Alto trombone in the 18th century

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HowardW
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Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by HowardW » Mon Aug 19, 2019 7:43 am

Earlier this year, I published an article in the Historic Brass Society Journal (2018) in which I discussed the use of the alto trombone in the 18th-century solo repertoire. Since nobody here has mentioned it, I can only assume that none of you have seen it. Therefore, I would like to make it available for download for a limited time. You might find it interesting or aggravating, or... I'm sure you'll let me know. :biggrin:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/4x69xj6xccdt5 ... g.pdf?dl=0

Happy reading!
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by rnelson » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:29 am

Thanks for posting this - I enjoyed the article a lot. I don't have a particular opinion in the discussion about historical alto trombone use, but I always assumed that music written alto clef meant that it was originally meant to be played on an alto trombone. Your article made me realize that that that one assumption does not make a lot of sense on its own, and using the contemporary documentation about trombone trills to get there was really creative.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by BGuttman » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:08 am

rnelson wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:29 am
Thanks for posting this - I enjoyed the article a lot. I don't have a particular opinion in the discussion about historical alto trombone use, but I always assumed that music written alto clef meant that it was originally meant to be played on an alto trombone. Your article made me realize that that that one assumption does not make a lot of sense on its own, and using the contemporary documentation about trombone trills to get there was really creative.
There was a fad (fetish?) of putting ALL trombone parts (even bass trombone!) in alto clef. Dvorak was clearly not writing for 2 alto trombones in his symphonies, yet all parts were published in alto clef.

Another false lead is that "Alto Trombone" on a part simply means "high trombone" and it is generally written higher than the tenor trombone. But there is no particular reason to play it on an alto trombone unless it's musically sound.

One place I like to use an alto on the 1st part is in choral music when the alto trombone doubles the alto voices. An alto trombone is better suited to supporting these voices rather than burying them.

Howard has been using sources to show that the alto trombone was nowhere near as popular in the 18th century as might be inferred.

Also, the instrument being originally in A makes a lot of sense, and the rationale for considering it in Bb for writing in a different pitch center also makes sense. Given the high cost of making these instruments it would be unlikely to own one on each pitch center.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by paulyg » Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:31 pm

Where did this idea come from that lip trills can only be performed with the slide in one position? Sure that's a good way to practice them initially, but movement between 2 or 3 positions to facilitate a half-step or whole-step trill is certainly possible.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by LeTromboniste » Sat Aug 24, 2019 10:57 am

You can make a trill of a major third sound like a second by slotting the upper note off center, and that is especially true on historical equipment. Also the technique of hitting the upper note using the correct position, moving to the lower note and then continuing the trill with the "wrong" upper note is really not unique to trombones; recorder and woodwind players also use the same trick when trills are between notes with incompatible fingerings.

Also this whole argument takes for granted that the biggest difficulty in a trill is to make it the right interval, and that a trill that is higher up in the partials will automatically be easier and sound better every time. That is not my experience playing and hearing that repertoire. While I know many who sound amazing playing that repertoire on tenor, I also know plenty of players (myself included although I don't play alto much anymore) who still find many of these trills to be easier to play in their context on alto despite the increased distance of the partials. It's not just about the trills themselves because they're not played in isolation. If I'm tiring out much more quickly because I'm playing an extremely high part on tenor, my trills will be one of the first things to suffer. Plus trills are most often found at the end of phrases, where my short term stamina is running lowest. On alto, sure I need a bigger effort on the trill itself, but it's much easier to give that effort because I'm not nearly as tired.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by brassmedic » Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:20 pm

The thing is, most of those trills are not technically playable on tenor trombone either, by the standard that Howard is applying. One would still have to trill over 2 different positions for most if not all of those examples. For example, is C to D really an "unplayable" trill on alto, yet eminently playable on tenor? Not really. Don't forget that the positions are closer together on an alto. You may have to move the slide across 2 positions to get that trill, but it's two shorter positions, and isn't much further than the amount you have to rock the slide on tenor. I don't notice much difference in the degree of difficulty between the two instruments on that particular trill. This kind of indirect evidence - to say that all those composers knew they were writing for an instrument in A, and decided which trills to include and which to omit based on their understanding of the overtone series for that instrument, even though there is no documentation of this - doesn't really convince me.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by HowardW » Mon Aug 26, 2019 5:15 am

brassmedic wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:20 pm
The thing is, most of those trills are not technically playable on tenor trombone either, by the standard that Howard is applying. One would still have to trill over 2 different positions for most if not all of those examples. For example, is C to D really an "unplayable" trill on alto, yet eminently playable on tenor?
You apparently did not understand the standard I was applying: eminently playable are trills with both notes in the same position; trills with the notes one or two positions apart can be played passably well. I consider trills on notes three or more positions apart to be problematic.

c to d is indeed playable on an alto, although I have often seen people trill from c to the e a third above, which is not a proper or correct trill. Not possible on an alto are trills from a-flat to b-flat as called for in Mozart's "Donnerworte" aria -- I've heard these trills played to the d-flat a fourth higher or using a trill valve, neither is a pleasure to hear. This trill is however playable on a tenor trombone: it's surely not easy to bring off elegantly, but playable none the less.

A number of years ago, I attended a competition for early trombone (sackbut) at which the required piece in the final round was the Wagenseil Concerto. Four of the five finalists played the concerto on tenor trombone, negotiating the piece as a whole and in particular all the trills elegantly. The fifth finalist came out with his alto trombone, and although he tried to play all the trills correctly, some of them sounded clumsy and wrong in spite of all his slide acrobatics. For me it was quite obvious that he chose the wrong instrument for the job -- otherwise he was a very fine player who would have given a very creditable performance had he used his tenor.
This kind of indirect evidence - to say that all those composers knew they were writing for an instrument in A, and decided which trills to include and which to omit based on their understanding of the overtone series for that instrument, even though there is no documentation of this - doesn't really convince me.
I doubt that the composers in question cared whether the trombone was in A -- there is, by the way, sufficient documentary evidence for trombones in A and D in the 16th to 18th centuries; the earliest evidence of trombones in B-flat and E-flat is from the end of the 18th century -- they were composing for a particular trombonist who was able to play the music (and trills) they wrote for him. What more did they need to know?

