Sunday, December 16, 2007


Welcome to ABEL Central, the official blog for the Advanced Brass Ensemble Literature course at the University of Iowa. I will be updating this blog throughout the semester (Spring 2008), but may refer you to older posts from previous semsters. This blog is meant to complement our ICON site, which include course materials, assignments, and grades. I look forward to working with all of you and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Score Study - Etler and Tomasi

This morning we studied the scores and recordings of the following works:

  • Quintet for Brass Instruments (1963) by Alvin Etler
    Atlantic Brass Quintet - Five Chairs
    Summit Records DCD396

  • Fanfare Liturgique by Henri Tomasi
    Millar Brass Ensemble
    Crystal Records CD 433

Sunday, April 01, 2007

3-28-07 Listening

Full Band - spring 2004Today we had an impromptu listening session of the following recordings:

Je Me Souviens: La Musique du Royal 22e RĂ©giment
The Van Doo's Band of the Royal 22e RĂ©giment, 1964
RCA PCS 1006/1007

1. Fanfare for a Dignified Occassion
2. Vive la Canadienne

We also heard some selections from the Atlantic Brass Quintet Fanfares and Passages CD:

Passages, a work we commissioned from Boston composer Sam Headrick and Jeff Luke's arrangement of Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Alphorn Ensembles

The Swiss Alphorn SchoolAlphorns have a long tradition in Europe, and it is fascinating to see how much information there is about Alphorn ensembles on the web. Be sure to check ou the Boston Globe article listed below, and pay closer attention to the next Ricola TV commercial you see!

From the Groves Music Online article on Alphorn:

"Alphorn [Alpenhorn] (Ger.; Fr. cor des alpes).

Wooden trumpet of pastoral communities in the Alps. The name is also conveniently used to cover similar instruments of Scandinavia, Russia, the western Slav countries, Hungary, Romania and, up to the 19th century, some of the highlands of Germany. Szadrowsky's vague reports of alphorns in the Pyrenees and the Scottish highlands are unconfirmed. An alphorn is made of a young fir, lime, poplar etc.; a mountainside tree curving upwards from the roots is often chosen, giving an upturned bell. The wood is longitudinally halved by axe or saw and each half is hollowed. The two pieces are reunited under strips of bark or binding of roots or gut. The mouthpiece may be either cut in the wood or made separately. In several areas the folded shape of a trumpet is sometimes imitated. The commonest length of the alphorn is about 185 cm, in which case its range extends to the 5th or 6th harmonic (as quoted by Beethoven at the end of the Pastoral Symphony). Many alphorns are 120 cm in length or less; however, instruments 335 cm long have been known in Switzerland since the 16th century, and specimens up to 520 cm occur in Slovakia. Today the standard length ranges from 340 cm to 360 cm for alphorns tuned in F or G. Tunes may then ascend to the 12th harmonic or even higher.

Alphorns were known best as herdsmen's calling instruments, serving also in some areas to summon to church and formerly to war. They may also be numinous: among the Mari of Russia the long wooden trumpet is made for the spring festival and afterwards sacrificially burnt or hidden in a sacred place. Overall likeness in making and using alphorns, and their distribution, suggest that they possibly may have originated among post-Celtic peoples of the Migration Era. There is no firm evidence of prior existence; ‘cornu alpinus’ in Tacitus is less than proof of a wooden trumpet, of which the earliest specimen, from the 9th-century Oseberg ship (Oslo, Vikingskiphuset), supports iconographic suggestions that wooden trumpets of moderate size were used as summoning and military instruments in early medieval northern Europe in addition to their pastoral functions."

Some Alphorn Ensemble Links:

Boston Globe Article

Rocky Mountan Alphorns

St. Moritz Alphorn Ensemble

International Alphorn Society

New Jersey Workshop for the Art

Swiss Alpine Music

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Listening Session - January 30, 2008

Listening Session - January 30, 2008

Kocani CD
On Wednesday, I presented a collection of recordings of brass bands from outside the typical western, or Anglo-American tradition. They were:

ENSEMBLE: Fanfare Ciocarlia
RECORDING: Radio Pascani
TRACKS: 2 and 3 - "Rusasca de la Buzdug" and "Sirba de la Zece Prajini"

ENSEMBLE: Kocani Orkestar; A Gypsy Brass Band
RECORDING: Long Distance
TRACKS: 1 "Solo Tapan"

ENSEMBLE: Jaipur Kawa Brass Band
RECORDING: Fanfare Du Rajasthan
TRACKS: 9 adn 13 - "Paayaliyaa" and "Chameli"

ENSEMBLE: The Bollywood Brass Band
RECORDING: Rahmania; The Music of A. R. Rahman
TRACKS: 1 - "Mere Yaara Dildara"

ENSEMBLE: Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band
RECORDING: No Strings Attached
TRACKS: 1 and 2 - "Simplon Cocek" and "Rumelaj"

ENSEMBLE: Fanfare Ciocarlia
RECORDING: Baro Biao; World Wide Wedding
TRACKS: 10 and 14 - "Hora lui Pusac" and "Balaseanca de 8 ore"

You can also find some suggested recording on this Amazon list link: "Prophetic Gypsy Brass"

I hope you all enjoyed listening to this music as much as I did and I look forward to hearing your presentations.