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1060690 Posts in 70620 Topics- by 18448 Members - Latest Member: TheAltoHornKid
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81  Creation and Performance / Trombonists / Roger Williams RIP on: Jan 20, 2017, 02:58AM
It is with great sadness that I have to announce the death last night of one of my oldest, dearest friends. He finally lost a long fight with cancer and died peacefully at home. Roger was a London based freelance bass trombonist. He held the chair for the original run of Jesus Christ Superstar and then Starlight Express, the latter for it's entire run.
Outside the West End Roger did just about everything a bass trombone player could do, big bands, London orchestras, the National Theatre , backing pop artists, you name it he did it. He had more optimism and enthusiasm than anyone I have known. He grabbed hold of life every day right to the end.
Most of you here don't know him, but he was the pro you would like to be.
Farewell my old friend,

Chris Stearn
82  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: Beginner jumping straight into bass trombone (and more insane questions) on: Jan 19, 2017, 12:54AM
I think your plans are pretty good. Learning the Bb side then the valves makes sense. As a new bass trombone player you would be far better off with smaller bass mouthpieces... I would say get a Bach 2G... on paper it is not a lot smaller then the 1 1/2G, but in reality it is much easier to work with. If you want to go smaller still, the Bach 4G is a fine mouthpiece that can be made to work... I knew a pro player in an orchestra that used one on bass for 20 years !
Some two valve basses are big and require much effort. Winners for you would be the modern Yamaha Bb/F bass, which is really excellent, or the King 6B or 7B double valves and the Benge 290 (?) . The older olds and Reynolds basses were smaller in the bell too, but are actually hard work to play. Do not totally discount instruments from China... the more trusted importers weed out the duds. Okay, put a Chinese King 7B copy up against a Rath R9 (did that while warming up yesterday) and I can hear and feel the difference, and for me, it is very important at a pro level. Players in an elementary stage would detect less difference.

Chris Stearn
83  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Tongue between teeth in low range? on: Jan 17, 2017, 12:06AM
Stefan teaches in Berlin. Our new principal trombone studied with him for two years. He was good before he went, and is better now. Still on a Conn 88H. Still a fine British player.
You can study with Ben in Amsterdam.... very many fine players have.

Chris Stearn
84  Creation and Performance / The Business of Music / Re: Ringling folding, 800ish jobs gone on: Jan 17, 2017, 12:01AM
This topic has continued to run off the rails whilst I slept. I am not impressed with any of those commenting away from the direct issue of a business closing and leading to the loss of employment .
I don't want to shut this, but I will if it runs away again.

Chris Stearn
85  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Tongue between teeth in low range? on: Jan 16, 2017, 11:14AM
Well...yes, Chris. Digitally-induced individualism is on the way to replacing "localism," if I may coin a word...at least it is on some of the lower levels of achievement.

What I see happening...and this goes to jazz and latino styles as well as orchestral approaches...is that current players in their formative years have a vastly wider world of choices than did players of previous generations. Just the last 7 or 8 years have seen a huge proliferation of YouTube-generated "masterclsses," for example...also archival and more recent performances from many players. Ditto non-video examples...recordings...as far as young listeners are concerned. A young player...and I do mean young, say 14 years old or thereabouts, just past childhood (the real formative years, in my view)...can sit in front of a computer and watch/listen to literally thousands of trombone-related streams with no real idea of who most of the players may be and probably not much of an idea (past his or her own level of intelligence and talent) about their relative expertise. For all you need to know on that account, witness the recent, relatively widespread acceptance on this site of a player who invented some sort of "non-pressure" device and then proceeded to demonstrate it while demonstrating that he was a terrible-sounding trombonist.

Before the digital revolution it was not so easy to find examples at that age. Whatever was on mass media (including well-distributed recordings) was all there was to find, and "media" were all fairly local. French trombonists heard mostly French trombonists, Germans heard Germans and U.S. players heard U.S. players.

Not anymore they don't...

The upside of that sort of localism was that pretty much only the cream of the crop got famous enough to be heard by aspiring players (providing at least some general level of good-playing examples), thus "local" styles began to form. The downside was that after a generation or two those styles began to harden. They began to stop growing and became a sort of lock-step orthodoxy.

Before recording? Before recording there were mostly larger city orthodoxies. "Leipzig" style. "London" style. Paris" style. "New York" style. Wherever.

Now? No orthodoxies. It is as easy to want to emulate Ian Bousfield as it is to want to emulate Joe Alessi or Christian Lindberg, as easy to be influenced by J.J. Johnson as it is to be influenced by...oh, I don't know...Roswell Rudd, Tommy Dorsey, Slide Hampton, Willie Colon, Urbie Green, Frank Rosolino, Jack Teagarden, Trombone Shorty, Wycliffe Gordon, Barry Rogers, etc.

