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 The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-10 19:41

Have you noticed how the heels of your shoes start to wear out, in just a few short months?

That's because, even in your everyday life, you're using UNNECESSARY EFFORT.

Ask yourself: Why do so many people persist in WALKING, when with a little forethought, you can minimise debilitating forces?

YES, you heard me: FORCES!! -- and what's more, as I pointed out, these are forces that, over time, can wear out even HARD RUBBER!

Just imagine what these debilitating forces are doing INSIDE your joints!

So, why not use BUSES; why not use TAXIS -- above all, WHY NOT USE LIFTS?!!! Unlike the other two, they COST NOTHING. Surely it's crazy to put strain on your heart climbing stairs, when modern technology has evolved in order to make the effort unnecessary.

And, why not use lifts of the other sort, too -- do you have a friend with a car who can take the strain YOU'VE been shouldering up to now?

I tell you, we have a long way to go towards the ultimate goal of....RELAXATION.

I hear that some people, using email, fax, and conference calling, manage to run their businesses nowadays WITHOUT EVEN GETTING UP! Contrast this with the maniacs you see early in the morning, pounding the streets, red in the face...sweating...pitting THEIR puny forces against the forces of FRICTION and GRAVITY. ('Working out', they like to call it. Well, OUT is where they'll be, and pretty soon, you mark my words!)

While we're on gravity, the great Ein Stein, in his 'The Art of Relativity', acknowledged that you can describe the behaviour of the Universe in a principle called, 'The Principle of Least Action.' It's one way of eliminating the concept of force from the world of Physics.

'The Principle of Least Action.'

Need I say more???

Following Ein Stein, what WE have to do is to ELIMINATE the very CONCEPT of force from OUR OWN WORLD.

TOTAL RELAXATION -- or as near as we can get -- is the ONLY key to mastery.

Tony



 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: autumnsilence 
Date:   2008-09-10 20:01

....well yeah but if we relied on technology to do everything for us we would be lazy as hell (not that we arent now compared to other people...)

and also.. take the strain of our hearts from climbing stairs? hopefully it doesnt strain anyone's heart that much unless your old or have medical problems.. its healthy to get up and walk around or do physical activity... Sure the use of technology to make my life way easier is nice, but our muscles would be like limp noodles if we literally did nothing but sit on our butts from birth.... just my opinion

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2008-09-10 20:09


Ergo, given that death is the ultimate relaxation, there's no such thing as a dead person who hasn't mastered his condition.

Those who have departed are the only people I can think of who are 100% competent, based on their capabilities.

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Tobin 
Date:   2008-09-10 20:10

I think you will find that Tony is just getting around to explaining something in Tony's unique way...

Stay tuned for further posts...

James

Gnothi Seauton

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: mrn 
Date:   2008-09-10 20:11

Tony, are you making fun of me?  :)

Mike

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2008-09-10 20:15

Yeah, that's the spirit!

Now excuse me while I prepare the portable compressor - I got band rehearsal tomorrow night. Basses need so much air. [tongue]

--
Ben

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: saxlite 
Date:   2008-09-10 20:24

Not to disparage Tony's notion in any way, but I believe he more correctly should have been referring to Einstein ( as compared to Ein Stein ). Albert, that is...........

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Tobin 
Date:   2008-09-10 20:27

He is. Einstein = Ein Stein = one (or a) stone. Tony knows what he's doing. At least I think he does...

James

Gnothi Seauton

Post Edited (2008-09-10 20:27)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2008-09-10 20:31

Tony -

The fellow's name was Eins Tein. He saved a lot of wear on his heels by lightening up his apparatus: He never wore socks.

Ken Shaw

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: EEBaum 
Date:   2008-09-10 21:05

Someone needs to watch WALL-E.


Wondering what brought this thread about...

-Alex
www.mostlydifferent.com

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Jack Kissinger 
Date:   2008-09-10 21:18

Time to practice 4" 33" methinks.  :)

Best regards,
jnk

Who will minimize effort by practicing the piano version (seated, of course, with hands resting on the keyboard).

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Avie 
Date:   2008-09-10 21:24

Okay, I'll try it. Can I still do my Yoga!!



 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: mrn 
Date:   2008-09-10 21:36

I think the Ein Stein part is Tony's way of poking fun at me for getting all Newtonian the other day in a previous thread about the forces involved in finger movements, where the discussion was about whether finger relaxation was an end, a means to an end, or simply a frequent side effect of good technique.

I'm guessing that Ein Stein's book, "The Art of Relativity" is probably a play on the title "The Art of Clarinetistry," which is a book that covers the ins and outs of clarinet technique in very technical terms (although, admittedly, I've never read it).

I think Tony gets a real kick out of reading our replies to his posts.



Post Edited (2008-09-10 21:39)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2008-09-10 21:47

I think that the most likely explanation here is that Tony (like me) drank a few whiskys before writing his post.

It takes an initial EFFORT to be able to function with MINIMAL EFFORT.

In any case, should we really be worrying about these things when in 17 days CERN will cause NOTHING to happen?

