December 22, 2013 by lucieromarin
Only four days ago I was thinking faintly contemptuous thoughts about percussionists, wondering if they counted as real musicians. I mean, the sight of a grown man hitting a little triangle does make me think, “Really? Really?“, especially when you see the first violinist only metres away from him.
Well, today, I had to strike some bells. (Yes! We’re learning Christmas motets with bells! We win!**). And it went something like this:
Whack. Dull flat muffled sound.
Whack! Way too loud.
Tentative whack. Oh, nice!
Tentative whack. Millisecond of nice sound suddenly goes dull, flat and muffled. Why didn’t it sound like the last tentative whack?
Whack-whack. Peculiar scraping sound. ?!?!?!
Oops! Missed my cue.
Whack! Ringing sound drowns out the song. Sorry, people.
So, as it turns out, the beautiful ringing sound of bells requires more than basic hand-eye co-ordination. I guess this must apply to timpanis and xylophones and things too, which is, I guess, why percussionists get paid! (In fact, the wikipedia tells me that it is possible to be a ‘bongocero’ which is someone who plays the bongo and cow bells.)
**the unspoken competition between choirs local and universal for Who Has the Best New Christmas Motet.