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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by LeTromboniste » Mon Aug 26, 2019 10:03 am

HowardW wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 5:15 am
brassmedic wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:20 pm
The thing is, most of those trills are not technically playable on tenor trombone either, by the standard that Howard is applying. One would still have to trill over 2 different positions for most if not all of those examples. For example, is C to D really an "unplayable" trill on alto, yet eminently playable on tenor?
You apparently did not understand the standard I was applying: eminently playable are trills with both notes in the same position; trills with the notes one or two positions apart can be played passably well. I consider trills on notes three or more positions apart to be problematic.

c to d is indeed playable on an alto, although I have often seen people trill from c to the e a third above, which is not a proper or correct trill. Not possible on an alto are trills from a-flat to b-flat as called for in Mozart's "Donnerworte" aria -- I've heard these trills played to the d-flat a fourth higher or using a trill valve, neither is a pleasure to hear. This trill is however playable on a tenor trombone: it's surely not easy to bring off elegantly, but playable none the less.

A number of years ago, I attended a competition for early trombone (sackbut) at which the required piece in the final round was the Wagenseil Concerto. Four of the five finalists played the concerto on tenor trombone, negotiating the piece as a whole and in particular all the trills elegantly. The fifth finalist came out with his alto trombone, and although he tried to play all the trills correctly, some of them sounded clumsy and wrong in spite of all his slide acrobatics. For me it was quite obvious that he chose the wrong instrument for the job -- otherwise he was a very fine player who would have given a very creditable performance had he used his tenor.
This kind of indirect evidence - to say that all those composers knew they were writing for an instrument in A, and decided which trills to include and which to omit based on their understanding of the overtone series for that instrument, even though there is no documentation of this - doesn't really convince me.
I doubt that the composers in question cared whether the trombone was in A -- there is, by the way, sufficient documentary evidence for trombones in A and D in the 16th to 18th centuries; the earliest evidence of trombones in B-flat and E-flat is from the end of the 18th century -- they were composing for a particular trombonist who was able to play the music (and trills) they wrote for him. What more did they need to know?

Howard
Hi Howard!

It's interesting you mention that competition - I assume you refer to the one 12 or 13 years ago? I was a participant in the one 3 years ago (not a finalist though) and pretty much the same happened, six finalists with only one playing the Wagenseil on alto, the others playing it on tenor. Except then I thought the alto player had the nicest trills! Incidentally I think he was the only finalist to play on a historical set up (most of the others had essentially modern mouthpieces) which aligns with my experience : trills are really not the strongest element of my technique, but nonetheless I found it much easier to bend the upper note down and make it sound right when playing more historical equipment (in particular flat rimmed and sharp throated mouthpieces) than when I play them on modern equipment, which is more stable and thus less flexible. That being said I think the Wagenseil works really well on tenor and it's entirely plausible that's what it was written for.



Back on topic, aside from what I mentioned in my previous post, what also really doesn't convince me in this whole argument is that it requires assuming that the composers knew (or cared) about the intricacies and difficulties of the mechanics of trombone trills (and in the case of the Mozart aria, we're talking about an 11 year-old composer). And if as you say they didn't care what pitch instrument the player was using, they were writing for a player and what they knew he could do, then why are the trills they wrote supposed to be a good indication of the instrument that was actually used?
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by brassmedic » Mon Aug 26, 2019 6:37 pm

Before I respond, I did enjoy reading the article, and I thank you for sharing it, and appreciate the research and information you presented.
HowardW wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 5:15 am
You apparently did not understand the standard I was applying: eminently playable are trills with both notes in the same position; trills with the notes one or two positions apart can be played passably well. I consider trills on notes three or more positions apart to be problematic.

c to d is indeed playable on an alto, although I have often seen people trill from c to the e a third above, which is not a proper or correct trill.
Sorry if I misunderstood the standard you were presenting. Perhaps I'm misreading the paper. You wrote " Trill intervals in bold type indicate trills that are either unplayable on an alto trombone, or involve awkward slide shifts over three positions", and examples of trills from c to d appear to be bolded. So I took that to mean that you consider the trill from c to d on alto to be either unplayable, or awkward.

And then, stop me if I am misrepresenting your argument, but I would assume, then, you were saying this c to d trill would work well on tenor trombone, otherwise I don't understand why you would present this as evidence against alto trombone being used at the time. But on tenor it doesn't work to the standard that Mozart wrote of either. You're getting a minor third, not a whole step. If you alternate the positions, you have to move the slide about 4 inches on tenor and about 6 1/2 inches on alto. Either way there's some fakery involved. But I think it's possible to get a decent sounding trill on either tenor or alto.

I'm not really following the logic here: Let's say, hypothetically, that these composers were writing for alto trombone. In that case are you saying they would have eschewed trills from c to d altogether?
Not possible on an alto are trills from a-flat to b-flat as called for in Mozart's "Donnerworte" aria -- I've heard these trills played to the d-flat a fourth higher or using a trill valve, neither is a pleasure to hear. This trill is however playable on a tenor trombone: it's surely not easy to bring off elegantly, but playable none the less.
Hmmm... Ab to Bb is about 8" distance on tenor and about 9 1/2" on alto. So you would seem to be saying that the 6 1/2 inches you need to move the slide for a C to D trill on alto is evidence that instrument wasn't in use, but the 8 inches you need to move the slide for an Ab to Bb trill on tenor is evidence that it WAS in use.

I'm not seeing a definite cutoff point between tenor and alto where any particular trill is usable/unusable, just a moderate difference in difficulty.

