Revelation!

Jack E

Well-Known Member
Last night, I was chatting with a very old friend (very gifted bass trombonist) about the music that my clarinet teacher is giving me. Granted, my lessons with her got off to a flying start, as she didn't have to teach me how to read music, and what scales were, etc - but I only started on clarinet with her on 2nd November, had a two month break when my lungs went duff through February March, yet she's already got me playing stuff like Vivaldi's 'Spring', the andante movement from 'Prince Igor', and Chopin's 'Grand Waltz (Op.18). And what do I find, well on in the book 'Standard of Excellence - Book 2' for baritone horn? 'Liza Jane' (American folk song)!! Nothing wrong with American folk songs in general, or with 'Liza Jane' in particular - but it's not quite the stuff to inspire the troops, is it?

So I was talking to Pete about this - and the idea struck us both; why can't I play the music in my clarinet book on my baritone? As well as the pieces I've mentioned above, that book ('50+ Greatest Classics for Clarinet') goes on to the 'Bridal March' from 'Lohengrin', the 'Grand March' from 'Aida', the 'Radetzky March', and Puccini's 'O Mio Babbino Caro'!! Now we're talking! Like my baritone, a standard clarinet is a transposing instrument in Bb - so no problems there - and the range covered is from G below the stave to 3rd space C for most of the music - but . . .

This evening, I tried playing 'Spring' on my baritone, and found the snag with the clarinet arrangements; that G below the stave sounds a bit . . . growly? . . . to make for pleasant listening. However, there's nothing to stop me transposing them up a bit - so I thought "I wonder what 'Spring' would sound like shifted up a bit?". Tried starting on C below the stave, and playing it by ear with my eyes shut (so the sheet music wouldn't distract me), working out the notes as I went - and 'CorStoneTheCrows' - it flipping worked! 😲

I sat there thinking "I didn't know I could do that!"

So this evening I'll be transposing those pieces into higher keys, and I can't wait to get cracking on them - and I could kick myself for not thinking about this before. A couple of years back, I bought sheet music for some pieces composed by Hoagy Carmichael, and some others made famous by Fats Waller, and noticed then how much I enjoyed playing them - and playing around with them, trying out little variations.

Nothing wrong with scale exercises, and pieces written to develop specific skills - but what I've remembered (finally!) is that such things are stepping stones to help me play music that I love to play, and to play it to the best of my ability, and not the end goal.

Ho, hum - as the old saying goes:
"Even a blind pig will find a few acorns - if he roots around long enough!"

With best regards,
Jack
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I can’t add a lot to this thread but maybe some aspects of my experience overlap.

A couple of years ago I bought a book called scaley winners and in it several of the tunes are arranged in different keys which raise or drop the pitch relative to the original version. It’s a simple book and maybe quite childish but the more I go back to it the more I learn - not sure what that says about me, well other than this guy ain’t that smart.

I’ve been using books of trumpet tunes for years, obviously they are intended for Bb instruments and at Trumpet pitch but they work fine for (me on) Trombones and Eb Basses too. I have a book of recorder tunes (Soprano/Descant) and they work fine for Brass. The Winners series - punished by Brass Wind - are great for supplying practice tunes too.

Some music books don’t work for Brass because the range of notes demanded don’t fit with what’s available. It’s a little bit of taking an informed chance but it’s not an expensive chance and if you have the initial skills needed - unfortunately I don’t - then rearranging music is surely going to reward you handsomely.

For what it’s worth the value of playing other instruments, ideally beyond brass, is usually nether recognised or appreciated.
 
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Jack E

Well-Known Member
I’ve been using books of trumpet tunes for years, obviously they are intended for Bb instruments and at Trumpet pitch but they work fine for (me on) Trombones and Eb Basses too. I have a book of recorder tunes (Soprano/Descant) and they work fine for Brass. The Winners series - punished by Brass Wind - are great for supplying practice tunes too.

Some music books don’t work for Brass because the range of notes demanded don’t fit with what’s available. It’s a little bit of taking an informed chance but it’s not an expensive chance and if you have the initial skills needed - unfortunately I don’t - then rearranging music is surely going to reward you handsomely.
Thanks for the tips on those other music books, 2nd Tenor - I'll follow them up.
Re. the need for arranging skills; I can't claim those myself, and my knowledge of music theory is very sketchy. But I do have a music notation programme called Crescendo (see link below), which I think only cost about £23. It has its limitations, certainly, but once you transcribe a piece of music into it (pretty straightforward) you can swap between bass clef, treble clef and tenor clef, shift it from one key to another with the transcribe facility, or shift it up or down by from 1 to 12 semitones.

I used it to reset a piece of music I'd bought which was meant for trombone, and was in bass clef. I converted it into treble clef, and lo! - ledger lines sprouted like weeds! o_O Then I thought "Ah! Use the transcribe button to shift it up an octave!" - and it was good to go. :cool:

Another feature I've used a lot is the playback, particularly where I've got a really snarly bar with stuff like dotted semi-quaver rests, and can't get my head round how it's supposed to sound. Transcribe that bit onto Crescendo, play it back, and all becomes clear. Again, it has limitations; the playback 'instruments' sound very midi-file, and if two or more notes are slurred or tied together, it plays them as seperate notes. Still, for what it cost me, and how much use I've had from it, it was a bargain, and - a very important point - within my limits of computing ability. I'm no silver surfer - more of a silver paddler, and I stay firmly in the shallow end!

"For what it’s worth the value of playing other instruments, ideally beyond brass, is usually nether recognised or appreciated."

I couldn't agree more! Branching out into 5 string banjo and clarinet has really broadened my musical horizons, added new skills, and shown me that I can do things I would have thought well beyond me.

Old Dog, New Tricks.jpg


Many thanks for your suggestions, 2nd Tenor, and best regards,
Jack

 

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