Episode 18 – Diatonic Harmony

In Episode 18 of my podcast series I cover a common chord pattern using all 7 diatonic triads of a major key.  Also covered is a composition exercise using only diatonic harmony and some thoughts on how to expand this material into a more complete composition.

As with Episode 17, this is an enhanced podcast, so you will be able to view images that can help you follow the discussion if you’re listening on an enhanced podcast compatible player.

Download this episode here or by subscribing on iTunes.

Memorial Day Salute to the Armed Forces

Today is Memorial Day in the United States.  In honor of our fallen veterans here is a recording of the Monday Blues Jazz Orchestra reading through a medley I arranged of the themes of each of branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

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Thank you to Jerry from the Monday Blues Jazz Orchestra for recording their rehearsal and sending me their read through of my Armed Forces Medley.

LOTSSB and AJO Performances This Weekend

A busy weekend of performances for me.  Tonight, Friday May 25th, 2012, I’m conducting the Land of the Sky Symphonic Band in concert at Calvary Baptist Church in Asheville, NC.  We’re performing a variety of concert band repertoire, including Rhosymedre by Ralph Vaughn Williams, Malaguena, arranged by Sammy Nestico, and El Capitan by John Philip Sousa.  The performance is free, although we will be collecting donations for two local charities.  The concert starts at 7 PM.

Then this Sunday, May 27, 2012, I’ll be directing and playing trombone with the Asheville Jazz Orchestra’s monthly show at the White Horse Black Mountain, in Black Mountain, NC.  There’s a $15 cover charge, the first of two sets starts at 7 PM.

If you’re in western North Carolina this weekend and are looking for some live music, please come on out.  Be sure to say hello if you do.

Lip Injury Help

I don’t want anyone to confuse this particular post an an endorsement of Dr. Richard Cox’s work with musicians who have injured their lips.  I really don’t know much about him, most of what I can say comes from this video.  Take a look and see what you think.

He makes some statements in there I agree with and he appears to have some background in medicine.  In fact, he claims doctorates in medicine, psychology, and theology (and those don’t even include his three honorary doctorates).* Continue reading Lip Injury Help

How Many Hours a Day Do You Practice?

How many hours a day do you practice?  How much practice a day should we be doing?  Are these even the right questions we should be asking ourselves?  Writing on his blog, Bulletproof Musician, Dr. Noa Kageyama discusses how much is optimal and how much can be too much.  Even more importantly, he prioritizes and demonstrates how it’s not the duration of practice that is paramount, but the quality of the practice.

Much of Kageyama’s article will likely already be familiar to you, such as the idea of taking one day off a week from practice and really focusing your attention while practicing.  Regarding the later, Kageyama offers three reasons why you shouldn’t practice mindlessly.  First, it wastes time.  Secondly, it makes you less confident.  And finally, it’s boring.

The best part of Kageyama’s post is over what he calls “deliberate practice.” Continue reading How Many Hours a Day Do You Practice?

Episode 17 – Composing Melodies Using Melodic Cells

In this podcast I explore an exercise composers can use to create interesting melodies through restricting your note choices to a small melodic cell.  Using just four pitches we’ll explore two very different directions while sticking true to the same source material.  Since the restrictions placed on you by requiring you to use the melodic cell are limiting, you have to find other ways to make your melody strong.

If you enjoyed the Appreciating Jazz series I do plan on returning to that format and take a look at more jazz and other musical styles in the future.  Subscribe on iTunes or download future podcasts on my web site.

(Mis)Understanding the Pivot System

In some ways those of us who admire Donald Reinhardt’s pedagogy and use it in our teaching are responsible for some of the confusion about his “Pivot System.”  I’ve discussed before how Reinhardt’s own terminology is partly responsible for the criticism it gets.  On the other hand, a fair amount of dismissal of the Pivot System is due to people speaking as authorities on a subject they don’t understand.  Today’s rant is brought to you by one of the later.

Simon Foden is the author of eHow’s Understanding the Pivot System on Trumpet Playing.  Foden does have a BA in music but I strongly suspect he never studied any brass as he uses terms like “mouthpiece technique” and “mouth shape,” not terms widely used by brass players to describe embouchure.  His term “lip mobility” sounds like he read something about lip flexibility and ran it through a thesaurus.

If unusual terms were the only thing wrong with Foden’s article it would be understandable for a non-brass player.  Unfortunately, he also doesn’t demonstrate that he did enough research to understand what he was writing about.  His very first sentence is wrong. Continue reading (Mis)Understanding the Pivot System

Guess the Embouchure Type – Denver Dill

I’ve blogged recently about Denver Dill’s new book, Still Playing, My Journey Through Embouchure Surgery and Rehabilitation.  Shortly before my copy of his book arrived I got an email from Denver, who happened to come across this site.  After watching some of my embouchure vods he was interested in putting together something similar that would show his embouchure.  He demonstrates his mouthpiece placement both prior to the surgery and after.  Denver also got a hold of a transparent mouthpiece for his video, posted by the West Point Band’s YouTube page.  Take a look and see if you can guess Denver’s embouchure type.  My guess after the break.

Continue reading Guess the Embouchure Type – Denver Dill

Does the International Trombone Association Exclude Women?

I’ve enjoyed going to the International Trombone Festival the couple of times I’ve made it, however I had no plans to fly to Paris for this year’s.  Now I have another reason to not go, as the organizers neglected to invite any women to participate as featured performers or composers.  Abbie Conant, who is unfortunately no stranger to gender discrimination, posted on her Facebook page that she wasn’t planning on attending either:

Why not? Because there are 42 men invited as soloists and 0 women. And all 7 composers are also men. Total: 49 to 0! This is insulting to all women trombonists, all women musicians, and all enlightened men.

She also posted on her web site the following statistics of featured soloists from the last few ITFs. Continue reading Does the International Trombone Association Exclude Women?

Appreciating Jazz Part 15 – Contemporary Jazz

This installment of my Appreciating Jazz Podcast series covers the eclectic styles and musicians creating jazz since the 1980s.  Focusing on artists such as Wynton Marsalis, John Zorn, and Maria Schneider I try to demonstrate how varied contemporary jazz as an art for has become.

This is the last installment (for now) of this particular series, but I will be returning with a new format an new topic soon.  You can download this and future podcasts on my web site (www.wilktone.com) or by subscribing to my iTunes channel.