The tools of the trumpeter’s trade

In one of my recent blogs, I wrote about the different types of mute that a trumpet player has at their disposal, in order to create different sounds and timbres.

It therefore makes sense to develop this theme and write this time about the vast array of instruments used and needed by trumpeters nowadays.

Today, in the highly demanding and competitive world of music, the modern trumpeter is required to turn their hand to as many different musical styles and genres as they possibly can master (or get away with!) and like any craftsman, needs a fairly sizeable box of “tools” that can facilitate this.

Bb Trumpet

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Pictured – Eclipse Bb Trumpet in brushed gold

The main instrument that you’ll find all trumpeters playing all over the world, is the Bb (B flat) trumpet. This is what the vast majority of players start their musical journey on and such is its versatility, that it is used in all ensembles and styles of music, ranging from classical to jazz, and chamber music to pop and function bands. There are of course huge varieties of Bb trumpets, in terms of bore size and finish (lacquer, silver plate, raw brass, gold etc.) and this is down to player preference and budget ultimately.

It’s once the player gets to a certain level of proficiency and starts diversifying in terms of the range of styles of music that they perform, that the instrumental requirements and choice of instruments by the individual player, start to get interesting.

D/Eb Trumpet

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Pictured – Stomvi Elite D/Eb Trumpet in Silver Plate

The next instrument that many aspiring students will graduate on to will be the D and/or Eb Trumpet. This instrument is a 2 in 1 usually with interchangeable bells and slides and being a smaller instrument is the choice of kit for performing higher range repertoire and where a brighter sound is required. This would be particularly handy when performing works by Handel or Bach in an orchestra, or for soloists who are taking on the challenge of the Haydn, Hummel or Neruda Trumpet Concerti.

Flugel Horn

Pictured – Vincent Bach Flugel Horn in Silver Plate

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This instrument is exactly the same length as a trumpet, however with the bore being a conical shape and much wider, the sound is much mellower. You will usually find this played in a brass band (as I do in the Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh), but this is also found in big bands and jazz combos and is a popular choice for jazz soloists wishing to showcase a more lyrical, silky sound typically in a ballad.

Piccolo Trumpet

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Pictured – Stomvi Elite A/Bb Piccolo Trumpet in Silver Plate

The piccolo trumpet is the baby of the family and plays the very highest notes in the register. This is often the choice of instrument, when the range exceeds what the D/Eb can comfortably achieve and is fiendishly difficult to master if not played on a regular basis.

It almost always has 4 valves nowadays and is pitched in A or Bb and the fingerings for each note are played an octave (8 notes) lower than written on the music.

Tunes you might have previously heard played by a Piccolo Trumpet would be the trumpet solo from the Beatles hit “Penny Lane” and the theme music to the Champions League football, Antiques Roadshow and “Brideshead Revisited” programmes.

Bach’s B Minor Mass and Brandenburg Concerto No.2 and Handel’s “Trumpet Shall Sound” from Messiah and “Let the Bright Seraphim” from Solomon are just a few orchestral pieces that would demand the use of a “Picc”.

One of the greatest exponents of the piccolo trumpet, was French virtuoso Maurice André whose mastery of this instrument is the bench-mark and reference point for all aspiring trumpeters around the world. As with all experts in their field, he makes it all seem so effortless!

C Trumpet

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Pictured – B&S Challenger C Trumpet in Lacquer

The C Trumpet is the closest relative (in size) to the Bb trumpet and was historically the “weapon” of choice of American trumpeters in orchestras, however this is not so much the case nowadays perhaps.

It’s a versatile instrument which is popular for using in contemporary orchestral and chamber music, where a smaller bore is required to cover a greater range and also makes playing in certain key signatures a little more user-friendly. With many orchestral trumpet parts needing to be transposed (that’s another Blog for another day), the C sometimes facilitates easier transposition too.

Rotary-valve Trumpet

All the above instruments use piston valves to obtain the notes, but the Rotary Valve Trumpet has valves like the French Horn.

These trumpets would typically be seen in the Berlin or Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, plus other types of wind ensembles in those countries.

So now you know why trumpeters often look as if they are moving house, as opposed to going to a gig. Thanks once again for reading my blog and if you’ve enjoyed it, please share and drop me a line with brass and trumpet related topics that you’d like to hear more about.

For further information about Music for You, please visit my website

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Pictured – (L-R D/Eb Trumpet, Piccolo Trumpet, Bb Trumpet)

All photography by Paul Fears Photography (except C Trumpet & Flugel Horn pictures)

 

 

The National Youth Orchestra of Wales is 70 years old today.

