Tuesday, October 18, 2011

National Brass Symposium: an archeological dig of notes

This past summer I attended the National Brass Symposium. It was great; I'm glad I went.

I took some notes (not very diligently) and then didn't do anything with them. Now they sit in a pile of papers on my desk.
Funny thing is...I'm not always sure what I meant. So I'm going to treat these notes as a dig site...


The merciless sun beats down on their backs, urging their fingers to move more quickly but there are stronger things than the sun. Will power, for one. They know they must not hurry that precise sequence of small movements needed to uncover these precious artifacts. It has been a slow morning; little of importance has been found: some candy wrappers, an early iPhone model, not much else.
Suddenly an excited cry goes up: paper with human writing on it. The dig robot is called in with its many highly sensitive servo-motors and nano-detectors. Soon the paper is extracted and dated....2010, possibly during the summer months. We will never know for sure.
The first sheet reads:
Mulcahy w/up Day 1
  • long torso
  • Mt. Edwards - don't bring the mountain to you
  • Don't play higher than you can play with ease and purity. Pride gets in the way.
  • Why do low range?
    You can't hurt yourself playing low.
    Requires you to rely on air.
  • Breathing
    Less internal focus - more on sucking air.
    British "O", "Julia Roberts" mouth (air in through corners)
  • When you watch great players, it looks like they aren't doing anything.
The second sheet sheds more light on the mystery. It appears that these ancient runes have something to do with music. It reads:
BSO Brass 5tet
Bach Fugue
  • 10 positive to 1 negative
  • Learn quickly how to give true, meaningful comments.
  • Find something good about your colleagues.
(Grainger Songs)
  • People work hard to maintain good relationships.
  • (with a pitch problem) No matter how right you think you are, you probably aren't as perfect as you think.
(Quintet Victoria)
"Sadly we may never fully understand the meaning of these symbols." the lead researcher said as he rubbed his tired eyes. I guess we can turn it over to the music historians...those guys get all the big funding.

P.S. It was later revealed that this ancient note-taker did leave behind a more thorough digital archive of notes from the something called the "Alessi Seminar"