Friday, November 30, 2007

Why is this so hard?

Here's a simple little tuning exercise that's not as easy as it looks...

Some players, once they own that trigger, begin to believe that all positions beyond 4th are alien territory. Thus a simple gliss to 6th seems to give trouble.

After finding 6th, you would think it a simple matter to gliss back to 5th accurately. Nope!

I think there are several reasons for this..
1. When we do our beloved Remington long tones, we are always measuring out from 1st position. Accurately "measuring out" is something we do a lot, but "measuring in" is something we don't practice. Maybe we should do that famous Remington pattern inverted.

2. (disclaimer, this is pretty speculative, I may have it wrong)
Beyond 4th position, the elbow begins to have to extend beyond a right angle and seems to be less accurate.

Anyway, try those glisses out with a tuner (look first, then listen), see what you think.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

U.S. Senator left trombone to get chicks

Here's a segment from a recent article posted on the Washington Post website...

Even Julia Roberts Didn't Love Him Like That

By Dana Milbank

Wednesday, November 14, 2007; Page A02

Fresh from his appearance Monday night at the Birchmere, Lyle Lovett had a gig at the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday -- and the stage proved uncomfortably crowded with performers.

The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, movie actor and ex-husband of Julia Roberts had come to testify about music copyrights. But the lawmakers, in the presence of a captive celebrity audience, turned the hearing room into an amateur talent show. "My parents forced upon me trombone lessons," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) informed the country music star. "I learned how to play the guitar," he added, because "the opposite sex was not attracted to trombone."


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Letting Bruckner Bark

Here's an entry from today's trombone master class.

We did an orchestral excerpt class focusing on the finale to Bruckner's 8th symphony.
Here's that opening passage:

Everybody starts fortissimo on an F-sharp out there in that treacherous 5th position.

Perhaps you've heard that, if it is in tune, a note will sound louder.

Why? How?

Sound waves can either reinforce each other or cancel each other out..

Here's a picture of two waves that are slightly out-of-sync.
Of course, if they were out of tune, you would see the peaks of one wave closer together than the other so this picture isn't perfect but hopefully you get the idea.

Here's the thing: when out of phase, the waves partially cancel each other out. Here's a great link explaining this concept.

In fact, I once saw a dog wearing collar that used active noise cancellation to cancel out the bark.
Something like this:

So, if I understand it, the collar has a microphone that records the bark and a speaker that plays it back out of phase, canceling the original sound.

Of course, we don't want to use noise cancellation in Bruckner!

Play it in tune and it will not only sound louder, it actually will be louder.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

13 Good Minutes

On my website you can find drone tone files.
12 files, each 65 seconds, droning on pure perfect fifths

(3:2 ratio, top note raised 2 cents, all that jazz)

Played back to back, the files last 13 minutes.

Put them on your ipod and spend those 13 minutes playing along with the drones, making things up as you go. Long tones, melodies, lip slurs. Just play beautifully and listen carefully.

Here's a link to the drones..

Here's a link to a summary of pitch adjustments needed for certain intervals.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The E-flat "Re-education camp" (Gulag)?

Oh that pesky E-flat.

sharp, sharp, sharp.

Play it sharp often enough and it starts to sound right.

How could that tuner be right? It sounds so wrong!

Maybe we should spend some time playing it flat on purpose.

Actually, I've heard of a trumpet teacher who made his freshman play F (on a B-flat trumpet) using it 1st and 3rd valves. This would be like playing the E-flat in regular 6th position...nice and flat.

After a semester of this, perhaps the ear is retrained?

Maybe trombonists need to spend a similar period of time in an E-flat "gulag," or "re-education camp" playing the note flat to retrain the ear.

Perhaps as the camp commandant reviews the trombone prisoners during their "re-education" they could play the "Ruffles and Flourishes" fanfare with the E-flats getting lower and lower.

Like this