Sunday, 19 October 2014

The horn in the mix of a new world

So I have been busy working on many projects, lots of writing and other such things so this post comes courtesy of the collection on writings I have done before, which is for such occasions as this. A quick little insight into this to decide if you want to read any of it, the goal of this paper was to give some context to the horn in modern aesthetics in particular to modern music. As well as providing some historic information on it. My be up your alley, or may not be. If you think it is follow the link below. If not, off to the wide world of internet memes, cats, and trolls.

New place, same sounds: The horns emergence into modern aesthetic.

Drop me a comment, hit the +1 to let me know you were here.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

The strange, the weird, the wonderful.

As the title of this post hints at, this one is going to be jumping into some strange and wonderful places. Some quick background before I start to give context to the oddities that will be here.

I am currently working on a work by Vinko Globokar for a concert. As with Globokar's music there is always an element of improvisation and a fantastic chance for colours. As time has been spent on the work the other three brass players and I have arrived with some great, complex colours and sounds.

Through the looking glass we go. All the techniques we used are common enough to not be totally obscure. That being said, a few of them are more common in music that deals with saturation or of music that shares in that aesthetic. So if you are a stranger to that realm this may seem pretty strange. Though this work is not a work in the style of saturation we decided based on the requests in the score that Globokar has made that some of these techniques would accomplish them. I'm going to have audio as well of the techniques in isolation. Now, I was back and forth on this as many of this techniques are part of what we can additive sound in that the interaction of them with other sounds is what creates the affect of the gesture. But, in the end I decide to hermetically isolate them here for your ears and interest... perhaps enjoyment?

So here is number one. Using a reed in the horn. This is more common than you may imagine, though the level of its success varies greatly. As I said this is more common than one may imagine, especially if you are dealing with composers who do compose in saturation.

Now.., I keep mentioning this word, saturation. So let me let me just put this here.

Alright so back to the reed in the horn thing. As you can see from the start of the video there was an oboe reed in play. The recordings I am posting are using a bassoon reed, you do get a different effect later this coming week I will follow up with an oboe reed for comparison, cause that's just the kind of thing I do.

Bassoon reed in horn:

The next technique I am using is one that as far as I know was pioneered by my friend, composer and hornist Max. Imagine now if you would a CD, you know those cool shiny circles from the 90s? Well what you do with that is by gently resting it in the bell you can create various buzzes and rattles. There is a similarity to stopped horn with it as well as playing into a snare drum but it is full of irregularities. You can alter it in many ways such as: pressure, amount of air allowed past the CD, amount of contact points, etc. Another similar procedure would be the use of a buzz mute. (Aluminum foil, and a straight mute...) This application, being the CD mute I use during a very loud section of the work, the idea behind it was to transition from the sound of amplified buzzing (using instruments or stopping mutes) back to the sound of unaltered horns. So we were looking for a sound that had both buzz and tone melded together.

Cd Mute:

The final one I want to put out here is a glass mute. There is already a great article out there by the Oil Valley hornist, but I will quickly touch on this. The glass mute, to my ear is similar to a straight mute with most of the resonance cut out. Though the kind of bottle used, thickness and quality of glass will ultimately effect the sound in the end. Glass mutes do get called for every so often, though usually they are not really optimized. Now what I mean by that is that the colour and timbre is very subtle so if the texture around it is thick, or... well there at all you are better off using something else. Now, Globokar presented a great opportunity to use this mute. One of the movements starts off with just me, on a pitch of my choice (from several options) and the indication "foggy" so I spent some time playing with registers, notes, mutes, techniques and it just hit me.. WAIT THE GLASS MUTE. The mute I used for the recording is a beer bottle, I also have a coke bottle (which I use in the Glookar deadens the sound even more) a few different beer bottles, and a champagne bottle.

Glass Mute:

So in the end what does this all mean? Why does it matter? These kind of questions are ones I ask myself constantly. For this moment these decisions, these sounds represent in my mind and through creative collaboration with my colleagues a means to best capture an idea and that create meaningful contributions to the overall work.