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By Carolyn Walter
A relatively new-kid-on-the block as instruments go, the saxophone was invented less than 200 years ago! Here is a short sampling of facts about this versatile instrument:
1. While typically constructed of brass, the saxophone is actually a member of the woodwind family. The sax earns this classification because of the way sound is produced: a player’s embouchure creates an airtight seal over the mouthpiece, vibrating a single reed in the manner of a clarinet. Brass instruments, by contrast, are played by buzzing one’s lips on the rim of the mouthpiece.
2. Despite the previous statement that saxes are usually made of brass, there are exceptions. Continue reading ’10 Fun Facts About the Saxophone’
By Jacy Burroughs
The Classical period of music had its advent in Italian music of the early eighteenth century and extended into the early nineteenth century. Some musicologists mark the end of the Classical period around 1815, at the end of Beethoven’s compositional middle period. However, the Classical period truly overlaps with both the Baroque and Romantic periods. Characteristics of and performance considerations for Classical period music are outlined below.
Continue reading ‘Musical Characteristics and Performance Practice of the Classical Period’
By Jacy Burroughs
1. Cello comes from the Italian term violoncello, which actually means “little violone.” (No, I didn’t spell violin wrong.) The violone is the lowest-pitched instrument in the viol family, a group of stringed instruments that were used primarily before the eighteenth century. During the twentieth century, it became customary to abbreviate violoncello as “cello.”
2. The cello is actually part of the violin family, which came into prominent use in the eighteenth century. There are several differences between instruments in the viol family and violin family. Continue reading ‘Ten Interesting Cello Facts’
By Carolyn Walter
1. The clarinet has unique acoustics.
Among the canon of typical modern orchestral woodwinds, clarinets are the only reed instruments with cylindrical bores; meaning that the empty space inside the instrument remains the same diameter through the whole length of the tube. Related reed instruments including saxophones, oboes, English horns and bassoons are all conical-bored; they are narrow at the top end, widening out to a much larger bell opening. The sound of a conical instrument, like a sax or bassoon is composed, of both odd and even harmonics, which is why normal fingerings overblow one octave higher for these instruments. As the clarinet is basically a cylindrical pipe closed on only one end (the mouthpiece as it is being played), the wavelength produced changes, and the even-numbered harmonics will not be present in the sound. This means that lowest notes on your clarinet will overblow at the twelfth – a low E becomes a middle-register B natural when the register key is applied, etc.
2. Each register of the clarinet’s range has its own name.
Continue reading ’10 Need-to-Know Facts About the Clarinet’
By Jacy Burroughs
The Baroque period is defined as the advent of opera to the death of Bach, which was roughly 1600-1750. Each period of classical music is characterized by its own styles, techniques, and musical characteristics. While most people do not have the option to play on historically accurate instruments, it is still important to work toward historically informed performance by studying the musical style of that time. Several important characteristics of Baroque music are outlined below.
Continue reading ‘A Brief Guide to Baroque Performance Practice’
By Jacy Burroughs
1. Why is it called the French horn? There is some confusion over the correct name of this instrument. Most non-English speaking countries do not use the nationalistic adjective. Even in France it is simply called cor. In 1971, the International Horn Society recommended that “horn” be the recognized name for the instrument in the English language. Unfortunately, this hasn’t caught on, especially in the United States. From my experience as a horn player, the instrument is referred to as the French horn throughout primary and secondary education. It was not until college that I learned “horn” was the more accepted term among professionals. The “French” adjective is very misleading because the instrument isn’t even French, which leads me to my second fact.
Continue reading ‘Ten Facts You Should Know About the (French) Horn’
by Jacy Burroughs
1. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was the second surviving son of Johann Sebastian and Maria Barbara Bach (Sebastian’s first wife). This year we celebrate the 300th anniversary of his birth. He was born on March 8, 2014.
2. Emanuel never had any music teacher besides his father. There is no evidence that he studied any instrument other than keyboard.
3. Between 1731 and 1738, Emanuel studied law, first at the University of Leipzig and then at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder. At this time, law was a very typical subject of study for university students. Unlike today, the study of law was considered to be more of a general education than a vocational course of study. Sebastian Bach was determined to give all his sons the university education that he lacked to defend them against society’s prejudices that musicians were simple servants.
While enrolled in school at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder, Emanuel supported himself by teaching keyboard lessons, and composing for or directing public concerts and ceremonies. It was during his years at university that Emanuel’s compositional career accelerated. Continue reading ‘Ten Facts About Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’
What better way for musicians to celebrate April Fools’ Day than to share some music humor? Here are some of our favorites.
What’s the definition of a minor second?
Two piccolos playing in unison.
Flute players spend half their time tuning their instrument and the other half playing out of tune.
What’s the difference between an oboe and an onion?
No one cries when you chop up an oboe.
What’s the definition of a nerd?
Someone who owns his own alto clarinet.
What is “perfect pitch?”
When you lob a clarinet into a dumpster without hitting the rim.
What’s the purpose of the bell on a bass clarinet?
Storing the ashes from the rest of the instrument.
What’s the difference between a bassoon and a trampoline?
You take off your shoes when you jump on the trampoline.
What’s the difference between a lawn mower and a soprano saxophone?
The neighbors are upset if you borrow a lawn mower and don’t return it.
How many alto sax players does it take to change a light bulb?
Five: one to handle the bulb and four to contemplate how David Sanborn would’ve done it.
If you were lost in the woods, who would you trust for directions: an in-tune tenor sax player, an out-of-tune tenor sax player or the Tooth Fairy? Continue reading ‘Musical Jokes: A Compilation of Sheet Music Plus Favorites’
Published March 24, 2014
Tags: Alma Mahler, Alma Mahler sheet music, Anna Magdalena Bach, Clara Schumann, Digital Print Publishing, Fanny Mendelssohn, Fanny Mendelssohn sheet music, female composers, Maria Anna Mozart, Nannerl Mozart, sheet music, Sheet Music Plus, women composers, Women's History Month
In honor of Women’s History Month, we would like to recognize five important historical female composers who did not receive the recognition of their more famous male family members, although it was deserved. Prior to 1900, it was not uncommon to see women performing music. In fact, it was a requirement of all accomplished young ladies to play the keyboard. While performing music was encouraged, creating music was not, which is why we hear so little music by female composers before the twentieth century.
Anna Magdalena Bach (1701-1760) was the second wife of Johann Sebastian Bach. She was a professional vocalist, although not much is documented of her career. We know that she met her husband when he was the Capellmeister (a music director) in the German city of Cöthen and that she continued to sing professionally after they were married. Anna Magdalena Bach played an important role in her husband’s work, transcribing much of her husband’s music. Recent research by musicologists has suggested that several of J.S. Bach’s compositions were actually composed by his wife, including the famous Six Cello Suites.
Continue reading ‘Overshadowed Female Composers: Celebrating Music by Women Composers’