Find the Parallel 5ths in Bach Choral

Here’s a music theory puzzle for today’s post.  This one comes from J.S. Bach’s setting of Freuet euich, ihr Christen alle.  The workbook assignment I gave my music theory students asked them to write a roman numeral analysis of the harmony (in F minor, not according to the key signature) and spot and label the non-chord-tones.  What tripped me up was finding the parallel 5ths that Bach uses in this excerpt.  It took me quite a while to find them.  See you can can spot them.  The answer after the break.

Continue reading Find the Parallel 5ths in Bach Choral

Asheville Jazz Orchestra at the White Horse Black Mountain

The Asheville Jazz Orchestra will be playing again at the White Horse in Black Mountain, NC.  Our show is tomorrow night (Friday, November 5, 2010).  This time there is an opening act, the Mars Hill College Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of AJO saxophonist Steve Alford.  The HRC Jazz Ensemble starts at 7:15.  The AJO is up at 8:00 PM and we’ll play two sets.  As always, I plan on calling a couple of my own compositions as well as standard big band charts ranging from the swing era up through contemporary charts.  There should be something there for everyone.

If you’re in western North Carolina tomorrow night, come on by and hear us play.  Be sure to say hello!

Music From Ancient Sumer

Ensemble de Organographia is a group that specializes in performing music of the ancient world on period instruments.  Recently, with some help from archeologists, they have recreated music from ancient Sumer.  Here are a couple of videos of what Sumerian music might have sounded like.

They have released an album of this music that also includes music from ancient Egypt and Greece as well.  Now perhaps the next time I teach Music Appreciation I should start the historical portion with ancient music, rather than with music from the Middle Ages.  I see they also have an earlier album of music from ancient Greece, so I have no excuse now.

Breathing and Brass Playing – A Look At What’s “Natural”

Out of all the different mechanical elements that go into performing on a brass instrument, efficient breathing ranks not only as one of the most important but is also perhaps the most natural, if anything about brass playing can be called “natural.”  Breathing is, of course, an integral part of life and we all already breathe naturally already.  The breathing pattern that is conducive to good brass playing is something we don’t need to study, per se, as we already know how to do it.  The trouble we run into is that breathing patterns that hinder good brass playing are equally natural.  The difficulty we have isn’t learning how to breathe well, it’s in allowing it to happen without other breathing patterns creeping their way into our playing.

This is harder to do than it sounds.  Breathing is one of the few bodily functions that is both autonomic (unconscious) and also under our voluntary control.  Under the right circumstances we can allow the autonomic functions to move the air correctly, but it is just as easy for unconscious breathing patterns to interfere with our playing.  The trick is to understand not only how breathing affects brass playing but also how to allow the correct patterns to work without interference.  There is simply no way that you can breathe that can be said to be “unnatural.” Continue reading Breathing and Brass Playing – A Look At What’s “Natural”