Your Voice

While the question of your voice is almost inextricably linked with your identity I will focus mainly on the aspects of playing, sound, gigging and leave the issue of personal identity for another time. It is indeed a tough subject to focus on, as a lot of the aesthetic aspects are subjective, and variable from person to person; this is an area that I will try to avoid in the interests of a concise article.

As musicians the sound that you produce on the instrument must do one important thing; it must please us, in some way or form. Therefore in practice we must listen to those aspects of our sound which please us, as this will help us develop a personal sound, a voice. If we stay focused on the aspects of our sound which we enjoy hearing we will develop a positive experience when we see this develop and the way to put this sound into perspective is to use our ears. It is our absolute responsibility to listen to the best musicians that we can in order to improve what we do; we will subconsciously hear what makes them sound great, or indeed adopt a sound model for ourselves. We will also learn to hear musical phrasing and a voice which is very personal to that artist. What we must not do is to believe that we can develop our voice by emulating the lifestyle, or attitude or even diet of this artist; these things are all part of a whole person who is absolutely not us. What they did, besides practice, is entirely foreign to what we should do because we are separate people. A very real situation that a young player will face, especially in the jazz music scene where substance abuse was rife amongst the best of players, will be to get caught up in the idea that you need drugs to create music; to play like Charlie Parker you will need to do a lot of…emm.. Charlie. Cocaine. Heroin. Pot. Alcohol. There are a lot of huge “endorsers” of these drugs, especially in the bebop era. I say “endorsers” because it is only their status and notoriety which placed them in such a position; the exact same is true of any stars, it is not at all unique to jazz musicians but the emphasis here is on music so I don’t need to mention actors, or jocks, or artists, or commercial pilots who have done jail time for drugs. What I am saying is that their drug did nothing towards helping them producing their voice on the instrument; without doubt it influenced the sound, especially when you find a recording where the artist was too drunk to stand and had to be held up at the microphone, but the voice and the vision IE the artistry was always present in the player, and this wasn’t developed through addiction to a drug, it was developed through an addiction to music, a love of playing and a desire to play better. In short; your voice is not found by emulating any bad habits of a favorite player, rather through critical listening, frequent listening and the practice of your instrument, always striving to hear and produce more of that element you like in your tone and in your playing.

In certain situations your sound must match a certain general sound model and you may indeed find this contradictory to your voice on the instrument, but I don’t believe this to be the case. If we prepare for each possible playing situation we can adapt our voice to suit the music; ultimately this gives a better performance, even if we are deviating from our favorite sound concept. An example, as a trumpeter; jazz VS classical music. Ok, I chose a deliberately obtuse area of focus to outline the fact that there is in fact no explicit subscribed sound change between the two, it is only in the “sub-genres” where we need to be specific or not. The devil is in the detail. I will therefore try to define my personal concepts within the two genres. Caveat: these are my concepts, they seem to suit how I play. I often prefer a dark sound, a sound which has an emphasis on the fundamental pitch rather than a bright sound emphasising the overtones within the sound. Without deviating from my intention, a dark sound, in my opinion, must still be rich in overtone content in order to project, rather than producing a dead sound, which may be dark, but is lifeless. This is becoming too specifically focused on the tone production on trumpet, so I am going to offer what I promised to a hundred words back!

Here are some of the typical gigs that a trumpeter will pick up, and besides practicing all of these styles in order to help best produce that sound, I have a mental picture of what I want to achieve. Sometimes I will change my mouthpiece or trumpet to best suit the music. Refer to my article on trumpet mouthpieces for just a little more information on this. I will start with what I love, and indeed my favorite, or primary sound concept.

Small group jazz – combo playing; from duo to quintet.

Bb trumpet is the standard horn for this, however a flugel horn is also fun to play, especially for a softer touch, this is totally up to the performer, unless written music specifies anything else.