I could put together a list of awkward licks in big band charts involving B natural in the staff that would be much easier with F attachment, but it wouldn't prove that nobody plays straight tenor in big bands.
A number of years ago, I attended a competition for early trombone (sackbut) at which the required piece in the final round was the Wagenseil Concerto. Four of the five finalists played the concerto on tenor trombone, negotiating the piece as a whole and in particular all the trills elegantly. The fifth finalist came out with his alto trombone, and although he tried to play all the trills correctly, some of them sounded clumsy and wrong in spite of all his slide acrobatics. For me it was quite obvious that he chose the wrong instrument for the job -- otherwise he was a very fine player who would have given a very creditable performance had he used his tenor.
Hmmm.... I've heard very nice performances of the Wagenseil and certainly didn't think it sounded like it was on the wrong instrument.
I doubt that the composers in question cared whether the trombone was in A -- there is, by the way, sufficient documentary evidence for trombones in A and D in the 16th to 18th centuries; the earliest evidence of trombones in B-flat and E-flat is from the end of the 18th century -- they were composing for a particular trombonist who was able to play the music (and trills) they wrote for him. What more did they need to know?

Howard
Then how do you believe they made their determination? Let's take, for example, the 11 year old Mozart that LeTromboniste mentioned. Had he heard prominent trombone players in so many situations that he knew which trills they could and could not execute? Or did he ask the trombone player he was writing for which trills should not be included in the part? Or was it just trial and error - write a piece and then if it sounds bad, never do it again? I'm just trying to get a sense of how you think the knowledge was imparted to all the composers you referenced.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by Basbasun » Tue Aug 27, 2019 3:37 am

Well, sorry wrong octav. :)
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by HowardW » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:11 am

brassmedic wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 6:37 pm
Sorry if I misunderstood the standard you were presenting. Perhaps I'm misreading the paper. You wrote " Trill intervals in bold type indicate trills that are either unplayable on an alto trombone, or involve awkward slide shifts over three positions", and examples of trills from c to d appear to be bolded. So I took that to mean that you consider the trill from c to d on alto to be either unplayable, or awkward.
Alas, the tables were printed smaller than I expected, and are correspondingly difficult to read. If you look at them on screen with 300% zoom the bold type is more easily distinguishable.
And then, stop me if I am misrepresenting your argument, but I would assume, then, you were saying this c to d trill would work well on tenor trombone, otherwise I don't understand why you would present this as evidence against alto trombone being used at the time. But on tenor it doesn't work to the standard that Mozart wrote of either. You're getting a minor third, not a whole step. If you alternate the positions, you have to move the slide about 4 inches on tenor and about 6 1/2 inches on alto. Either way there's some fakery involved. But I think it's possible to get a decent sounding trill on either tenor or alto.
Staying in the same position for a trill does not work unless you're much higher on the overtone series. I have often enough seen and heard people play the trill on c (supposedly to d) without moving the slide, and thus doing exactly what I criticize: starting on the main note and trilling a third.

A requisite that I mentioned is that the two notes of a trill have to be on different steps of the respective harmonic series. -- And yes, fakery is involved for almost all trills on the trombone. Yet there are people would can nevertheless play convincing trills. -- So that a trill c to d on an B-flat tenor, for example, is from 3rd to 4th, not from 3rd to 1st. On a tenor in A, as I assume in my article, this trill would be from 2nd to 3rd.
I'm not really following the logic here: Let's say, hypothetically, that these composers were writing for alto trombone. In that case are you saying they would have eschewed trills from c to d altogether?
Not c to d, which, as I mentioned before, is playable, but just about any trill lower than that.
Hmmm... Ab to Bb is about 8" distance on tenor and about 9 1/2" on alto. So you would seem to be saying that the 6 1/2 inches you need to move the slide for a C to D trill on alto is evidence that instrument wasn't in use, but the 8 inches you need to move the slide for an Ab to Bb trill on tenor is evidence that it WAS in use.
On tenor in A, this trill would be 2nd to 4th (equivalent to 3rd to 5th on a B-flat tenor). On an alto in D, it would be 2nd to 5th.
I'm not seeing a definite cutoff point between tenor and alto where any particular trill is usable/unusable, just a moderate difference in difficulty.
In an endnote I quoted someone who claimed that the trill c to d was impossible on an alto in E-flat or F. I found that a bit strange, especially from someone who is a decided advocate of the alto. Nevertheless, there is a definite cut-off point not far below that: In Mozart's aria, there are also trills on b-flat to c, which are unplayable on an alto in D: the b-flat is in 5th and the only available c is in 3rd on the same step of the harmonic series. Glissando trills, anybody?
Hmmm.... I've heard very nice performances of the Wagenseil and certainly didn't think it sounded like it was on the wrong instrument.
Are you sure all of the trills were played? It is not unusual for people to leave out trills -- also in the Albrechtsberger Concerto -- that don't work on alto. Many years ago I heard the Wagenseil at a master's recital. The soloist left out the grace notes in the second movement. After the concert he saw me come to congratulte him and the first thing he said was "I know I left out the grace notes. I was getting tired." At that time, I knew nothing about Baroque performance practice and could not have told him why it was wrong to leave them out. But I did notice and later found out why they are indispensible. The answer to this is also to be found in Leopold Mozart's violin method.
Then how do you believe they made their determination? Let's take, for example, the 11 year old Mozart that LeTromboniste mentioned. Had he heard prominent trombone players in so many situations that he knew which trills they could and could not execute? Or did he ask the trombone player he was writing for which trills should not be included in the part? Or was it just trial and error - write a piece and then if it sounds bad, never do it again? I'm just trying to get a sense of how you think the knowledge was imparted to all the composers you referenced.
Don't underestimate the 11-year-old Mozart. He didn't just decide to try to write something with trombone on a whim. The oratorio was written for a specific occasion and was performed shortly after completion. There was even a printed libretto published. But yes, he was only 11-years-old: that's why his father went through the manuscript to check and correct it. But as far as I can see, Leopold did not change anything substantial in the trombone part, and definitely not any of the trills.
And as far as Mozart knowing about the trombone. As I mentioned, the trombone solos from Salzburg were all written for Thomas Gschlatt, who was active in Salzburg until shortly after the performance of Mozart's Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots. Moreover the court orchestra was not very big, so everybody knew everybody else, and Gschlatt is known to have been on friendly terms with the Mozarts. If I remember correctly, Leopold was even best man at Gschlatt's wedding. So even at the age of 11, Wolfgang was undoutedly well acquainted with the trombone. And if he or any of the other composers at the court had questions about trombone technique, they surely were able to ask Gschlatt for advice.

