allow the music to be move ahead.
Further more, it is also possible to play the bass drum with two mallets using one head ie. striking the two mallets simultaneously. This would allow for a louder sound as there is more surface area. He also highlighted the sound should have nuance.
All in all, this master class has helped us gain a deeper understanding.
pei er :)
Siao-ed 5:07 PM