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1097043 Posts in 72472 Topics- by 19552 Members - Latest Member: ericburger
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1  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: ‘German’ trombone sound concept on: Jan 30, 2018, 11:41PM
Here are some examples for German trombone playing:

R. Strauss "Die Frau ohne Schatten" Symphonic Fantasy, Dresdner Staatskapelle (probably Manfred Zeumer oder Gerhard Essbach) https://youtu.be/CnePcliodSo?t=9m12s

R. Wagner / L. Maazel Ring ohne Worte, Berliner Philharmonie, nice solo by Christhard Goessling https://youtu.be/czDDZnWKbsc?t=10m54s

David Konzertino, Juergen Heinl mit der Berliner Staatskapelle
1. Satz https://youtu.be/CBMFZFUCfEs
2. Satz https://youtu.be/n-TkgfAAzx0
3. Satz https://youtu.be/Br21ViPAFAk

Excellent performance.


To clarify some misconceptions:
1. German trombones are not more heavy because of the "Kranz" or "Sakes". My Kruspe Weschke with f attachment is  lighter than a Conn Alto trombone (with attachment)!
2. My observation is that German trombones mainly sound dead with players not used to play them. (Yet, some f-attachments in German trombones sound stuffy. According to my experience these are ones where the valve is relatively close to the bell instead the joint. This can be easily avoided by playing a Kruspe or Horst/Helmut Voigt although both of them are quite different German trombones.)
3. I don't find balance and timbre being an issue when playing with American style trombones in a section. I believe the timbre in German trombones is more variable than in American trombones but this could be my problem as I am not really used to playing American trombones.
2  Teaching & Learning / History of the Trombone / Re: Looking for Shifrin's dissertation on 19th century orchestral trombone practice on: Jan 30, 2018, 11:05PM
You could try Interlibrary Loan, but I see from WorldCat that there aren't many copies out there. I bet he would send you a copy if you emailed him.

Thank you. Yes, I did interlibrary loan. But I hoped somebody has a pdf of it so that I can get it faster.

If you want it, I can message you his email address. He also uses manager Nigel Pennington, Kvalita@aol.com.

Thank you. I may ask you for his email address a little later if I don't get his thesis via interlibrary loan or when I have questions after reading it.


3  Creation and Performance / Music, Concerts and Recordings / Re: Soviet Era. Repertoir for trombone. on: Jan 27, 2018, 01:30AM
Edison Denisov has a trombone and piano work, as does Violetta Dinescu who is Romanian but grew up there while it was part of the eastern bloc.

If you have any flexibility on the trombone/piano side, Denisov  also has a great work for clarinet, trombone, cello,and piano. Alfred Schnittke also has a nice work for trombone and organ.

Here is a recording of "Schall und Hall" by Alfred Schnittke https://youtu.be/9NXoPG5hS-4

Here is a recording of Chorale Variations for trombone and piano by Edison Denisov https://youtu.be/pqyJMGych1A
4  Teaching & Learning / History of the Trombone / Looking for Shifrin's dissertation on 19th century orchestral trombone practice on: Jan 26, 2018, 10:50AM
I am looking for a copy of

Shifrin, Ken (1999), "Orchestral Trombone Practice in the Nineteenth Century with Special Reference to the Alto Trombone." Ph.D diss., University of Oxford, UK.

Any idea where I could find it?

It is pity that nice scholarly work on trombone history seems not being easily available in public. Nice work should be read.
5  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: Elgar's Enigma Variations on alto? on: Dec 19, 2017, 10:48PM
Actually Ed, ever since I joined the RPO in 2010 I have played Enigma on the alto, and for many of the reasons stated above: it draws in the section sound, removes it from the 'big is better' modern style, brings it closer to the trumpets. You can achieve a lovely clarity on the instrument which also fills the gap between the trumpets/horns and us, which aids the richness of the brass section sound. It's actually very British.

Interesting. Actually, after checking I even found a video of the RPO playing Nimrod on alto; see https://youtu.be/SCNNE1o8VRU?t=10s, especially https://youtu.be/SCNNE1o8VRU?t=2m53s.