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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by brassmedic » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:16 pm

Howard, I did zoom in on your paper, and it very much looks like you have C1/D1 trills in bold. That would be this note :alto: :line3: correct?

If that wasn't supposed to be in bold, and you are saying that is not "either unplayable or involves awkward slide shifts", that would make a lot more sense as far as consistency of your argument.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by LeTromboniste » Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:39 pm

HowardW wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:11 am
Staying in the same position for a trill does not work unless you're much higher on the overtone series. I have often enough seen and heard people play the trill on c (supposedly to d) without moving the slide, and thus doing exactly what I criticize: starting on the main note and trilling a third.

A requisite that I mentioned is that the two notes of a trill have to be on different steps of the respective harmonic series. -- And yes, fakery is involved for almost all trills on the trombone. Yet there are people would can nevertheless play convincing trills. -- So that a trill c to d on an B-flat tenor, for example, is from 3rd to 4th, not from 3rd to 1st. On a tenor in A, as I assume in my article, this trill would be from 2nd to 3rd.
In an endnote I quoted someone who claimed that the trill c to d was impossible on an alto in E-flat or F. I found that a bit strange, especially from someone who is a decided advocate of the alto. Nevertheless, there is a definite cut-off point not far below that: In Mozart's aria, there are also trills on b-flat to c, which are unplayable on an alto in D: the b-flat is in 5th and the only available c is in 3rd on the same step of the harmonic series. Glissando trills, anybody?
That is a very big problem with the premise of this whole argument. You seem to advance that the only way to properly play trills is by moving the slide between the correct positions for both notes for the entire trill. I don't know a single person who does that; all the best at playing trills I know only ever hit the upper note in its true/correct position once or twice during the trill. Hitting the apogiatura on the true position (which doesn't even require the notes being on different partials), then moving to the lower note - some do sometimes also move back for the first oscillation when the position for the upper note is practical and available, but they always do a portion of the trill in the position of the lower note, and the best players are able to play the upper note off-center (bent down) and at the right pitch even though it's at the wrong position. You say you do think some players can play trills convincingly, I will bet those players do that (and I know for fact since she gave me entire lessons on this precise subject that one player in particular, who I'm assuming is one of those you're thinking about, does). Yes some trills are harder than others to play convincingly but they aren't impossible.

Moving the slide around, in my experience, disturbs the embouchure too much to allow for elegant trills.
Don't underestimate the 11-year-old Mozart. He didn't just decide to try to write something with trombone on a whim. The oratorio was written for a specific occasion and was performed shortly after completion. There was even a printed libretto published. But yes, he was only 11-years-old: that's why his father went through the manuscript to check and correct it. But as far as I can see, Leopold did not change anything substantial in the trombone part, and definitely not any of the trills.
And as far as Mozart knowing about the trombone. As I mentioned, the trombone solos from Salzburg were all written for Thomas Gschlatt, who was active in Salzburg until shortly after the performance of Mozart's Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots. Moreover the court orchestra was not very big, so everybody knew everybody else, and Gschlatt is known to have been on friendly terms with the Mozarts. If I remember correctly, Leopold was even best man at Gschlatt's wedding. So even at the age of 11, Wolfgang was undoutedly well acquainted with the trombone. And if he or any of the other composers at the court had questions about trombone technique, they surely were able to ask Gschlatt for advice.

Howard
Of course Mozart was already brilliant and had mentoring from very capable people, and of course he was very familiar with the trombone and with Gshclatt. That's not the question. The point I was making earlier is that assuming Gschlatt was the virtuoso we think he was and that we was able to play trills convincingly, I don't see why Mozart (and others) would need to know, ask about or even care about the mechanics and technical difficulties involved. I think they just wrote trills where they wanted them (and also expected the performer to add some in other appropriate places) like for any other instruments and assumed the skilled player they were writing for would play them. Given how essential and ubiquitous trills were in the general musical language of the time I doubt it was seen as a crazy advanced/extended technique. Unless we can prove that they went out of their way to avoid certain trills on certain instruments I don't see why we should assume they gave much thought about the technical difficulty of each individual trill.

Also given how many impossible glissandi we see in the works of today's composers (including very prominent ones) despite the information they need to avoid that being literally 3 mouse clicks and a google search away, I tend to be cautious about giving too much credit to composer's knowledge of very specific technical details of specific techniques of specific instruments. I don't think Mozart writing for alto trombone and his hand about to write a trill on an Ab would trigger a red flag in his mind as writing something impossible...
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by brassmedic » Tue Aug 27, 2019 3:17 pm

By the way, I was testing an alto sackbut that I am almost finished building, and also comparing it to a Meinl alto that's in the shop, and I noticed that it is possible to get a false Bb to sound in the same position as the Ab. Not something I've worked on a lot, but I imagine an 18th century player who was famous as a soloist could have pulled it off convincingly.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by HowardW » Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:49 am

LeTromboniste wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:39 pm
That is a very big problem with the premise of this whole argument. You seem to advance that the only way to properly play trills is by moving the slide between the correct positions for both notes for the entire trill. I don't know a single person who does that; all the best at playing trills I know only ever hit the upper note in its true/correct position once or twice during the trill.
You obviously didn't read my article very carefully. On page 22 in the second paragraph, I explicitly said "there is almost always a bit of sleight-of-hand or rather sleight-of-ear involved: for example, in the above-mentioned trill from c1 in third position to d1 in fifth, the trill starts on the d1 and is perhaps sounded once more, but possibly not even that, after the trill picks up speed...."
Of course Mozart was already brilliant and had mentoring from very capable people, and of course he was very familiar with the trombone and with Gshclatt. That's not the question. The point I was making earlier is that assuming Gschlatt was the virtuoso we think he was and that we was able to play trills convincingly, I don't see why Mozart (and others) would need to know, ask about or even care about the mechanics and technical difficulties involved. Bla-bla-bla...
I never said that Mozart and the other composers HAD TO ASK Gschlatt about trombone technique etc., but that they COULD HAVE ASKED. And this was in any case in answer to a question by brassmedic, not part of the argument in my article.

