raystrobel47: (Play brass)
Today, during "concert band" (it's a flute, trumpet, and alto sax), the flute player was absent. I got the flute that's been rented to play it. I've been teaching the kids Sousa's "Washington Post", from a score in all B-flat parts.

Because the trumpet player wanted to play the top part instead of the second, I transposed down a whole step on flute, an instrument I'm not too familiar with, and I've rarely read music of any difficulty on it. Felt kinda nice.
raystrobel47: (Kanji)
Shamisen rockin' the house:

Much thanks to [livejournal.com profile] baronalejandro for digging it up in the first place.
raystrobel47: (Music)

Your result for What's your key signature?...

F Major

You're a little flat there, Romeo.

Congratulations, you’re F Major, combining the ease of C Major with just a tint of flatness among it. This key is just perfect for sappy ballads, just ask Paul McCartney! (Yesterday, Michelle AND Hey Jude were all in the key of F!) This key is ideal for pianists who want a touch of softness in their step, or guitarists who happen to like Capoing the first fret. Most instruments have no problem with the key of F, and several horns even have it as their home key. Seriously, though. Try and find a hard rocking punk song in F. Not happening. Punk people tend to stray from such happy keys.

You hopeless romantic, you. Go for it, and play something beautiful on your accordion in F major the next time your girl/guy/Transgendered partner is around, you’ll be amazed by the results. Or maybe you won’t, it really depends on whether or not she/he/it is in the mood. But it can’t hurt!


I gave you three up there, go away.


* The Haydn brothers wrote more symphonies in F major than any other set of musical brothers. This was probably in part because there are very few sets of musical brothers who composed symphonies.

Take What's your key signature?
at HelloQuizzy

raystrobel47: (Music)
Another great link to music schtuff. Listen to the video and see how many songs you recognize that use the same four chords over and over and over again.

Note- this is not the comedian who plays guitar and had the cello line from hell in Pachelbell's Canon in D. Anyway, that chord progression is different: I - V - vi - iii - then IV - back to I - back to IV - and a proper cadence with V. 'Scuse me while I get my geek on.

But y'all probably would rather I get on with it. )
raystrobel47: (Ray vh1 08)
Not a long entry. I've tried posting twice and haven't been able to get through them.

I am thankful for my wonderful wife, my amazing little girl, and my family in Texas. I love them all so much. Thank you, my friends, for helping me enjoy my life so much.

I am thankful for music, for my job and my students, especially for loving my job and students, and for the opportunities I have and have yet to discover. We have a fantastic home, I live in a good city, and in a beautiful area. I am thankful for our wonderful pets, who are a joy to love. I am thankful for my church, where I've been spiritually for 19 years.

I am thankful for my country. As hard as that can be and has been recently, there's still no other place I want to live. I am thankful for the hope I feel for the future. I am thankful for the choices that we have, even when they're flawed.

I am thankful for all the cool things I have that help make life fun- football, TND, Rock Band, the SCA, LOLcats, my musical instruments, board games, teh intarwebs.

I love the time I have with my wife and Pookie- the silliness, tenderness, madness, and sheer goofiness of it all. I am very lucky to be who I am, where I am, and with all my family and friends. And you- you, reading this, I am thankful for you. Thanks for reading my words, for commenting when you do, and for your support when you've given it.

It's not always easy, but it's always worth it.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
raystrobel47: (Play brass)
At Chatham, I teach what's called "Talent X", which introduces the different instrument families to the young kids who attend. I, of course, teach the brass instruments. Amy G., who teaches woodwinds, (and happens to be the daughter of my CMU composition professor) is an oboist, which means she also plays English Horn. Well, I got to play it today, and dooood was it cool. I remember taking oboe for my woodwind methods class, and I surprisingly did quite well on oboe, helped probably by the fact that as a trumpet player I'm used to lots of resistance in producing the sound. The English Horn had a beautiful mellow tone, and once I got a couple of notes I started to get a feel for the lower range and even some above the break.

