Folks, as I said last month, “From a Dream” is available in the store now (downloadable pdf only). Also, on SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/user-208612136/fad-hns you can hear the entire piece. I’d love to hear your thoughts on playability – I found it quite challenging!
Greetings, Jazz Horn aficionados! To kick off 2024, I’d like to introduce you to a piece I wrote several years ago titled “From a Dream.” I hadn’t listened to it for a while, but when I heard it again recently I realized that I want share it more broadly. I’m now making it available via the Hidden Meaning online store. Here’s a little sample with me playing all the Horn tracks (not the drum track!) — I welcome your feedback! The opening phrase came to me in a dream and, when I woke up, I notated the phrase and continued to develop it later. Happy New Year! May this be a year that we welcome true healing and peace.
Here’s a video of the exercise number 4.1 from “Exercises for Jazz French Horn”
I have a plan to make some more and better quality videos showing other exercises and playing actual musical phrases. I won’t go into teaching how to do it, because there is plenty of information available on the internet to help you with that.
A good thing to understand is that whenever you take that breath through your nose and puff air out with your cheeks, it affects the sound you’re producing, whether it be intonation or actual sound quality. It’s very, very difficult to take a circular breath without any noticeable change in sound, but we try to minimize it. So that’s the disadvantage. The advantage is, if you’re improvising a long phrase and run out of air, you don’t have to stop! You make these instantaneous decisions on whether it’s more important to maintain your sound quality, or finish your idea.
Here are 3 blogs I highly recommend. Do you know of some others I’ve missed? I’d love to know about them! Enjoy!
Abe Mamet’s blog documenting his research into Julius Watkins and more; this includes links to some fantastic videos and other information:
John Ericson’s very popular blog covering many different topics:
Jeff Agrell’s great blog, also covering various topics; of interest especially to classically oriented players wanting to improvise:
(Re-posting something from earlier)
A major concern of all Horn (French Horn) players who are operating in the non-classical realm is: how to be heard when there is a loud rhythm section, or even a loud group of brass, woodwinds or whatever! The bell pointing ‘backwards’ and the hand in the bell are hindrances, but they’re part of our instrument, so what to do? For me, keeping the bell elevated off the leg and hand position are important, but that’s not enough in some circumstances.
When I need to amplify myself, I use the AMT wireless: http://www.appliedmicrophone.com/.
If there’s no sound system, and I need to provide my own amplification, I bring my lunchbox amp: https://www.ztamplifiers.com/products.html It’s not super-powerful but if you locate it behind you, you can hear yourself!
I’d love to see your comments on this subject.
I guess traditionally, folks figured it would be a good way to gain accuracy and range. I don’t really subscribe to that, and I don’t think anyone does nowadays. If you can’t hit a certain note accurately on your double Horn, you probably can’t on your F alto Horn.
So then, why play this instrument? In a word: CLARITY.
It seems to me there are many ways of explaining this. An example is perhaps best: Play a bebop tune as fast as you can, on the double horn. Then play the exact same thing on the F alto horn (descant or triple). Which do you think sounds clearer / more intelligible / listenable?
For those Horn players who played trumpet before they played horn: It feels familiar. You relate to the instrument in a similar way: range / register / fingerings; although it is in a different key.
If you never played trumpet before you played Horn, you have a bit of a learning curve here, but it’s not that awful. The patterns are the same, just moved a bit!
There is some great information from John Ericson here: http://hornmatters.com/2012/10/playing-descant-and-triple-horns-a-new-e-book/
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please add them in the “Comments” section below? Scroll down to where it says “Leave a Reply”, then type in the “Comments” area. Thanks!
(This is a re-post of something I posted earlier; now that the mailing list is working better, I’m really looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts about this.)
As a player, when sight-reading new music, I really prefer not to see too much information. Sure, you need the essentials – time and key signatures, tempo and the notes. But I’ve played many pieces of music that have so much detailed information that it distracts me from listening to the other instruments. Listening is so very important, and I’m afraid many of us including myself, don’t pay enough attention to it.
Of course, a lot depends on what the composer intends. If the composer has a very clear, specific goal for how a piece should be played, then perhaps there should be as much information as possible? But if the composer is willing to allow for personal and group interpretation, the musicians will be more able to find their own voice in a piece, if there aren’t too many markings and instructions.
Another thing to be considered is: what do the musicians prefer? I’ve already said that I really like openness, not too much instruction and allowing for more interpretation. But I realize that some ensembles and individuals prefer to see a lot of information, and if they don’t see it, they’ll be wanting to ask the composer “How do you want me to play this?”
So, I sincerely welcome any feedback regarding my own compositions and arrangements – I’ve even considered making two versions of each arrangement; one with very little information, and another with a maximum directions! That’s it for today, looking forward to your comments!
Recently I heard from Mike Kates in Florida, with a question about the book (Exercises for Jazz French Horn). Rather than paraphrase the whole thing, which would of course be easier for YOU, I decided to just copy & paste Mike’s question, along with my reply, which makes it easier for ME. See, it’s all about ME…just kidding, a little snarky New York humor….. Seriously, I think you’ll understand his question and the reply just fine this way. Any questions or further clarification, please reach out to me. Here it is:
I have been studying your book for a couple of years now and as a result of your exercise 1.1 I developed an interest in further studying the 7 modes. I recently wrote an article that has not yet been published or edited that attempts to simplify or at least facilitate the playing each of the modal scales starting on all 12 possible notes either on the piano, or the horn (more difficult to visualize). When I started practicing Exercise 1.1, I thought what you intended was for us to play the exercise using the Lydian mode scale in every key starting with C, C#, D, etc. When I went to Appendix A, I believe that the only example of Lydian mode was in the very first two lines. All of your examples start on the notes C or C#, not in any of the other keys. The subsequent two example lines are in Phrygian mode, the next two in Dorian, then only one in Ionian, Two in Locrian, Two in Aeolian and two in Mixolydian. I Don’t think any hornist following the instructions for 1.1 would end up playing what you presented in the Appendix which is the exercise in just two keys (C&C#) in 5 of the 7 modes (Lydian and Ionian were only in C with no example starting on C#).
Many of your illustrated Jazz excerpts improv examples are extremely difficult to play in every key, and others where the underlying patterns are simpler are less challenging, this is obvious. I had no problem memorizing Appendix B, but this was not so with Appendix A. Please let me know if I’m off base with my observation about this particular exercise and your illustration of what it looks like written out in its entirety. I don’t know if anyone else has brought up this issue, or if I’m just misinterpreting the instructions for 1.1. ??
Thanks… Mike Kates
Mike, here’s what I think:
You are just looking at it from a different angle than I was.
You’re absolutely right in your interpretation of it, but that’s if you look at it a certain way. The way I think of it, and that’s when I’m practicing it, is this: Every 2-system group is in the Lydian Mode, it just begins on a different scale degree. In other words, Staves 3-4 are in Db Lydian, beginning on the C, the 7th degree. Systems 4-5 are in D Lydian, also beginning on the 7th degree. Then 7-8 are in Eb Lydian beginning on C, the 6th degree of Eb Lydian.
It probably would have been helpful if I’d explained this at the top of page 21! Anyway, this is the way I always used to practice these because it kept me starting from my lowest notes. In more recent years, I enjoy just starting anywhere and playing them in any range, just maintaining the key signature and THINKING of the scale. Is this explanation helpful? click yes or no LOL