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A Coworker Rant: Orchestral Musician Style

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
So, today was an especially bad rehearsal.

We're playing Beethoven 1, and it starts with two chords in the woodwinds...C Major/minor 7 to F Major (V7-I in F Major...you'll know this sequence from every pop song ever written). Then it does a V7-vi in C Major (also known as a deceptive cadence). Now, when you play a chord, you have to tune based on a system called "just diatonic" tuning or tuning by naturally occuring harmonics. So, the root of the chord (the C in a C Major chord for example) is in tune with a tuner, the third of the chord (an E in a C Major chord...named because it's the third note in a C Major scale) has to 13-17 cents flat (or lower in frequency) and the fifth (a G in a C Major chord) has to be 0-2 cents sharp. Then it sounds in tune and everyone goes home happy.

The oboist has taken it upon herself to play the third roughly 35 cents sharp. Which is like almost half a semitone away from where it needs to be. It would sound bad to every single one of you in TCS land, even with absolutely no musical traning whatsoever. To a musician who has been classically trained, it's sound translates to a migraine.

This would also be less awful if I didn't have to play the E in octaves (means I'm playing an E, but 8 notes higher...the next group of keys on a piano) with the oboist who is playing it 50 cents off.

So I try tuning to her, which is standard practice. It sounds like death.

I try tuning to the rest of the orchestra. It sounds like agony and pain AND death.

So I try to tell her how sharp she is.

She laughs at me and tells me she's CLEARLY bringing it down. From what? An F??!?!

So, at this point, the conductor is about to blow a gasket the rest of the orchestra is literally laughing at us.

Ugh. It's my GPA and reputation on the line. Now everyone is angry, dejected and thinks that I clearly must have no ear.

And yet, the oboist STILL WILL NOT BRING THE PITCH DOWN. There is even a marker on teh tuner showing you where a third goes. It's really not that hard! And then she has the nerve to simultaneously blame it on me AND her reed!

Danny Kaye once said that an oboe is an ill wind that nobody blows right. He wasn't kidding.

Anyone else have dumb and self righteous colleagues they'd like to complain about? If so, here's your chance!
post #2 of 13
I don't understand all the jargon there but I think I pretty much understand the story. She sounds awful, and what's worse, has no idea she's awful.

If it makes you feel better, I have a coworker who refuses to speak to me (because, what we're third graders) because one time I didn't take my break soon enough for her convenience, who proceeded to purposefully lie to me about hers so I would be waiting and hungry even though I was trying to be nice and let her go first even though she had been there five hours less than me. Add to that the various ways in which she sabotages my work and my personal life, and you've got our relationship in a nutshell... best, somehow she's convinced a couple people it's my fault we don't get along.

Anyway, your little friend is especially hard to deal with... I can just imagine her being all snooty and smug about it when she's ruining everyone's ears. They get theirs eventually, and honestly I'm sure everyone knew it was all her and you were trying to fix it.
post #3 of 13
Do you have perfect pitch? Just curious.

I was listening to the classical station on the way into work this morning and they have their "John Philliip Sousa wake up" piece that they play every morning. They played Stars and Stripes this morning and a flutist didn't sound right midway through.

Anyhoo, to share I was completely mortified by a coworker. We're looking to upgrade the phone system at work and I brought in one guy that I have worked with in the past.

Right off the bat my coworker told the phone vendor that he thought the phones looked cheap and compared them to our 10-year old clunky phones.
post #4 of 13
I have 3 coworkers who are completely resistent to change or different protocol. Grr. They freak out and refuse to do it the new way.
post #5 of 13
I can only empathize with you on having sucky coworkers. The rest is Greek to me! LOL You mentioned "GPA". Is that Grade Point Average or something else? You said "coworker" but if I am interpreting GPA, it sounds like you are a student.
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by lionessrampant View Post
...So I try to tell her how sharp she is.

She laughs at me and tells me she's CLEARLY bringing it down. From what? An F??!?!
OMG, too funny! She sounds like a total idiot. Pardon my French. Like people who've been playing for years and years don't KNOW this about major thirds? Well, you know, we all tune to the OBOE, so they ALWAYS play in tune!

Most of the people I work with are ok, just all young and don't have kids and stuff.
post #7 of 13
I do understand some of what you said... although I was a choir geek as opposed to the instrumentals... and some musicians (like a few music teachers I knew) have no clue they're being a pain in the a**.

As for icky co-workers... I got one for ya... at the store I work, there's this woman (not a lady, by any means) who seemed to have bonded with me because we're both originally from the SF/Bay Area in California... her and her boyfriend/roomie/whatever moved up here the winter before I did... she is what I've termed a 'Funsucker' ... i.e. someone who ruins conversations and puts everyone around them in a bad mood.

Well this woman has a habit of latching on to people in order to use/take advantage of them... and she's done this to me. I can deal with most of it... It was fine when she joined me on the drive down to the SF/Bay Area over Christmas... she paid for meals on the drive... fine. Now here's the big issue:

A few weeks ago, she asked to borrow my iPod Shuffle so she could listen to something other than the dentists' drill... this thing is virtually indestructible (unless you smash something big on it)... it's a first generation one... I put some classical and jazz on it from my collection... she was fine with that...