Happy Birthday to the oldest National Youth Orchestra in the world!!! Yes the National Youth Orchestra of Wales (affectionately known to its Alumni as “The Nash”) was formed 70 years ago today and since then, thousands of young musicians have come through its ranks and gone on to forge hugely successful careers in the music industry, both here and all over the world.

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Over the years, the orchestra has been led by  such names as Clarence Raybould,  (1945–1966), Arthur Davison (1967–1990), Elgar Howarth (1991–1995), Christopher Adey (1996–2002), and Owain Arwel Hughes OBE (2003-2010). 2011’s concert series was conducted by Takuo Yuasa. Carlo Rizzi (2012), Grant Llewellyn (2013), Jac Van Steen (2014) and Paul Daniel (2015). This year’s course, starting today in Lampeter University will be led by Carlo Rizzi, where the programme will include works by Gareth Wood (himself a former member of the Orchestra), Bartok and Richard Strauss.

I was privileged to have been one of those lucky members back in the days when it was led by the inimitable Arthur Davison and I benefited from specialist tuition from trumpet legends such as John Wilbraham and Bob Walton. These were fantastic mentors and the tutoring, experiences and grounding I had during those courses were invaluable in helping me become who and what I am today.

Long may the “Nash” continue for many, many more years and I urge you all to try to get to one of their Concerts if you can, but if you can’t here’s the Orchestra in action back in 1989. It just so happens that I was playing too!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W163b4FAmiI

NYOW 2016 CONCERT TOUR:

CONDUCTOR: Carlo Rizzi

CONCERT DATES:

National Youth Orchestra of Wales:
2 August 7.30pm St Davids Cathedral
4 August 7.30pm Venue Cymru, Llandudno
5 August 7.30pm St David’s Hall, Cardiff

REPERTOIRE:
Gareth Wood A Fanfare for Our Youth
Bartok Concerto for Orchestra
Strauss Ein Heldenleben

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Happy Birthday/Pen-blwydd hapus to “The Nash”!

Andrew Jones is a freelance trumpeter and you can find out more about him at: www.andrewjonesmusic.com

Why have live music for your wedding?

It seems that anyone getting married nowadays is on a quest to find something “different”, “unique” or “unforgettable”. So, when entrusted to perform at someone’s special day and with these ingredients in the mix, there’s just a hint of pressure, both from the Bride and Groom to be and self-imposed by me (as a musician and business owner) to deliver the goods.

Leigh Court, Bristol

Leigh Court, Bristol

The Music for You Brass Quintet was recently booked to perform at Catherine and Ryan’s Wedding Ceremony and Drinks Reception. The venue was the majestic setting of Leigh Court in Bristol, where the acoustics lend themselves brilliantly to brass instruments.

The Music for You Brass Quintet

The Music for You Brass Quintet

The brief was to play some music as the guests arrived for the Ceremony, then play the Processional Music for the Bride (and stunning she looked too!), as she entered to the elegant sounds of Handel’s Air from the Water Music. Music by Gershwin and the Carpenters followed for the signing of the Register, with the rousing sounds of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom heralding the newly married couple out for the Recessional music.

Once the formal part of the day was over, we then entertained the guests during the Drinks Reception, with an eclectic mix of repertoire, ranging from light classics, to songs from the shows, operatic arias, pop songs and music from the silver screen.

During this session, whilst seated just outside the main Reception room, we were asked to move twice. “Too loud” I hear you thinking!!! Not in the slightest – in fact, we were asked to move closer each time, because the guests were gently moaning that they couldn’t hear us and wanted to enjoy the music.

Unfortunately, I was unable to grab a quick word with the Bridal couple before they and their guests departed for the Wedding Breakfast, so was unable to congratulate them personally and get some brief feedback and check that they were happy with our contribution to their special day. I naturally sent a thank you e-mail the following day and asked if they’d be kind enough to share their thoughts on our musical contribution.

In the age where, if someone doesn’t reply to a text, e-mail or voicemail within a maximum of 15 minutes (perhaps less if you’re of a certain generation!) then something’s seriously wrong!!!!!! You go through the terrible “OMG, they hated it”, “We played their most hated piece of music”, “We looked dreadful” etc.

You know that they have got stacks on their plates, even after the Wedding’s all done and dusted and they’ve probably gone on honeymoon, but you’re still on pins wanting to know whether they were happy!

Finally, after some 3 weeks after the Wedding day, an e-mail comes through as follows:

“Andrew was a pleasure to deal with from the first time I got in touch right through until after the day.  He and the musicians have an enormous and diverse repertoire and played beautifully on the day.  It created the most beautiful atmosphere on the day, so much so that I saw my new husband cry for the first time as I walked down the aisle.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.”

