This one is straightforward: do everything you did in Tech Project 2A: Major Power Scales again, this time changing one note. Instead of 1 2 3 4 5, use 1 2 b3 4 5, i.e. make it minor.
We will bounce back and forth between valveless and valve tech projects. Thus, this time we will look at some valve work. Anybody play piano? We are always interested in stealing, uh, learning from other instruments and genres outside of the classical, and for this project we are going to borrow from the piano and alloy a basic bit of piano technique with a basic bit from educational psychology/physiology on efficient learning.
How do you eat a head of broccoli (assuming you wanted to)? Take the head and mash it into your face and start working your jaws? Or break off a sprig, chew it, swallow, and repeat until the head is gone? The first choice might be tempting because you are attacking the whole thing, and isn’t bigger (longer, higher, deeper, louder, more more more!) always better? OK, that was mostly rhetorical. Although you take on only a little when you go sprig by sprig, the small bit approach is indeed more efficient and thorough.
The operating system of the horn is the overtone series. [OS = OS!]. We will henceforth use the abbreviation OTS for overtone series, partly to avoid any confusion with the common use of OS meaning (computer) operating system (isn’t the alphabetical coincidence fascinating…), but mostly as a shorthand way of conveying information (which is what abbreviations are). More such shortcuts are to follow. I know, it’s sometimes annoying to have to learn new stuff, but think of how much faster you were able to work at the computer when you learned the basic keyboard commands like (on a Mac) Command-P for print, Command-C for copy, Command-X for cut, Command-V for paste, Command-S for save and so on – instead of having to reach for the mouse each time. Although new ways always have a learning curve, once you get used to working in a more efficient way, it’s hard to go back to the old way. Bear with me and learn some (possibly) new conventions (some outlined in the last post) and you will enjoy having both the understanding of the processes and the efficiency of the procedures. You will be able to apply them to your own playing and introduce them to your students right away.
The Overtone Series
Although we were all raised from Day One on the horn on playing with valves, control of the horn in fact is first and foremost the acquiring of control over movement around the overtone series, that is, all those notes that you can play with any one fingering. That’s what makes horn so challenging. Piano: one fingering, one note. Clarinet, one fingering, one note. Guitar: one fingering, one note. Horn: one fingering, 16 notes! Sounds like musical mission impossible, which may be why method books try to skirt the issue by going to valves right away. But, as the saying goes, the obstacle is the path. Horn players (and all brass players) need to confront this music elephant in the room right away and every day to start acquiring real control of this beautiful beast from the get-go. Putting valve work ahead of OTS work dulls the sense of where the center of the notes are and what you have to do to get there.
I was going to do Tech Project #1 today, but I was not able to figure out how to insert a jpg file of music manuscript (I wanted a line of manuscript, but when I tried, the insert was always of the whole page with a tiny line of manuscript). So while I figure that out, it’s probably a good idea to make you familiar with the terms and procedures I like to use in describing the tech projects. I will repeat them later, but here is a first brief exposure.
HORN – I don’t mean that thing in your lap, exactly. The definition of a horn that is useful in our tech study is: A horn is a length of tubing. Thus, the concatenation of metal in your lap is not one, not two, but fourteen horns. Each fingering combination gives you instant access to a different length of tubing. The lowest horn is a B Basso horn (F:123). The highest horn on the F side is the F horn, naturally. The lowest horn using the trigger is the E horn (T123), but we never use that fingering or the next one up, the F horn fingered T13. T23 gives us the Gb horn, a half step above our open F horn. The highest horn is the Bb alto horn: T:0.
I don’t know about you, but my diet over the holidays now seems to have consisted largely of cookies, and with the beginning of the New Year comes the revving up a regimen of a new diet and more exercise. It will take some time to work off all those cookies, but as I lumbered around the track this morning, the idea of a new beginning gave me some ideas on how I/we could turn over similar new leaves in horn playing for the New Year.
My idea was Tech [technique] Projects. It’s easy to set up a daily routine that goes over all the basics… and then sit on it for the next forty years. Once you get it down, it’s easy to breeze through it every day as well as getting a sense of personal virtue for doing it. Nothing wrong with a quick brush-up on what we already can do, but life is more interesting and personally enriching if it has some obstacles in it, so to speak, i.e. stuff we can’t quite do yet.
Enter our New Year’s Tech Projects. You are free to make up your own, but I have decided to throw out some ideas as the weeks and months scrolls by. Tech Projects will be focused work on some limited aspect of technique.
Gift giving time may be over for now, but it’s never to early to stock up for next time or special occasions. Let’s start the New Year with a list of “treats” for horn players, i.e. new, interesting, or otherwise off-the-beaten-brass-path items that could serve as presents, stocking stuffers, or ‘just because’ surprises.
•French Horn Custom Snap Stamp ($39). Decorate your holiday envelopes, stationery, gift tags and greeting cards with this custom horn stamp.
•Free dissertation (download pdf file online): Perspectives on Auditioning: An Examination of Professional Horn Players on Auditioning by Manfredi Guglielmo, 197 p. Hot off the presses: December 2011. You’ll have to print it out if you want to stuff a stocking…