Friday, January 1, 2010

Sidebar - Playing a Gralla

While at Canterbury Faire, in early February, I had a stroke of good fortune.  Also at the Faire was another hard-core musician, Ignatius of Castelburn, who  generously loaned me his gralla seca, which is a traditional Catalan oboe.  This one was made by Francesc Sans of Sans Luthier in Spain, and it has a lot of presence when it is played.

I used it for a couple of  dance sessions at the Faire, which was fun.  However, I found that the reed tended to work loose while I was playing, which was a pain, obviously.  This was probably largely due to my lack of technique, but I felt that there was room for general improvement.

The improvement would take the form of a pirouette surrounding the reed. The pirouette is used to locate the player's lips relative to the instrument and avoid the need to lip the reed all the time.

Here's a piece of cherry wood being roughed out for the pirouette. 

This piece dates from about October last year, and has seasoned quite well, without cracking. It has a rather finer grain than the rimu, and gives a smoother finish more readily.  I'm not worrying about colour matching just yet.

And here it is, coming off the lathe. 

I cut the blank end off, and drilled out the centre plug, and tapered the hole to fit the staple of the gralla.

The pirouette, polished up and lacquered, fitted on the staple, ready for the reed.

The pirouette and reed fitted to the gralla. 
Although it may not be obvious here, the gralla is quite short; about 300mm, and is pitched in G rather than C.

This has made a real improvement to the ease of playing the gralla without dislodging the reed, although the reed can still be lipped if desired.

In parallel with making this pirouette, I was making a pirouette for the shawm, as you see if you read on.

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