It happens that the RPO will come to Davis a week after we play Elgar's Enigma side-by-side with the St. Louis Symphony. If you feel you need some additional workout while traveling and have some time, we are happy to invite you to play trio or quartet or something.
6  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: High Register, whisper g closed teeth and other "cheats" on: Dec 19, 2017, 11:12AM
I like that one.  That's exactly what I've talked about.  He demonstrates it perfectly.

Keeping the teeth fairly close together is part of it, but touching in front is not essential.  Most people can't get anything out that way and then they dismiss the whole idea.

I deliberately did not include the link to Porter because he doesn't mention that the teeth should be aligned. To me this is a very essential feature. Without it, I don't get the hyperfocus of vibrating the very tip of my lips. May be I do something wrong. But I tried to make sense of the fact that whisper G is supposed to be something beyond long extremely soft tones.

What comes out very nicely in the Porter video though is that the whisper tone is at the "edge" between a sound and no sound. May be his teeth are such that he doesn't need to reduce overbite by aligning the teeth. In fact, in his video on the embochure he advocates for an alignment of the teeth in any case; see the exact sequence in his video https://youtu.be/lLE_-ly8hrQ?t=12m44s. So for him aligning upper with lower teeth is kind of automatic and that's why he may not mention it explicitly in his video on whisper G.
7  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: High Register, whisper g closed teeth and other "cheats" on: Dec 18, 2017, 11:20AM
Here are two videos explaining whisper G on the trumpet. For me, it is not just long soft tones but aligning the teeth on top of each other so as to minimize overbite. This focuses the vibration of the lips at the tip of their lips. And this is exactly the part that I believe is to be exercised with whisper G. I am still practicing it (now for two weeks) because I find it improves more control on the tip of my lips. I don't know the long term effects or ``side effects''.

https://youtu.be/xzs-X_spH2M

https://youtu.be/poAGh5EXD6U
8  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: High Register, whisper g closed teeth and other "cheats" on: Dec 18, 2017, 11:13AM
How long have trombone players practised pedal tones?
I never saw any pedal tones in the repoire from 1600 and up to 1900.
"Fake tones" or falsett stimme was played at least from the beginning of 1600.

My Mueller edition of David's concertino has a pedal B.

I believe pedal tones should be played on the trombone like any other tones without a noticeable break in the character of the sound.
9  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: Elgar's Enigma Variations on alto? on: Dec 14, 2017, 10:32AM
I think we should judge the issue by the result. The section sounds very good.

Given that today's instruments often differ from the ones of the composers time (or location) and that any score is just a blue print for producing music, I don't think it makes really sense to be orthodox about the (informed) choice of alto(s) versus tenor(s). With informed choice I do not just mean historically informed choice but more broadly any purposeful choice based on some rationale (or shall we call it "emotionale" in the realm of music).

Finally, given the convergence of trombone sounds towards the big sonorous Alessi-Edwards style sound at least in the US East coast, I think we should welcome deviations. The standardization of sound is certainly historically incorrect. Local instrument makers and regional variations in building trombones and playing them played a much bigger role in the past. In some sense, from a statistical viewpoint, any deviations from today's "standards" brings the distribution of music performances closer to the distribution of historical performance practice.

By the way, I will go with the tenor on the Enigma since this is most likely what the St. Louis Symphony section will show up with when we play side-by-side.
10  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: High Register, whisper g closed teeth and other "cheats" on: Dec 14, 2017, 01:10AM
Intrigued by these postings, I tried to learn about whisper G and found a few trumpet videos online. I tried to transfer the idea to the trombone. I put the teeth on top of each other to reduce overbite. The lips move somewhat more out and inside the mouthpiece. Also the back of the tongue comes up. Unsuprisingly there is lots of restistance. The sound is awful even after trying for a week. But I find it is an excellent exercise loosing up the tip of your lips and exercising them. I don't know what are possible side effects though. Usually I mostly focus on beautiful sound. This exercise is somewhat counter to that least on the surface.