I like the sound that Wynton Marsalis, Chet Baker, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Scott Wendholt, Woody Shaw, Seamus Blake, Will Vinson, Chris Potter etc… make. I therefore listen to a lot of that music, and try to produce that darker tone. The players mentioned are not all trumpeters (diversify your listening) and also have a fabulous time feel. This is an enormous part of playing jazz music which moves you and elicits emotion.

In combo jazz the importance lies in sympathetically playing with the rhythm section; calling tunes at tempos that everyone is comfortable with, playing at suitable volume and with good time.

Dynamics are so very often overlooked in combo playing; use the full spectrum of dynamics to the musical advantage at the time, in the same way that you can change the timbrel spectrum to suit a ballad or an up tempo bebop tune.

Big band jazz

Bb trumpet with a shallower mouthpiece to aid in emphasising the overtones, aiding in producing a more projecting tone which cuts and can lead the band without having to play at fffff as the high overtones will cut through the band and do the work. The shallow mouthpiece is not for reaching to higher notes; if you are reaching for a higher note on a shallow mouthpiece, then you can’t properly play the note, and like me you will be shedding it. Flugel horn is called for as well, as are a variety of mutes.

The main idea in big band is to follow the lead player; copy his sound and time feel. If you are leading you are to give the section confidence, and to confidently lead the band. Bobby Shew has a fantastic article on this: http://www.bobbyshew.com/clinics/Lead.htm

Sound wise, leading confidently will come across well, playing apologetically will also come across. Less well. While time feel is paramount, clarity and articulation are equally important. A bright, clear and projecting sound is ideal. Note that a projecting sound isn’t a sound where you hammer away at fff, it is a focused, rich, energetic tone. Listen to the best: Wayne Bergeron, Charley Davis, Roger Ingram, Bobby Shew, Mike Lovatt.

Pop gig

Bb trumpet and flugel horn. Like big band playing, the pop horns will be brighter than most combo players and brighter than most orchestral playing.

Often you play the cool lick that people remember, fill in parts and punctuation. The playing will vary, from chop busting Tower of Power charts to the suicide inducing country music charts. Play them all well, and focus on consistency. You won’t be playing country for ever (unless you like that… really?)

Consistency in timing with the section and confidence in soloing in a pop context will help the overall sound. Jazz lines will rarely work on the pop tunes and harmony, so shed your pentatonics and blues scales. Work on the clichés that you hear guitarists, saxophonists and trumpets playing on albums – these will be life savers. Your diminished jazz lines will not be appreciated.

Listen to the masters of this style, emulate this sound. Every Tower of Power horn player is incredible, if you can sound a tenth this good you are on the way to a good gig! “Iron” Mike Bogart, Adolfo Acosta and Steve Reid would be a good start.

Now for a few classical gigs. Caveat: I have experience in amateur and pro pit orchestras and amateur ensembles from orchestras to baroque groups. More of my playing is commercial or jazz, so temper what I write with your own knowledge. Like all information, it it sounds rubbish, it probably is rubbish. Zebra/stripey horse scenario.

Pit orchestra

Often requiring Bb trumpet, flugel horn and piccolo trumpet. Depending on the demands and ensemble line up, I will adapt to suit both gear and sound wise. The pop-esque ones such as most Lloyd Webber will be a prime candidate for a slightly shallower mouthpiece and a brighter sound. These often suit the brighter sound and the command akin to that in big band playing. It is important to be as flexible as possible in these situations.

Becoming familiar with your part, and listening to good recordings will help you decide how to play, but one thing is for sure; there is no award for running a marathon in boots IE if the show is demanding, a shallower mouthpiece can help you work a little less hard producing the overtones necessary to project and can help solidify the upper register. As before these pieces give you no notes that you don’t already have.

Classical orchestra

Requiring every trumpet you can possibly name. The ideal gig for someone needing to validate buying a new Schilke E trumpet. Yes, as well as the Eb. Generally the mouthpiece choice is larger than that of jazz or pop players. Certainly deeper to help emphasise the fundamental tone present and to help produce an enormous volume and power when necessary.