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Old Geezer 
Date:   2008-09-10 22:50

Poor Tony's sad and strained attempts at humour are about as amusing as his turgid and second hand pedagogy!

We're trying to conduct an edifying and respectable bulletin board here...get with the program Pay!

Clarinet Redux

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2008-09-10 23:07

I totally agree with you Tony in every respect. If you take the relaxation out of life it can become stressful.

Peter Cigleris
http://www.calarecords.com/acatalog/info_CACD77015.html
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/english-fantasy/id594011840

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Tobin 
Date:   2008-09-10 23:25

Perhaps Tony should compose a turgid letter to CERN on their need to relax instead of smashing things left and right (very shortly)?

James

Gnothi Seauton

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: mikeW 
Date:   2008-09-10 23:47

No. Relaxation is what it's all about: The point of the LHC is to smash things together to see how they relax!

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2008-09-11 00:31

I am looking forward with bated breath (how does one bate one's breath, anyway?) for the sequel to Tony's initial post. But I do feel somewhat like a fish who has been hooked and is being played by the fisherman.

That said, my personal method for achieving efficiency in musical improvement has been to obtain the best possible equipment by refacing mouthpieces until they work WITH me rather than AGAINST me, and to modify the instruments themselves until the keywork fits my hands without strain, and they play in tune without my having to favor/bend/lip any of the pitches (mostly). In this way I've gotten to be a reasonably decent player with far less actual practice time than most of my peers. Of course it helps that I can do the mechanical improvements to my equipment, which themselves take some time. But for me, an hour spent refacing a mouthpiece results in many hours less time I have to practice in order to achieve satisfactory tone and response. Similarly, a clarinet that doesn't give my hands cramps and on which the keys are right under their respective fingers without the need for awkward stretching, can make one hour of practice time as effective as four on a less comfortable instrument (and far less painful).

Maybe that's laziness, but in this busy world we live in, we must make the most of our available time. With three kids, and a full-time non-musical day job, I don't have the luxury of practicing 8, 4, or even one hour a day on a regular basis, so I try to compensate somewhat by creating equipment that allows me to improve more quickly, with less effort. I know that many (if not most) of the people on this BB are similarly time-limited.

I have no idea if that's one of the points Tony is making or if he's headed in that direction at all -- but hopefully we'll find out. I'm giving our eminent friend the benefit of the doubt that he IS making some point and is not just pulling our collective legs.



 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: hans 
Date:   2008-09-11 00:38



If those "scientists" in Swizerland destroy the planet none of it will matter anyway. They must all have failed math/statistics, and don't seem to understand the concept of Expectation.
Stephen Hawking says it's safe - for all we know maybe he wants to go out with a big bang himself. It doesn't inspire confidence.

Hans
(who is annoyed that so much was spent to put us all at risk instead of improving clarinet technology or finding a cure for a disease)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: lj 
Date:   2008-09-11 00:40

Without meaning the slightest disrespect or lack of appreciation for anyone on this helpful and informative board, I think Tony Pay's posts are the most enjoyable part of the experience! Thanks. :)



 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Eh.Steve0 
Date:   2008-09-11 00:59

I think he's referring to Alexander Technique. (It works wonders in your playing, at least it did in mine.)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Tobin 
Date:   2008-09-11 01:09

I'm wondering if the thread has wandered SO far afield that Tony will just chuckle to himself, resolve to hold his topic for the future, and pour himself the whiskey the Liquorice was talking about...

James

I wonder what would happen if we super-collided reeds?

Gnothi Seauton

Post Edited (2008-09-11 01:10)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Don Berger 
Date:   2008-09-11 01:25

Great comments, All, esp. Dave and Hans, off into physical interpretation ! Tony, in your mention of Force, I wonder how it fits into ?Newton's? F = M x A, possibly should we all deaccelerate . I'll consult my old Physics book to "go as fur as I can go"/ Yes, confuzed, Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: mrn 
Date:   2008-09-11 01:42

Tobin wrote:

> I wonder what would happen if we super-collided reeds?

The ultimate wall test!

I've always found reeds to be fine examples of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle at work.

Mike

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: mrn 
Date:   2008-09-11 02:05

David Spiegelthal wrote:

<<I'm giving our eminent friend the benefit of the doubt that he IS making some point and is not just pulling our collective legs.>>

I think he's making a point. I'm going to venture a guess that the point he is making is that relaxation of the fingers is not an end unto itself and that a lot of the prescriptive talk about keeping fingers close to the keys/holes and relaxed is gobbledygook because oftentimes a certain amount of finger tension is necessary. If you take all that talk about relaxation to the extreme, it gets rather absurd, as Tony's post suggests.