I couldn't detect an effect on high range yet. But this was not my primary concern.
11  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: Ecce Sacerdos Magnus - Brucker - Alto versus tenor on: Dec 14, 2017, 12:15AM
Bear in mind that it was likely written for valve trombones (along with pretty much all Bruckner pieces).

It is not completely clear to me. Bruckner completed it in 1885. Vienna switched to German slide trombones in 1883. I am not sure through what kind of trombones would have performed it at the intended premiere in Linz where at the end it was not performed.
12  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: Elgar's Enigma Variations on alto? on: Dec 13, 2017, 04:30PM

Quote
We actually do know. Sue Addison (featured in the video you linked) recorded a solo album on it ("Elgar's trombone"), all turn of the century British music. I believe it's on Spotify if you want to have a listen. The playing is beautiful and extremely musical, unfortunately the recording quality is less good (I think it was recorded in a living room and it seems it then had tons of reverb added to it).

Other fun fact to bring back the topic of the Enigma Variations : there is a strong case to justify playing Nimrod as a solo trombone piece. There is a letter from Elgar or his wife (can't remember which) to a friend that mentions them "playing Nimrod as a trombone and piano duet this morning" or something along those lines.  Sue Addison did record it for the aforementioned solo CD.

Thank you. I found the recording by Sue Addison playing Nimrod for trombone and piano on Elgar's trombone.

https://open.spotify.com/track/3AL8fOnRjNsrHCNJ3pfesy

Very nice playing. Couldn't resist buying immediately the sheet music and trying it out when I get home.
13  Creation and Performance / Performance / Elgar's Enigma Variations on alto? on: Dec 12, 2017, 03:09PM
We will play Elgar's Enigma Variations in January as a side-by-side with the St. Louis Symphony. When I browsed through some recordings, I was surprised to find the Berlin Philharmonic playing it on an alto (with Simon Rattle conducting); see https://youtu.be/aQWAO9d43LY?t=2m20s. Even though trombone 1 is scored in alto clef, I thought of it as a tenor part.

Why did Christhard Goessling switch from his Kruspe Weschke to an alto? The Kruspe Weschke is a German small bore tenor but it is not like an old British small bore. May be the old British small bores were extremely bright in their sound, in which case the alto for Elgar would make sense?

Apparently Elgar played trombone himself. Here is a video clip on his trombone: https://youtu.be/EqYW32czVT0. Unfortunately they don't play it in the clip. So we don't know how it sounds.

14  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: Ecce Sacerdos Magnus - Brucker - Alto versus tenor on: Dec 12, 2017, 02:36PM
Thank you for the responses. I played it with a tenor and I think it was a good decision.
15  Creation and Performance / Performance / Ecce Sacerdos Magnus - Brucker - Alto versus tenor on: Dec 02, 2017, 12:56AM
I have to play first trombone in Bruckner's Ecce Sacerdos Magnus. At first, I thought I should play tenor so as to have a nice homogeneous sound of three trombones. It was a kind of no-brainer for me given that I grew up with German Posaunenchor tradition where the Posaunenchor would double the choir. But then I realized that it plays much easier on alto. I.e., bars 3 to 4 can be played entirely in 3rd position on alto whereas on tenor I would have to change from 3rd to 2nd to 1st. Similarly, bars 6 to 9, I can play entirely in 4th position on alto but I would have change from 3rd to 2nd back to 3rd and then 2nd on tenor, etc. etc. Somehow it feels much more natural to play on alto than tenor. On top of it, the part I got has notes added because there won't be an organ. These added notes essentially double the alto singers.

Here is a recording https://youtu.be/2gzB-np9LJ0.

Here is the link to sheet music on ismpl http://imslp.org/wiki/Ecce_sacerdos_magnus,_WAB_13_(Bruckner,_Anton)

My part is written in alto clef. But there are scores in tenor clef and bass clef. Most sheet music just says something like "3 trombones".

So I wonder what are the views on playing it on alto versus tenor? The tradeoff seems to be between the Bruckner typical organ-like sound of three tenor/bass trombones (Example here https://youtu.be/RF1y6r_dppc?t=2m4s; different Bruckner piece though but same instrument as mine on first) and the ease of playing it on alto. What would Bruckner actually have expected?