I get it back from her... hook it up to my stereo and it starts playing something ELSE! Obviously not something i put on there... world music, which is cool... I like the stuff... but the problems started when I connected it to the computer to see what the music was... it was corrupted. Trust me, you'd be blushing at the string of curse words emanating out of my mouth at that moment.

It took me an hour to fix it... ssaw her a couple days later and asked her about it. She denied doing anything to it.

it's not that she messed with it, it's that she didn't have the decency and honesty to own up to her mistake.

Trust? Out the door... I'll be civil... but that's it.

I have other 'co-workers from hell' stories from the past, but this one is fresh...

A.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom View Post
I don't understand all the jargon there but I think I pretty much understand the story.
I know, I know. These are all terms I throw around in everyday conversation and I live in this magical little world where everyone understands what I'm talking about. I try to explain, but in most cases, books have been written about these terms (and I've been forced to read them) so it's hard to give a phrase or sentence!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lunasmom View Post
Do you have perfect pitch? Just curious.
No, and today made me really happy about that. Given my training, my ear is one of my weaker areas, although still better trained than your average person. I can hold my own in dictation, I can sight sing-ish (like solfeg syllables...do re mi, etc...where they give you one starting pitch and then you sing the rest of the song) and I can tell sharp from flat. I have a hard time with tuning in huge unison settings like a symphonic band. Mostly because when I play with morons like this, I can't locate a pitch center anyway.

ETA: By the way, dictation refers to a practice in which they give you some musical staff paper with a clef and a starting note and then the piano plays a melody starting on said note and you fill in the rest. It's approximately as fun as getting shots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kluchetta View Post
OMG, too funny! She sounds like a total idiot. Pardon my French. Like people who've been playing for years and years don't KNOW this about major thirds? Well, you know, we all tune to the OBOE, so they ALWAYS play in tune!
She actually SAID THAT! Her xact words were "Well, the A440 was dead on, so I don't see why we can't tune to me". Well, I'll give you a few reason: you're playing the third, it's registering at 35 cents above on the machine, it would overbalance the chord and you're a stuck-up jerk! UGH!

Those double reed players. Can't live with 'em, I'll tell ya!
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by lionessrampant View Post
She actually SAID THAT! Her xact words were "Well, the A440 was dead on, so I don't see why we can't tune to me". Well, I'll give you a few reason: you're playing the third, it's registering at 35 cents above on the machine, it would overbalance the chord and you're a stuck-up jerk! UGH!

Those double reed players. Can't live with 'em, I'll tell ya!
Oh for heaven's sake! I love it when the oboes have their machine on the entire time, so they are "in tune" and don't have to listen.

...now you know that bassoonists are fun!! LOL...
post #10 of 13
When an oboe is IN TUNE, there are few sounds more beautiful. What it is NOT in tune, that's another story! (Wonder how quickly I could get some earplugs in the mail to you...)
post #11 of 13
I'm sure we all know at least one person like that in whichever sphere we work, but at least most of the time they don't set your teeth on edge and induce headaches.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lionessrampant View Post
ETA: By the way, dictation refers to a practice in which they give you some musical staff paper with a clef and a starting note and then the piano plays a melody starting on said note and you fill in the rest. It's approximately as fun as getting shots.
I always enjoyed doing things like that but then I enjoyed tuning pianos as well which most people would find quite a dull way to spend their time, for some reason I find it fun
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Epona View Post
I always enjoyed doing things like that
So does my best friend! You guys are weirdos! j/k

Nah, it's not THAT bad, but I could think of 10 things I'd rather do

And yes, I'm sure we all know someone who is like this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ugaimes View Post
When an oboe is IN TUNE, there are few sounds more beautiful. What it is NOT in tune, that's another story! (Wonder how quickly I could get some earplugs in the mail to you...)
I had a friend in high school when I was playing with the Chicago Youth Symphony who was the most talented oboist. His sound was so beautiful (so it was too bad that the rest of our oboes were gross)...but he goes to the elite Curtis Institute now (possibly the best music school in the country...def better tahn your Juilliard or Eastman). I miss him in times like this!

Quote:
Originally Posted by kluchetta View Post

...now you know that bassoonists are fun!! LOL...
Ok, ok, bassoonists are fun. Hey! Ya know what we used to call bassoons in youth orchestra?! Farting Bedposts!!!! J/K It's a lovely sound and you guys hold the key to the beginiing of Rite of Spring
post #13 of 13
In my office, space is at a premium. So when they were looking for a desk for me, I was placed in another department on the same floor as my department. This is a brand new department, with 75% brand new employees. They're all fresh out of college. And some of them still have the teenage attitude.

The other day they were looking at a contract and one of my team leaders had made a comment in it. They were throwing his name around wondering if anyone knew who he was. I turned from my computer and said he was a team leader in Collections and he sits about 4 rows to our right. All I got was blank stares. I felt like saying Did I scare you or isn't there anyone home behind those eyes?? Not only is no one home, but the lights are out too. What I did say was "You're welcome"
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