So, I bought an Amati Kraslice Eb trumpet. I wasn't sure if it was going to be an "alto" or a "contralto" trumpet, but I was hoping for the latter (the person I bought it from said that it used a standard "Bb" mouthpiece -- and the mouthpiece it came with is feels akin to a Bach 3C-ish thing). I've found that a Warburton 3XD with a #5 backbore gives a good sound (much better than the factory mouthpiece).
I've seen differing opinions on the use for a low trumpet. Some say that the low Eb is a horn/high-bone substitute. Other authorities say that the low trumpets are used in the same way as the standard trumpets.
Well, I've had a couple of days to play it now and I will share some observations.
The horn has a useable range from low d (transposed pitch) up to something stupid high (super-G or A, I've slotted double super-C a couple of times with a good tone). This covers the normal range of a standard Bb trumpet (the Eb's G is the Bb's low-c, super-G is the Bb's super-C). The bottom harmonic (low C) sounds like a glorified buzz. I can lip-bend the low C down almost a full octave, but I cannot actually slot the pedal tone.
Because this is a rotary instrument, the sound is closer to a natural trumpet than a piston trumpet, and the notes have wider slots (which means I can pull off some freakish scoops and bends), it also means that I don't have to muck with first and third valve triggers. Of course I have to really pay attention to my intonation and it is demanding a higher degree of control than I am used to... but the sound of the horn is worth it.
I've tried playing through a few pieces in the standard repertoire on it, and it really changes the demands of the piece in question. Pieces that used to mean odd juggling of strange valve combinations are turned into acrobatic lip exercises. The sound is also different: the lower parts of a piece correspond to the middle of the trumpet's range so the tone of the lower notes is more full and less buzzy, however the upper notes correspond with the horn's extended range has a clearer and more robust sound due to the added length of the instrument where a normal Bb begins to sound a little thin and "whiny" in the upper range.
One noticeable improvement is the added sound in the lower end of the horn. The low-C sixteenth notes in the Haydn concerto slot much better on the Eb (which plays them as G's). Actually, the Haydn concerto is quite playable on the low Eb horn if you have a good lip trill (which I haven't ever developed -- but I intend to work one up: almost every trill in that piece ends up as a lip trill). Many of the upper-range passage work requires some careful thought -- you can almost play whole swaths of the sixteenth-note runs by holding the first valve down and playing on the harmonics.
Would I use this trumpet to play Eb Horn or high trombone parts? Hell no. For low trumpet parts? Sure, just play everything up a fifth. Actually, I'm not sure why they don't use these for 3rd trumpet parts, the sound is much better. I'd also be tempted to use it for solo work once I get some better control in the upper range. I'd really like to see a double Eb/Bb trumpet along the same lines as a double horn, the Eb side would be amazing for lower work with the Bb side to switch to for security in the upper range.
Perhaps I'll go hunting on Ebay and cannibalize a broken double horn and some cheap trumpets and try to build one...
After months of silence, I am coming back with some amazing music for you. Today I have a full symphonic concert by amazing composers that you have never heard of, but should have. If you have a serious objection to non-standard repertoire... get off my blog.
First I would like to welcome the Zurich Chamber Orchestra and Maestro Howard Griffiths to the stage. Our first piece is Ferdinand Ries's second symphony. You've never heard of Ries? Of course not. His early career was overshadowed by Beethoven and his later life was supplanted my Mendelssohn. His critics accuse him of just coping the great composers of his time -- "here he is coping Haydn, now Beethoven, now Mendelssohn..." but we all know that there is only ONE thing that matters: the end result is a musically satisfying work!
So, without further ado, I bring you what might just be my favorite German-Romantic symphony. If you don't like Ries after hearing this.
That was really amazing, right? I thought so. When I first heard that symphony, my jaw dropped and I just had to go find a score of it.
Next up we have the London Mozart Players, under the direction of Maestro Howard Shelly, featuring the sublime clarinet playing of Angela Malsbury. They will be playing Alice Mary Smith's Andante for Clarinet. This is a wonderful piece by a late-Romantic English composer, who was quite unrestrained for an English composer of the time (or an English composer in general). Alice Smith is generally underrated, so you should take a look at some of her other works -- it will be time well spent.
As I said, "sublime".
