sackbut mouthpiece Romera Daniel Lassalle

ttf_Le.Tromboniste
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sackbut mouthpiece Romera Daniel Lassalle

Post by ttf_Le.Tromboniste » Thu Jan 25, 2018 1:41 am

Quote from: kbiggs on Jan 24, 2018, 10:28PMI was thinking about this thread earlier today, and I started to wonder: How many shawm or dulcian players use modern reeds on their instruments? How many string players use steel rather than gut strings? I know trumpet players use vented instruments to play, but the trend seems to be towards trumpets without vent or nodal holes.

Just thinking...

Well to be fair, pretty much the same debate rages among trumpet players about vent holes and, you guessed it, modernized mouthpieces. But the trend for players of my generation and the one before as far as I can tell is to embrace the challenge of all natural playing (which is made easier by using the much larger flexible historical mouthpieces). This has been squarely the minority up until now but it's changing.

String players use gut but then again there are compromises. Typically for the larger  large instruments it is hard to make good large gauge lower strings, and it is rather cost prohibitive. So a lot of people use gut core, steel wound strings for the bottom strings on the big bass instruments,which are much less expensive and much more durable than gut only, but do sound a bit different. They did come up with that technique fairly early on, but not quite as early as what people use it for now.

Shawm and dulcian reeds are a big mystery. There are very, very few extant original reeds and it is very hard to identify what instruments they were made for and if they are representative of their time in any way. They probably varied a lot geographically and in time (as opposed to trombone mouthpieces that show a remarkable consistency, certain places having a virtual monopoly or a supremacy on brass making (e.g. Nuremberg), and looking at mouthpieces and schematics from centuries later that still don't show major departures from the features we see from the start).


Yes, those questions of compromise are not unique to sackbuts, people deal with them across the board to variable degrees. But uncertainty and the fact other instruments make bigger compromises than us don't mean we shouldn't strive to eliminate as much compromise as is practically and economically reasonable.
ttf_Stan
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sackbut mouthpiece Romera Daniel Lassalle

Post by ttf_Stan » Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:30 am

Quote from: kbiggs on Jan 24, 2018, 10:28PMI was thinking about this thread earlier today, and I started to wonder: How many shawm or dulcian players use modern reeds on their instruments? How many string players use steel rather than gut strings? I know trumpet players use vented instruments to play, but the trend seems to be towards trumpets without vent or nodal holes.

Just thinking...

I was thinking about the exact same things.  Too many fabulous trumpet players use vent holes and shawm players use modern-inspired reeds for us to just stick our heads in the sand.  What I've gleaned from this thread is that my initial positions are still largely correct:  Trombonists are a special kind of weird when it comes to completely divorcing ourselves from modern practices when we talk about early music.  And I think that's silly.

How many of the true believers in this thread have talked about the ability and facility and knowledge of those "ancient" trombonists?  And then how many of them turned right around and insisted that those players, who have the same knowledge and ability and dexterity and facility that we have today, would be locked into playing "As vocally as possible" or "completely unlike a trombone."

I challenge you to tell me how a modern trombone sounds.  Seriously.  Nils Landgren, Wycliffe Gordon, and Brian Hecht are all playing Bb trombones.  Those sounds are all over the place.  A modern trombone can play sotto voce or bel canto or blow the walls down.  Why is it that we assume trombones in the 16th and 17th centuries weren't equally as flexible?  Because the sources we have were describing a very specific style of educated, erudite playing in extremely limited circumstances, and somebody made it a religion.  Where's the source that tells me how a trombone, playing with shawms up a 5th, was loud and brassy and obnoxious and completely different than a 17th century sonata? 

Again, my point is that the sources are a starting point, but are not themselves definitive.  If you think for a second that all trombonists in the 16th and 17th centuries all played the same way, with the same equipment, then I've got 300+ years of intervening history ready to disprove you.  So use a compromise mouthpiece if it helps you make a more musical sound.  Use chrome slides or spit valves to make the instrument easier to handle.  Play at 440 if you need to. 