Localism disappears. The downside? "Style" grows in a somewhat linear fashion...from direct contact with highly skilled players. No Denis Wick? No Ian Bousfield, for example, and that lineage surely goes back several generations. No Jimmy Knepper? No Sam Burtis. Bet on it. Not in my current form, anyway. Crossing instrument lines? No Charlie Parker, no Jimmy Knepper. Bet on that as well. I wnet into the Jimmy Knepper caldron one player and came out several years later completely different. That would not had happened...at least not in the same way...if I had at that time been living in Macon, Georgia no matter if I had collected the entire Knepper discography and transcribed every note. I had to be here, sitting next to him or at the very least hearing him live. And the Charlie Parker-->Jimmy Knepper lineage was about as localistic as it can get. The style that Bird and Diz founded was almost entirely NYC-centric...Harlem-centric in its earliest years...and Jimmy had an uptown cellar apartment with Gene Quill where people...including Bird...came to jam.

Like dat.

In all idioms.


I'll bet there is more...and more easily accessed...Kenny G stuff on the web that there is Charlie Parker.

UH oh!!!  :-0 :-0 :-0 Clever Clever Clever Clever

Like dat, too.

Every technological advance is a two-edged...maybe even three-edged...sword.

So it goes.



Interesting..... this is pretty much what I thought would happen.... but with my experience of young players in college it is not as powerful an influence, at least in my neck of the woods. My students discover heros online, sure.... Bob Hughes is popular but so is Stefan Schulz... and do these players sound like their heros ?  The Bob Hughes fans do tend towards his style... because it is mainstream British... Stefan is admired greatly, but not copied as such.
This is an area of development is well worth more study....

Chris Stearn
86  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Tongue between teeth in low range? on: Jan 15, 2017, 10:51AM
Indeed, language has a great deal to do with tonguing. So does accent within a given language. But that's a whole 'nother subject. Also, the national differences in orchestral approach are rapidly being erased by the easy availability of digital recordings. Within a couple of generations...provided the newly refound nationalist/populist sentiments across the globe do not change the course of this development...there will only be minor differences in orchestras worldwide. Whether this is good, bad or just different could take up a whole new thread.


I am very sad to have seen this erosion of national styles, but I think we may see a return to value in difference.... I see this with German players and very much here in the UK. We became clones of the US style in the 1960s and 1970s but I now see more of a distance between players here and in the US, and a more general style concept here, rather than several British 'schools' fighting each other, as it was in the 1970s.

Chris Stearn
87  Creation and Performance / The Business of Music / Re: Ringling folding, 800ish jobs gone on: Jan 15, 2017, 10:22AM
I would expect you to also tell Jhereg to also cool it. He/she level some rather personal and direct attacks, whereas I did no such thing to him/her.


Read my previous post again.
88  Creation and Performance / The Business of Music / Re: Ringling folding, 800ish jobs gone on: Jan 15, 2017, 10:16AM
musicofnote, you have made your point. I think that is enough, and other members can back off this area too.
If anyone wants to continue, start a new thread in the politics section.

Chris Stearn
89  Creation and Performance / Trombonists / Re: 'Bone Trekker on: Jan 15, 2017, 08:52AM
Here is a video...

So, this is Watrous?

And thatt is a Jiggs?


I was in college with Marina Sertis  ;-) ;-) ;-)
I don't suppose she would want to be reminded of that.....

Chris Stearn
90  Creation and Performance / The Business of Music / Re: Ringling folding, 800ish jobs gone on: Jan 15, 2017, 03:17AM
This is so very sad. A whole unique way of life gone.... and a unique way of working as a musician.
I hope you find another outlet for your talent Megan and that you feel proud to be the last of a long tradition.

Chris Stearn
91  Creation and Performance / Musical Miscellany / Re: Why the negativity? on: Jan 15, 2017, 01:43AM
I mark parts for two reasons... first for myself... corrections and instructions from the conductor, written as JP observes. Second, in case I am ill and need a deputy to play. They must be able to play the part right away, so some marks are to help them if they are needed. I would be responsible I they made a mistake through a poorly marked part.

Parts covered with positions ? I can hardly think how the performance must have gone, especially as there are almost always wrong positions included. I couldn't be bothered with sharing though.

Chris Stearn
92  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: How would you approach playing with more core to the sound? on: Jan 15, 2017, 01:28AM
It's great to talk about things like 'core', 'focus' and even 'long tones', but without a common definition of these terms they are just words.

So, who will stand up and give definitive descriptions to the terms:

1) Core

2) Focus

3) Long tones

I'd really like to hear from more than one respondent, just to see if there is some sort of shareable consistency to these terms.

