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Topic: Frugal Flugel

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  1. #1

    Frugal Flugel

    I'm reaching the home stretch in orchestrating my musical (at least as far as getting a decent demo of the instruments, so I can record vocalists . . . sorting out the sheet music is another matter). I have spent a lot of time and effort to make this work with a 17 piece orchestra (16 if the conductor plays the second keyboard part, which is relatively simple and lays out a lot). My brass section consists of a two trumpets, a bass trombone (doubling on tenor trombone) and a French Horn. It sounds pretty good because some or all of the reeds are usually playing with the brass in the big numbers and, in the smaller numbers, if I use any brass at all, it's one or two solo instruments.

    I have one of the trumpeters doubling on flugelhorn. I use it in two of the big numbers for variety, to contrast with the other trumpet in instrumental breaks. But, mostly, I use it in the quieter numbers, as a solo or in two part harmony with the French Horn or in octaves with the trombone. In another number I use a solo muted trumpet and in yet another I use the muted trumpet and muted French Horn as alternating soloists.

    Originally, I didn't expect to use the flugelhorn all that much. I thought, most of the time, I'd want the muted trumpet for solo work in the softer sections. So I had assigned the flugelhorn doubling to the second trumpet player. But things seem to have worked out the other way around. So I am wondering if I should have the first trumpeter double on flugelhorn instead and let the second trumpeter handle the muted trumpet solos in the two other numbers.

    If I take the latter approach, that would make it a very demanding part for the first trumpet player. He's got the melody in all the big numbers and the vast majority of brass solos in the rest of the score. The second trumpet player would be doing harmonic support most of the time, with just two numbers to shine on his own.

    If I keep to my original plan, this show will be more demanding for the second trumpeter than perhaps is usual. The flugelhorn parts aren't very long and don't go very high -- though on a couple of numbers, it does go into the low range a bit. Mostly it's an issue of being very expressive in his playing.

    I'm just wondering how the pros would handle a situation like this. Do you pile all the good stuff on your strongest players, or spread it around a bit, like you would in a small jazz combo? Are second trumpet players expected to just give strong support and stay in the background, or are they just waiting for someone to write them a part that does more than that?

    I'd appreciate any feedback. Thanks.

    Allegro Data Solutions

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Re: Frugal Flugel

    It all depends on the age level/proficiency of the musicians you're writing for.

    If this is for pros, it doesn't make a difference.

    In school situations, the 1st player is usually the best, but don't give him too much or you're wear him out.

  3. #3

    Re: Frugal Flugel

    While playing shows (I'm a trumpet player) we would often switch books to spell each other (let each other rest). I'd put it all in the first book and let the ensemble sort it out. In my experience who is first and who is second isn't as important as getting the part played by somebody. If successful this musical will be played by in sorts of ensemble situations over the years. Players in theatre are very adaptable (if they are experienced players). Hope this helped.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

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  4. #4
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: Frugal Flugel

    Hi EJR,

    With all things being equal (IOW, if your pit is being played by good but not great musicians BUT all are proficient enough to cut the basic parts), it's always good to spread the wealth, so to speak.

    Giving ALL your players some meat with their potatoes will ensure a much better performance of your score ... once again assuming the 2nd Tpt player is up to the basic task. In all likelihood, he/she will be.

    Stamina is of the utmost importance for wind writing, especially for lead trumpet players ... balance the load as much as is practical.

    The stigma of only having 2nd and 3rd chairs do the doubling as exists in the classical world is non-existent in show and act pits, so your 1st chair could do the doubling if the previous point is satisfied.

    Regards,

    Frank

  5. #5

    Re: Frugal Flugel

    Keep in mind also that sometimes not all of the pit positions are filled. As such, Trumpet 1 should have most all of the melody, with anything of importance in Trumpet 2's part inserted as a cue.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: Frugal Flugel

    Hi again EJR and Reegs ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Reegs View Post
    Keep in mind also that sometimes not all of the pit positions are filled. As such, Trumpet 1 should have most all of the melody, with anything of importance in Trumpet 2's part inserted as a cue.
    Reegs' point is well taken, but at some point you simply have to finalize and put together a reasonably coherent package (score) and shoot for as balanced a set of materials as possible. It should also satisfy YOUR desires how to staff it under optimum conditions.

    A music director once told me to write and orchestrate your score for how you want it performed, with the ideal instrumentation/chairs you desire. You don't want to create an 800 lb gorilla assuming problems that may never arise ... and you couldn't possibly second guess all of them anyway (as an example if an oboist isn't available in your show's locale and you are calling for one). If there are problems, the music director will either fix them then, or, advise you how to fix them.

    Once again, it is the music director contracted for your show who, along with you, will worry about shifting a part here and there IF your score becomes problematic due to unavailable musicians or difficulties in performing a part.

    Regards,

    Frank

  7. #7

    Re: Frugal Flugel

    Thanks all. This was very helpful.

    Allegro Data Solutions

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