On the other hand, maybe he's been reading Richard Nunemaker's book.  :)

http://www.richardnunemaker.com/publications.php



Post Edited (2008-09-11 02:06)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: L. Omar Henderson 
Date:   2008-09-11 02:07

Well, Tony's approach has helped me a lot in Chemistry. It you try to predict the result of a chemical reaction - 9 times out of 10 you are right if you predict the products with the lowest energy state. Chemistry is like plumbing - the Cardinal Rule is: everything must flow downhill (in the energy sense for me - other material for the plumber). Conversely however the molecules that are most unstable have the greatest potential to react and create new compounds and it takes a lot of energy to get stable compounds to react (sans a catalyst). I do not know how this plays out in life but being a type A person I guess that I still have a long way to fall to the relaxation state.
L. Omar Henderson

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: stevensfo 
Date:   2008-09-11 06:21

-- "Conversely however the molecules that are most unstable have the greatest potential to react and create new compounds and it takes a lot of energy to get stable compounds to react (sans a catalyst). " --

Any orchestra is just like a beaker of chemicals: introverted players, scared of anything new, are changed by more energetic musicians, who often affect those closest first. Other players then continue to react until the orchestra reaches an equilibrium and.... plays a concert.

Of course, the catalyst - conductor- is very important.

We are seriously considering having ours encased in a platinum shell and running a few hundred volts through him. ;-)

Steve



 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Morrigan 
Date:   2008-09-11 06:47

I agree in part - surely you know of Alexander Technique, Tony?

My other point is, why not take the bus, the lift, etc.? You'll end up fat and unfit. The body is actually designed to take strain and effort. Your heart is designed to step up the pace when required and your joints are designed to repair themselves after strenuous activity or impact. It sounds as though you are referring to basic impact, like walking, which I reiterate, the body is designed (and supposed) to do.

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Phurster 
Date:   2008-09-11 08:47

I am sure I am completely of the track about what Tony is talking about but let me give an illustration of what I think he means.

A few months ago we had a guest Clarinet quartet from one of the military bands perform and do a master class at the school (which specialises in music) I teach.

They played very well. My students played and the whole experience went great.

We then had a question and answer session.

I had some questions regarding air support. To my surprise they said “there should be no strain in playing the Clarinet”, “relaxation is the key”.

I disagree with this. Abdominal muscles, to me, feel better being flexed…some force is necessary to produce the desired intensity in the tone (depending on musical context).

Force and effort are often given bad names; however, they are a fact of life and must be used and dealt with.

As I said…I have probably missed the point.

Chris.

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Lelia Loban 2017
Date:   2008-09-11 12:31

Yes, use the Force...relax, release your mind, let the Force be with you...let the Force play the clarinet....

That isn't a squeak. No, no. It's altissimo. Really.

[tongue]

Lelia
http://www.scoreexchange.com/profiles/Lelia_Loban
To hear the audio, click on the "Scorch Plug-In" box above the score.

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Tobin 
Date:   2008-09-11 12:38

"That isn't a squeak. No, no. It's altissimo. Really."

That IS what it usually IS anyway! A squeak is no more than a great high note played at the wrong time.

"Abdominal muscles, to me, feel better being flexed…"

A thought that is subscribed to by many, but not all. Support is of pivotal importance, but not everyone flexes IN, some press out to achieve the same goal.

James

Gnothi Seauton

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-11 15:52

Forgive me if I am exerting too much effort in responding to this post. I will curve my fingers as I type, allow all tension to exit my physical body and also try to make my words flow over the page like a south sea breeze wafting over your somewhat partially clad body...clarinet at your side. Years back I devised a brilliant plan to rid the world of needless words in the English language. Simply delete one half of each pair of antonyms we use. Hot/cold....delete cold(heat is what we measure) Beautiful/ugly.....get rid of ugly. Even if your child is thus you don't want to hear about it. Borat used this technique already in his film....."your wife, not so much!" Many other word pairs are more difficult to deal with. Just make an educated guess. In Tony's post he throws out two words, Force and Relaxation. For the sake of my argument let's consider them quasi antonyms. If we delete the word "force" we will already be on the road to doing away with the "concept" of force. This will be heaven on earth. Minimize words and concepts. Simply put this is simplifying. As Tony would put it.....Overysimplify in the oven for 60 minutes and then 20 minutes less if you can. I would like to refer you to my favourite dissertation on this subject matter. It is "Computing Semantics of Preference With A Semantic Cognitive Map of Natural Language." by Alexei V Samsonovich and Giorgio A Scoli...translated by A. Stang. ps. Tony would be pleased in that I hand bevel the heels of all my new shoes.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-11 17:09)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: BobD 
Date:   2008-09-11 16:03

I think it's got something to do with the Big Bang...

Bob Draznik

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-11 17:16

Bob, Could you be less specific and more succinct.? You do go on!

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: BflatNH 
Date:   2008-09-11 20:37

Was it Stein who talked about least finger movement (least effort) key/fingering selection ?

My question is when playing a piece that is somewhat difficult (for you) and key fingering can make a difference in the relative ease of playing and therefor the total quality of the piece, how do you choose between playing a note fingering that has a somewhat better intonation (e.g, 1st line Eb with LH 1+2+sliver key) and playing an easier (least possible effort) to play in note sequence (e.g. 1st line Eb fork '1 & 1") that is only slightly stuffier or out just 10 cents??