Needless to say, I was heady mix of relieved, ecstatic, proud of the efforts of my fellow musicians and reassured that Music for You is capable of providing its clients with “something different, unique and unforgettable”!

For more information about Wedding Music visit our web-site and to hear the Brass Quintet in action you might like to go to our You Tube page for some ideas.

Photograph by Paul Fears Photography.

Photograph by Paul Fears Photography.

 

 

 

Page maintenance

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I’m currently updating the page, so if some stuff looks a little “confused”, it’s because I am too!

Normal service will resume very soon – I hope!

A big shout-out is due to Paul Fears for his input and expertise regarding the “new look” and for encouraging me to be myself.

Thanks for your patience and I hope you enjoy reading the Blogs and the new look for the site.

What’s that funny looking thing sticking out of the end of your trumpet?

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I was at Llys Prês, a Cardiff-based instrument repair workshop the other day, and found myself taking a keen interest in the wide variety of tools that Denis Wedgewood had at his disposal. He patiently answered all my innocent (perhaps naïve) questions as to why that was a certain size or this was a particular shape and why he needed 3 or 4 very similar looking tools to complete a certain job, however I left the premises with no more skill; these things come under the heading of D.I.Y. – Don’t Involve Yourself, but certainly far more informed and enlightened as a result.

This then made me think about my own job and the tools that I have to use and I remembered Mrs. Wife asking me similar questions about playing the trumpet. One such question was regarding the “funny things you stick in the end of your trumpet” and what was the point of it all, so this has prompted me to explain a little to those of you who don’t know either.

These “things” are actually called mutes and their function is to change the tone and sound of the instrument, so as to create a variety of effects, moods and timbres to the music.

There are a multitude of mutes available on the market nowadays, with manufacturers constantly striving to develop unique, newer or improved products, so in the Blog I will cover the main mutes used by most trumpet players, however there will be many that I have left out due to the myriad out there.

The Straight mute – This is the most commonly used by players, but there are variations even for this type, as they can be made of metal, wood, fibre and plastic and have distinctly different sounds.

Straight Mute (Metal)

Straight Mutes (Metal) – The mute on the left is for a PiccoloTrumpet and the one on the right is a standard sized one.

Straight Mute (Plastic)

Straight Mute (Plastic)

Fibre Straight Mute

Straight Mute (Fibre)

The Cup mute – This as its name suggests, has a cup shape and makes the sound much mellower and softer. Some cup mutes have a moveable cup that slides closer to, or away from the bell of the trumpet, in order to change the tone slightly.

Cup Mute

Cup Mute

The Harmon mute – The Harmon mute is another mute where the tone can be altered, using a movable stem. The general tone is quite “nasal” and constricted and this is often used to portray a trumpet playing distantly. The further out you pull the stem, the darker the tone gets until you can actually remove it completely.

Harmon Mute (Stem in)

Harmon Mute (Stem in)

Harmon Mute (Stem removed)

Harmon Mute (Stem removed)

The Bucket Mute – This clips on to the bell of the instrument and is lined with a soft padding. This absorbs most of the brightness of tone, making the music sound muffled.

Bucket Mute

Bucket Mute

There are many more mutes, as I have already mentioned; such as the Plunger mute, the Solo-tone and a Practise Mute (designed to keep your neighbours happy when you start ripping through the Haydn Trumpet Concerto at 2.30 in the morning!), but I hope that this gives you an insight to these “things”, commonly known as mutes.

For more information about Andrew Jones and Music for You, please visit www.andrewjonesmusic.com

What music do I have for a Civil Wedding Ceremony?

Music for Civil Weddings

For many, the traditional Wedding Ceremony held in a Church or Chapel, is now longer relevant or practical for couples getting married, particularly if you have very strong thoughts on religion, or perhaps if it is your second time round.

In the past, if you decided not to go down the “traditional” route, your only option was to hold the Ceremony at your local Registrar Office, but over the last few years, there are increasingly diverse options in terms of the venues that hold licences to host Wedding Ceremonies. These can range from Hotels to Country Houses or from Lighthouses to education establishments. In fact Mrs. Wife and I were married in the Undercroft at the fantastic Cardiff Castle!

The Undercroft at Cardiff Castle

The Undercroft at Cardiff Castle

Having the Ceremony at these venues is great, as you are free to design your dream wedding, however this throws up the issue of what music you have. What does the Bride walk in to for her “grand entrance”?  Clearly there is no church or chapel organ and the only other option is the dreaded CD player or house PA (if there is one).