The best part is that she began to teach me to play the "Going Home" theme from Dvorak's "New World Symphony". I had surprised [livejournal.com profile] fiannaharpar last week by calling her and having Amy play that into the cell phone. :-) In fact, I hadn't even realized that she was teaching me that theme until I got the first two or three notes. (C and E-flat, on the E-flat english horn. you figure out concert pitch.) Unfortunately, my last private student of the day showed up right as I was getting into it. Amy even commented that I had a pretty good sound on it too. Squee!! Ok, I totally wouldn't mind having one of those around, except that I am not in the position to make my own bloody reeds.
raystrobel47: (fingers)
Count me in as a big fan. The premise was cool, the music was way cool, and I was really impressed by Harris' portrayal and singing. It made me want to be part of something like that. Which is getting me thinking... hrrmmmm.....
raystrobel47: (Just Me)
1. What do you find funny?

How much room do I have??
-Mel Brooks, Robin Williams, Tim Conway, Benny Hill
-Puns. They may be the lowest form of humor, but they fascinate and amuse me.
-Well-timed slapstick, like Conway/Korman on the Carol Burnett show.
-Voices and accents. I giggle nearly every time I hear " MOTHER! " from Daffy. Hearing comdeians use all sorts of accents is hilarious, no matter how un-PC it is.
-Sound effects. Especially Ryan Stiles and Colin Mockery (sp?) on Whose Line Is It Anyway? I am normally doubled-over after each bit because Ryan is so good at those sound effects.

There's more, but that comprises a l

2. Which is more important: determination or talent?

Determination. Of the two you mentioned, that is what I lack more of. I have talent and ability, but with more determination I can do more. Someone with less ability could do more than what I'm doing as well.

3. How many musical insturments do you play?

I play, on some regular basis:
-Taiko drum

I don't play these much, but can quite well:
-Clarinet (my first wind instrument)

I can play, but less ably:
-French horn
-Alto sax
-Snare drum

4. Who in history fascinates you?

Beethoven, for his determination to focus on joy in his music when his world was filled with confusion, hate, bitterness, and disappointment. Oh, and silence.

5. What you expect from yourself when you go to an event?

I expect to be just as courteous as I try to be around people normally, but probably a bit more. I expect to find pleasure in seeing others do what they enjoy doing- fighting, costuming, or whatever is going on at the event. That's a slightly tricky question since a lot of the time I'm watching my daughter, so my focus is on her, not on me, but I enjoy seeing friends and doing some things that I enjoy doing, like trumpeting, singing, playing in the consort, and maybe even heralding if I'm lucky. :-) (no fighting... yet)
raystrobel47: (Trumpet)
1. The school year is down to 10 calendar days/8 weekdays/4 days where kids are actually gonna show up! Yay!
2. [livejournal.com profile] fiannaharpar's all day presentation today went super-duper well, despite her having a sore throat! Double-yay!!
3. I will be receiving mp3s of "Dans Profundo", as well as the good version of "People Rejoice" and "I Seek Your Face" in the near future! Triple-yay!!!!

I admit to being a selfish artist and being most excited about #2, but the thought of getting those tracks on mp3, and then being able to burn a CD with *several* (though not all) of my recent works, plus capability of mass-burning (sounds religious, no?) 4 CDs at a time on my colleague's machine, is making me more giddy than I think I ought to be. But what the hey.


Mar. 13th, 2008 10:13 pm
raystrobel47: (Music)
I just completed the second section of the tuba piece, and the third is unfolding quite nicely. Not bad progress for only getting one, maybe two hours a week to work on this thing. And for those of you who know the lingo, the piece is in mixed meter, meaning the 8th note remains constant. Well, in the unaccompanied intro, the 8th=146 bts/minute. Not too fast. In the second section, the 8th=200. This last section, the 8th=320 (quarter=160, so not too daunting looking at it that way). Still, at the end, it's gonna cook.


Feb. 17th, 2008 07:40 pm
raystrobel47: (Play brass)
Foxtrot knows me too damn well...

One down,

Jan. 11th, 2008 10:54 pm
raystrobel47: (Music)
two to go?

