Monday, August 29, 2011

Out There

"Trombones, you're late!"
These words have been spoken by many a conductor. Here's another:
"Trombones, sustain those notes, not so separated."

So, there you are sitting back in the section thinking, "Is this guy crazy? I'm starting right with him and sustaining everything!"
Time for our old friend, note shape, to make an appearance.
Look at this drawing:

"Inaudible" refers to any sound you make that can't be heard out there. Meaning, when you factor in the sounds of the other instruments and the distance from you to the conductor, or out into the auditorium, your sound isn't being heard.
If you start a note with a little "wah" there will be a split second when you are playing but they can't hear you out there.
So, to you, the note starts on time. To them, it's late.
You're both right, at least technically.
However, they are more right because, ultimately, the only thing that matters is what it sounds like out there.
This also explains why your lovely sostenuto doesn't sound so sustained out there.
So, look at that drawing. Notice the two horizontal lines. The top line is what you think you are playing (and may, in fact, be playing roughly one foot in front of the bell). The lower line is what they are hearing out there....a less sustained note that starts late.

In the end, out there is the one place that really counts.

Ironic, really, that you'll never actually hear your own sound out there.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yo-Yo Tempos

We all know the usual adage when learning a tricky lick..
Start slowly and speed up gradually.
Here's a variation I've bumped into. I really like it...

Start at full speed and, with each repetition, slow down gradually. Eventually start speeding up again.
Like a yo-yo, the tempo goes down and back up again.

Try it out
(then throw down and walk the dog .. such a sleeper)!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Geez, how many books is this guy going to write?

Sorry I haven't posted in some time. I have a few things I want to hit but haven't posted for two reasons:
1. I'm allowing some passage of time to avoid offending (just in case I launch into a diatribe).
2. I've been in "all hands on deck" mode to finish two new books.
If you're curious, I have put up a description and some free sample pages.
Finishing this book has been very satisfying because some of these materials go back over ten years. Never have I had so many failed attempts to write a book. Basically, I would think I had it figured out, plunge in and then, after way too much time and effort, realize I was on the wrong path. Painful to see it all go down the tubes.
But it doesn't really "go down the tubes." I don't delete any of it away and, so far, I've been good/lucky with data back-ups. So I have one folder one my hard drive which holds all of that source material.
How much?
I just looked: almost 62 megabytes and 558 files in 27 sub-folders.
That's just Finale files leading up to this project and doesn't count *any* finished books. Ouch.
Anyway, this time I hope I've got it (especially since I've already forked over my money to the printing company). By the way, I'm flirting with offering a reduced-price e-version of the book but haven't had the time to look into file security, water-marking, etc.
Some people may wonder, "Geez, how many books is this guy going to write?"
Well, the Trombone Craft series is the last BIG thing but properly finishing it will take roughly two more years (yes, I want to write a "Bass Trombone Craft" set).
Also, I've been meaning to add a feature to the Simply Singing Books: free duet parts for (almost) everything. This is not as easy as it may sound. Because these tunes are for different instruments with different ranges I can't write a one-size-fits-all duet voice because it won't fit in the range for some instruments.
My basic strategy is going to be this: for each tune write an "under" voice and an "over" voice. Then I should be able to cover a variety of ranges. I want to make the voices fit, harmonically so that it may turn out that I'm turning these tunes into little trios.
Also, I want to line up the different instruments so that a trombone player can provide the "under" voice in the keys given to the trumpet player, etc.
I figure that, somewhere, a tuba player with a crush on a cute horn player will rejoice ("hey, let's play duets sometime"). If anything develops, I expect wedding pictures!
All of this is going to take some time because I have a job, a family, gigs and a house in which stuff likes to break (this summer it was, among other things, a sewer line jamming, causing a toilet to overflow....into the air conditioning get the idea).
There are other creative ideas circling in my head like flights over O'Hare airport waiting for permission to land. Some of them have been waiting for a lonnnnng time.
Some of the ideas are projects I plan to put up on the web for free. Others will be published. Most of them are good enough that I'm keeping my lips sealed.

Now, if some rich Bill Gates type wants to float into my life and say, "Son, I believe in what you're doing. I'll set you up with a lifetime endowment so you can just live in a beautiful house by a lake and fulfill your true vision. And here is your personal assistant.." (and then I wake up)
The thing is, even if that offer arrived (about as likely as a Power Ball win, especially since I almost never buy a ticket), it would hard to walk away from teaching. I really love teaching... least when the student is willing to prepare....