Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Welcome Students - Spring 2017

"Brass Candy Trio" by Jeremy Armitage
Welcome to Advanced Brass Ensemble Literature, Spring 2017! ABEL Central is the class blog, where you will find information about the class, as well as links to your own course-related blogs. On the right-hand side bar, you'll see the course number, syllabus, ways to follow, search and subscribe this blog, and links to the blogs of former students. Additionally, there are links to professional brass ensembles and other resources.

I will be posting here, generally once a week, on things we covered in class, answers to questions that came up in class, and anything else that might be of interest to this course. This blog is ten years old today, so take advantage of perusing older posts, as well as blogs by former students for ideas for your own blog.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Brass Ensemble Music From Other Cultures

Fanfare Ciocărlia
As I mentioned in class today, we as musicians are often musical ambassadors for our culture, and listening to brass ensemble music from other cultures is an excellent way to learn about both the similarities and differences between cultures. Musicians also know and embrace the value of diversity, for it is the source of inspiration and variety that often leads to the creation of new genres. There are brass band traditions around the globe, each with its own heritage and style, including the Balkans, South and Central America, Polynesia and India. I hope you enjoyed listening to this diverse playlist and also hope it inspires you to do further exploration on your own. Here is the list of recordings we sampled today of brass ensemble music from other cultures: 

Rusasca De La Buzdug - Fanfare Ciocarlia (Balkan Brass Band)

Canchis Tierra Linda – Banda San Martin de Sicuani (Peruvian Festival Music)

Obassanthi – Jaipur Kawa Brass Band (Indian Brass Band)

Paayaliyaa - Jaipur Kawa Brass Band (Indian Brass Band with vocalist)

Te Presumo – Banda el Recodo (Mexican Banda Pop Music)

Ishq Bina Ishq Bina – The Bollywood Brass Band (Indian Film music of A.R. Rahman;mixture of funk and raga)

Dola Dola - The Bollywood Brass Band (Indian Film music of A.R. Rahman; Latin influenced)

Ta Ka E Sola (He was a stranger) – Mailefihi College Band from the nation of Tonga.

Tuitui Tamafa #1 (Sewing and Eating While Standing) - ) – Mailefihi College Band from the Nation of Tonga

Lavemalie (Touch Me Gently) ) – Mailefihi College Band from the nation of Tonga; Polynesian folk song with vocalists. The three selections above are on the CD: Ifi Palasa Tongan Brass

Siupeli Silver #3 (Silver Jubilee) by Vilami Tu’ipulotu – Maopa Band of Kolofu’ou

Concertino Para trompete-Finale by José Urscino da Silva “Duda” – Quintetto Brassil

Coletanea '93-os Monges De St. Thomas by José Urscino da Silva “Duda” – Quintetto Brassil

We also viewed this recording of the Trombones de Costa Rica performing Curubandeando, an original work written for them by Costa Rican composer Vinicio Meza.

Here is a bonus video from YouTube of Shyam Brass Band performing and many others from their website.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Rube Goldberg Variations for Brass Quintet and Prepared Piano by Dmitri Tymoczko

Today in class we heard the most recent Atlantic Brass Quintet recording of Rube Goldberg Variations for Brass Quintet and Prepared Piano by Dmitri Tymoczko. I didn't have the score at the time but will show it to you next week. Here is the Table of Preparations page from the score, which tells you about the different materials and objects used in the the preparation and their effects:

Dr. Tymoczko has added this recording to his website. Click on the links below to listen to each movement:
  1. http://dmitri.tymoczko.com/rubegoldbergm1.m4a
  2. http://dmitri.tymoczko.com/rubegoldbergm2.m4a
  3. http://dmitri.tymoczko.com/rubegoldbergm3.m4a
  4. http://dmitri.tymoczko.com/rubegoldbergm4.m4a

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Alvin Etler and Pinky Lee

Pinky Lee
Today we studied Alvin Etler's Brass Quintet, which is considered one of the greatest works for brass quintet of the 20th Century. Some of the notable features of this work include:

1. The first three movements all end with a single voice (I. with a ppp trill in the 2nd trumpet, II. Horn statement (of the first three "dots" of S.O.S), III. 1st Trumpet on a ppp decrescendo. The fourth movement ends in one of the rare total homophonic statements of the S.O.S. theme - drawing even more attention to the conclusion.

