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Topic: Lesson 8 Discussion - Melody in the Brass

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  1. #1
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    Post Lesson 8 Discussion - Melody in the Brass

    This thread is to discuss Lesson 8 which covers melody in the brass instruments. We wil also discuss brass melody in unison, in octaves, thirds and sixths.

    Rimsky-Korsakov seemed to use brass mostly as a texture and for color, and rarely as melodic content. The book even states about brass: "not a wide range of expression". Since the rise of jazz, film music and pop, brass has taken a more prominent and important role.

    Feel free to ask questions or elaborate on the material presented in this lesson.

    Gary Garritan

  2. #2

    Question for Professor Belkin about horn in bass

    Hello Professor Belkin.

    Can you please clarify this comment on Lesson 8. Why do you consider horns used as bass to be a beginner's mistake? Do you mean if it is overused?

    4. Professor Belkin Comments: An important point: the horn’s main melodic role is as an alto/tenor instrument, NOT as a soprano or a bass (very common beginner’s mistakes).

    There are many, many great examples where horns were used in bass and it is an altogether different (and useful) timbre for the instruments. I consider for all the brass that they have the greatest difference in tonal character depending on where they play in their ranges and the effect desired by the composer would dictate if they should play high or low in their register. I would like to better understand your comment.

    Also - note to Garritan, the links on step 1 of the GPO Exercise - Melody in the Brass: Thirds & Sixths Exercise appear to be broken.

    Thanks,
    Karim

  3. #3
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    Re: Question for Professor Belkin about horn in bass

    Quote Originally Posted by karelm
    Also - note to Garritan, the links on step 1 of the GPO Exercise - Melody in the Brass: Thirds & Sixths Exercise appear to be broken.
    Karim,

    Thanks for pointing this out. The links are now fixed.

    Gary Garritan

  4. #4

    Re: Question for Professor Belkin about horn in bass

    Horns are mainly useful as long, pedal notes in *static* bass lines. When the bass line gets more mobile, horns are rather sluggish and heavy (because they have a such a strong fundamental). You will usually get better results using bassoons, trombone, or the tuba as the bass, depending on what is above.

    Beginners often look at the horn's textbook range and think of it as a bass instrument. However a close look at scores in the standard repertoire shows that the lower the horns are pitched, the heavier the sound (again, excluding static, pedal notes, where they can play softer than, say, bassoons).

    Personal experience: I once wrote a passage with horns used in the low tenor range and was getting very frustrated with the rather muddy sound. Finally I just removed the 4th (lowest) horn, and suddenly all was clear.

    I hope this helps.

    Quote Originally Posted by karelm
    Hello Professor Belkin.

    Can you please clarify this comment on Lesson 8. Why do you consider horns used as bass to be a beginner's mistake? Do you mean if it is overused?

    4. Professor Belkin Comments: An important point: the horn’s main melodic role is as an alto/tenor instrument, NOT as a soprano or a bass (very common beginner’s mistakes).

    There are many, many great examples where horns were used in bass and it is an altogether different (and useful) timbre for the instruments. I consider for all the brass that they have the greatest difference in tonal character depending on where they play in their ranges and the effect desired by the composer would dictate if they should play high or low in their register. I would like to better understand your comment.

    Also - note to Garritan, the links on step 1 of the GPO Exercise - Melody in the Brass: Thirds & Sixths Exercise appear to be broken.

    Thanks,
    Karim
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

  5. #5
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    Re: Question for Professor Belkin about horn in bass

    Quote Originally Posted by belkina
    Horns are mainly useful as long, pedal notes in *static* bass lines. When the bass line gets more mobile, horns are rather sluggish and heavy (because they have a such a strong fundamental). You will usually get better results using bassoons, trombone, or the tuba as the bass, depending on what is above.

    Beginners often look at the horn's textbook range and think of it as a bass instrument. However a close look at scores in the standard repertoire shows that the lower the horns are pitched, the heavier the sound (again, excluding static, pedal notes, where they can play softer than, say, bassoons).
    Professor, is there an "official" range in SATB parlance- I've never taken any voice classes and was wondering?

    I found these- do you agree?
    (where a1= A440)
    Soprano 1= d1-g2
    Soprano 2= c1-f2
    Alto = a0-d2
    Tenor = c0-g1
    Baritone = Bb-e1
    Bass = F-d0

    Thanks
    Last edited by KeithW; 07-02-2006 at 02:20 PM. Reason: Clarification

  6. #6

    Re: Question for Professor Belkin about horn in bass

    These are ok, but voices, more than ANY other instrument, are not standard, for obvious reasons. Also be aware that choral voices are always more limited in range than solo voices; the latter come in endless varieties. Often singers themselves take years to find their "best" range. The ranges you posted are safe choral standards, but even there you will often find differences of a tone or two in the reportoire. (And remember that a-440 is a MODERN standard.)

    Quote Originally Posted by KeithW
    Professor, is there an "official" range in SATB parlance- I've never taken any voice classes and was wondering?

    I found these- do you agree?
    (where a1= A440)
    Soprano 1= d1-g2
    Soprano 2= c1-f2
    Alto = a0-d2
    Tenor = c0-g1
    Baritone = Bb-e1
    Bass = F-d0

    Thanks
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

  7. #7
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    Re: Question for Professor Belkin about horn in bass

    Quote Originally Posted by karelm


    4. Professor Belkin Comments: An important point: the horn’s main melodic role is as an alto/tenor instrument, NOT as a soprano or a bass (very common beginner’s mistakes).

    "Tessitura is an important consideration in writing for the horn. The upper register (from c2 to c3) should be used sparingly and for dramatic effects only. Guard against the tendency of many beginning orchestrators to write too high for the horns. The instrument should be thought of as an alto or tenor (rather than soprano) instrument.

    - Gary White Instrumental Arranging p. 78. (1992)

  8. #8
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    Brass voice analogy

    Would it be fair to use the following analogy? (for melodic music)

    Trumpet- Alto/Soprano
    Horn (in F)- Tenor/Alto
    Euphonium- Baritone/Tenor
    Tuba- Bass/Baritone
    Tenor Trombone -Baritone/Tenor
    Bass Trombone - Bass/Baritone

    Keith Walls

  9. #9

    Re: Brass voice analogy

    Yes, that is good. In dealing with instrumental families, even though the analogy is not perfect, it is a good point of departure to think in terms of a vocal choir.

    Quote Originally Posted by KeithW
    Would it be fair to use the following analogy? (for melodic music)

    Trumpet- Alto/Soprano
    Horn (in F)- Tenor/Alto
    Euphonium- Baritone/Tenor
    Tuba- Bass/Baritone
    Tenor Trombone -Baritone/Tenor
    Bass Trombone - Bass/Baritone

    Keith Walls
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

  10. #10

    Re: Question for Professor Belkin about horn in bass

    One detail: I'd take issue with starting the upper register at middle C. You will be fine up to around G a fifth above that, from there on it sounds more and more strained. The effect can be desirable sometimes, but be aware that high brass notes (and these are getting high for a horn) will sound much higher (=intense, strained) than they look on the page!

    Quote Originally Posted by KeithW
    "Tessitura is an important consideration in writing for the horn. The upper register (from c2 to c3) should be used sparingly and for dramatic effects only. Guard against the tendency of many beginning orchestrators to write too high for the horns. The instrument should be thought of as an alto or tenor (rather than soprano) instrument.

    - Gary White Instrumental Arranging p. 78. (1992)
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

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