Playing wise I feel that this demands a focused air stream and the mental image of a compact round tone suits me. It is a more delicate art than big band playing.

Listen to the great players to learn the necessary sound concept. Also listen to the different sounds across the eras and composers. Playing Haydn as you would Mahler would be a disaster, and vice versa!

There are both bright and dark tonal concepts within this music, neither is necessarily correct. Maurice Murphy’s incredible tone and phrasing on all of his recordings with the LSO (Star Wars for one) is one of the reasons he tried several times to retire only to be brought back. His tone is so pure, but to my ears a brighter orchestral tone, yet he adapts when he plays solo or different styles. Musically and sensibly adapting to the circumstance is the name of the game. Incredibly worth the listen is his recording of the LSO with Valery Gergiev playing Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

Listen! Maurice Murphy, Hans Gansch, Phil Smith, Bud Herseth, Malcolm McNab.

Baroque ensemble

Usually D/Eb trumpets, piccolo trumpet and Bb trumpet.

A compact blending sound Often you must balance with oboes and various woodwinds who have very little power by comparison; you have to play with a compact tone which does not over power the small group. This is difficult given the propensity for composers to write in the upper tessiatura of the instrument.

I strive for a warm tone in these groups, which is sometimes difficult on the smaller trumpets, but ultimately this works better for me. The oboes hate me less!

Listen! Hakan Hardenberger, Maurice Andre, Jens Lindemann, Rolf Smedvig, Wynton Marsalis.

Classical soloist

All the trumpets in the world!

Have a good teacher to guide you through this. You should find a tone which you can call yours, yet suits the music. You should focus on the musical interpretation of the solo, as this, along with your sound, is how you can define your playing. Sloppy phrasing with excellent tone is still sloppy phrasing.

Listen to the greats. Dissect their playing and determine what makes them unique for you.

Sergei Nakariakov, Matthias Hoefs, Hakan Hardenberger, Wynton Marsalis, Malcolm McNab, Urban Agnas, Tine Thing Helseth, Alison Balsom.

Brass bander

Often amateur organisations, and therefore the advice will vary slightly, depending on how seriously you take the instrument. If this is for fun, keep it that way. Don’t torture yourself by thinking you have to play a Denis Wick 2 mouthpiece on a large bore Sovereign 928. Make life easier, play the Wick B cup on a horn you like and blow with a relaxed “warm” air stream to help produce a relaxed cornet tone.
It is not a trumpet, nor is it a flugel horn. The tone should be light and round, warm. This again is partly down to the design of the instrument and mouthpiece, but given a standard setup you can make it sound terrible if you don’t pay attention. Learning easy solos should be on the list, such as: “The Last Rose of Summer” “Cherry Pink” “Love is Like a Red Red Rose” “Misty” “Autumn Leaves” etc… it can’t be much fun jumping in with the heavy ones, especially if trying to discern what a cornet tone is.

Listen. Roger Webster, Phil McCann, Alan Morrison, etc… All the championship section bands have phenomenal players in every chair.

Now to try and bring this to a conclusion. I will have missed out on some situations, but for the sake of brevity, I will call this enough.

You will always have your sound, you don’t need to copy drug habbits, lifestyles etc… this is some strange attempt to be someone else; why would you do that? You can be a second rate Wynton Marsalis, but you can be a first rate Mr/s Boddington-Smythe II (or whatever name you have). Work hard on your tone, and set your goals! Have the courage of your convictions and believe that what you do is valid; it is! Make your art mean something. Make your practice mean something. Make your performance and composition meaningful. Have the guts not to copy, but to explore, always keeping the history of your instrument and the music that you play in perspective.