H
Last edited by HowardW on Wed Aug 28, 2019 2:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by HowardW » Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:53 am

brassmedic wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:16 pm
Howard, I did zoom in on your paper, and it very much looks like you have C1/D1 trills in bold.
I was afraid that the format of the table would cause problems. Sorry. The C1/D1 trills are not (or should not) be bold.
That would be this note :alto: :line3: correct?
correct
If that wasn't supposed to be in bold, and you are saying that is not "either unplayable or involves awkward slide shifts", that would make a lot more sense as far as consistency of your argument.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by HowardW » Wed Aug 28, 2019 2:16 am

brassmedic wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 3:17 pm
By the way, I was testing an alto sackbut that I am almost finished building, and also comparing it to a Meinl alto that's in the shop, and I noticed that it is possible to get a false Bb to sound in the same position as the Ab. Not something I've worked on a lot, but I imagine an 18th century player who was famous as a soloist could have pulled it off convincingly.
Interesting. Did you try using it in a trill?
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by LeTromboniste » Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:55 am

HowardW wrote:
Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:49 am
LeTromboniste wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:39 pm
That is a very big problem with the premise of this whole argument. You seem to advance that the only way to properly play trills is by moving the slide between the correct positions for both notes for the entire trill. I don't know a single person who does that; all the best at playing trills I know only ever hit the upper note in its true/correct position once or twice during the trill.
You obviously didn't read my article very carefully. On page 22 in the second paragraph, I explicitly said "there is almost always a bit of sleight-of-hand or rather sleight-of-ear involved: for example, in the above-mentioned trill from c1 in third position to d1 in fifth, the trill starts on the d1 and is perhaps sounded once more, but possibly not even that, after the trill picks up speed...."
I did read it when it came out but didn't remember all the fine details and that was a few months ago already, so my apologies. The above discussion on slide positions left me wondering.

But then I'm not sure what the point is. If we all agree that trills can be performed convincingly that way (which doesnt even require the notes being on different partials if the upper note is not available there, since you can very well play the appogiatura, litghly tongue as you move down the slide in the same partial to the lower note and then trill there) then I don't see how we can make a point that any of those trills are unplayable on alto. If the point is that they are easier on tenor, then yes of course but there are a still people who can make them sound just as good. And it seems to me that the relevancy of that in determining what instrument was intended or used is quite limited. There are a number of reasons why one would choose an instrument over the other and the ease of the trills is just one of many considerations, and to me far from being at the top of the list. As I pointed out earlier, the increased ease of the trills in isolation doesn't always translate in context - for instance I do find it noticeably easier to play C-D trills on tenor if I just play an isolated trill, but when I play Wagenseil, I am able to better play that long trill on a semibreve C in the second movement on alto than on tenor because of how it fits in the phrase, coming down from a very long phrase and from delicate passagework up high; on tenor I'm always running low on air and am not in my most relaxed state, which is way worse for my trill than having to bend down from a minor third instead of a major third.

Also, this all requires us to assume Gschlatt had access to one instrument and only one, which I don't see how we can take as a absolute given. (If he did have access to both a tenor and an alto, then he could very well have chosen the instrument that he felt allowed him to play that day's piece best and unfortunately for us there would be little way of discerning which pieces he might have played on one or the other)
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by brassmedic » Wed Aug 28, 2019 12:01 pm

HowardW wrote:
Wed Aug 28, 2019 2:16 am
brassmedic wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 3:17 pm
By the way, I was testing an alto sackbut that I am almost finished building, and also comparing it to a Meinl alto that's in the shop, and I noticed that it is possible to get a false Bb to sound in the same position as the Ab. Not something I've worked on a lot, but I imagine an 18th century player who was famous as a soloist could have pulled it off convincingly.
Interesting. Did you try using it in a trill?
H
Yes, but I couldn't get it to sound consistently enough. My trill reverted to a larger interval. It would take a lot of practice.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by HowardW » Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:51 pm

LeTromboniste wrote:
Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:55 am
But then I'm not sure what the point is. If we all agree that trills can be performed convincingly that way (which doesnt even require the notes being on different partials if the upper note is not available there, since you can very well play the appogiatura, litghly tongue as you move down the slide in the same partial to the lower note and then trill there)
But I don't agree. As far as I'm concerned, the two notes of a trill have to be on different steps of the overtone series. I have yet to hear anybody play convincing trills in the manner you describe.
And it seems to me that the relevancy of that in determining what instrument was intended or used is quite limited.
Then what's the point of performing on historical instruments? Especially if you don't have the curiosity to ask obvious questions about the instrument or the demands of the music? I've been fascinated by the trombone, its music, history, and performance practice for over 45 years. Besides doing a lot of playing, I've examined at a large number of musical and textual sources, and have tried to piece together the bits of information that turned up. In an number of instances, I've managed to publish essays about things nobody else had discovered and/or understood before about the history of the trombone.

Let me ask you a question: Why do you even bother if you're not interested in the historical aspects of "historically informed performance"?
As I pointed out earlier, the increased ease of the trills in isolation doesn't always translate in context
Just because I only offered short excerpts from the various pieces doesn't mean that I didn't take the context of the trills into consideration. In fact was able to consult facsimilies of almost all the pieces I discussed. And besides, a journal like the HBSJ is not really the place for publishing full scores.
Also, this all requires us to assume Gschlatt had access to one instrument and only one, which I don't see how we can take as a absolute given.
We can't know for sure of course. But for the sake of my argument, I had to make a qualified decision on the basis of my knowledge. As far as I know, only one of the many trombonists who have inspected and written about the 18th-century Austrian trombone repertoire has commented on the difficulties presented by the relatively low trills in Mozart's aria, Michael Haydn's oratorios, etc. So why shouldn't I look into it and ask and answer questions that nobody had thought of before?
By the way, even as late as the 19th century, it was usual for the employers to supply the instruments for the musicians in their service. So it's quite possible that Gschlatt did not even own his own trombone.