(I play a Kruspe Weschke tenor and a Kruspe alto. Both are not necessarily "fat" sounding. The alto is brighter even at lower dynamics, somewhat more trumpet-like especially in the upper range. It would avoid "covering up" the alto singers but might nevertheless "shine through" too much. The tenor can sound mellow, dark, brighter, harsh, butter-soft etc. depending on what I want although brighter sound requires a louder dynamic. Here is an example of how it can sound https://youtu.be/czDDZnWKbsc?t=11m07s (not me of course, but same trombone). I still feel more comfortable on tenor but I am fine on alto. I play alto the same evening in Haydn's Schoepfung. As for the rest of the section, our bass trombone player is great - he would quickly adapt to any setting. Don't know the second trombone yet.)
16  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: Please a recommendation for Trio on: Oct 04, 2017, 10:59PM
Some time ago I posted here a trio arrangement of Engelbert Humperdinck's opera "Haensel and Gretel". His opera contains a wonderful duet by Haensel and Gretel, when they are alone in the forest at night frightened by strange noises of wild animals and the wind. They sing a prayer. I tried to make it into a trombone trio, with trombones 1 and 2 being the kids and the bass trombone the "base". Of course it shouldn't be played like a heavy trombone section in a 4000 seat symphony hall but more like singing my 4 year old son into sleep (which by my own experience is quite possible with the trombone).

The trio can be found here http://faculty.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/schipper/humperdinck.pdf. It can be freely used under Creative Commons - Attribution.
17  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: Please a recommendation for Trio on: Sep 26, 2017, 10:47PM
Speer Sonata A minor. Very nice piece. Here is a recording:
http://youtu.be/ByYKG8kaWxM

Speer Sonata E minor. I couldn't find a recording on youtube.

Pergolesi Sonata No. 4. Here is a recording of a rehearsal with Alessi:
http://youtu.be/oZwe1ktVaqs

18  Teaching & Learning / History of the Trombone / Re: Copies of Ed. Kruspe Prof. Weschke Mouthpiece on: Jun 23, 2017, 01:48AM
Very interesting to read your views on Schmidt’s Weschke mouthpiece.  Do you have experience of his mouthpieces for larger trombones of this period: possibly the Kruspe ones?  I’m wondering if one might be suitable for my Robert Piering Bb/F, which seems to be between Bach 36 and Conn 88 in bore (my caliper not very accurate).

I haven't tried it on a trombone with a larger bore. My Weschke mouthpiece has small shank size. You can order with from Schmidt with any shank size though including the typical German shank size between small and large. But I would not want to use it on a larger bore German trombone as it is a perfect mouthpiece for the Kruspe Weschke. I wouldn't expect to perform well at larger bore German trombones.

For my Weite 3 (larger bore German trombone) Karl Moennich trombone (whose size looks very close to a Piering) I use a Schmidt Prof. Bambula TP 3 3/4. It just feels right to me. For an even larger German trombone like an old Kruspe Bass trombone I would use Schmidt Prof. Bambula TBP 5 W. I am biased though in the sense that I learned on Schmidt Prof. Bambula mouthpieces.
19  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: alto or tenor: Leonore #3 on: May 18, 2017, 04:06PM
I'm curious as to why that would have been your gut feeling before seeing the data. Nowadays, we regularly perform music from earlier periods, which includes periods where alto trombone was not written for at all. There are almost no dedicated alto trombone players now, because a dedicated alto player would have trouble finding regular work. Alto trombone positions in orchestras do not exist. You would have to freelance or be a soloist. Therefore I would expect a smaller number of alto trombones to exist today, since almost every alto player also plays tenor. But in the 17th and 18th centuries, I don't see any reason to believe there weren't dedicated alto trombone players who made their living playing alto trombone. So I would expect a higher proportion of altos than what we have today.

I wouldn't make that assumption, based on my reasoning above.

Perhaps larger instruments are more easily damaged, but players don't throw away their instrument when it is damaged; they usually have it repaired.


