CMG Composerly Chat

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karlhenning
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CMG Composerly Chat

Post by karlhenning » Thu Feb 08, 2007 3:25 pm

Arnstein wrote:I want an alto trombone. I have spoken to a guy who had one.
I wonder how common it is? I'm just thinking out loud, of course. The inclusion of more 'exotic' instruments tends either to limit performances, or invite substitutions. It is apparently fairly common to substitute contrabassoon (e.g.) for the sarrusophone in Debussy's Jeux.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Arnstein
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Re: CMG Composerly Chat

Post by Arnstein » Thu Feb 08, 2007 3:39 pm

karlhenning wrote:
Arnstein wrote:I want an alto trombone. I have spoken to a guy who had one.
I wonder how common it is? I'm just thinking out loud, of course. The inclusion of more 'exotic' instruments tends either to limit performances, or invite substitutions. It is apparently fairly common to substitute contrabassoon (e.g.) for the sarrusophone in Debussy's Jeux.

Cheers,
~Karl
I really don't care if it limit performances. If it's not done the way I want it, it's not going to be done at all.

Have you tried composing something with three different keys at one time? I find that very interesting.
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Post by Gary » Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:17 pm

karlhenning wrote:I wonder how common it is?

The inclusion of more 'exotic' instruments tends either to limit performances, or invite substitutions.
Saint-Saëns' "Aquarium" from Le Carnaval des Animaux comes to mind, in which something like the glockenspiel often supplants the glass harmonica. To answer the second part of your question first:

Pieces that invite substitutions are usually already part of the basic repertoire (otherwise why bother to play them at all, let alone substituting the instruments), which means they’re famous. And seeing that you, Karl, of all people are contemplating this question indicates to me that such famous works are few and far between.

As for how common are works that receive limited performances--to begin with--due to the inclusion of exotic instruments, I think their very obscurity limits our knowing about that.

The more important question: Are you working on a composition that employs wacky instruments? :wink:

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Post by jbuck919 » Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:42 pm

Gary wrote:
karlhenning wrote:I wonder how common it is?

The inclusion of more 'exotic' instruments tends either to limit performances, or invite substitutions.
Saint-Saëns' "Aquarium" from Le Carnaval des Animaux comes to mind, in which something like the glockenspiel often supplants the glass harmonica. [/i]:
The glockenspiel supplants the celesta. The glass [h]armonica part is usually given to a flute.

Nobody has mentioned the Wagner tubas. Every great opera company that regularly essays Wagner (I am tempted to say all four :roll: ) has them, as well as someone who knows how to play them. Brass players are not like you and me. I once heard one of the great ones, so great that I can only remember his given name (Barry) demonstrate how one can play a very extensive and highly musical passage using nothing but a mouthpiece and a funnel with a length of plastic tubing in between.

You'd be amazed where you find unusual instruments. The West Point Band has an astonishing collection of them. I wouldn't be surprised if the New York Philharmonic is in occasional contact for borrowing purposes.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Werner » Fri Feb 09, 2007 12:10 am

Barry Tuckwell?
Werner Isler

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Post by karlhenning » Fri Feb 09, 2007 8:34 am

Gary wrote:Saint-Saëns' "Aquarium" from Le Carnaval des Animaux comes to mind, in which something like the glockenspiel often supplants the glass harmonica.
One of the exquisite last works of Mozart's, is an Adagio and Rondo for glass harmonica, flute, oboe, viola & cello (K.617). A mnior work in scale, but it would be a real musical loss to discard it for lack of a glass harmonica. The Naxos disc I have with this substitutes celesta.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by karlhenning » Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:41 am

jbuck919 wrote:Nobody has mentioned the Wagner tubas.
Why, John, next you'll be insisting that the Symphonie fantastique and the Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream be played with ophicleides! :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
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http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
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Post by jbuck919 » Fri Feb 09, 2007 4:24 pm

Werner wrote:Barry Tuckwell?
But of course.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by karlhenning » Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:10 am

BTW, BSO bass trombonist Doug Yeo did play the ophicleide for this past weekend's performances of La damnation de Faust, and they marked the first BSO performances of the work with that antic instrument.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:26 am

On the matter of the glass armonica, I vaguely remember hearing of an orchestra, museum, or something-or-other that owned one and one of the, er, keys, glasses, bowls, whatever you call them had broken (it is actually made out of glass, don't you know-- 8) ). It seems that Corning was willing to manufacture a substitute for something like ten thousand dollars. That was 30 years ago and I imagine you could multiply that by ten or even 100 today. Sort of explains why there aren't many around, doesn't it?

Actually, Karl, I was not familiar with the scoring for ophicleide in those pieces. I think of it as an organ stop, and ironically, a theater organ stop (classical organs also use the names of many bizarre, usually archaic instruments but not that one). When I think of scoring for archaic or archaizing instruments, I think of course of Bach and the St. John Passion. In many ways, considering how little composers of the past looked into their own past, that is more astonishing than any more modern use of an antique instrument. I often wonder how Bach even knew what those instruments sounded like, let alone how to find someone in Leipzig who could still play one and was willing to do so.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by karlhenning » Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:33 am

jbuck919 wrote:Actually, Karl, I was not familiar with the scoring for ophicleide in those pieces. I think of it as an organ stop, and ironically, a theater organ stop (classical organs also use the names of many bizarre, usually archaic instruments but not that one).
Interesting, John!

