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My name is Scheherezade. I am about to die at the hands of a King, but if I can captivate him through my stories I might be able to stay alive for just one more night.
The orchestra drops to quiet plucking, and I take a deep breath in. I dramatically ascend the D minor scale, the sound of my bassoon resonating throughout the concert hall. I tease my audience, building suspense by never fully resolving to the top or bottom note. I add more and more to the scale as I speed up, driving the story forwards with intensity. At this point, it’s all muscle memory as the notes fly by faster than I am able to comprehend. Right before the notes seem like they are about to lose control, I slow back down and approach a resolution, developing a deceitful sense of calmness – only to be interrupted by a startling chord that sends the story back into the melody of the oboe.
My name is not Scheherezade, and I am not about to die at the hands of a king. My name is Sagada, and I am the principal bassoonist of the American Youth Philharmonic at our performance of “Scheherazade” by Rimsky-Korsakov, a symphonic suite based on the “Arabian Nights.”
Many people think of their instruments as their voice, but to me, my bassoon is more than that. A voice can recount words – thoughts must be translated, diluted by the constraints of language. Music transcends language barriers and conveys emotions that cannot be described through words. Stories are told through symphonies, with each instrument playing different characters. Their melodies create an abstract plot, dancing over the deep emotion defined in the underlying chord progressions – and my playing controls the expression. Throughout my career, my instrument has taken on many different characters. When I was principal bassoonist of the All-Virginia Concert Band, I even took on the role of a drunk Irishman in a solo. In music, the possibilities are endless, and my creative side is unleashed.
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