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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by brassmedic » Wed Aug 28, 2019 7:02 pm

HowardW wrote:
Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:51 pm

But I don't agree. As far as I'm concerned, the two notes of a trill have to be on different steps of the overtone series. I have yet to hear anybody play convincing trills in the manner you describe.
I don't think he's talking about moving the slide back and forth on the same partial. I took it to mean that you would play the upper note of the trill once to establish the pitch, move to the lower note, and then lip trill on the lower note.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by paulyg » Wed Aug 28, 2019 7:19 pm

I started to get into historically-informed performing, but the gout, horrible dental problems, rickets, dysentery, bi-annual baths, and wig powder allergies really started to impact my love life.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by brassmedic » Thu Aug 29, 2019 12:47 am

HowardW wrote:
Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:53 am

I was afraid that the format of the table would cause problems. Sorry. The C1/D1 trills are not (or should not) be bold.

Howard
A Ha. That makes so much more sense. Thanks for clearing that up.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by HowardW » Thu Aug 29, 2019 1:37 am

paulyg wrote:
Wed Aug 28, 2019 7:19 pm
I started to get into historically-informed performing, but the gout, horrible dental problems, rickets, dysentery, bi-annual baths, and wig powder allergies really started to impact my love life.
That's historically INFORMED, not historically INFIRMED !

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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by brassmedic » Thu Aug 29, 2019 2:16 pm

Howard - Can't find my copy of the Wagenseil right now; guess I need to clean house. But specifically which trills would need to be left out and/or performed incorrectly by an alto player? I can't think of any off hand. In my recollection, they are all pretty playable on alto.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by HowardW » Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:04 am

brassmedic wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 2:16 pm
Howard - Can't find my copy of the Wagenseil right now; guess I need to clean house. But specifically which trills would need to be left out and/or performed incorrectly by an alto player? I can't think of any off hand. In my recollection, they are all pretty playable on alto.
Brad, you're right. The lowest trills in the Wagenseil are indeed c1-d1.

The reason that the fellow at the competiton had so much trouble with them was most likely due to the tuning pitch: if the orchestra was tuned a semitone lower to the today frequently employed baroque pitch at a=415, which I'm pretty sure was the case, that would have made the c-d trills into b-c# trills, which are not very comfortable on an E-flat alto.

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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by LeTromboniste » Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:14 am

HowardW wrote:
Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:51 pm
And it seems to me that the relevancy of that in determining what instrument was intended or used is quite limited.
Then what's the point of performing on historical instruments? Especially if you don't have the curiosity to ask obvious questions about the instrument or the demands of the music? I've been fascinated by the trombone, its music, history, and performance practice for over 45 years. Besides doing a lot of playing, I've examined at a large number of musical and textual sources, and have tried to piece together the bits of information that turned up. In an number of instances, I've managed to publish essays about things nobody else had discovered and/or understood before about the history of the trombone.

Let me ask you a question: Why do you even bother if you're not interested in the historical aspects of "historically informed performance"?
Howard, I suspect (and hope) that you misread my comment. I didn't say determining the instrument that was used is irrelevant, in fact it is extremely relevant. I said that "The relevancy of that [i.e. trills being less easy on alto] in determining what instrument was intended or used is quite limited". You can of course disagree with that, but it's not an unreasonable reservation to have. I do think it's not at all unlikely that you are right about the use (or lack thereof) of alto, I'm just not completely convinced by the arguments yet.

Anyway, I hope I'm right and you simply misread my previous comment, otherwise I must say I really don't appreciate your questioning my motivations or curiosity or interest towards the field that I have chosen to devote myself to, and would ask you to retract your insinuations or substantiate them (what do you know about me or my ethics or any of the work I do?). I have no interest in continuing to take part in this discussion if it's going to devolve into an exchange of ad hominem attacks, if anything because I would never dare return that treatment to you - I have said before both publicly on the old forum and privately in our correspondence that I have nothing but respect and admiration for you and your work. I always find your writings enlightening and interesting and your research has done a huge service to all trombonists and anyone interested in the history of brass instruments. I don't think it's fair to accuse me of having "no interest in the historical aspects of historically informed performance" just because I happen to have reservations with some your arguments on this one particular subject.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by paulyg » Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:03 am

HowardW wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:04 am
brassmedic wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 2:16 pm
Howard - Can't find my copy of the Wagenseil right now; guess I need to clean house. But specifically which trills would need to be left out and/or performed incorrectly by an alto player? I can't think of any off hand. In my recollection, they are all pretty playable on alto.
Brad, you're right. The lowest trills in the Wagenseil are indeed c1-d1.

The reason that the fellow at the competiton had so much trouble with them was most likely due to the tuning pitch: if the orchestra was tuned a semitone lower to the today frequently employed baroque pitch at a=415, which I'm pretty sure was the case, that would have made the c-d trills into b-c# trills, which are not very comfortable on an E-flat alto.

Howard
What? Are you suggesting that every instrument in the orchestra is tuned to A415, except for the Eb alto, which is now transposing?
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by LeTromboniste » Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:32 am

paulyg wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:03 am
HowardW wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:04 am

Brad, you're right. The lowest trills in the Wagenseil are indeed c1-d1.

The reason that the fellow at the competiton had so much trouble with them was most likely due to the tuning pitch: if the orchestra was tuned a semitone lower to the today frequently employed baroque pitch at a=415, which I'm pretty sure was the case, that would have made the c-d trills into b-c# trills, which are not very comfortable on an E-flat alto.

Howard
What? Are you suggesting that every instrument in the orchestra is tuned to A415, except for the Eb alto, which is now transposing?
That was indeed the case in many places in the 18th century, where the woodwinds and strings were tuned at around 410-420 Hz and the trombones, cornetts and organ tuned at 460-470 Hz, a difference of a whole step. You find original parts where the brass and organ are notated one step lower (for instance, parts in C minor for a piece in D minor). Trombones were conceived of as in A and D at ~465 rather than in Bb and Eb at 440, and it is then a whole step transposition which is fairly simple even when transposed parts are not provided. That is the way many pieces with trombones in Salzburg would have been performed (some of Mozart's masses do have transposed parts for the trombones for instance).