If you practice real, real, real hard, do all note fingerings (primary and alternates) become just as easy or integrated in the note pattern, or is it wise playing to use alternates if the trade-off is reasonable or am I just looking for an easy way out? Does it affect your perceived standing as a player if you use alternates often?
Thanks

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-11 22:48

BflatNH wrote:

>> Was it Stein who talked about least finger movement (least effort) key/fingering selection?>>

I'm told it was; though I haven't looked at that book for years.

>> My question is when playing a piece that is somewhat difficult (for you) and key fingering can make a difference in the relative ease of playing and therefore the total quality of the piece, how do you choose between playing a note fingering that has a somewhat better intonation (e.g, 1st line Eb with LH 1+2+sliver key) and playing an easier (least possible effort) to play in note sequence (e.g. 1st line Eb fork '1 & 1") that is only slightly stuffier or out just 10 cents??>>

Well, if it's me, the best that I can say is that I have to rely on my own judgement. (I can ask a colleague to listen, too, of course.)

As in another thread, if the passage needs to be very fast, then purity of intonation may need to defer to fluency. The listener (presumably) has the same cognitive difficulties that I do in hearing intonation precisely at speed, so if I judge that both that and the fluency match up to the requirements of the music, I adopt the 'simpler' fingering.

What do I mean by 'simpler'? Interestingly, 'simpler' doesn't mean, 'making the least effort', in the scientific sense of 'using the least force' or 'making the least movement', or even 'involving the least energy expenditure'.

If you're performing a difficult passage, then you don't have time to follow all of its course in detail. So in practising it, you do best to start off by doing what is called, 'chunking' -- that is to say, breaking the passage up into smaller pieces that you deal with first of all independently, and then join up later. (You can even do that more than once, further breaking up each of the chunks into smaller subchunks, and then sewing THOSE together before dealing with the same problem on the next level up.)

The important thing is to be able to grasp each chunk, initially, as a unit. Therefore, if a chunk involves several movements, it helps if they can be re-experienced as parts of one larger movement. This movement need not be the most economical movement -- in fact, using quite large but nevertheless smooth movements of the hand may be better.

Watch a great 'cellist deal with the complicated changes of left-hand position in a technical passage -- or a great pianist the complicated changes in BOTH hands. The details of the fingering show up as substructures of larger movements that seem to give the performer ample time to deal with the showers of notes.

I found that watching 'cellists helped me greatly in imagining the movements that allowed me to integrate the RH thumb movements involved in playing the period basset clarinet, for example.

So on the modern clarinet, 'simpler' fingerings means, ones that fit better into such larger movements, and so are good candidates for chunking in fast passages.

>> If you practice real, real, real hard, do all note fingerings (primary and alternates) become just as easy or integrated in the note pattern, or is it wise playing to use alternates if the trade-off is reasonable or am I just looking for an easy way out?>>

Well, something that I've experienced is that finding and then practising a simplified fingering can help me out with the OTHER important demand that a technical passage makes of us. See, we don't naturally think of a piece of demanding passagework as being to do with instrument address (tongue, embouchure and diaphragm actions)-- but actually, it is.

And because it is, that means that the work that you put in to learning an unusual fingering for a chunk of a passage therefore pays off EVEN IF YOU EVENTUALLY DISCARD IT. Your internal processes have learnt to deal with the chunk as a unit of address-modulation, if you like; and then the standard fingerings often fall into place much more naturally.

>> Does it affect your perceived standing as a player if you use alternates often?>>

If it works, only amongst idiots;-)

Tony

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Old Geezer 
Date:   2008-09-12 00:34

Tony P. has too much time on his hands. When he's not pulling your collective legs, he's streaming out lengthy examples of pedantry gone bonkers! Not that there's anything wrong with that!?

Clarinet Redux

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-12 09:48

Thank you, everyone who replied to my little jeu d'esprit. Some of you saw what I was on about: namely caricaturing a position that some people take for granted too easily, in my opinion. Others of you preferred to think that I was serious, but stupid: I suppose that's a risk I was taking;-)

It was also directed against 'second-hand teaching', which in my view of the world consists of reproducing unsubstantiated the words of some supposed authority.

We have the possibility here to look to our own experience, and ask each other IN REAL TIME what evidence and argument we have to support a given view.

The real Einstein said, (among other things):

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

Tony

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-12 14:43

It is a predicament we find ourselves in....especially since we celebrate the Individual in society. One approach would be stubbornly holding on to Our own opinions or just jumping on the bandwagon of a famous person. I would bet a nice mix of 80% bandwagon and 20% your stuff is a good way to go. After all why not go with the numbers ? Another approach is jumping on to bandwagons SLOWLY. Do some thinking and reassessing periodically. Of course Einstein's dilema is not fixed by doing away with education (bandwagon) but it is just reconciling it with personal experience and thought that is the problem. Beyond all this is the non thought of playing a musical instrument.........in the end we just play.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-12 15:22

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> Beyond all this is the non thought of playing a musical instrument.........in the end we just play.>>

That's very contrary to how I hold playing. Music, like the other arts, is part of a quest for our own form of grace that -- unlike the grace of animals, which is unconscious -- INCLUDES our thoughtfulness and consciousness as well as our instincts.

