Great work tonight, everyone! Thank you for your effort and attentiveness. We’re already making excellent progress and beautiful sounds (and exciting crescendos!).
PRE-REHEARSAL DINNER NEXT WEEK
All are welcome to join an informal, extra-curricular, social pre-rehearsal dinner next Wednesday, January 29 at Colonnade on Bank Street. We will meet around 5 PM at the restaurant, and head to rehearsal afterward. Please RSVP to Charlene by Sunday, January 26, so that she can make a reservation.
NOTES ON THIS WEEK’S REPERTOIRE
- After the fermata in measure 16, the trumpets have a quarter-note lead-in to measure 17. I will conduct this as though there were two consecutive downbeats. The first downbeat is for the trumpets only (beat 4 of measure 16), and the second downbeat is for the rest of the band (beat 1 of measure 17).
- Everyone, listen carefully to the rhythm at m 42; the whole band plays this rhythm together, in rhythmic unison.
- Trumpet 1, horn, and trombones, let ‘er rip at m 36 – this is your solo! Everyone else, make sure you can hear the melody there (i.e., even if your part is marked f, play it mf!).
WHAT TO PRACTICE FOR NEXT WEEK
- Concert A-flat major scale – see note on concert pitch & transposing instruments below
- Stay Cool – practice the section from mm 52-67 especially, and see note on swing eighths below
Don’t bring Essential Elements Book 2 until February 26. We will start using it once our first round of clinics has ended.
VOCABULARY & CONCEPTS
Concert pitch & transposing instruments:
‘Concert’ pitch is kind of the Greenwich Mean Time of music. Piano, flute, oboe, trombone/baritone, bassoon, percussion, guitar, violin, and other instruments play and read in concert pitch. They are non-transposing instruments. That is, when those instruments play the pitch that is a written ‘A’ in their part or score, which in the treble clef is notated in the second space from the bottom of the staff, they will all play the same pitch. This pitch – which in North America is typically tuned to the frequency 440hz, and is the note most orchestras tune to before a performance – is referred to as ‘concert A’ or ‘A concert’.
Clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, and horns are transposing instruments. That is, when they play the pitch that is a written ‘A’ in their part or score, it won’t sound like the A on the piano or other non-transposing instruments. Transposing instruments are named for the concert pitch that sounds when they play a written C.
- B-flat clarinet – written C = concert B-flat
- E-flat alto saxophone – written C = concert E-flat
- B-flat tenor saxophone – written C = concert B-flat
- F horn – written C = concert F
- B-flat trumpet – written C = concert B-flat
Concert band parts are already transposed for these instruments, and the conductor’s score shows each instrument’s part as it looks to the player, with the same key signature and notes that the player sees. So it looks like the instruments are playing in several different keys, but all the keys sound the same.
- B-flat clarinet (transposes up a major second) – written D = concert C
- E-flat alto saxophone (transposes up a major sixth) – written A = concert C
- B-flat tenor saxophone (transposes up a major second) – written D = concert C
- F horn (transposes up a perfect fifth) – written G = concert C
- B-flat trumpet (transposes up a major second) – written D = concert C
Next week, we’ll play through a concert A-flat major scale.
- Flute and oboe: A-flat major (four flats: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db)
- Clarinet and bass clarinet: B-flat major (two flats: Bb, Eb)
- Alto and baritone saxophone: F major (one flat: Bb)
- Trumpet: B-flat major (two flats: Bb, Eb)
- Horn: E-flat major (three flats: Bb, Eb, Ab)
- Trombone and baritone: A-flat major (four flats: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db)
- Electric bass: A-flat major (four flats: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db)
- Mallet percussion: A-flat major (four flats: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db)
I strongly encourage you to learn scales without reading them. Learn their key signatures, and practice without music. This way, you can make up your own warm-ups and exercises using the notes in the scales, and focus your attention on listening rather than looking.
Straight versus swing/swung eighths (Stay Cool):
‘Straight’ in this context means having equal rhythmic value. A pair of eighth notes, played straight, will sound for the same length of time, and will feel even. This is the standard in classical music. ‘Swing/swung’ eighths do not have equal rhythmic value. A pair of eighth notes, played swung, will sound a little bit like a quarter note followed by an eighth note in a triplet feel; sometimes, when a piece is marked ‘swing eighths’, you will see an approximation like this:
Remember that this notation is just an approximation! In swing feel, the first eighth note will feel longer and heavier, and the second one shorter and lighter, but it’s not always or exactly a triplet feel. It can be useful to start out thinking of triplets … but music really starts to swing when we feel the unevenness, rather than counting it.
(Here’s a good, basic four-minute primer on this, with played examples: https://themusicworkshop.com/swung-vs-straight-8th-notes)