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Mouthpiece Advice

The mouthpiece choice is always a trending topic on trumpet forums and I chime in from time to time because like most trumpeters I have tried (owned) more mouthpieces than socks. Given that the music shops in N. Ireland are rubbish; a mouthpiece selection would typically be “we might have a 7c here”, I have ordered and re-sold mouthpieces from the world over. So my advice for those of you who happen to have a decent music shop is to go and play test as many as possible and don’t worry about the number on the side, or the brand.

Granted new things are cool, and often work as a practice incentive, so on that level if you get a deal on ebay, it won’t hurt to try one, but make sure you have a good CD collection of good trumpet recordings and a collection of books and music. Lumps of silver-plated brass which sort-of resemble big golf tees (some look just like small golf tees.. 6a4a anyone?!) will do nothing for you in the long run, so as before – I advocate trying pieces, but with intent to settle on a mouthpiece (or 2).

The problem with the mouthpiece safari is the thrill of the chase, the quest to find that perfect piece which gives you a double C but that huge VSO rotary-powered sound from lead to combo; it suddenly makes you Chet Baker and Wayne Bergeron and Hans Gansch.. Chet-Hans Bergeron? Basically, this is the quest for the holy grail. My advice; quit when you find a decent rim/cup combo and get shedding.

So, onto some useful tips (before I get side-tracted onto telling you the story of me playing trumpet lying down on my back on the heli-pad of a commercial ferry at 3am).

What should you do to test a mouthpiece?

Right:

Take your time. If you are in a shop trying lots of them, I think it would be a good idea to have warmed up on your “usual” piece. Keep this handy.

Long tones, scales at mf. Gently ease into all registers, test flexibility – slurs, lip trills etc… Have someone honestly tell you how you sound. (A teacher would be good). See how it sounds from the back of the room, not just up close.

Comfort. Above all, a comfortable mouthpiece that you can play on and sound good on is a real goal.

Sound. Paramount in the quest for the “right” mouthpiece. Blind testing and ignoring the numbers on the side of the piece is a very good idea.

A/B. Keep referring to what you know. Your sound will always be your sound, your mouthpiece choice may change this slightly, but after 2 weeks or so you will end up sounding like you again. Let’s make that a comfortable choice. Granted cup depth will influence your sound somewhat, but your mental sound image is the driver; it controls the whole machine.

Record yourself – you wouldn’t believe what sounds good on a recording. It is good to know what the microphone thinks!

Ordering abroad – like me – buy mouthpieces that are around the size you play and ask the manufacturor for help – they will know better than numbers on a chart. Years back on a Bach forum I was recommeded the 3C – this was a time where I was told that small = high and I wasn’t going to listen. Fast forward some years and I am playing on Mark Curry’s 3 rims. Funny that!

Wrong:

Let’s find the mouthpiece that gives me the best upper register.

Let’s see what I can play the loudest and brightest on.

Let’s find the biggest-rimmed, smallest mouthpiece, because that’s what lead players use. Pressure = Force/Area, so more area will dissapate that arm pressure and I will have the best endurance.

Small = bad, big = good.

Big = bad, small = good.

Shallow = high notes.

Deep = no high notes.

Real mean play on bathtub sized mouthpieces with car-exhaust backbores.

Basically: choose a comfortable mouthpiece that makes your job as a player easier! There are no prizes for heroes playing lead on a 1X. Do not compromise the sound.

Ok, I have thrown a bit of stuff your way there, now for more! There are a lot of popular mis-conceptions with mouthpieces. I have been taught every contradicting theory under the sun of mouthpiece and the selection thereof; finally, after asking my own questions I have wised to what works and what doesn’t.

Some “gold” that I have heard or been taught:

Play on the biggest mouthpiece possible.

Play on the smallest mouthpiece possible.

Play on a 7c/1C/arbitrary size.

This rim feels sharp because you have a weak embouchure.

Play on this, it has the biggest backbore (referencing the throat at the time).

Mr “X” plays on this, if it is good enough for them, it is good enough for you.

There are “cheater” mouthpieces for playing high, that’s how those American boys play.

It doesn’t matter; just play.