Tony

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-12 17:20

I didn't mean unconscious when I used the ill constructed term non thought. The thoughtfulness comes in the preparation...that preparation leads to an instinct that carries us in performance. It is this very instinct that creates spontaneity. Without that leap of non thought performance is too safe. The state that I am alluding to is many times called "in the zone". My apologies for deconstructing the term "instinct". I use the term in a non static fashion . ie.... we develop and modify instincts throughout life.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-12 19:23)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Ed Palanker 2017
Date:   2008-09-12 17:49

Though I understand the point Tony is trying to make but one only has to listen to Jay Leno when he talks about "how fat are we getting". One third of Americans are over weight, and not by just a pound or two. We should all be walking more and taking the stairs instead of the "lift", elevator to us Americans, and exercising more not less. Tony, that's a recipe for a heart attach and diabetes. I'm the same weight I was forty years ago because I do everything you say not to do. Exercising actually relieves stress, makes you more mentally aware and overall improves your quality of life. BUT, when you play your clarinet, relax as Tony suggest. (Dr.) ESP
www.peabody.jhu.edu/457 Listen to a little Mozart
PS. I apologize if I missed Tony's point.

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2008-09-13 00:54

I deeply appreciate Tony's in-depth considerations of various aspects of playing that he has posted here. They reflect a kind of processing that I do myself and that I regard as essential in doing anything better without taking forever about it.

Since I restarted practicing 20 months ago, this board has been my only contact with other clarinetists, and of all the posters I've gratefully read, Tony Pay has communicated the most to me.

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Ed Palanker 2017
Date:   2008-09-13 03:29

I agree with Philip that Tony is very knowledge about the clarinet but his advise on relaxing is a recipe for poor health. As I stated above, exercise is a way to relieve stress not cause it. One does need to relax, have a beer, a glass of wine, go to a movie, make love, have a good dinner out, see a ball game, play with your kids but take care of your body too. You can relax and still walk up two flights of stairs, or walk a quarter of a mile instead of taking a ride. You need both in your life. I personally work out every morning. I park several blocks away so I have to walk, carrying my bass clarinet and double case to the concert hall. I never take a "lift" for one or two flights and I feel stress free and often find much time to relax. Not always easy having raised four kids. Without good health you can't possibly relax. Being out of shape becomes the most stressful part of life. ESP

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2008-09-13 03:57

Ed Palanker wrote:

> I agree with Philip that Tony is very knowledge about the
> clarinet but his advise on relaxing is a recipe for poor
> health.

Your apology on missing the point is accepted ... :)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: William 
Date:   2008-09-13 14:30

BTW, for those of you who have not heard Tony Pay play (that's almost poetic :>) here he is playing a bit of Mozart. Ed P may especially appreciate this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YgNnpyAa54

[enjoy]

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Old Geezer 
Date:   2008-09-13 17:47

Just reviewed the Youtube video. OK in general, but the clarinetist's tounging seemed rather languid...perhaps more was needed than "The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT."

Clarinet Redux

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: C2thew 
Date:   2008-09-13 18:02

Doesn't this topic remind you of the movie Wall-E?

just saying..... =) There's a price to pay for total relaxation.

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. they are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which was already but too easy to arrive as railroads lead to Boston to New York
-Walden; Henry Thoreau

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Avie 
Date:   2008-09-13 19:52

Im not sure about my ear for music, but I thaought that Tony's clarinet playing on utube is as professional as any I have heard. Outstanding!!
Our writing could use a little work. :)



 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Sarah Elbaz 
Date:   2008-09-13 20:11

Old Geezer wrote:

> Just reviewed the Youtube video. OK in general, but the
> clarinetist's tounging seemed rather languid...perhaps more was
> needed than "The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT."

I find that the recording is absolutly charming, and I needed the least possible effort to listen to it :-)

Sarah
>

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: mrn 
Date:   2008-09-13 21:48

Sarah Elbaz wrote:

> I find that the recording is absolutly charming, and I needed
> the least possible effort to listen to it :-)
>
> Sarah
> >

Hear, hear!!

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2008-09-13 22:20

Ermmm... does that mean you didn't actually listen to it, but you happened to hear it?

Chris.

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Tobin 
Date:   2008-09-13 22:25

Everyone is entitled to their opinion...and I don't have any questions about how well I listen.

The articulation sounded just fine to me. It did not "lack vigor or vitality", and so I personally could not codify it as "languid".

James

Gnothi Seauton

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2008-09-13 22:57

I think Tony was using the least possible effort in that Mozart Quintet. He never fails to insipire me.

Peter Cigleris
http://www.calarecords.com/acatalog/info_CACD77015.html
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/english-fantasy/id594011840

Post Edited (2008-09-13 23:00)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: mrn 
Date:   2008-09-13 23:30

Chris P wrote:

<<Ermmm... does that mean you didn't actually listen to it, but you happened to hear it?>>

No, it means I agree with what Sarah wrote. It's the traditional expression (or cheer) the MPs in the House of Commons use to express their approval of something someone said.