2. Frequently, the music does not reflect the written meter and alludes to an alternate meter, much like the distorted reality in the artworks of of Dali and Escher. Like chromaticism, this may have been designed to disorient the listener.

3. Etler uses extended techniques (flutter tongue, half-valve, mutes) quite effectively.

4. Etler's rhythmic language is complex, and seems to be one of the central forces of the piece.

5. Like many modern composers, Etler utilized dissonant harmony, angular melodic material, and push the boundaries of range of the instruments, but to an effective end.

6. As I mentioned, there was a (very believable) rumor that the reason this piece sounds so angry and utilizes Morse Code is that Etler's son died in the Korean War. It's a fantastic story, but totally untrue, as this transcript of an email interchange between myself and Etler's grandson, Jim, confirms:

I am the grandson of Alvin Etler and I came across your blog mentioning him. I have a professional picture of him if you would like that i can e-mail to you. I am actually surprised there are no pictures of him on the web anywhere at all. Drop me a line if interested.
One thing I wanted to clear up - Alvin's Brass Quintet, a work I make all my students study, is for many reasons remarkable. Sometimes in the void of information, people invent details. Many have heard that part of that quintet, which seems riddled with quotations from morse code, alludes to Etlers son, "who died in the Korean war". I have never seen or heard any evidence to that fact, but it makes for a romantic story. Is there any truth to it? If not, do you know of any influences of morse code in his life/writing? Thank you for your insight.--
- John
lol funny, but I know that information started on a CD cover. Imagine
my uncle's surprise that he found out he was dead in the Korean war when he was only about 10 years old. I don't know how that started, but my uncle is alive and well on Cape Cod. It has become a big family joke. That piece you are talking about with the morse code, it is "S.O.S." Another unknown fact on my grandfather is that he used to ghost-write for commercials and the like. He told my uncle that he wrote the theme song to the 1950's childrens show "The Pinky Lee Show". I wondered why he would have done that until i looked it up on you-tube and saw that the show was sponsored by Tootsie Roll. That theme song showes his humor. From what my mother says he had a great sense of humor. He was also able to tap out 3 different rhythms at once, one on his left foot, another on his right and then a third on his hands. Its hard to do, I know I have tried and its pretty much impossible.

Take care, Jim Etler
Check out the clip below of an episode of the Pinky Lee show to hear Etler's silly song:

Monday, February 08, 2016

A Trio of Trios

Today in class we listened to three trios for brass by Poulenc, Nelhybel and Plog:

1. Sonata for Horn, Trumpet and Trombone by Francis Poulenc (1922) performed by the The Pro Musica Brass Trio from their album Voyages for Brass Trio.

2. Trio for Brass by Vaclav Nelhybel (1965) performed by the University of Maryland Brass Trio from their album Brass Trios. Below is an embedded YouTube video with a scrolling score (no performers credited):

3. We heard the first part of Anthony Plog's Trio for Brass from the same album.

Ethan mentioned having seen an excellent video of the Poulenc that had an introduction my a musicologist and the players were from London. I haven't yet tracked it down, but the musicologist was probably Rachel Leach and the musicians were probably from the London Philarmonic. See this link for more notes.  

PS - I had originally planned on playing:
Quintet for Brass by Alexander Alyabyev (Also spelled Aliabiev)
Ensemble:  Montanus Brass Quintet
This was written in1847, making it the first brass quintet known, predating Bellon and Ewald. 

Here is an Apple Music link

Monday, February 01, 2016

Beethoven - Drei Equali & Sorg - Voices in da Fan

Today in class we listened to Drei Equali, three short funereal movements for trombone quartet composed by Beethoven in 1812 in Linz, Austria for "All Souls Day". This recording is of Four of a Kind, a trombone quartet consisting of Joe Alessi, Scott Hartman, Mark Lawrence and Blair Bollinger. The piece is somber and was reworked and performed at Beethoven's own funeral. To see a painting of Beethoven's funeral, see my earlier post.