I bet some of those are familiar. As an impressionable young student I tried mouthpieces because to play high I need a small one – according to my teacher. I was never taught how to breathe or any of the fundamental exercises necessary for playing and I literally knew no better. Thankfully I was set straight by a decent local teacher!

Here is the deal, and information you will see given by respected players: play something fairly middle of the road unless it doesn’t work for you. If the rim is sore, there are many options – I will mention this below.

Shallow pieces will emphasise high overtones and help you cut. This is a good idea for big band, and if that is your sound concept when playing piccolo these will work. If you just like a brighter sound, why not play your 3D?

Medium pieces will work well for all types of playing if you have a good sound concept and can manipulate your sound.

Deep pieces will attenuate the high overtones and emphasise the fundamental tone. These can be good for a big dark sound if you want to emulate a rotary horn, or to blend in a brass quartet or even combo gigs.

If you are a student it is my opinion that by sticking to a standard depth cup you will develop into a better player who will be able to utilise a shallow cup when appropriate. It is also true that bigger/deeper mouthpieces can cover up embouchure and general playing flaws, another good reason to stay in the middle of the road until you (or your teacher) feel that you are ready for change.

For anyone wanting to start, here are a few mouthpieces which I consider middle-of-the-road.

Bach 7c/6c/3c
Curry 7c/3c (slightly more cushioned than Bachs)
Warburton 5MC/8 4MC/8 (slightly more cushioned than Bachs)

Not middle of the road:

Jet Tone 10s
Bach 3E/1B/17C
Warburton 1XD/12
Curry 00S

For those of you who play and are considering swapping or “upgrading”. Why? Is this teacher-prompted? Is the rim hurting? Can you not play on your current piece? Do you want an easier upper register? Do you want a better sound? Tighter slotting?

Ok, firstly – the simple ones:

Teacher prompted swap – trust them. Trust what you feel, if they move you onto something that feels bad compared to your regular piece, tell them. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Your 3C is fine!

Upgrading? Add half an hour/day to your practice routine. In this time do flow studies. That is a better upgrade.

Fine tuning a piece – this is for geeks and or pros who know their gear and want to optimise. In this case you will know what to do, but for the sake of a comprehensive article that hopefully avoids too much techno-linguo.

Caveat: sound concept is more important than gear. So is regular practice, as are teachers. All of these variables run many combinations, which is why our mouthpiece guru’s can help if we ask them. They build them, they know what works. For your own help:

A higher compression setup can help secure the upper register.

Tightening up slots:

Tighter backbore

Optimising the GAP between the mpc end and the leadpipe within the receiver – typically 0.150″. Contact Bob Reeves for his sleeves.

Shallower cup or even a less V shaped cup. (Think Warburton S vs the SV, MC vs MD).

Adding sizzle:

Shallower shallow V shaped cups can help.

Tighter backbores can help.

Lightweight blanks.

Sound concept. Ears!!

Adding depth to your sound:

Sometimes opening the throat can help – I opened my 3M. to a 26 throat from a 27 and I thought it helped me get closer to the sound I wanted. Go 1 bit size at a time!

Slightly larger backbore and or cup.

Heavyweight blank.

Symphonic sound:

Sound concept!! Listen!!

A medium to medium deep piece is a good start. Curry C or B is a good idea. Some will advocate huge pieces, others will advocate the 7c. I advocate whatever you feel comfortable on that achieves a good sound. Let the sound and the feel dictate the decision.

Big backbores, larger throats and deeper cups can be a factor.

Finally: Lips.