Or did you know that and are just pulling my American leg? :)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2008-09-13 23:30

> I think Tony was using the least possible effort in that Mozart Quintet. He
> never fails to inspire me.

I think I have to put some energy into pondering about this one. Diplomacy? Nah. Uhm. Now I'm getting insecure.

I enjoyed that Mozart Quintet. Other people's stuff sounds always so effortless. Oh. I think I'm getting it right now...

--
Ben

Post Edited (2008-09-13 23:32)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2008-09-13 23:57

"Or did you know that and are just pulling my American leg?"

HAHAHA! Rumbled.

Though it's much harder to listen to something than it is to hear everything, so listening is active (and requires effort) and hearing is passive (and requires no effort).

So if someone says 'Did you hear me?' you can then say 'Yeah I did, but I wasn't actually listening'. But if they said 'Were you listening to me?' you could say 'Yeah, but I didn't quite hear you'. Either way, it's asking for trouble.

BTW Tony, for what it's worth (and I know I'm probably repeating myself yet again), try as I like I really don't have the intellectual capacity for engaging in intellectual discussions, so my comments may appear trivial but there is some genuine thought behind them. Maybe not a lot of thought in comparison to the levels of intellectual or learned thought, but it's still genuine thought in the least capacity in that I'm a human being and can think with some degree of logic or rationale.

Chris.

Post Edited (2008-09-14 02:17)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Danny Boy 
Date:   2008-09-14 00:09

'Just reviewed the Youtube video. OK in general, but the clarinetist's tounging seemed rather languid...perhaps more was needed than "The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT."'

Hang on a second - it's clear from your past snipey comments on this and other threads that you don't care for Tony's contributions to this board - why not simply ignore them?

Sure, if you ignore his threads you'll miss out on some truly useful things that could make you a better clarinet player and all-round musician, but hey it doesn't seem you're that bothered.

If you must comment on something, at least take your personal feelings out of it and make it useful. Finding fault with someone of Mr Pay's stature for no reason other than to take a cheap shot is simply that - cheap.



 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Old Geezer 
Date:   2008-09-14 03:17

Danny Boy wrote;

"if you ignore his threads you'll miss out on some truly useful things that could make you a better clarinet player and all-round musician"

Does that apply to this thread which Tony started? I've never heard of him other than on this BB. I did locate a photo of him which is available at:

www.wka-clarinet.org/Tony3.jpg

Tony is the one with the beard...I viewed the video again, I think his tounging is improving....

Clarinet Redux

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2008-09-14 03:35

"Tony is the one with the beard...I viewed the video again, I think his tounging is improving...."

With a bit more practice, who knows where he'll be? We all have to start out somewhere, maybe he might even record a CD of hism own one day. He's no Antony Pay, though I'm sure he'll get there in time. And he'll only make it in the world if he plays Buffet R13s instead of some old thing that's just holding him back.

Chris.

Post Edited (2008-09-14 03:38)

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: MartyMagnini 
Date:   2008-09-14 04:01

Old Geezer wrote:

"I've never heard of him other than on this BB."

You need to get out more. Seriously. Tony Pay is one of the most respected and well know players in the world. And your snipes at him make YOU look ridiculous, not Tony.

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: skygardener 
Date:   2008-09-14 09:05

Reading some of the serious posts on this thread, I think that the idea of the "Least Possible Effort" is actually totally logical and maybe even obvious.
The key point of the phrase is "possible". Sometimes a great deal of energy is necessary, and, in that case, a great deal of energy is the "least possible". It is still a lot of energy, but it could not have been done with less. I don't think Tony suggests lethargic technique as much as he suggests efficient technique.
All practice require a great deal of energy spread over time; but good results could not come from less, right?

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: BobD 
Date:   2008-09-14 11:21

Please, Old Geezer, you're not helping our senior image.

Bob Draznik

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2008-09-14 12:27

Ben, I wasn't being sarcastic, i've always been influenced by Tony. I hold him in very high regard.

Peter Cigleris
http://www.calarecords.com/acatalog/info_CACD77015.html
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/english-fantasy/id594011840

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-14 12:43

skygardner wrote:

>> The key point of the phrase is "possible". Sometimes a great deal of energy is necessary, and, in that case, a great deal of energy is the "least possible".>>

Yes, that's one step towards providing a context for the phrase "the least possible effort" -- which is sadly lacking a context, one has to admit. You're answering the question, "the least possible effort...FOR WHAT?"

My first post jokingly provided an INappropriate context, and was designed to show that the phrase is ridiculous WITHOUT AN APPROPRIATE CONTEXT.

>> I don't think Tony suggests lethargic technique as much as he suggests efficient technique.>>

So, here you're suggesting replacing "least possible effort required to do something" by "most efficient technique for doing something".

But again, that's incomplete. We need to know what the SOMETHING is, you see.

And unfortunately -- because although we seem to be speaking abstractly, we're all REALLY thinking about music, and what it takes to play it -- the 'something' is quite often very complex.