We play a spectacularly versatile instrument.  One that is likely only exceeded by the human voice.  Stop trying to limit it!
ttf_lizatrmbn
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sackbut mouthpiece Romera Daniel Lassalle

Post by ttf_lizatrmbn » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:44 am

Quote from: Stan on Jan 25, 2018, 06:30AMHow many of the true believers in this thread have talked about the ability and facility and knowledge of those "ancient" trombonists?  And then how many of them turned right around and insisted that those players, who have the same knowledge and ability and dexterity and facility that we have today, would be locked into playing "As vocally as possible" or "completely unlike a trombone."
Did anyone say "completely unlike a trombone?" I certainly did not. 

QuoteI challenge you to tell me how a modern trombone sounds.  Seriously.  Nils Landgren, Wycliffe Gordon, and Brian Hecht are all playing Bb trombones.  Those sounds are all over the place.  A modern trombone can play sotto voce or bel canto or blow the walls down.  Why is it that we assume trombones in the 16th and 17th centuries weren't equally as flexible?  Because the sources we have were describing a very specific style of educated, erudite playing in extremely limited circumstances, and somebody made it a religion.  Where's the source that tells me how a trombone, playing with shawms up a 5th, was loud and brassy and obnoxious and completely different than a 17th century sonata?

Again, my point is that the sources are a starting point, but are not themselves definitive.  If you think for a second that all trombonists in the 16th and 17th centuries all played the same way, with the same equipment, then I've got 300+ years of intervening history ready to disprove you. 
No one said Renaissance trombonists weren't equally as flexible.  Of course styles varied from place to place -- people would have done different things depending on the venue, i.e. sacred or secular, outdoor or indoor, etc.  And I disagree that the sources only describe a specific style of educated and erudite playing.  Many of the sources we have were meant for amateurs or students (in the case of Speer, who was a stadtpfeiffer and teacher of young boys).  Some of the sources are even meant for people playing in dance bands. But the overall value of a trombonist -- in whatever style they played -- was their flexibility as a chromatic instrument, which gave them the ABILITY TO BLEND WITH VOICES AND ALL INSTRUMENTS.

Not only that, we can expand our reading to include how good singers, trumpets, reeds, recorders, etc. sounded.  The overarching qualities valued by Renaissance musicians were VOCALITY and CONSONANCE. No matter where you look, this is what you find. It is not just a few sources.  Where we can find variation is the way in which these qualities were used between venues.  For example, a large choir in a gigantic church would be encouraged to sing in a certain way, vs a soloist in a chamber setting.  Different regions all likely had different styles as well.  But a player who is serious about historical performance can't simply throw out the overarching techniques that are ubiquitously documented among theorists, players, singers, and eyewitnesses.

QuoteSo use a compromise mouthpiece if it helps you make a more musical sound.  Use chrome slides or spit valves to make the instrument easier to handle.  Play at 440 if you need to.
I think I just advocated for this above, if the circumstances require it, i.e. in the case of professional doublers, enthusiasts, etc. But there WILL be a compromise, and "musical" is a subjective term.  What does that even mean? A good sound (but what is that really)? Consistent articulation? Stylistic phrasing? What defines "musicality," if not the style most closely associated with what we are playing?

QuoteWe play a spectacularly versatile instrument.  One that is likely only exceeded by the human voice.  Stop trying to limit it!

This is a rather combative statement.  I don't think anyone is trying to limit anything.  I'd actually argue the opposite.  To throw a potential can of worms into the mix, I might even argue that brass players of today, while needing to be totally versatile and play in different styles as you rightly said, DO have an overarching aesthetic that is valued more highly than any other: athleticism.  The most admired players are ones that can easily push the extremes of technique, and the equipment is meant to help with that endeavor.  Historical mouthpieces will not do that, but they do prioritize other things. 