Here are few links related to the subject:

Will Kimball, Professor of Trombone at Brigham Young University, maintains an alto trombone history timeline his website. He added this about the Drei Equali:
Added the entry below to the Alto Trombone History Timeline. It includes information from a firsthand witness about Beethoven’s Drei Equali, arguably one of the most important works in the history of the trombone. Among the noteworthy observations about the alto trombone is Glöggl’s note that, although his father’s collection included soprano and quart trombones, the instruments commonly used in Austria were alto, tenor, and bass trombones. Son of the Linz kapellmeister who commissioned the work, the younger Glöggl stayed in the music field, eventually becoming a music publisher in Vienna. His recollections were made specifically for publication in Thayer’s Life of Beethoven (for source, see Alto Trombone Bibliography).
1812—Linz, Austria: Beethoven writes his Drei Equale for 4 trombones, a work commissioned by Kappelmeister Glöggl of the Linz cathedral. Glöggl’s son, who later becomes a music publisher in Vienna, verifies that alto, tenor and bass are the instruments commonly in use, mentioning that in his father’s “collection of old instruments he had a soprano and a quart trombone, whereas only alto, tenor and bass trombones were commonly used.” He continues, “Beethoven wanted to hear an Aequale such as was played at funerals in Linz, and one afternoon when Beethoven was expected to dine with us, my father appointed three trombone players and had them play an Aequale as desired…” (Thayer 541).

Since we had already heard the Bellon last week, I decided to play a recent recording the Atlantic Brass Quintet mad of "Voices in da Fan", by our trumpeter Andrew Sorg. We recorded it on a CD with a new work for brass quintet and wind ensemble by Kevin Walczyk entitled Quintet Matinee with the UConn wind ensemble as part of the Sackler Prize.

This is Andrew's second brass quintet composition, the first being "Mental Disorders". If you are interested in hearing this piece, I've embedded a video of live performance by a student quintet from the Atlantic Brass Quintet Seminar below:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Historic Brass Ensemble Music Listening Session

Le Rallye-Cor de Montmélian
Here is the complete playlist from our listening session on Historic Brass Ensemble Music:

Title: Greyner, zanner 
Composer: Heinrich Finck
Ensemble: Piffaro
Album: Stadpfeiffer:Music of Renaissance Germany

Note: This particular ensemble is a mixed group of period instruments, including shawms, dulcians, sackbuts, recorders, krumhorns, bagpipes, lutes, guitars, harps, and a variety of percussion. Although it is not exclusively a brass ensemble, this track is a good example of the Stadtpfeifer tradition of civic musicians employed in Renaissance Germany who, among other ceremonial duties, would perform from towers, playing fanfares and serving as "human fire alert systems." For more information, see the post called Stadtpfeifer, Alto Capella and Waits.

Title: Canzon per sonar in echo duodecimi toni a 10
Composer: Giovanni Gabrieli
Ensemble: National Brass Ensemble

Title: Canzon a 5 
Composer: Claudio Merula
Ensemble: English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble
Album: Accendo - Music from the Time of Claudio Monteverdi

Title: La Bignani
Composer: Giovanni Cavaccio
Ensemble: English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble
Album: Accendo - Music from the Time of Claudio Monteverdi

Title: Intrada and Courant from "Battle Suite"
Composer: Samuel Scheidt
Ensemble: American Brass Quintet
Album: ABQ Plays Renaissance/Elizabethan

Title: Dovehouse Pavan
Composer: Ferrabosco
Ensemble: American Brass Quintet
Album: ABQ Plays Renaissance/Elizabethan

Title: Les Plasirs de la Chasse
Composer: (traditional)
Ensemble: Le Rallye de Montmelian
Album: Cor de Chasse

Title: Ellen Bayne Quickstep
Composer: G. W. E. Freiderich
Ensemble: Empire Brass and Friends
Album: American Brass Band Journal

Title: Canzona Bergamasca
Composer: Scheidt
Ensemble: Eastman Brass Quintet
Album: Renaissance Brass Music

Title: Brass Quintet No. 1
Composer: Jean Francois Bellon
Ensemble: Ewald Brass Quintet
Album: Four Brass Quintets