Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A little overtone knowledge is a dangerous thing?

Suppose you're a composer and you want to write a solo piece for trombone.
(stop laughing, it happens)

Perhaps you don't know the instrument terribly well and you want to write in an idiomatic style.
(gotta love those big words)

Perhaps you consult your hand-dandy overtone series chart. Now you can write pieces that "lay well" on the slide.
(although, when it comes to glisses, composers seem...

Sometimes the results are, well...interesting:

Consider this lick from the Larsson Concertino...

If you don't know the piece, let's just say there's ample evidence that Larsson *may* have been thinking our overtone series when he wrote the piece.

However, think about these slide positions...

(Now that's just weird)

But think about it. I'm guessing that's what he had in mind.

So here's the question. If that *is* what he had in mind, should we do it? Is that part of our job in interpreting the composer's wishes?

Before you make a final decision, try playing it a few times. It's odd but it seems to work (in a warped kind of way).

Anyway, some food for thought.

Another other "overtone-y" piece: Hidas Meditation for bass trombone. And how about those runs in the Martin Ballade?
Milt Stevens once told me he plays these runs starting in long positions and just floating in from 6th to 1st and back out. He also pointed out that this made a nice visual image for the audience.
(Hmm, choosing slide positions for visual effect.
Now that's a whole other can of worms)