les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

On the superiority of the trombone

Last night I had the opportunity to examine the baritone saxophone. It's a real gasworks ! Bars, rods, buttons, levers, it's amazing. Really the product of the machine age. The baritone sax belongs to the music school. To own your own you'd have to belong to the political elite of a third-world petroleum economy, they're so expensive. It plays nice deep notes, but so can I. Sometimes we're in unison. Except I don't have to suck wet wood to make the sound.

Afterwards I looked at the music for 1st trumpet. It went up to C# above the stave, and they play transposed, so it's really a tone lower. That, apparently, is pretty high. OK. Looking at his lovely old trumpet I remembered the old days on tenor horn in the brass band -
 "you pull the tuning slides out,
and you push the tuning slides in,
and the note is out of tune, just the same !"

If I had fivepence for every time I heard "You'll have to lip it in, boys" I'd be awash with fivepences. Of course, the trumpet has little loops attached so you can pull and push as you play !

I watched a brass ensemble of French horns, tubas, trumpets and trombones. Euphoniums are beautiful instruments but again those problems of intonation. Range ? Like a trombone more or less. French horns - oh là là la galère - you play left-handed, you're up high in the harmonics and notes split or you hit the wrong harmonic so easily ! 

I thought, "It's great, this trombone. £500 got me a good second-hand professional model - a bit under-priced, it probably should have been £700, but that's still not mega-bucks. And on the trombone either you can play in tune or you can't. It's sharp or flat, you move the slide and your buzz. It's simple. You can go low and pump out nice walking bass lines. You can sing melodies in a sweet tenor voice. You can make loud bangs. You can murmur sweetly. It's the king of the brass and the king of the big band."

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