To take almost the simplest possible example, what we want from a particular staccato run can't be captured by calling it just, 'staccato'. There are many kinds of staccato: {dramatic, light, playful, angry, heavy, COOKING:-), travelling, brilliant...} And to produce one example of that variety, you may very well need to use more energy than you need in order to produce another. And this applies across the board, to all 'things like staccato'; and then to the musical structures that we build using those things.

Energy efficiency, relaxation, and other simple-minded collapsings just don't work as ULTIMATE GOALS.

Now, it may be that sometimes we DO want to communicate something like, ease, elegance and playfulness -- the semiquaver passage in Weber II first movement springs to mind -- and a relaxed approach is appropriate. Yet even there, the abdomen/diaphragm opposition (which as someone pointed out, is not the most energy-efficient way of BLOWING) is almost necessary to bring out the sparkle.

But music very often speaks of deeper things too, of struggle, effort and nobility. Surely we must continue to place the expression of those things high in our aspirations. What does a 'relaxed' or 'efficient' expression of AGONY look like?

And, imagine telling an actor after his performance of 'Hamlet' "....it was so, so...so...EFFORTLESS!!"

(If you want to amuse yourself, try saying the last sentence in a completely relaxed way;-)

So, whilst I understand the motives of people who want to help students not be tied up by the use of UNNECESSARY forces, and whilst I do the same thing myself in particular instances, I say that it has become important to represent the value of speaking of NECESSARY forces too.

An outstanding example is this: it seems to me highly unsatisfactory that the supposedly 'last word' on the subject of breathing and blowing, by Arnold Jacobs:

http://www.clarinet-saxophone.asn.au/downloadabledocs/The%20Dynamics%20of%20Breathing.pdf

...ties itself in knots -- to the point of incomprehensibility -- in order to avoid using the word 'force' when explaining the idea of 'support'.

Try reading this article yourself with an open mind as to whether it makes sense or not -- rather than thinking that you must be deficient in confronting the phenomenon of an admittedly legendary player.

Which brings me to a final point -- thanks, chaps and chapesses, for defending me against Old Geezer. But it's really not necessary. And I'd rather the qualities or deficiencies of my own playing not come in to a debate about whether or not what I SAY makes sense.

It's of a piece with the fact that I want to be able to maintain the following two things: that Arnold Jacobs DEMONSTRATED an understanding of blowing the instrument doesn't mean that his EXPLANATION of how to blow the instrument was right; and that a criticism of his explanation is not a criticism of him as a player.

Tony



 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2008-09-14 12:44

> Ben, I wasn't being sarcastic, i've always been influenced by Tony. I hold
> him in very high regard.

First I thought you were. Then I listened, and then I knew you weren't. :-)

--
Ben

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: vin 
Date:   2008-09-14 14:59

I've been to a couple of workshops by a former student of Jacobs, and he used many of the methods and contraptions that Jacobs used. Funny enough, he said that of all the instruments, Jacobs had mentioned that he had the least success with clarinet players, although he did help several of Marcellus's students.
I'll agree, Tony, that the article is confusing, but to be fair to Jacobs, it's not meant to solve someone's problem completely. Jacob's strength was in teaching individuals hands-on (and he must have been doing something right to produce such amazing students) and varying his tactics based on the student- this cannot come across in an abstract article. Jacobs even says "an instructor is never going to get this across by telling students to push with this or that muscle," which is essentially what the rest of the article tells us. From what I've been told, lessons with Jacobs were very different from this dry stuff.

And Old Geezer- I've never met anyone who lived in a box before, how do you like it?

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Old Geezer 
Date:   2008-09-14 16:48

I've ordered the OAE and Tony P. versions of the Crussell and Weber Concertos, two rather expensive CDs. Soon I shall be able to make an informed, fair and balanced judgement of the Maestros clarinetistry.

You guys are so easy, irony and satire seem to be above your pay grade.

Clarinet Redux

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-14 16:53

vin wrote:

>> I'll agree, Tony, that the article is confusing, but to be fair to Jacobs, it's not meant to solve someone's problem completely.>>

Well, even if JACOBS didn't think he was solving someone's problem completely, the article is touted as being "THE DEFINITIVE EXPLANATION OF WHAT MOVES AIR IN AND OUT".

No-one could be clearer than I am that we cannot solve people's problems in detail on the Internet. I bang on and on, to the effect that we have to say what we CAN say -- namely, give descriptions of the actual physical circumstances of playing, plus metaphors that capture aspects of those physical circumstances -- and then leave the student, as I put it, RIGHTLY CONFUSED about which one of those metaphors may help them. They then get themselves UNCONFUSED by trying them out in practice, perhaps with feedback from us.

I posted the URL of the thread 'Rightly confused' in another thread, but here it is again:

http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=204498&t=204498

>> Funny enough, he said that of all the instruments, Jacobs had mentioned that he had the least success with clarinet players, although he did help several of Marcellus's students.>>

The clarinet, I've come to think, has one of the most varied degrees of resistance to blowing of all instruments, largely because the student is usually left in charge of the choice of reed and mouthpiece. I've usually dealt with someone who has positioned themselves uncomfortably at either extreme of resistance, by having them move their setup a bit closer to the middle ground.