Richard Strauss, when asked about American composers, said "You have only one." So, I would like for you to welcome the Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra and Maestro John Williams (the other one) tot he stage. They will be performing the music of Strauss's "only American composer": Henry Hadley. This is Hadley's fourth symphony -- called "North, East, South, and West", which is a semi-programmatic work that musically describes the frozen north, the exotic orient, the old South (ragtime lovers will like this movement), and the Pacific West Coast respectively throughout the four movements of the symphony.
I know what you're thinking: "Hell the f--- yeah!"
While I know that it is bad form to play an encore without being invited to do so, I hope you will indulge me as I proceed to waste another hour of your life with another amazing piece of music. This is Qunihico Hashimoto's first symphony. Just... listen to it. If more 20th century music sounded like this, you'd see more of it on my blog. This is the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra performing under the direction of Maestro Ryusuke Numajir. If you don't like this... well, you fail as a person.
Well, thank you for joining me. I hope you wander back for my next concert... it'll be... eventually. As always, I love to see comments, complaints, and suggestions!
My apologies for the long delay, it has been a long semester; but I have some wonderful music for you this week (and hopefully time to update more often).
This concert will feature an "On-line" vocal ensemble called "Stella Voci."
Stella Voci is comprised of 14 ladies from all over the world; its founder, Kate Covington, acts as both musical arranger and the director of the ensemble and the members collaborate via the internet. Parts are sent to the various members of the ensemble and each member records her part and sends it back to the director who then mixes them together digitally to form the final work. The music is then set to a video (typically clips from anime or a video game) which provide a nice backdrop to the music.
Stella Voci has published two works: An arrangement of the English song "Scarborough Faire," and a vocal arrangment of Pachabel's "Cannon in D."
The first video I have is "Scarborough Faire."
The mixing of this is wonderfully done and is much better than many professional recording jobs I've heard, and the ensemble sound is magnificent; though you can (in a few place) hear where the ladies don't blend on certain vowel sounds (but it isn't that noticeable and probably counts as nitpicking). The instruments are mixed in just right: they don't distract from the vocals, however they are present enough to add that "something more."
The tempo was set just right for this arrangement, I don't feel like it is rushed, and no one sounds like they are lagging behind. On the other hand, I do miss more dynamic subtleties. The bridge between the 2nd and 3rd voices was a nice break and well done; however the work felt like it relied almost entirely on changing tone and timbre between sections, leaving on the hairpins: long notes felt "flat" and lacked any sense of push or pull, phrases didn't really swell or ebb, and the various sections were all sung at the same dynamic level with little variance (though texture changed).
Again... I feel like most of my complaints are nitpicking, and nothing I can say will take away the awesomeness of this song and these singers. The ease and expression they give to the work is marvelous, and the fact that they can produce such a tightly knit sound with their voices across such a distance is amazing. This really is an ensemble to watch.
The other song they have released is an arrangement (a transcription really) of Pachabel's "Cannon in D."
It takes a certain amount of risk to do something unique with a work this familiar; but Stella Voci delivers.
The ladies' voices in this work just float and glide through the notes, and it is easy to get lost in the sound. The feeling of ensemble they had in their first work has done nothing but grow in their second; and the expression and fluidity of their singing is matched by the focus and warmth of sound.
... and YES, apparently five members of Stella Voci can hit that high D (and the high note is a high d--two octaves and a tone above middle c) o.O
I think my only complaint about this recording is that the mixing quality was not as well done as the other one. It is easy to get the feeling that the song is supposed to be about the harp with the voices accompanying, rather than the other way around. I also think that some of the lines get lost at times (which is a shame)...
All that being said, the singing (and the instrumental playing) is magnificent. Stella Voci delivers a production of a famous work that belongs on everyone's short list of GOOD music.
For the last section of this concert, I would like to feature the individual work of the members of Stella Voci.
Kate the Great employs the multi-track recording technique she uses with Stella Voci to record her own arrangements of music (typically music from anime and video games). She also does all of her own instrumentals, displaying a baffling level of versatility and musical accomplishment mixed with a fine amount of techno-savvy.
This is her song "Rose of May," which is based on a musical theme from FF9 called "The Rose General." The song is about General Beatrix, and Kate states that she uses the term "rose of May" as a metaphor for innocence.
Next we have Reem, a Stella Voci member from Egypt. As a shout out to the Harry Potter fans I know, I am posting her version of the Harry Potter theme from the movies. This beautiful and haunting melody is brought to a gorgeous realization by Reem.