I finished the unaccompanied intro to the tuba piece tonight. It was a wonderful "aha" moment on how to connect this cool idea that needed to be transitioned into as well as out of. Musically I compare it to drawing to an inside straight: you can't always write music in between two ideas you want and get the smoothest result. As it is, I was pretty happy to find the solution I did, and now I'll need to sleep on this and play it tomorrow. I've brought the piano into the mix, which certainly complicates things. Wait... >>10 minutes pass<< However, I found YouTube. Teh internetz, let me showz you them! After listening to some Dvorak and other things, I have a start to the piano part! Whee!!! Now it's deciding when to bring in the tuba, how much of the theme to introduce in piano, and working out some chord progressions. For the second section. The third section, as planned, is demon-spawn 'oom-pah'. This could be fun. :-)

I just hope C# minor doesn't annoy the hell out of him...

Tuba time

Jan. 6th, 2008 09:43 pm
raystrobel47: (Music)
The intro on the tuba solo, working title being "Dans Profundo", is almost done. I'm trying to transition into the main "theme" where the piano comes in with some semblance of style and aptitude. And as it turned out, the few measures I wrote as an insert to the intro is better than everything I wrote after the 'insert' was to have finished. I need to increase the tempo for the next section. The unaccompanied intro is going to be marked "Seductive." Yes, that's right. Solo tuba. Seductive. It's slavic. -Ish. Just y'all wait.
raystrobel47: (Music)
I have been given a side project before I need to focus nearly all of my creative energy to the tuba recital piece. My church choir director, Tim, who I love, showed me a hymn and asked if I'd arrange it for me, him, and [livejournal.com profile] fiannaharpar. "I don't care if you change the melody or the harmony. I want it 'Strobel.'"

That honored me, and was a feeling I hadn't had in a while- he wanted to hear whatever I wanted to do to/with it. I think I have nearly all the melody of the hymn (Methodist hymnal #250, "Once in Royal David's City") and much of the harmony sketched out. I've changed the melody and harmony considerably, though it's still recognizable. Instead of being in F major it toggles between F dorian and F minor. The last verse seems more wispy and dreamy than the first three, so I'm considering making that verse slower and 'sweeter', but I don't want to lose the character I'm building in the first three verses. That's a worry for later, after I flesh out the harmony parts for the first three verses.

I need to finish this soon because Tim wants to perform this for Candlelight service, December 9th (Sunday afternoon). It is a free concert if anyone else in the area is interested in attending.
raystrobel47: (Play brass)
Must use "Chordal Fury" as an album name or something that spawned from my musical creativity.
raystrobel47: (Music)
This is freedom.
raystrobel47: (Play brass)
This past week I have been showing my campers in Talent X Brass (introducing little kids to and teaching them about brass instruments) uncommon instruments. I'd already shown them the basics- trumpet, trombone, French horn (lent graciously by another instructor) and tuba (also graciously lent by a counselor who's looking to get her masters degree in it!). The kids even got a chance to play the trumpet, some of them the trombone. And since I had some different instruments, I thought it'd be a great way to fill time instructional opportunity to show them some unusual brass instruments. Many of those kids will never see those instruments again.

I brought my trumpet in D, which I bought from an owner of a used CD shop in Oakland who had it hanging on one of the walls. It was all tarnished, couple valves stuck, mouthpiece stuck, but other than that it looked fine. I offered to buy it and the owner agreed. The money I've made playing wedding gigs with that has more than paid for the instrument.

I brought in my straight horn that I use for SCA events and a little Moroccan straight trumpet bought at ...10,000 Villages? It's only 2+ feet long and used more like a festive noise maker, but a brass instrument nonetheless, and the kids got a kick out of seeing it.