I also tell them EITHER to think of the clarinet sound as a smooth tube, 'flowing' from low down in the belly, up through the windpipe and mouth, down the instrument and out to the audience (in case they have been used to a 'too closed' setup); OR to think of the clarinet sound as being made by the vibration of the air-column that is ALREADY inside the instrument (in case they have been used to a 'too open' setup).

Then, being in a situation where they're neither blowing their guts out nor going red in the face, they're in a position to appreciate the fundamental opposition that lies at the heart of excellent clarinet playing; namely, that of support -- AND, via the 'magic diminuendo', to come to terms with the mystery of why it is so difficult to describe (absence of afferent nerves in the diaphragm).

Jacobs is clearly concerned to avoid any use of this basic 'support' opposition. In fact, he labels it 'wrong' at every possible turn:
Quote:

"...support is never tight muscles, whether you’re silent or blowing, or in a diminuendo or crescendo."

Notice the pejorative effect of that word, 'tight'. We don't want 'tight', right?

But, what do we want: 'loose'???

This avoidance means that Jacobs cannot explain, or even countenance, the 'mystery'. He cannot even use the concept 'force':
Quote:

"Many people make the mistake of assuming that muscle contraction is what gives support. The blowing of the breath should be the support, not tension in the muscles of the body, but the movement of air as required by the embouchure or the reed.

“You go into the mechanics of movement and confusion arises; it’s a cause and effect relationship."

Of course, not having been able to explain the opposition, he is not in a position, AFTER THE EXPLANATION, to go on to say why we don't experience it (absence of afferent nerves in the diaphragm).

It's not OUR confusion, you see; it's HIS confusion.

The result of this is that in our profession we have to put up with a degree of doublethink that would have scientists roaring with laughter. WE have various different 'explanations' of this fundamental business of blowing, and you have to choose between them based on the credentials of the person giving them. (So, for example, if you think Arnold Jacobs is more eminent than me, you believe him.)

Even Ken Shaw, who makes as big a contribution as anyone here when it comes to the detail, shirks the issue. When asked how support works, he gives Jacobs's URLs, saying:
Quote:

I think about expanding my belly all the way around, including the sides and back. Kincaid said to do this and to push down rather than up.

Arnold Jacobs said you should never use the Valsalva (defecation) Maneuver, which creates slow, large-muscle movements that have nothing to do with blowing. See the links at http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=15660&t=15574 and http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=59103&t=58998.

Tony Pay says that support means balancing simultaneous inhaling and exhaling effort. See http://test.woodwind.org/Databases/Klarinet/1999/04/000760.txt.

Why not say what it actually is? Why does something that responds to careful thought and experiment have to be fudged in this way?

Why can't we say that Jacobs doesn't make sense on the subject, period? And then go on to agree on something that DOES make sense??

Tony



 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2008-09-14 16:53

Old Geezer wrote:

> You guys are so easy, irony and satire seem to be above your
> pay grade.

Considering your comments over time, all and all - I think you have things reversed.

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: CarlT 
Date:   2008-09-14 18:55

If you'd like to see a few good pictures of Mr. Pay, I found these on:

http://www.wka-clarinet.org/HN_Dec04.htm

There are several of him in the last two groups of pictures. BTW, for those of you who've not seen pictures of Sabine Meyer, she is in the top group of pictures on this same page.

CarlT

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Lelia Loban 2017
Date:   2008-09-15 13:11

I'm glad to see that some people are buying Tony Pay's recording of the Mozart quintet and other music instead of relying on YouTube. (Are those postings of copyrighted performances legal?) I hope people who've been offering opinions about Tony Pay's playing based on YouTube have computers with better equipment than my cheap sound card that stutters and also gives a misleading, muddy idea of how much more clearly-articulated he sounds when heard on a good audio system. My sound card, a mass-marketed consumer card that came pre-installed (and will go in the yard sale bin the minute I'm sure the replacement I've chosen will work well with Vista, as the first one I tried and returned didn't...) also compresses the dynamics and suppresses high partials. Even a crummy sound system can tell me whether a wannabe is way off-pitch, playing wrong notes, gyrating around like a circus clown, etc. (the grossly obvious stuff), but it's no way to listen to music and especially no way to get a fair impression of a first-rate musician such as Tony Pay.

>>And, imagine telling an actor after his performance of 'Hamlet' "....it was so, so...so...EFFORTLESS!!"
>>

Oh, been there. When I used to set up my stained glass booth at arts and crafts fairs, the artists and artisans invariably joked around in private about the innocent but ignorant customers who'd react to anything, including a scene of a gruesome massacre, by calling it "pretty"--a word artists and critics often use as an insult.

Lelia
http://www.scoreexchange.com/profiles/Lelia_Loban
To hear the audio, click on the "Scorch Plug-In" box above the score.

 
 Re: The LEAST POSSIBLE EFFORT
Author: Nessie1 
Date:   2008-09-15 13:27

Having seen Tony for a few days relatively recently, I can't help wondering, given the subject of this thread, "How's the back, Tony?" (lol).



Post Edited (2008-09-15 13:34)

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