This effortless performance gives a dark grace to the song and I love it...
Our next song is by "Paperblossom" (real name not listed) from Germany. This is a cover by "Sora," with Paperblossom singing the vocals.
Our final work is "Veronica's Song," an original work by Audry in Finland.
I hope you have enjoyed the music here by these amazing ladies, and I urge you to take a look at the Stella Voci youtube page and to go through the ladies individual accounts as well. There is a whole mess of music available by these ladies, and it was hard to pick just a few to show for this concert.
"For here I protest the Trinitie of Musicke, parts, Passion and Division, to be as gracefully united in the Gambo Violl, as in the most received Instrument that is, which here with a Souldiers Resolution, I give up to the acceptance of at noble dispositions." Captain Tobias Hume
Hello! I have finally gotten around to posting my next weekly concert. This week I will be presenting the wonderful music of Tobias Hume.
Captain Tobias Hume was both a soldier and a musician; a contemporary (as well as rival) of the more famous John Dowland. Hume wrote several books of music, mostly devoted to the lyra-gamba; of which he was an accomplished player. Hume insisted that the gamba was the greatest of all instruments, and wrote many works to showcase the instrument. Despite his unfortunate obscurity, his theories and publications earned him a rebuttal from Dowland himself, who insisted that the lute was superior to the gamba.
Where we have works for solo lute and the lute songs by Dowland; we also have works for the lyra-gamba and songs to be accompanied by the lyra-gamba by Hume. Unfortunatly, Hume's compositional style was not as well recieved as Dowland's, and Hume's fame was not as entrenched due to his lack of a wealthy patron.
The "lyra-gamba" or "gamba played lyra-ways" is a style of playing the viola da gamba where the player treats the instrument more as a bowed guitar than a cello. In the lyra works of Hume we see a myraid of techniques such as drumming on the strings with the back of the bow or thumping the fingers of the left hand down to create a quasi-pizzacato effect. Retuning the strings (scordatura) is also quite common in the lyra-gamba style and there are quite a few different documented tunings known.
I would like to start the concert off with a "tour de force" of Hume's music. This is the wonderful Jordi Savall and a set of works that I have featured before. I am not sure of the name of the first work he plays, however the second one (starting at about 2:50) is "Hark Hark" and the third one (starting around 5:00, when he says the title) is "A Soldier's Resolution."
Next up I have a couple of wonderful recordings of some more music from the same collection of works. First off, we have what may amount to my favorite work by Hume: "The Spirit of Gambo." This melencholic and haunting work is performed by John Dornenburg.
Next up we have "Captain Hume's Pauin [Pavan?]." While I am not really sure this work is actually intended to be a danced pavan as the title seems to imply, it is a wonderful work. Music of a more "melancholic" temperament was in vogue in England during the time of Hume and Dowland and so you will notice that much of both of their music tends towards a darker tone with contrasts in texture and idea.
This next work is "The Spirit of Gambo." I think that this is one of my favourite works for the lyra-gamba. I hope you enjoy it.
Next up we have Ernesto Stolz playing Hume's "A Question."
I don't know who this is, but I love his playing. This it "The Duke of Holstones Almain." The birds in the background are a very nice addition to the music.
Lastly, I offer one of Hume's vocal works. This is "Tobacco" for lyra-gamba and voice.
I hope that you enjoyed this week's concert. I have something really cool coming up after this weekend; so I hope that you keep an eye on this space. I apologize for the odd schedule when it comes to updating this blog, real life keeps catching up with me; and I recently came down with the flu (again).
See everyone soon!
"I robbe no others inventions, I take no Italian Note to an English dittie, or filch fragments of Songs to stuffe out my volumes. These are mine own Phancies expressed by my proper Genius, which if thou dost dislike, let me see thine." -Tobias Hume
Yes, I am sure that you have a pretty voice. It is graceful and fluid and has a full, sweet tone to it.
However, if I just wanted to hear pretty, dulcet sounds, I would have gone to a flute concert. If I cannot understand the text of what you are singing (especially when I comprehend the language you are singing in, and doubly so if I know the song you are singing); then you are not worth my time to listen to.
Don't get mad when I walk out of your concert; it's your own fault...really. Try actually saying something and not just producing cute sounds. What is the point of singing if you don't actually communicate something? What makes your overly vibrato-laden voice more special than a flute or clarinet?