However I think the Wagenseil was likely written at a time and place where the pitch had already migrated to halfway in-between to roughly 430-440 and where the trombones were already being thought of as in Bb and Eb at the same pitch as the rest of the instruments. But some baroque orchestras today might nonetheless insist to stay at 415...

I can't speak for the pitch at the competition Howard is speaking of, but at the second iteration of that and competition 10 years later, the Wagenseil was played at 440.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by brassmedic » Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:14 pm

HowardW wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:04 am
brassmedic wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 2:16 pm
Howard - Can't find my copy of the Wagenseil right now; guess I need to clean house. But specifically which trills would need to be left out and/or performed incorrectly by an alto player? I can't think of any off hand. In my recollection, they are all pretty playable on alto.
Brad, you're right. The lowest trills in the Wagenseil are indeed c1-d1.

The reason that the fellow at the competiton had so much trouble with them was most likely due to the tuning pitch: if the orchestra was tuned a semitone lower to the today frequently employed baroque pitch at a=415, which I'm pretty sure was the case, that would have made the c-d trills into b-c# trills, which are not very comfortable on an E-flat alto.

Howard
I think the usual way to handle 415 on a sackbut reproduction is to use tuning bits or a 415 tuning slide. Is it that you can't recall if the orchestra was tuned a semitone lower? You said it was an early trombone competition. Were the contestants playing modern trombones or were they playing sackbuts? Were they all playing at A=415? Even if that were the case, I don't see how a trill in 5th position would be that much harder than a trill in 4th position.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by HowardW » Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:04 am

brassmedic wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:14 pm
I think the usual way to handle 415 on a sackbut reproduction is to use tuning bits or a 415 tuning slide. Is it that you can't recall if the orchestra was tuned a semitone lower? You said it was an early trombone competition. Were the contestants playing modern trombones or were they playing sackbuts? Were they all playing at A=415? Even if that were the case, I don't see how a trill in 5th position would be that much harder than a trill in 4th position.
I ordered a 415 tuning bit when I bought my Meinl & Lauber tenor sackbut, but after one try I never used it again and simply played a semitone lower when confronted with a=415 (or a semitone higher for a=465). It was much more comfortable and no big deal (of course you do have to practice it). Although other people have other solutions.

As for playing a b-c# trill on an alto: Where do you get the c#? It would be in 7th position, but historical altos don't usually have a 7th position (a Meinl & Lauber might, but my van der Heyde doesn't).

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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by HowardW » Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:07 am

LeTromboniste wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:14 am
I didn't say determining the instrument that was used is irrelevant, in fact it is extremely relevant. I said that "The relevancy of that [i.e. trills being less easy on alto] in determining what instrument was intended or used is quite limited".
What other aspect(s) remain if you discount the trills? If you only look at the clef, it's easy: these pieces can only be for alto trombone. Is that a more convincing argument? Not for me. Especially after hearing so many ugly "trills" (or what sometimes passes for trills), for example, in the Mozart aria. I find it amazing that until now nobody else has expressed doubt about the suitability of the alto trombone for this repertoire. Ah! but the trombone part is in alto clef! Give me a break!
Anyway, I hope I'm right and you simply misread my previous comment, otherwise I must say I really don't appreciate your questioning my motivations or curiosity or interest towards the field that I have chosen to devote myself to, and would ask you to retract your insinuations or substantiate them (what do you know about me or my ethics or any of the work I do?). I have no interest in continuing to take part in this discussion if it's going to devolve into an exchange of ad hominem attacks, if anything because I would never dare return that treatment to you
O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!

They were not insinuations, but questions that came to me while reading your comments. But let's drop it. I don't have any desire to carry on a feud with you. (But do see my PM).

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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by LeTromboniste » Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:35 am

brassmedic wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:14 pm
I think the usual way to handle 415 on a sackbut reproduction is to use tuning bits or a 415 tuning slide. Is it that you can't recall if the orchestra was tuned a semitone lower? You said it was an early trombone competition. Were the contestants playing modern trombones or were they playing sackbuts? Were they all playing at A=415? Even if that were the case, I don't see how a trill in 5th position would be that much harder than a trill in 4th position.
I'm not sure I'd call that the usual way. It's certainly not super historical (considering that typically works with trombone that would have been performed at a pitch as low as 415 come from places where the trombones where still thought of as in A and D a whole step higher, not in Bb and Eb a half step higher), and I can't speak for everyone's actual practice, but I can at least say that for someone who is familiar with playing at high pitch (which most professional sackbut players and quite a few serious amateurs are), transposing down a step from 466 is often easier as the music falls better on the slide that on Bb instrument, and using the extension bits or alternate tuning slide noticeably changes the feel, response, positions placement and tuning tendencies of the horn.

I actually use my "415" bits to play in A at 440 (i.e. to use the same positions in 440 or 466 the same way we always do for bass trombone), not for Bb at 415.
HowardW wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:07 am
LeTromboniste wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:14 am
I didn't say determining the instrument that was used is irrelevant, in fact it is extremely relevant. I said that "The relevancy of that [i.e. trills being less easy on alto] in determining what instrument was intended or used is quite limited".
What other aspect(s) remain if you discount the trills? If you only look at the clef, it's easy: these pieces can only be for alto trombone. Is that a more convincing argument? Not for me. Especially after hearing so many ugly "trills" (or what sometimes passes for trills), for example, in the Mozart aria. I find it amazing that until now nobody else has expressed doubt about the suitability of the alto trombone for this repertoire. Ah! but the trombone part is in alto clef! Give me a break!
No, the clef is not convincing at all to me either. Especially since there are clef changes in some of those pieces (the Wagenseil, for instance, has bits in tenor clef), and since there is plenty of music (both earlier and later) that is also entirely in alto clef yet cannot possibly be meant for alto. I think the clef has little to no place in this discussion. I do doubt about the systematic use of alto trombone in that repertoire, I just haven't seen any conclusive evidence to discard the use of the alto trombone altogether either. I think the Wagenseil is more likely intended for tenor. I'm less sure about the Albrechtsberger or the L.Mozart or M.Haydn movements. Same with the obbligato arias. Some definitely fit better on tenor, but others are really easier, at least for some players, on alto. If the soloists those pieces were written for had access to both instruments, why wouldn't they use the one that best fits each particular piece? In short I think your conclusions are reasonable and plausible, but so are other scenarios.
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by BGuttman » Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:57 am

LeTromboniste wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:35 am
...

