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Topic: Woodwinds and Brass

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  1. #1

    Woodwinds and Brass

    How many measures as a safe average, should one go without including a rest for a woodwind or brass instrument. I know it makes a difference depending on what kind of instrument, but I've never really seen a clear explanation of this topic.

  2. #2

    Re: Woodwinds and Brass

    Quote Originally Posted by pgfan92 View Post
    How many measures as a safe average, should one go without including a rest for a woodwind or brass instrument. I know it makes a difference depending on what kind of instrument, but I've never really seen a clear explanation of this topic.
    There are many variables in this equation, pgfan...this brass player thanks you for asking this important question...a question for which no simple answer exists. Here are SOME of the variables...

    It depends on the range. Upper register notes require more lip tension and faster air, and can become tiring sooner than mid-range notes. You do know what notes are considered "upper register" for each brass, yes? Lead trumpet players in Jazz bands require rest after long lead passages.

    It depends on note length. Long, tied whole notes are more fatiguing than mixes of legato and staccato. Likewise, a string of double- or triple-tongued 16th notes will also fatigue a player more quickly than a mix.

    It depends on volume. Extremely loud or extremely soft notes can fatigue a player more quickly than a mix of dynamics. Most American orchestras play too loud, especially winds & brass.

    It depends on context. Playing in an all-brass ensemble may be more fatiguing than playing with woodwinds. Playing next to an out-of-tune colleague is very fatiguing.

    It depends on the music. If you are composing for orchestra, brass are one color and should not dominate an entire piece...both performer and listener will become fatigued. If you are composing for Jazz band, same holds true except brass are generally busier. Point here is that the music often dictates when brass should (not) play.

    As I say, there are most of the variables in the equation...I may revisit this and add a few variables later.
    \Thanx for asking!!
    Jim
    Jim Williams
    Professor of Capitalism
    N9EJR
    Indianapolis Brass Choir
    All Your Bass Sus&Short Are Belong to Us.

  3. #3

    Re: Woodwinds and Brass

    Ah, well I compose classical music, as well as movie scores, and I also write progressive rock. I don't compose much jazz, but I'm going to compose the score to a First Person Murder Mystery, which may need some Jazz.

  4. #4

    Re: Woodwinds and Brass

    Quote Originally Posted by pgfan92 View Post
    Ah, well I compose classical music, as well as movie scores, and I also write progressive rock. I don't compose much jazz, but I'm going to compose the score to a First Person Murder Mystery, which may need some Jazz.
    Ok...the guidelines I have given you are pretty generic and should adapt to most styles of music. If you have written a passage and want a player's perspective, post it and I (or another brass player) will examine it.

    You might also want to look at the transposition primer on the WIKI, as it also addresses some issues of range as reflected in notation.

    Users come here with varying levels of knowledge and experience, so I try to be as helpful as possible...if I am above or below your level, just let me know .

    Jim
    Jim Williams
    Professor of Capitalism
    N9EJR
    Indianapolis Brass Choir
    All Your Bass Sus&Short Are Belong to Us.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Re: Woodwinds and Brass

    It also depends on the skill level of the musicians you're writing for. Younger musicians will tire quicker than professionals.

    As a trumpet player, I remember playing a circus years ago, that was 2 hours of non-stop playing. We had to have 2 players covering every part, just to help each other out.

    Jeff

  6. #6

    Re: Woodwinds and Brass

    Oh yes, I've heard of the horrors of circus music, double and triple tonguing galore.

  7. #7

    Re: Woodwinds and Brass

    Ok, well, it's been a while since I got my trombone out, so I've lost a little perspective on what it feels like playing a brass instrument, but I have a recorder, and I assume that's about the same with breathing as a flute, but I'm not sure. I know a bit about oboe, oboe players tend to run into the problem of having too much air, and it often comes out too fast for the instrument, but skilled players are capable of playing quite long passages, given that they don't pass out. I haven't written much for brass yet, but I have a lot of stuff for wind written. I'm not sure how I'd put it up here though. I guess I could use imageshack and then post the links.

  8. #8

    Re: Woodwinds and Brass

    Quote Originally Posted by pgfan92 View Post
    but I have a recorder, and I assume that's about the same with breathing as a flute, but I'm not sure.
    I play both recorder and flute. I can assure you that they are at opposite ends of the breathing spectrum. Remember that the flute is transversely blown, so that a lot of air is wasted -- in fact, it's generally said to take the most air of any woodwind. The recorder, on the other hand -- at least in the smaller sizes -- uses very little air, and I often have the same problem on the recorder that an oboist would: that of having too much air. I tend to exhale through my nose while playing when this happens.

    In other words: don't use recorder as a breathing guide for flute. They aren't the least bit alike in this respect.
    Marnen E. Laibow-Koser
    Composer / Web developer
    http://www.marnen.org

  9. #9

    Re: Woodwinds and Brass

    Oh, ok then, until I get a flute, I have to guess, I do however know that if I can play it comfortably on recorder, it may not be so on flute, and if it's not comfortable on recorder I've gone way too far. So would flute be closer to horns (though still far from them) on the topic of breathing?

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