Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jonathan West

Jonathan West mentioned just below left a very informative comment on the previous post and I'm cutting and pasting it here to make it more easily accessible. I don't quite get what he's saying about the third on the Bb horn and want to be able to reread it, and being on dial-up, and the fewer clicks the better.

>>Hi Lyle,

I wouldn't assume that all horn players know much about mouthpieces beyond what they have tried and found works for them. A surprising number will assume that what they have found works for themselves will also work for everybody else. Of course, over on the Yahoo and Memphis horn mailing lists, you get lots of people who seem to spend a lot of time comparing mouthpieces, custom leadpipes, different makes and models of horn. And just like football fans, they can get quite vociferous about their favourites! Of course, it is far easier to talk about hardware than about musicality...

But what they seem to forget is that in the final analysis, which horn you blow into matters far less then how you blow into it.

I've used the same mouthpiece since I was about 14 years old - a bored-out Alexander 5. It's a fairly small diameter, medium rim, medium cup mouthpiece. It seems to work for me. I have no reason to want to change it and therefore no need to know what all the modern mouthpiece options are. So I avoid those conversations, because I have nothing to add to them.

As for when to use the F side and when to use the Bb side, well, that has been known to spark some, ahem, vigorous debate! Maybe I should do another post on that sometime soon.

But briefly, the 5th harmonic - E on the F side, A on the Bb side, is somewhat flat relative to equal temperament. If you are playing a classical piece, the E (or Eb, D or C# played using the same harmonic but with additional valves down) is going to be in the appropriate key, and so the flatness will not be much noticed because it is a correct natural harmonic of the piece's key. The A on the Bb side is rarely in the same place relative to the key of the piece, and as it can be played 1-2 on both F and Bb sides, and with that fingering is not flat, that tends to be the preferred fingering on the Bb side.<<

UPDATE: Jonathan has put up a great post on using the two sides of the horn.

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