This gig didn't have the greatest rep this time, I'll admit. However, a few things at this concert made things extra memorable.
This concert marked the last concert I would ever play August, the beloved bass love of my life, ever again. My teacher/friend is tired of loaning his instruments to me, I think. I dunno why...I take great care of them. I even showered August with kisses today at rehearsal. Maybe THAT is why he wants it back...he doesn't want my slober/germs all over his instruments. Hmmmm. Anyway...August is a beautiful instrument---almost as beautiful as me! (ha)
Notice that the extension is a B extension. I used to think such things were stupid. Who wrote low B's ever? Maybe R. Strauss did, but we all know what I think of him....and plus, I'm an extension purist. I do NOT play low notes when they are not written. Yet, since this was my last weekend with August, I decided to play a few things down an octave. Then the MD wanted me to play a LOT more down, so I did. Basically I got cart blanche to play anything I wanted down the octave, so that ended up being fun. Who doesn't like low Bs? They literally make the floor vibrate, and I was fortunate to have this instrument resting against me while I played that glorious low note!
I was the only one in the section with an extension, and I also happen to be the only French bow player, earning me the nickname "Frenchie" from the dude sitting next to me. He is a bassist in Indy, and school orchestra director that I have heard a lot about, and it was nice to finally meet him. He also is a funny guy, and it was enjoyable to sit next to him. I'm tellin' ya, you can have a gig full of crap music, but if the person sitting next to you is fun, then it's all good. You kind of forget the crap you might be enduring in the gig. However, this works best in sections that are far away from the conductor, and sections that have many instruments playing the exact same part. (basses, in other words)
One really funny thing that occurred that he and I had a chuckle about actually happened during the concert. We basses had our mutes on for a movement, and it came time to take them off. Now, the mute I had on August is a great mute--it does its job. However, taking it off is a bit of a loud undertaking. It kinda squeaks a bit, and you can't just let it fall down your strings, or it'll make noise. It was during a really soft part of music, and I didn't want to ruin that.
So while all the basses just deal with making a bit of noise taking their mutes off, I take mine off slowly and surely. We don't have to come for many many more measures, so I could take my sweet time. I inch it off when there are parts with several instruments playing. It then is off the bridge, and it's time to let it down, slowly, just a little bit at a time.
I'm holding on it, manually lowering it down my strings, and it's not making a sound at all. I then see I've got maybe half an inch to go, so I just let go of it. I figure it'll hardly make any sound at all, if it even inches down any more---it might just stay in that one spot, due to the angle the mute is resting.
Nope. Of course that doesn't happen, and my pal to the left is watching all of this. I let go, and CLUNK. The mute falls, and makes a small racket. I doubt anyone outside the immediate vicinity could really hear it, but still, someone other than me did. Here I had been as meticulous as possible, and take time to do something right, and it just failed, royally. I looked over at my friend, and just looked at him with a look that said "Yes, I am an idiot. Thank you for noticing." We both were laughing a bit about it---or at least as much as we could in the middle of a concert.
Gigs are ripe for this kind of thing, if you ask me. Funny mistakes, mutes falling down and making noises, little pranks on section mates. (we--my pal and I, kept tapping a bass player in the row in front of us on the shoulder, blaming the other for doing so). Conversations of our mediocre bass playing occured, admiration of my bass was a focal point this week, and funny names we gave one of the composers of the evening were a common occurence. It's enjoyable to have these things during gigs, because after driving a long time to get there, and getting home late and being tired the next day and trying to play as best as you can because your section leader is a young kid at IU, you NEED things like loud falling mutes, just to give you something light to think about. It kind of reminds you that you aren't in some musical bubble of sorts, where everything is to be perfection in that horrible pretentious way that many musicians have a way of making things. It reminds me that I am a human, doing her best to make great music, but am still a human who does stupid things while doing her best to help make that great music, whether it be playing her part well, or lowering a mute quietly down her strings.