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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001195.txt from 1999/04

From: "Kevin Fay (LCA)" <>
Subj: [kl] Wind Ensemble v. Band (was section deafness)
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 20:42:24 -0400

David Hattner wrote:

<<<So much for symphonic band being 'educational.'>>>

To which Roger Garrett replied:

<<<The Goldman Band was legendary for playing too loud - low brass edgy and
brassy, cornets edgy and brassy. The clarinets had no choice but to play
similarly or not be heard. It was much worse under Richard Franko - Edwin
Franko kept it a bit more sonorous. . . The Michigan Band under Revelli and
later under Reynolds never had this problem. I would assume neither did U.
Illinois with Hindsley or (later) Begian. There are many university bands
that played magnificently.>>>

There have been many fine bands that have managed to hold back the urge to
resemble Mongol hordes. For the vast majority of bands, unfortunately, the
tendency is to play like Mr. Hattner described. The base problem, IMHO, is
that you can have too @-----. It's
for precisely this reason--and the accompanying stereotype--that Frederick
Fennel pushed the development of the modern Wind Ensemble, a very different
creature indeed.

I prefer to think of wind ensembles as an orchestra with the strings out of
the way (albeit with some added saxophones and euphoniums). If the Chicago
Symphony can get by with 1 player to a part, I don't see why my wind
ensemble can't.

In my orchestra, I'm forced (by the size of the stage) to sit with the bell
of the 1st trumpet in one ear and the 2nd in the other. Since they're both
excellent players, I get to hear some glorious sounds! In short doses, it's
the best seat in the house. Fortunately, our rehearsal space allows them to
sit in the next county over . . .

All this loud stuff leads to some bad habits. My hearing is not damaged
(it's been tested), but I still tend to like to listen to recorded music at
the same volume level as if I were sitting in the middle of the group.
Between my wife & the neighbors, though, I only get to do this in my car.

Final point--get plugs. I started using them while playing alto in a big
band. (While orchestral trumpet players are loud, no question, they pale in
comparison with the testosterone-laden primates trying to squeal out double
high Gs.) The more electricity the instruments in the group use, the more
you need them.

Do not cheap out here. Your ears are far more important to how well you
play than your instrument. A good set of plugs costs about the same as 3
boxes of reeds and lasts longer--new ears can't be bought at any price.


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