The Bach mouthpiece guide refers to lip size and cups. Thick fleshy lips preferring certain cup sizes and or rims. I have reasonably full lips and I play 95% on a Curry 3M. (Like a Bach 3D). I have played on everything from a Jet Tone 10s (15.9mm ID) to a Bach 1C (17.5mm ID I think). I have seen thin lipped players on huge pieces who kick my ass, and thick thick lipped players on a 10 1/2D who are also kicking my ass. It is very personal. Lip size isn’t the key to findng the mouthpiece – trial and feel are more important. My 12 year old bro plays the Tuba (very well) – he has fine lips and plays a Denis Wick 3L. Finer lips than me, a lot finer. I can fit my entire foot in his mouthpiece, let alone my mouthpiece!! Andy is playing double Cs (the holy grail. A note I have only hit a few times). Go figure…

The frequently used analogy is that mouthpieces are like shoes – you wouldn’t tell me what size of shoe to wear, right? Maybe in a shoe shop they can suggest some to try… but that is their job!

If you feel like getting nerdy, pop onto:

http://www.kanstul.net/MPcompare/MouthpieceComparator.html

I am sure that I have missed some information here, but in the interests of my sanity I will stop. Hopefully this will have helped someone. Please contact me if you want to chat. I can probably help recommend pieces to try if you have no teacher and are in a fix!

Mike

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Vision, Artistry and Music

I have recently been thinking about deeper meanings in music; how abstract playing an instrument is to making meaningful music. Alliteration aside… Glenn Gould’s beautiful performance of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations spurred my mind into thought last night (whilst I couldn’t sleep), so before I go on do watch some of this video.

Gould is amazing. Everything he does is intertwined with meaning (character, emotion; those things which have a very human gravitas or connection), the very fact that he is singing as he is playing augments the performance. As I said, last night as I was perpetually not sleeping, listening to Gould made me think of a couple of important subjects. Note that I reference performers, but in my opinion this is equally valid to composers.

The best musicians who give the best performances have a strong vision; they have conviction to play the music with their own voice and embrace the music almost as if they had lost self-awareness.

Technique alone means nothing to music; technique is a hindrance if solely pursued. (Within the heading “Technique” I would include any physical aspects of playing which do not address interpretation or the human element of performance).

I have been careful with my word choice; I am not trying to make a blanket statement to grab a short shock value, for that I would be much more blatant.

ALL SPORTS SUCK.

See?

Listening to Gould’s above performance really linked my above points. He does not have perfect technique, however he was a virtuoso pianist. Much more importantly is the musicality and daring of his performance which can only come from someone who has a real vision and conviction on how they want to perform. It is not good enough that we, as performers, would study just to copy what has been; there is no musical merit to that! There is a LOT to learn from transcription and diligent study – that is not in question. Also it is obvious that not everyone is going to be one of the most eccentric concert pianists ever to have lived, but you have a responsibility to put meaning in your performance and composition, otherwise it is pointless; a CD player will play your piece better, a sample library will flawlessly execute your performance (however clinical and devoid of nuance) only you can add the abstract notion of meaning.

A good example before I start talking in circles:

John Coltrane was one of the world’s greatest Tenor Saxophone players, he has left us a legacy, he had a strong confidence in his vision on how he wanted to play; he was not Charlie Parker II, he was John Coltrane. One of his most famous tunes is called “Giant Steps” which was released in 1960 on an album of the same name. The solo which Coltrane plays on this is iconic. It is bebop influenced and it is a for teller of things to come in Coltrane’s musical career, playing “sheets of sound” and with dense harmonic complexity and sheer virtuosity. None of this ability diminishes the recording, nor do the alternate takes. It was no secret that Coltrane, who obsessively practised, shedded this tune for a year before recording it. My point is that there is meaning in this music, I can appreciate the connection of music and musician.

Before we get to Coltrane, I will show a clip of Parker playing so that you have a reference point. Shoot me, but I wish Buddy Rich played less, and Charlie more!

This video has a very nice transcription which is mesmerising if you vacantly stare at it while the music plays. It is also interesting to musicians to see in their language.

And now, like Babe Ruth, I am going for the home run… A video that us music geeks know well; the Japanese robot playing Giant Steps. Remember, you aren’t far from this if you are set for perfect technique and neglect to personalise the music, or in fact if you have bad technique and just wade on through the music like washing the dishes.

