Monday, March 29, 2010

Brass Monkey

My initial reason for choosing "Brassy Monkey" to label this blog was simply a play on the 1986 Beastie Boys hit song, "Brass Monkey." It contains the word, "brass." Weak, I know. Now, after doing some research, I have coincidentally found an English folk band named Brass Monkey. Their original brass instrumentation included a trombone and trumpet. While scouring through youtube videos, it seems that only the trombonist remains/survives in the group. Here's a taste. Word of warning, they're not great.

In my search for a youtube video for Brass Monkey, I came across the Brass Monkey Brass Band. I plan to do a post on them in the future...

Also, not sure if you guys remember this, but Brass Monkey Brass Band was the group behind the Coca-Cola ads during the 2002 World Cup in Italy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ewald Listening

We listened to Ewald's Quintet No. 3, performed by the Atlantic Brass Quintet. I noticed many great qualities to the group and performance of the piece. The blend was impeccable, across the whole group. I also noticed [in the opening] how the 8th note accompaniment does not support the solo voice until measure 3, when the solo line crecendos and ends the phrase. I guess I was expecting the group to move with the solo line into the downbeat of m. 2, yet the accompaniment waits until m. 3. This happens every time a solo instrument has the theme except for the 5 measure after rehearsal 14 (if I am not mistaken from this mornings listening...). Atlantic BQ also added a nice ritardando at the very end of the final movement, before accelerando-ing to the end, a musical gesture I have never heard before. Atlantic's take on Ewald 3 is one everyone should check out! Another favorite of mine is Stockholm Brass.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Andre Smith's 1994 article in the International Trumpet Guild Journal is a great read for anyone interested in brass quintet literature and performance. Smith credits Ewald for "designing" the modern brass quintet, i.e. creating the instrumentation of 2 sopranos, alto, tenor, and bass voices. Smith also draws attention to unpopularity of the slide trombone. He states that this was due to: 1) the common usage of rotary valve instruments; 2) the inability for some players to produce a legato articulation since "each note has to be articulated at the moment that the slide changes position." Other facts that were new to me include the fact that Ewald was a proficient musician on multiple instruments (cornet, trumpet, tuba, cello and pian ) and that he wrote 4 (i.e. FOUR) brass quintets - the first, which was reorganized for a string quartet due to difficulty.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Historical Perspective Paper

You can download my paper on slide trumpet ensembles here.