But the one that I found enjoying more than I thought I would is my E-flat horn. It's like a piccolo tuba. Literally. Or a mini-baritone. It was made in Cleveland, about 50 or so years ago, and I bought it for $50 from the woman who *used* to teach talent X brass. That was a major steal. I really enjoy its sound. It is conical, like a tuba, euphonium, and cornet, so it has that beautiful mellow sound. The mouthpiece is an interesting relic, as it's shaped more like a bell than a cup, and I can play the fundamental on the horn. That's the absolute lowest sound possible on a brass instrument, yet no standard mouthpiece is built so it can be readily played or used. I can put it on my trumpet and play the fundamental there, too! If you're confused, come over to my house and I'll show you! :-)

In between classes, I would pick up that horn and just play it. I can play high and low on it due to my years of trumpet playing and its similarity in size to a trumpet mouthpiece. Because it's in E-flat I can play excerpts from Holst's Military Suite in E-flat trivially because -duh!!- it's keyed in C on the horn! The third valve is hitting part of the casing, and I can't fix that anytime soon, but it's still usable, if awkward. If I could fix it I would, and get it polished up to boot. I may have to keep that horn downstairs because- it's just so damn nice sounding. I guess it's reminding me of the cello in some ways. And Queen: "Little high, little low". I'm sorry if I lost most of y'all on this one, it's just something that struck me since I bought the instrument last year. I could also play alto sax parts, too. That might be something to try.
raystrobel47: (Music)
Wow, good thing I scrolled down my own journal! I would've missed this question from [livejournal.com profile] baronalejandro:
How come Middle-eastern music sounds different from western-style music, even when it's played on western insturments?

It's all about the scales, bro. I posted about the pattern for the major scale. Very western. Middle eastern music (and similarly Indian and Asian music) has a different basic pattern of going from one pitch to the next octave up. Many more half steps are used, and in much of middle eastern music quarter steps can be found. What's a quarter step? Well, it's a note that's halfway between two keys on the piano, like halfway from E to F, or G to G#.

In fact, there's a thing known as the "Arabesque" scale used by many western composers in the Romantic period (late 1800s to early 1900s). Think "Scheherezade" by Rimsky-Korsakov. If a C major scale is C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, then the "arabesque" scale is this: C-Dflat-E-F-G-Aflat-B-C. If you break that down further you'll see that it's the same pattern of steps repeated. C-Dflat-E-F follows the same pattern as G-Aflat-B-C. That pattern is what sounds middle eastern, whether played on an Oud, a Turkish Baglama Saz or an accordion.

The other element that gives middle eastern music away is the embellishments to some of the notes, those dips and bumps in the melodic line you hear. They may sound random, but they are very much on purpose. That treatment of a melody can make even a western melody like Happy Birthday sound almost acceptable at a Hafla. Well, having a tabla or bendir play along wouldn't hurt.

Mo' music

Jun. 29th, 2007 09:31 pm
raystrobel47: (Play brass)
From [livejournal.com profile] warrewyk: So, if you play a C on a clarinet, it's really a B-flat on a piano? Please explain pitch, so my brain will stop twitching. (This question comes to you from a former trombone player, which is not a transposing instrument.)

Ok, for the cessation of brain twitching, because transposing instruments can be, er, a mental pain at the least.

It's all about the name of the pitch. It was decided that on a clarinet that particular size, if you hold the thumb, 1st, 2nd and 3rd fingers down on the left hand and play, they're gonna call that note 'C'. It just so happens it sounds as a B-flat on the piano. Why do that? Some of it has to do with similarity of instrument fingerings more valued than pitch names. Take that clarinet, and add the register key, and now you'll be playing a high G. Take a flute, and finger thumb, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd finger on the left hand, and you'll play another G. Same thing on all saxophones. You can take the knowledge of one instrument and transfer it to another easily without having to relearn note-to-fingering relationships. Only the sounding pitch will change. (The flute G will of course sound as G. The clarinet G will sound as F, as will the tenor sax. And the alto and bari saxes' G will sound as B-flat.)