(Moderators:  Feel free to cut this off into it's own thread if you feel that's better.)

Core and Focus..... subjective terms that when used to describe a trombone sound mean different things to different people. I don't expect we will be enlightened in a universal truth here. Concept is a key talent for the musician and is central to developing a great sound.
Long tones..... notes that you play for some time, whilst checking that they match your concept. Many ways of doing this... as others will, I am sure, detail.

Chris Stearn
93  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Tongue between teeth in low range? on: Jan 13, 2017, 02:30PM
Hell, we do what we have to do.... this stuff is too complex for this sort of discussion... BUT... don't trash Sam's 'try everything, do what works' mantra.... it is deeper than many people think.

Chris Stearn
94  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: How would you approach playing with more core to the sound? on: Jan 13, 2017, 12:20PM
Oh absolutely. I know we don't disagree at all.

For better or worse, very little professional orchestral bass trombone playing happens over here on a 1 1/2 G, so naturally the sound concept here is wider, and most teachers (including myself) are better equipped to teach how to focus in a big mouthpiece than how to make a big sound on a small mouthpiece.

With my own students who started college (or with me anyway) on a 1 1/2 G or something like it, I find that at some point they start blowing around the edges of the sound, because they're trying to sound more like me and the older students who are playing bigger stuff. By this time they are generally moving good quantities of air with consistency, so going a little bigger frees them to use that air and find an easier focus. They tend to settle on the bigger 1-1/4-Schilke 59 type size for a while after that, and with the ways sound concepts are evolving, that may very well be big enough for the American orchestral scene for a long time.

Different strokes indeed.... many of my students start out on bigger mouthpieces and end up on smaller stuff ! Three on 2Gs recently.... and not at my behest I hasten to add.  A distinctly different sound concept in these isles it seems, though we both know some very fine bass trombonists on your side of the pond using more traditional equipment... one NY player happy on a MV 2G at the moment .....
Equipment is one thing but concept is still king.

Chris Stearn
95  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: How would you approach playing with more core to the sound? on: Jan 13, 2017, 11:12AM
From middle C to at least an octave above. That's the top of the standard orchestral rep, which means we want to have at least a couple of notes above it. I touch at least a high F every day.

I try and sneak up on a high F every day.... but it often sees me coming and runs away !
What you say about core Gabe is spot on. Regarding size of equipment, whilst it can be true that young players can be on gear that is too small, I find, especially with young bass trombone players, there is a lot of 'over sizing' out there. Players often worry about making a 'big' sound and choose equipment accordingly. Big size does not mean big sound... period. Work for focus and when you get it the sound will be big.... a very great player told me that.

Chris Stearn
96  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: Conn Bass Trombone Case on: Jan 13, 2017, 07:41AM
Early 71H case.
97  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: Coppergate 'intermediate' Bass Trombone Initial impressions on: Jan 09, 2017, 11:32AM
The rod for the second lever needs to be cut to a reasonable length, then bent to the best position. Pretty simple stuff. A chore perhaps, but at that price.....
I have held many far more expensive trombones that were less well balanced and easy to hold.... but if you want to dislike it you are free to do so.
It's a cheap trombone... and mine is far too good to sell on considering what it would fetch. It will find a use one day.... an outdoor gig...a dangerous situation.... a loaner for a kid... something...

Chris Stearn
98  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Re: Who in their right mind plays a Bach 1 1/2G ?? on: Jan 07, 2017, 02:40PM
Yes, I think most people would be surprised if they had the opportunity to try one. But I see on ebay that they are seldom up for sale. People keep them close.


'It is an elegant weapon for a more civilised age'

May the force be with you.

Chris Stearn
99  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Re: Who in their right mind plays a Bach 1 1/2G ?? on: Jan 07, 2017, 09:02AM
Well, an old friend who I had not seen in many years, came to pick up a trombone I am selling the other day. He played it a bit and had some comments about the low register. I blew it as we talked it through. He commented that it sounded very different when I played it.. and looked at my mouthpiece. He is playing a fine modern mouthpiece, slightly bigger than a 1 1/2G.... he gave up on the 1 1/2 years ago. I said he could try the MV, but it was not for sale and he might regret it.
He casually put it to his face.... I could hear it... he could feel it... and I could see that he didn't expect it to be anything like it was.
I did warn him.... it my well be one more player searching the ads.
A strange kind of magic.

Chris Stearn.
100  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: Brass vs. Nickel Slides: Spectral Comparison on: Jan 07, 2017, 01:41AM
The OP is no longer here. I think it is better to lock his threads down as he cannot reply.

Chris Stearn.
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