The latter option may be nice and cheap/free, but it has as much soul and vitality as a corpse! LIVE music however, will certainly guarantee to get the tears rolling (for all the right reasons!), the hairs on the back of your neck stood up on end and goose-bumps galore.

Brides – Regardless of whether you have a bold and triumphant fanfare, or a calm and serene entrance, you want it to be special, meaningful and most importantly – memorable! Only LIVE music can achieve this, creating the right mood and ambience for the rest of the proceedings and it will be one of the best decisions you make regarding your “big day”.

Let’s face it; the entrance of the Bride is the first and most eagerly awaited moment of the day – so make it a good one!

Needless to say, Clare (my Wife) entered our Wedding to the sounds of the Fanfare Trumpets of The Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh and the rest of the music was provided by the Music for You Brass Quintet. “Unforgettable!” Not my words, but of my new Wife and so many of the guests who attended that day.

Our Wedding Day at Cardiff Castle

Our Wedding Day at Cardiff Castle

For more details on music for your Civil Wedding Ceremony, please contact Andrew on 07973 869621 or visit http://www.andrewjonesmusic.com/weddingmusic.html

All in a day’s work. The things we musicians sometimes take for granted, but shouldn’t!

On Friday night, I will once again join my colleagues from the Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh for an engagement that we undertake some  6 or 7 times each year . It’s a particular job that has been in the Band Diary for around 30 years or more and the players are now seasoned veterans – excuse the pun! – in carrying out their duties.

Within approximately an hour of the job finishing, I will join my friends in the local pub to become a part of the Welsh Nation’s passion and some might say, obsession, in watching our brave “Warriors” go head to head with other “warriors” from other countries.

The job I refer to of course, is the Welsh Rugby International fixtures at the Principality Stadium (formerly Millennium Stadium) and this Friday, Wales take on “Les Bleus” – France, in the latest round of the Six Nations Championships. In addition to this tournament, we also perform at the Autumn Internationals.

The Band is honoured and privileged to perform the pre-match music, accompanying the guest choirs in the old pot-boilers such as “Cwm Rhondda”, “Delilah” and “Hymns and Arias”, before leading the 72,000+ crowd in the singing of the National Anthems prior to the game kicking-off.

There is no prouder moment for a Welshman or Woman, than to sing “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” at the Stadium, but to be able to perform it on the hallowed turf (well hybrid turf now) stood just feet away from sporting legends, like Leigh Halfpenny, Alun Wyn Jones, Shane Williams, Martin Williams, Scott Gibbs and many more over the years, it is hugely special.

Millennium Stadium 2

 

Most of the locals in my pub know me (mainly because I turn into a raving lunatic, shouting at the TV for the duration of a game) and that I play in the Regimental Band, however there is never a match day that goes by, without a visitor to the pub, interrogating me to the last detail to try and prove that I “couldn’t possibly have been standing on the pitch just under an hour ago”! The security wrist-band on my ummmm……. wrist, usually clinches the deal and for the next few minutes I am quizzed with great zeal about who I saw, who I was stood near, did I get to speak to the players, what was the atmosphere like etc. etc.

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Like most members of the Band, I regard playing at the Stadium with a fairly casual “just another gig” approach, but when I see and hear other peoples’ enthusiasm for what I have just been a part of, I have to stop and take stock of how very lucky we are, to have experienced that thrill – not just once – but some half a dozen occasions each year.

We are truly blessed as musicians, to have jobs that bring opportunities, amazing experiences and memories that last for a lifetime. Just anther gig? Maybe not!

Millennium Stadium

 

The Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh performing the Welsh National Anthem – “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”/”Land of My Fathers” prior to the 6 Nations fixture versus Scotland (February 2016).

https://www.facebook.com/BBCWalesSport/videos/10153876944407114/

For further information about joining the Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh, please contact (07973) 869621 or (02920) 781293

The Monday Morning Mention – Part 2

For those of you who read my Monday Morning Mention post a few weeks ago , praising the efforts of the Welsh brass bands who became National Champions, I’m going to risk sounding repetitive now, I’m going to risk sounding repetitive now – sorry! – and reiterate my sentiments, but with one slight, but significant amendment.

Whilst the focus of discussion at the photo-copier this morning, will undoubtedly be on the Welsh rugby team’s inability to see off 13-man Australia in the Rugby World Cup and the wonderful achievement of the national football team in making its first major championships in over 50 years, I will champion the cause of our wonderful brass once again and highlight the fact that Wales also starts the week with not three, but FOUR National Champions now.

Congratulations to the Cory Band who, under the baton of their conductor Philip Harper, have once again won the National title at the Royal Albert Hall, performing Thomas Doss’s fiendishly difficult work “Spiriti”.