Again, as I said in my last post, people should play what they want and what is within their means.  But I do think there are many points to consider when making these decisions, and I believe that addressing them doesn't limit anything -- it expands our knowledge and helps us move forward musically and intellectually.
ttf_Le.Tromboniste
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sackbut mouthpiece Romera Daniel Lassalle

Post by ttf_Le.Tromboniste » Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:51 am

Quote from: Stan on Jan 25, 2018, 06:30AMWe play a spectacularly versatile instrument.  One that is likely only exceeded by the human voice.  Stop trying to limit it!

What? Can you point me to when in the discussion any of us have tried to "limit it"? Quite the opposite. My very top reason to advocate using historical mouthpieces is that it opens up the possibilities of achieving not only different sound colors and articulations than what our modern trombonist ears are used to, but a wider variety of them than what a modern mouthpiece allows.
ttf_Blowero
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sackbut mouthpiece Romera Daniel Lassalle

Post by ttf_Blowero » Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:49 pm

Quote from: Stan on Jan 25, 2018, 06:30AMI was thinking about the exact same things.  Too many fabulous trumpet players use vent holes and shawm players use modern-inspired reeds for us to just stick our heads in the sand.  What I've gleaned from this thread is that my initial positions are still largely correct:  Trombonists are a special kind of weird when it comes to completely divorcing ourselves from modern practices when we talk about early music.  And I think that's silly.

How many of the true believers in this thread have talked about the ability and facility and knowledge of those "ancient" trombonists?  And then how many of them turned right around and insisted that those players, who have the same knowledge and ability and dexterity and facility that we have today, would be locked into playing "As vocally as possible" or "completely unlike a trombone."

I challenge you to tell me how a modern trombone sounds.  Seriously.  Nils Landgren, Wycliffe Gordon, and Brian Hecht are all playing Bb trombones.  Those sounds are all over the place.  A modern trombone can play sotto voce or bel canto or blow the walls down.  Why is it that we assume trombones in the 16th and 17th centuries weren't equally as flexible?  Because the sources we have were describing a very specific style of educated, erudite playing in extremely limited circumstances, and somebody made it a religion.  Where's the source that tells me how a trombone, playing with shawms up a 5th, was loud and brassy and obnoxious and completely different than a 17th century sonata? 

Again, my point is that the sources are a starting point, but are not themselves definitive.  If you think for a second that all trombonists in the 16th and 17th centuries all played the same way, with the same equipment, then I've got 300+ years of intervening history ready to disprove you.  So use a compromise mouthpiece if it helps you make a more musical sound.  Use chrome slides or spit valves to make the instrument easier to handle.  Play at 440 if you need to. 

We play a spectacularly versatile instrument.  One that is likely only exceeded by the human voice.  Stop trying to limit it!

I couldn't disagree more with all of this. Asking "what does a modern trombone sound like?" is similar to asking "what does the color orange look like?" It sounds like a modern trombone. We all know what that sound is. The first time I heard sackbuts, it was a recording with players using modern mouthpieces and the best replicas they had at the time, with heavy spun bells, over-braced, maybe even heavy nickel tubing. My first thought was, "Sackbut is a horrible instrument". And I thought that for some time, until I heard a more historically informed recording. All of a sudden, it made complete sense. Rather than struggling not to cover up the singers, they blended perfectly with them. The music was transformed from an ugly, primitive sounding oddity to something beautiful. We NEVER would have had this if people hadn't done research and honestly tried to figure out what this music was about. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. When I hear the players who are striving to sound like the instruments this music was written for, I like the results. Do they have perfect knowledge? Of course not. But it's leaps and bounds above what we were doing, say, 40 years ago.
ttf_Blowero
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sackbut mouthpiece Romera Daniel Lassalle

Post by ttf_Blowero » Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:55 pm

A modern trombone can play sotto voce, but a good sackbut replica with a good mouthpiece replica has a transparency to the sound that cannot be achieved with a modern trombone.
ttf_Blowero
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Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:53 am

sackbut mouthpiece Romera Daniel Lassalle

Post by ttf_Blowero » Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:55 pm

A modern trombone can play sotto voce, but a good sackbut replica with a good mouthpiece replica has a transparency to the sound that cannot be achieved with a modern trombone.
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