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Topic: Question about switching mutes (trombone)

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  1. #1

    Question about switching mutes (trombone)

    I'm just wondering how much time to allow in my score for a tenor trombone player to switch from a bucket mute to a harmon. (I only one change, going from bucket to harmon.) I realize this is going to depend on the tempo. But if I knew what the player had to do physically, I can estimate whether there is enough time to make the switch. Is is simply a matter of pulling one mute out and putting the other one in? Or does it require some adjustment or tuning?

  2. #2

    Lightbulb Re: Question about switching mutes (trombone)

    Doesn't really require any tuning or adjustment. Just remember that you want to give the player enough time to put the mute down quietly...

    Unless, of course, you're looking for stochastic percussion...
    ==============================
    Grant Green ||| www.contrabass.com
    Sarrusophones and other seismic devices

  3. #3

    Re: Question about switching mutes (trombone)

    The player will have to unclip the bucket mute from the bell, and it's a large mute, then set it down (I don't know if you're using mute stands or not - I would assume the floor), then pick up the harmon (if stem is removed, no problem - if you require the stem to be tuned (I hope not! - I threw away my harmon stem as soon as I bought the mute!) - then more time is needed to ensure a good seal in the bell. Also I don't know if the bone player will have a bone stand or not - juggling that big a horn without a stand adds time.

    I did some dry runs with a metronome and a stopwatch - I would estimate at mm=120 about 10 seconds would be enough time to wrangle things comfortably. Pros could probably do it more efficiently, students a little less so. Good Luck!

    EDIT: please don't examine the punctuation in my paragraphs above too closely!
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  4. #4

    Re: Question about switching mutes (trombone)

    Quote Originally Posted by reberclark View Post
    I did some dry runs with a metronome and a stopwatch - I would estimate at mm=120 about 10 seconds would be enough time to wrangle things comfortably. Pros could probably do it more efficiently, students a little less so. Good Luck!
    Wouldn't it be 10 seconds at *any* tempo?

  5. #5

    Re: Question about switching mutes (trombone)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dargason View Post
    Wouldn't it be 10 seconds at *any* tempo?
    I think once the tempo nears the speed of light, time slows down dramatically.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  6. #6

    Re: Question about switching mutes (trombone)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dargason View Post
    Wouldn't it be 10 seconds at *any* tempo?
    Oh...duh...sometimes I wonder if I'll ever make it past 60!
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  7. #7

    Re: Question about switching mutes (trombone)

    Okay, ten seconds is workable. Thanks.

    One other thing, since it was mentioned . . . I'm sorry if this a very basic question, but the only instruments I ever played were keyboards (aside from one notable summer with a guitar that is best not revisited). The whole idea of mutes is a bit strange. What is the stem in a harmon mute used for? How does it impact the sound?

    I am using JABB, GPO and Westage Horns for my brass section. The JABB has harmon muted trombones and trumpets, but it doesn't specify whether these were recorded with stems in or out. I do recall reading the specs for one brass library (I can't remember which) that had samples for stems in and stems out harmon mutes.

  8. #8

    Re: Question about switching mutes (trombone)

    I don't believe there are any "stem in" samples in Garritan libraries. I am not familiar with the Westage Library.

    Most guys that I know just toss the stem away and never use it (this goes for trumpet players and bone players) But I suppose it's sometimes called for. The stem provies a "wa wa" type of effect when used with the left hand - sort of a cartoony "wa wa" sound. A similar effect is achieved with a solotone mute but the sound reminds me more of the 1920's radio style "wa wa." I hope that makes sense. Anyway if you are using Garritan samples then the harmon mutes are stem out (removed) which is usually assumed by the real-world player.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  9. #9

    Re: Question about switching mutes (trombone)

    Quote Originally Posted by ejr View Post
    Okay, ten seconds is workable. Thanks.

    One other thing, since it was mentioned . . . I'm sorry if this a very basic question, but the only instruments I ever played were keyboards (aside from one notable summer with a guitar that is best not revisited). The whole idea of mutes is a bit strange. What is the stem in a harmon mute used for? How does it impact the sound?

    I am using JABB, GPO and Westage Horns for my brass section. The JABB has harmon muted trombones and trumpets, but it doesn't specify whether these were recorded with stems in or out. I do recall reading the specs for one brass library (I can't remember which) that had samples for stems in and stems out harmon mutes.
    The stem has considerable impact. Stem out provides the harmon sound you're probably most familiar with (and the one Garritan recorded). You just get a different sound quality when it's in.


    (stem-in and extended)

    Wallander Trumpet and Trombone have stem-out, stem-in inserted (plus wa-wa) and stem-in extended (plus wa-wa), as well as solotone, cup, straight, bucket, and plunger.

  10. #10

    Re: Question about switching mutes (trombone)

    Sorry. I meant the "Westgate" French Horns. Now there's an interesting library. The open horns are the best I've heard and there are a lot of articulations. They also have muted and stopped variations. But from what players tell me, you can get the same sound from each, so I wonder why they included both stopped and muted. One of them (I can't remember off hand which) sounds reasonably close to the harmon mute sound in some of the JABB samples. In any case, it blends nicely with them.

    I also like the one that sounds less like a harmon in one of my arrangements with other reeds (Bass Clar and Clar), under the Frenc Horn, under the strings. It's less obtrusive than the open horn.

    P.S. Thanks for the detail on the harmon stems.

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