No, the clef is not convincing at all to me either. Especially since there are clef changes in some of those pieces (the Wagenseil, for instance, has bits in tenor clef), and since there is plenty of music (both earlier and later) that is also entirely in alto clef yet cannot possibly be meant for alto. I think the clef has little to no place in this discussion. I do doubt about the systematic use of alto trombone in that repertoire, I just haven't seen any conclusive evidence to discard the use of the alto trombone altogether either. I think the Wagenseil is more likely intended for tenor. I'm less sure about the Albrechtsberger or the L.Mozart or M.Haydn movements. Same with the obbligato arias. Some definitely fit better on tenor, but others are really easier, at least for some players, on alto. If the soloists those pieces were written for had access to both instruments, why wouldn't they use the one that best fits each particular piece? In short I think your conclusions are reasonable and plausible, but so are other scenarios.
I think this gets at the crux of Howard's argument. We can't travel back in time to observe what was done, and there are no reliable documents that state exactly what instrument was played. We must infer from playing characteristics and knowledge of the instruments what was done (or not) in the past.

At best we can do "historically informed" performances with no guarantee of "historical accuracy".
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by LeTromboniste » Sat Aug 31, 2019 7:24 am

BGuttman wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:57 am
LeTromboniste wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:35 am
...

No, the clef is not convincing at all to me either. Especially since there are clef changes in some of those pieces (the Wagenseil, for instance, has bits in tenor clef), and since there is plenty of music (both earlier and later) that is also entirely in alto clef yet cannot possibly be meant for alto. I think the clef has little to no place in this discussion. I do doubt about the systematic use of alto trombone in that repertoire, I just haven't seen any conclusive evidence to discard the use of the alto trombone altogether either. I think the Wagenseil is more likely intended for tenor. I'm less sure about the Albrechtsberger or the L.Mozart or M.Haydn movements. Same with the obbligato arias. Some definitely fit better on tenor, but others are really easier, at least for some players, on alto. If the soloists those pieces were written for had access to both instruments, why wouldn't they use the one that best fits each particular piece? In short I think your conclusions are reasonable and plausible, but so are other scenarios.
I think this gets at the crux of Howard's argument. We can't travel back in time to observe what was done, and there are no reliable documents that state exactly what instrument was played. We must infer from playing characteristics and knowledge of the instruments what was done (or not) in the past.

At best we can do "historically informed" performances with no guarantee of "historical accuracy".
I think we all agree with this, we just disagree on what can be infered from what (and it's fine that we do - discussion and debate can spark new ideas and leads and hypotheses)
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sat Aug 31, 2019 7:51 am

I enjoyed the paper. :cool:

It certainly seems reasonable to me. I note that it focuses heavily on Salzburg and Thomas Gschlatt (how in the world is that pronounced??) and not much on other parts of Europe. I would assume there's a lot more historical sources to work with there?

I also think it's smart to focus on which instruments make trills easier, as opposed to other clues like range or orchestration. I have not had opportunity to play on historical instruments, but I understand the tenors of the time were more akin to a modern King 2B than the 'tenor-bass' instruments common with principal players and soloists today, and the 2B definitely has an easier high range. Is there much information on the instrument Gschlatt would have played on in this regard?

As an orchestra wasn't really as standardized across Europe as they are today, I would suspect that a lot of the use of altos or lack thereof just depended on who was available, and composers may have sometimes assumed that either might end up being used for 1st parts in some cases, at least in regions that weren't as rich as Salzburg.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
HowardW
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by HowardW » Sat Aug 31, 2019 9:02 am

AndrewMeronek wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 7:51 am
I enjoyed the paper. :cool:
Thanks!
It certainly seems reasonable to me. I note that it focuses heavily on Salzburg and Thomas Gschlatt (how in the world is that pronounced??) and not much on other parts of Europe. I would assume there's a lot more historical sources to work with there?
The pronunciation is not that difficult. Just think of the whole name as one syllable (with **G** very short and hard, and **latt** pronounced **lot** as in **empty lot**) and let it rip...

I covered other parts of Europe in my initial essay:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/h1qb6osyhpl8i ... s.pdf?dl=0
I also think it's smart to focus on which instruments make trills easier, as opposed to other clues like range or orchestration. I have not had opportunity to play on historical instruments, but I understand the tenors of the time were more akin to a modern King 2B than the 'tenor-bass' instruments common with principal players and soloists today, and the 2B definitely has an easier high range. Is there much information on the instrument Gschlatt would have played on in this regard?
Historical instruments are even smaller than a King 2B, with a smaller bore, smaller bell with much less flare, smaller mouthpiece with a flat rim and an edge where the cup goes into the backbore. There is no information about the instrument Gschlatt would have played on. We can only rely on conjecture.
As an orchestra wasn't really as standardized across Europe as they are today, I would suspect that a lot of the use of altos or lack thereof just depended on who was available, and composers may have sometimes assumed that either might end up being used for 1st parts in some cases, at least in regions that weren't as rich as Salzburg.
Different places also developed their own customs.

H
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sat Aug 31, 2019 9:43 am

HowardW wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 9:02 am
The pronunciation is not that difficult. Just think of the whole name as one syllable (with **G** very short and hard, and **latt** pronounced **lot** as in **empty lot**) and let it rip...
Oh, my poor glottis . . .
I covered other parts of Europe in my initial essay:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/h1qb6osyhpl8i ... s.pdf?dl=0
Thanks! :cool:
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
Posaunus
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Re: Alto trombone in the 18th century

Post by Posaunus » Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:24 pm

Howard and Maximilien,

I can't than you enough for this interesting journey into the history of our beloved trombone. Obviously, without a time machine, we can't go back to the past to learn exactly how this history developed, but your informed views are obviously more than mere conjecture. I hope there is no animosity between you, and that you can agree to (occasionally) disagree without rancor, and can continue to educate us on this fascinating topic.

Write on! :good:
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