"A garden can teach you amazing things everyday. Sometimes, it's a miracle - like walking into the garden and seeing something flourish that you had messed up. It really shouldn't be growing at all, yet there it is, happy and strong.
And other times, disaster. You do everything right, but for no discernable reason, some plant, that by rights ought to be thriving, just gives up."
It's pretty easy to see where I'm going with this. Making reeds is a lot like gardening.
Those of you who make reeds know what I'm saying; do I really need to give examples?
OK, fine, here's an example:
Back in March, the Oregon Symphony was playing, among other things, Debussy's La Mer. During the later rehearsals that week, I was working up what would hopefully be the concert reed (one of them, anyway.) A promising candidate, I accidentally took off a big chunk of one of the corners of the reed.
Oops. Normally that's a recipe for tossing the thing out -- lopping off 20% of the business end of a reed is not normally a prescription for a stellar results. Yet that's exactly what happened. I ended up with a reed that played fabulously. It had all the functionality and the wide tonal palette required by a program that contained works by Khatchaturian, Hayden, and Debussy.
It lasted for the rest of that week. And into the next, which for me, as anyone who know me can tell you, is a long time.
As for example of disasters, I really don't need to give them, they happen all the time. You take what looks to be a really good piece of cane, process it just right, have all the tools in tiptop shape, and come up with a very promising reed, right? Yeah, except that when to get to the hall the next day and start to play, it sounds like a chainsaw cutting through frying bacon.
I have to remind myself that arundo donax is a plant. It comes from somebody's garden.