And at 350 BPM! I can’t get through these videos, they are really nasty!

Time to finish off (I usually say this at the half way point of emails – for those of you who know me and get longer emails from me, you can smirk!). The players and examples above feature very capable, virtuosi instrumentalists, but my point on technique is fair. The pursuit of technique alone is meaningless, because although it will facilitate the playing of exceptionally demanding pieces, it is not inherently musical and meaningful. Caveat: Yes, I like my concerti without mistakes… I also like great cadenzas, exciting tempi, bebop, Wayne Bergeron and beer. These all require good facility on the instrument (Trumpeters dig the latter few… I hope!), but just to repeat myself; technique is meaningless without the cognitive effort of personalising the music you use it to play.

The importance of technique is more that a lack of it will impede your playing of certain music. I could not convincingly play through the “Carnival of Venice” by Arban. If I thought I would be able to express myself adequately with this piece of music, I would shed it really hard, however, I would prefer to have the technique required to play this piece because it is transferable to all aspects of playing which is why I study aspects of this. It is good to note that every clip that I have shown has players with phenomenal ability, players who obsessively practised. They didn’t have flawless technique, but I believe that their pursuit of technique was for a musical end and that they did indeed create music with meaning.

Another chronic practiser was Clifford Brown, one of the finest bebop trumpeters to have lived. Sadly a very young death halted what would have almost certainly been a ludicrous career in music; who knows what Brownie would have worked on!? Alas, that is not the point. He worked on his technique so that when he was to improvise, he could play what he heard in his head and what he wanted to express. A fairly famous solo of Brownie’s is on “Joy Spring” – it is technical but not cold or robotic, and you can hear the hours he spent shedding the changes and working on his playing so that when he recorded it there were fewer road blocks… Sometimes I can’t even see a road!

Ignore the picture of Miles. This is Brownie.

Voice, nuance and character within music – interpretation – links me to my final point. Yes, very few of us will be near Gould’s level of artistry (or eccentricity if you prefer to see it this way) but all of us are able of independent thought, don’t deny yourselves this in your music. OK, you could be playing somewhere very restrictive, like Violin II desk II in the Symphony, but you don’t need to pull the tempi to pieces as Gould does. The magnitude of the effect of your personalisation of the music need not be anywhere as dramatic as Gould’s; the only important level is personal if you are consciously doing this, obviously soloists get much more freedom in this respect. Alternatively you can take the Eroica at half tempo. Email me if you do, I would love to know what your conductor says 😀

As a tentative link to interpretation and technique: Freddie Hubbard playing Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring.

Obviously with Jazz the improvisation is the perfect place to personalise the music, it is also very easy to think that “your thing” isn’t acceptable and therefore you just imitate. Freddie clearly didn’t. Freddie’s technique wasn’t perfect; he had a lot of embouchure problems, yet his artistry was not affected. There are points here to address at another stage, I don’t want to loose the point of this in a sea of Philosophy, improvisation, Jazz and the like.

I hope that this wasn’t too rambly, and made some sense. The barrier between a feeling and the words to usefully convey it is immense, just know that I am earnest about what I write and am in no sense of the word a “professional” performer or musician. I love music, I love playing and composing. I am happy in what I do… and when I hear the video I am about to post, I am literally speechless. (considering that in the recording he was early 20s, record contract age 14, age 17 recorded what I would class as “sickest trumpet chops ever” on his CD “Carmen Fantasy” available on Teldec I believe. This has to be heard to believed.)

Sergei Nakariakov playing a transcription of “Rondo Capriccioso”. Sergei is probably the greatest Trumpeter to have ever lived. He is capable of outstanding virtuosity, and musicality.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sergei-Nakariakov-Limit-Camille-Saint-Saens/dp/B00004SX2J

Mike

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My new home

I am testing WordPress as my new home for blogging online. This is my first post (just in case you were unsure)

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