Now, to something closer to your area of expertise- low brass. You play trombone, a non-transposing instrument as you said. You had to deal with a butt load of flats, along with the flutes, and any oboes and bassoons. Were there baritones in your band? If so, did they read bass or treble clef? Because if they read bass clef (as they should) then they read the same music as you, keyed in concert pitch. The lowest open tone for them was a B-flat, just like your lowest 1st position. However, if they were baritones in treble clef, then they're written like trumpets, only an octave lower, and their lowest open tone would be a C. Why?? Because band directors need to offer bribes to get more low brass, and if a kid who's not gonna rock anyone's world on trumpet could be convinced to switch to baritone and help the low end of the works, then that's helping everyone. And one way to do this is tell 'em, "The fingerings and notes are the same, it's just a bigger horn." And it is! But, if they show promise, it's better to teach them bass clef and transition them into the world of concert pitch.

Does that help at all? Really, it breaks down to what names to give pitches with various conditions, like fingering similarities and horn size.

Ok, another from [livejournal.com profile] madbard: Who was the principal manufacturer of Ophicleide valve oil?

I worry about this guy...

*sigh* Well, to begin, the ophicleide is a keyed instrument, not a valved instrument. So, valve oil would not be appropriate for such a purpose. And damned if I could find even a hint of any oil manufacturer for Adolphe Sax as he was fixing ophecleides and perfecting the bass clarinet. Sorry, that's all I got.

Ok, I'm on the current last question, from [livejournal.com profile] tangerinpenguin: Question for the trumpet player:

On your typical C trumpet, moving up the lowest C major octave in normal use (the one beginning one ledger below the staff) the C, G and C (root, fifth and octave, respectively) can be played with no valves pressed. In the octave above that, you get the same fingerings for those notes, but you add an E (third) that can be played open.

The same pattern occurs in the baritone horn and the tuba, for their appropriate ranges.

Does this pattern (of an increasing number of notes within the octave that can be played with no valves) continue as the octaves go up, and if so, how high would you have to go before you could play a full C major scale with no valves (in principle, at least)?

Yes, the pattern continues, and the best example you can hear this is on the French Horn. Because the horn has been blessed (or cursed) with a trombone-length tube to be played using a trumpet-sized mouthpiece, you get interesting properties. Your lowest tones are difficult to produce, but it doesn't take long to work up the notes before you're an octave or two above where you'd be comparatively on the trumpet or trombone.

It's all due to the harmonic series, based on ratios. There is a fundamental tone on all brass instruments, but due to mouthpiece construction it cannot be played reliably on any of them. The next open tone is an octave above that (2:1 relationship in tone frequency), which I'll call the low C since I am a trumpet player. The next open tone is a fifth above low C, G (3:2 relationship in frequency). Here's a chart so I don't ramble on for 14 more lines:

Note....................Frequency ratio to previous note
Low-low C (fundamental)...........1:1 (it's the lowest note possible)
Low C (ledger line below staff)...2:1 (an octave higher, twice the frequency)
Middle G .........................3:2 (3*G's frequency = 2*C's frequency)
C (in the staff, 3rd space).......4:3 (follow the pattern)
E (4th space).....................5:4
G (on top of staff)...............6:5
B-flat (out-of-tune, but there)...7:6
C (2 ledger lines above staff)....8:7 (high C is a little more than a whole step above the 'false' B-flat)
D (a step above high C)...........9:8
E (a step above D)................10:9 (this is where it starts to look promising
F# (repeat).......................11:10 (this is where it blows chunks)

So, once you get *three octaves* above the fundamental (or two above the lowest playable open note) you can begin to play melodies like "Three Blind Mice", but no major scale. The reason is that it takes more steps on the harmonic series before you get a true half step, and then you're so high that you're either shredding your lip muscles or you're Arturo Santobal. Now, on the French horn, these notes are much more accessible, but it takes painfully accurate precision to play a scale, all open, in tune, so it's almost as equally as hard. But I would say that you need to be four octaves above the fundamental pitch of the instrument, or three octaves above the lowest playable in-tune note.
raystrobel47: (Trumpet)
Follow up from [livejournal.com profile] drquuxum: Follow-up question: Whenabouts/whereabouts did those notations become standard (or at least commonplace)?

