Essay Help - Instrument Development

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Liz Courts, Feb 4, 2007.

  1. Liz Courts

    Liz Courts Active Member

    Right guys, I need your help! :)

    I need to write a 5000 word essay on 20th century music as part of my degree, and from a list of essay titles I have chosen this one:

    "Take any musical instrument and show how the 20th century extended its range. Refer to actual playing technique, the way it has been composed for, and its interation with technology (eg. electricity and amplification; the voice and the microphone etc.)"

    Obviously my chosen instrument would be the cornet :), and probably brass instruments in general. I’m not really sure where to start, so any help – books, websites, your own cleverness :) would be much appreciated!

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2007
  2. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Since tMP has now linked up to the resources of IBEW, it might be useful to start looking for information here or here.
  3. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Tough one, 'cos the basic design of brass instruments is more or less unchanged. However, you could look at some of the following:
    1: The development of the trombone from the early 20th century narrow bore "pea-shooters" to the monster bell symphonic instruments most players use.
    2: The addition of compensating systems to low brass instruments, which made the playing of pedal notes in tune much easier - and the technical reasons why they can't be fitted to cornets, trumpets and horns.
    3: Focussing on brass bands, the switch in the 60s from high pitch ("old Philharmonic" pitch, A=452hz I think?) to low pitch. This brought band tuning into line with orchestral tuning.
    4: The addition of triggers to cornets and trumpets to aid intonation.
    5: There aren't many electro-accoustic brass works, but one of the best is Tim Souster's Echoes - you could look at the score for that and comment on how the tape interacts with the brass. You could also look at the works of Alan Stones - Point and Line and the companion piece Point and Line to Plane for trombone and live electronics are good examples of the genre.
    6: I'm sure you can come up with loads of influential players, but in terms of impact on the repertoire and influence on playing technique I'd be tempted to look at Dennis Brain, Hakan Hardenberger, John Fletcher, the Childs Brothers and Christian Lindbergh, all of whom stretched the outer limits of technique for the instruments and were committed to commissioning new works.

    Hope this gives you a few starting points.
  4. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Other possible areas are the change in french horns from the narrow bore french style piston instruments to the wide-bore, rotary valve german style "securicors" of today: Dennis Brain was mentioned earlier, and there are a number of recordings of him using both earlier and later instruments.

    Also, the development of mutes in brass playing, and various techniques imported from the worold of jazz.
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    If you are interested in the development of electronics in brass playing, a lot has happened since the days of KarlHeinze Stockhausen using processed tapes and echo devices with musicians currently opting for effects usually found in guitar playing. More recent developments include using a MIDI interface to completely change the timbre of the instrument. See here for such sound samples. Composer/performer is Mark Kirschenmann.

    post edit:- here's a little gem I found about Stockhausen and jazz trumpeter Miles Davis.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2007
  6. Liz Courts

    Liz Courts Active Member

    Exellent! Thanks for all your help so far - my lecturer happens to be a huge Miles Davis fan, so that's going to go down well! :)

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