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Having been privileged to have performed on the Contest platform as a guest player with the Band earlier this year, I have had an insight into the effort that it takes to perform at the highest level and believe me, it borders on being scary! During that intense period of rehearsals, my Wife said to me “This brass band lark is a bit obsessive, isn’t it?” Perhaps there was more than an ounce of truth in that statement, but it goes to show how much effort and commitment went in to trying to win that competition!

It would be remiss also not to acknowledge the achievements of another Welsh outfit and my former Band – Tredegar Town Band – who came 5th at the same competition. A great day for Welsh brass bands indeed.

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(Tredegar Town Band at the Royal Albert Hall, London in the 1990’s.)

So, yet another big shout out this Monday morning for the unsung heroes of Usk, Ebbw Valley, Goodwick and now Cory, who are now National Brass Champions of Great Britain, in Sections 4, 2 ,1 and Championship Sections respectively.

Rugby? What rugby match?

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(The Cory Band performing at the 2015 European Brass Band Championships in Freiburg, Germany.)

Dispelling myths and preconceptions

On Sunday 4th October, Music for You made its début as an exhibitor in the world of Wedding Fayres.

The venue was the lovely Miskin Manor Hotel, near Llantrisant (which is on my door-step as it happens), however getting to the point where I was ready to bite the bullet and “go public” as an exhibitor had taken an extremely long time. The main worry was that I didn’t have snazzy enough marketing materials, glitzy banners and corporate wear and all the things that makes a self-employed sole-trader feel small and inadequate amongst all the established “bit-hitters” in the wedding industry.

My fears thankfully were unfounded, as all my fellow exhibitors were very helpful and generous with their compliments and advice, with lots of top tips to take away for future events – yes, to paraphrase Arnie “I’ll be back!” For a first time out, I felt I managed to “keep up with the Joneses” and the feedback was extremely positive, both from the exhibitors and visitors to the Fayre.

Once I had finally set up the stand, it was then down to the serious business of engaging, pardon the pun, with future brides, grooms and extremely worried looking parents (seeing their savings being rapidly blown by their daughters!) to try to persuade them of the merits of live music for their Wedding celebrations.

My main focus, was to try to promote the brass quintet, as this has so much versatility on a number of levels, particularly the musical repertoire it can offer. The quintet comprises two Trumpets, a French Horn, a Trombone and Tuba. What struck me instantly, was that the people I spoke to instantly assumed that brass instruments were either loud, brash, “in your face” and rather uncouth for a wedding and that the “noise” would be rather unrefined to say the least.

Thankfully, I was able to persuade all of the doubters to invest 30 seconds of their time and listen to some You Tube samples, notably Pachelbel’s Kanon performed by the quintet. My reward? My reward was the look of total delight and surprise on the faces of the future brides, quickly followed by “Mum, listen to this – it’s beautiful!”

So, the as the old saying goes “Don’t knock it, until you’ve tried it” rings true and I hope that my maiden voyage at  a wedding fayre, will produce some new “converts”, who at some point in the near future will actually book us for their very special day! Even if they don’t, they will now be aware of the wide range of colours and timbres that brass instruments can produce.

For more details about Music for You and our wedding music, please visit our web-site.

The Music for You Wedding Fayre stand

The Music for You Wedding Fayre stand

The Monday morning mention

The Welsh Nation will start another working week and the hot topic around the water cooler and by the photo-copier, will be the win against Uruguay and the massive upset caused by Japan against the South Africans in the Rugby World Cup.
Whilst on a totally different “playing field” – sorry couldn’t resist that – Wales also starts the week with THREE, yes 3 National Champions , from the world of brass bands.
Big deal huh? Yes, it was a massive deal, as each band had to qualify from it’s respective Region in the UK (typically a field of 10+ competitors) and then beat around 18/19 other bands in the Finals.

The amount of personal preparation, hours of endless practice and self-sacrifice, including financial, might not be on an exact par with the rugby players -it’s certainly a lot safer, that’s for sure! – but the achievement is just as hard-earned and means the world to those involved. This is all the more remarkable, given the standards of performance achieved and the fact that brass banding is an amateur pastime.

So, a big shout out this Monday morning for the unsung heroes of Usk, Ebbw Valley and Goodwick who are now National Brass Champions of Great Britain, in Sections 4, 2 and 1 respectively. This was their Rugby World Cup and if you’re from their area, tell everyone at the water cooler and by the photo-copier, because you’ll have something extra to smile about this morning!

For those of you interested in reading more, go to 4barsrest to see what goes on in the world of banding.