Blame Guido d'Arezzo [~991-1033CE]for the staff notation and unifying music written on a 5-line staff, not some on a 4-line staff or a 3-line staff depending on region.

Clef history from Wikipedia: The clefs developed at the same time as the staff, in the 10th century. Originally, instead of a special clef symbol, the reference line of the staff was simply labeled with the name of the note it was intended to bear: either G, F, or C. These were the 'clefs' used for Gregorian chant. Over time, the shapes of these letters became stylized, eventually resulting in the shapes we have today.

From [livejournal.com profile] psywildfire: New question: what are the differences between major, minor, and 7th keys and how did they get those names?

New answer: Major and minor describe different scale patterns. They are not 'keys' as such, even though you'll hear a certain piece described as in "a major key." Major and minor are modes. Go grab a piano. Done? Now, play from C to the next C up, only the white keys. Congrats, you've just played the C major scale. The major scale pattern is a series of whole and half steps. A half step is the interval of two keys directly adjacent, with no other keys in between. A whole step, then, is two half steps put together, so that there's one piano key (white or black) in between. C to D is a whole step. So is D to E. Not E to F, that's a half step.

So, if the C major scale is C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C, the steps in between are W, W, 1/2, W, W, W, 1/2. Any scale that follows that pattern of whole and half steps is a major scale. There are 12 different major scales, making the 12 different keys.

Now, minor. A minor scale is simply a major scale that starts in a different place. Still got that piano? Good. Play from A to A, no black keys. That's the A minor scale. Where is A in the C major scale? The 6th tone, or degree. So, to get a minor scale simply play a major scale starting on the 6th degree of any major scale.

I need to move on cuz there's lots to explain. :-) '7th' describes an interval, two tones that are 7 names apart. Count all the notes in the C scale above. You'll get 8. So, from C to C is an 8th, better known as an octave. A 7th, then, would be from C to B. Now, no matter what you add to the C or B, it's still a 7th, whether it's C-sharp to B or C to B-flat, or C-double-flat to B-double-sharp. The name of the tone determines the interval degree (7th, 5th, etc.) The usage you've probably heard is with a chord, like an F7, or "F seventh" chord, or maybe a G dominant 7th chord. Well, an earlier answer defined a chord as three or more notes played at once, like F-A-C. If you count those tones, and F=1, then A=3 and C=5. So, take a note and add the third and fifth above it and you get a chord. A seventh chord simply also adds the seventh degree from the first note of the chord. In the case of F, that would be E. So, F-A-C-E played together would be an F major seventh. F-A-C-E-flat would be an F dominant seventh chord.

Lastly, why the names? Simply, a major interval is larger than a minor interval by one half step. Take whole and half steps themselves. C-D is a whole step. If C=1, what will D=? Yes, '2'. So, C-D is also called a major 2nd. Now, there's a black key between C and D. In order to keep the interval a 2nd, we need to call that black key a D-flat. So, from C to D-flat is a half step, but it's smaller than C to D, so that interval is a minor 2nd. Why call the scales that? Because in all major scales the intervals of a 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th are major. In all minor scales those same intervals are one half step smaller, so they're minor intervals.


From [livejournal.com profile] madbard: What equations best describe how 19th century French violin purfing impacts the instrument's resonance?

I don't like you. :-P

Firstly, it's purfling, and secondly, I'm not into what the French did with violins in the 19th century. So there.

Last one for tonight, folks:

From [livejournal.com profile] klari: Oooh! Do C clef! Why does it move?

Easy- To avoid ledger lines!! In fact, if you check out the Wikipedia article on clefs, you'll see that all the clefs move/d! And it's all just to avoid having to read a bunch of ledger lines! Sing-- er, vocalists have used this more than others historically, but today it's down to tenor and alto clef both using the C clef. You will also hear European conductors (moreso than our US counterparts) say how they can read so many different keys at once by changing the clef of the instrument rather than transpose mentally. It's like reading a trombone part on alto sax. It works so long as you change the key signature correctly (which requires you add three sharps).

More answers to come!


raystrobel47: (Default)

January 2011



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