My impression was that in general trombone players were not primarily trombone players. For instance, one of the most famous trombonists in the 19th century, Karl Traugott Queisser, for whom the David concertino was written, played primarily viola (together with David). I would expect this to be much different pre-19th century.

Yes, players don't necessarily throw away instruments when damaged. But the higher the probability of damage, the higher also the probability irreparable damage or damage that is not worth to repair anymore. Important for my argument is not so much how often instruments get repaired but whether tenors and altos differ in their survival probability.

Anyway, to calibrate these assumptions, I would be interest to hear from experts like Howard Weiner, Will Kimball, Trevor Herbert etc. I think it is important to discuss various views of the assumptions and also check how changes in the assumptions affect the conclusions.
20  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: alto or tenor: Leonore #3 on: May 18, 2017, 01:51AM
I think Will Kimball has attempted to do such a thing:

http://kimballtrombone.com/alto-trombone/extant-altos/

Thanks for drawing my attention to the list. Very interesting. Here are some numbers:

"Of the 122 extant pre-19th century trombones with positively identified voice (alto, tenor, bass, etc.), Herbert lists the following:

64 tenors (53%)

30 altos (25%)

22 basses (18%)

4 sopranos (3%)

1 contrabass (less than 1%)

1 “quartbass” (less than 1%)"

Now, 25% sounds a lot to me. My subjective prior would have been less than 5%.

Anyway, it doesn't mean though that 25% of all pre-19th century trombones must have been altos. Let's assume that throughout history altos have been played less than tenor trombones. Then they also have experienced less wear. Moreover, simply by the fact that they are smaller than tenors, they are more easily stored than tenor trombones and should be less likely damaged within any fixed period of time. So altos should have a higher "survival" probability than tenors. Thus, it is probably save to say that the actual pre-19th century share of altos was strictly less than 25%. 

To get closer to the truth we would need more assumptions, which is more transparently captured with the help of a little model.

Let p be the probability of being damaged beyond repair within one year ("yearly loss probability"). Then 1-p is the probability of having survived one year. Assuming that survival is independent across years (an assumption clearly violated in periods of war) and that the yearly survival probability is stationary (which again may be violated because of properties of aging of brass), we have that (1 - p)^n is the probability that an instrument survived n years (survival probability after n years). We can also interpret it as the fraction of instruments surviving n years. Then given q number of instruments today, the number of instruments x some n years ago must be x = q / ((1 - p)^n).

Let's plug in some numbers to get some idea about what could be plausible values for p and x. The median age of the pre-19th century instruments in the list seems to be 300 years (i.e., n = 300). Moreover, we got 64 surviving tenors (i.e., q = 64). Hence,

Yearly loss probability   Prob of survival 300 years  Number of tenors 300 years ago
0.5%                                      22.23%                      288
1.0%                                       4.90%                    1,305
1.5%                                       1.07%                    5,961
2.0%                                       0.23%                   27,438
2.5%                                       0.05%                  127,290
3.0%                                       0.01%                  595,196

What is a plausible number of the number tenors produced 1600 - 1800? Let's pick 27,438 from the list, which corresponds to an average yearly loss probability of 2%.

Now suppose because of less use and wear and smaller size, the average yearly loss probability of altos is half of that of tenors, i.e. 1%. Then we can use the same model with q = 30 (number of surviving pre-19th century altos) to get an estimate of 612 altos produced between 1600 - 1800. Rather small compared to the number of tenors but not negligible.

So based on this quick-and-dirty calculation, one may agree with Howard Weiner that the use of altos is much less than the use of tenors even though we got 30 surviving altos today and 64 surviving tenors. But I would also claim that altos must had their role in that period because the estimated number produced is not negligible. Now, it is clear that this conclusion is based on the assumptions about yearly loss probability, known surviving instruments etc. that are debatable. But the nice thing is that the model makes it transparent how these assumptions are used to derive the conclusion. So rather than alto trombone scholars attacking each other on a personal level, there could be now a scholarly discussion about the assumptions that went into the conclusions and hopefully we could come up with a much better model and thus more well-founded conclusions.
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