Almost as though it were yesterday, I remember the first time I read the score to the Mendelssohn Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, and wondering what the ophicleide was (and wondering, too, why it sounded very like a tuba :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by PJME » Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:26 am

http://www.finkenbeiner.com/GLASSHARMONICA.htm

Here you can order a brandnew glassharmonica.

Today, Thomas Bloch is propably the best performer on this instrument

http://www.chez.com/thomasbloch/

P.

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Post by Arnstein » Tue Feb 13, 2007 5:12 pm

I just ordered a glass-harmonica!
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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Feb 14, 2007 5:44 am

Arnstein wrote:I just ordered a glass-harmonica!
To do what?
Corlyss
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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Feb 14, 2007 6:32 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Arnstein wrote:I just ordered a glass-harmonica!
To do what?
:D :D

Double-entendre post of the year award to you, Corlyss!

I'm from Missouri on this one. Maybe these folks are right and I'm just having one of my famous mental vacancy episodes, but a true glass harmonica has bowls made of fine crystal produced to the tolerances necessary for exact pitch (I suppose but do not know that they were equal temperament). They are played on the principle of wetting your fingers and running them around the rim of a glass, and anyone who has tried it knows that this does not work with ordinary drinking glasses. The rest of the apparatus is also fairly complex and involves a moving mechanism (it is not just a set of glasses sitting on a table as in those old novelty acts). I would like to think that no one would bother to build one in the first place and put it in a pine box lined with formica. On top of that, unlike pipe organs which are also outrageously extravagant and expensive, there is no demand for them so no organization that I know of is the Ruffati of glass harmonicas.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Teresa B » Wed Feb 14, 2007 7:40 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
Arnstein wrote:I just ordered a glass-harmonica!
To do what?
:D :D

Double-entendre post of the year award to you, Corlyss!

I'm from Missouri on this one. Maybe these folks are right and I'm just having one of my famous mental vacancy episodes, but a true glass harmonica has bowls made of fine crystal produced to the tolerances necessary for exact pitch (I suppose but do not know that they were equal temperament). They are played on the principle of wetting your fingers and running them around the rim of a glass, and anyone who has tried it knows that this does not work with ordinary drinking glasses. The rest of the apparatus is also fairly complex and involves a moving mechanism (it is not just a set of glasses sitting on a table as in those old novelty acts). I would like to think that no one would bother to build one in the first place and put it in a pine box lined with formica. On top of that, unlike pipe organs which are also outrageously extravagant and expensive, there is no demand for them so no organization that I know of is the Ruffati of glass harmonicas.
:lol:
I bought a set of expensive wine glasses for my husband, and was hand-washing them when I discovered they had the loveliest tones. So at the risk of shattering these little miracles of stemware (which would go under the "kitchen disasters" thread), I filled them each with different amounts of water, and hubby found me playing them when he returned to the kitchen. He decided my innate musicianship was not worth this use of his glasses, and promptly insisted we put them away. (Sigh :cry: ). I may never learn my true potential on the glass harmonica.

Teresa
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Post by jbuck919 » Wed Feb 14, 2007 7:52 am

Teresa B wrote:I bought a set of expensive wine glasses for my husband, and was hand-washing them when I discovered they had the loveliest tones. So at the risk of shattering these little miracles of stemware (which would go under the "kitchen disasters" thread), I filled them each with different amounts of water, and hubby found me playing them when he returned to the kitchen. He decided my innate musicianship was not worth this use of his glasses, and promptly insisted we put them away. (Sigh :cry: ). I may never learn my true potential on the glass harmonica.

Teresa
Studies have shown that crystal is safer in the dishwasher. Well, I can't cite the studies, but at least that has been the experience of yours truly, Mr. drop-drop-break-break. :) (At this point Evelyn is really going to wonder why I ever claimed I was handy in the kitchen. It's all in the percentages and time spent, folks.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by karlhenning » Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:16 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Arnstein wrote:I just ordered a glass-harmonica!
To do what?
I'd rather have a glass-harmonica in front of me, than a formica sassafras hungrily.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Composer & Clarinetist
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Post by diegobueno » Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:05 am

Arnstein wrote:I just ordered a glass-harmonica!
Really? From that Finkenbeiner site?

And you plunked down the $7K or so?

wow.

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Post by karlhenning » Tue Feb 20, 2007 9:04 pm

Two items of news, one indirect and enormous, the other, direct and rather humbler.

First:

I learn that my undergrad composition instructor, Jack Gallagher, produced the Messiaen Oiseaux exotiques which earned the "Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra" Grammy.

Second:

Bill Grabbe, whose Hodie Christus natus est is available at CanticaNOVA Publications, graciously agreed to share his royalties with me as arranger. Today, a check arrived. There is something very touching, and pleasant, about this, no matter that that check is in a single-digit figure :-)
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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Feb 21, 2007 4:55 am

karlhenning wrote:There is something very touching, and pleasant, about this, no matter that that check is in a single-digit figure :-)
Er, congratulations, Karl. May you have, ah, many more digits in the future.
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Post by karlhenning » Wed Feb 21, 2007 8:14 am

Corlyss_D wrote:Er, congratulations, Karl. May you have, ah, many more digits in the future.
8)
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