Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ewald Quintet Article Response

  • What did you know about Ewald and his brass quintet before reading this article? 
    • Before reading the article I knew that the amount of research was very limited. I also was aware that the editions I had performed from had been edited significantly from the original to allow for performance with a modern ensemble. Lastly I knew that the instruments and instrumentation of the modern brass quintet was likely quite different from what Ewald had written for.
  • What did this article teach you about proper research?
    • This article teaches the importance of being relentless when chasing down leads. it also demonstrates the importance of maintaining a consistent plan, and making sure that the research is truly complete before it goes to a publisher.
  • What questions did this article raise?
    • I wonder what other works from pre revolution Russia have been potentially lost to time or exist in the personal archives of people throughout the world who may have traveled to the Soviet Union.
  • What are your thoughts on rotary vs. piston valve preferences mentioned in the article?
    • I appreciate the lengths to which the Smith goes to seek out the valve preference in Russia during the time of composition and early performance. I found it interesting that he found that there was no real preference, if any there was preference for the valve, and how occasionally the tow designs mix in ensembles.
  • Do you agree with Forsyth who wrote, "There is in general no true legato on the trombone"
    • No, I disagree. In my opinion some of the most beautiful legato I've heard comes from trombonists. In my mind I liken the trombone slide to a cello string. So with this thought in mind I believe the trombone offers a truer opportunity for legato rather than a valved instrument.
  • What are your thoughts about Smith's ideas on instrumentation mentioned on page 13.
    • To me it seems that Smith may be thinking it's likely Ewald would have written for valved trombones, which may have been easier for apertures to learn and play. I wonder if apertures may have been more likely to play the slide trombone that they likely would have observed in the orchestras of the time.
  • In regards to the modern revival of Ewald's brass quintets, what roles did the following people play? Froides Werke, the American Brass Quintet, the Empire Brass Quintet?
    • Froides Werke passed along copies of Ewald Quinet's 2 and 3 to the Empire Brass Quintet
    • The Empire Brass Quintet recorded and performed those quintets, which made the music part of the modern cannon
    • The American Brass Quintet worked with Smith to create and perform the most accurate modern editions possible.
  • What has been your experience both playing and listening to the Ewald quintets? 
    • My experience performing these works has been exciting because romantic music gives us so much more room to flex our musical muscles in the ensemble. Interestingly the relative lack of definitive historical information leaves the door open for interpretation which makes every recording and performance even more different than those of other works. Also, when preparing these works, it allows the ensembles I've played to make musical decisions that differ from other groups while having the ability to back those decisions up with historical evidence we have the ability to research ourselves. This makes the performance of these works particularly exciting despite the frequency of their performance and notoriety overall.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Listening Playlist from 2/15

I've included the full playlist of music from today. I plan to come back and address some of the personnel on the recordings after further investigation. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


One of the elements of the New Orleans Style brass band that fascinates me is the origin of the genre. I believe it would be impossible for me to add anything to the discourse on this topic. Instead of writing about history I would like to share my reactions to a few articles I read on my first "deep dive" into the origins of New Orleans Style brass band music.

NOLA History: The Brass Bands of New Orleans

This article from Edward Branley, a writer for the New Orleans tourism bureau website, serves as a good entry point into some of the basic history of New Orleans' brass bands. I like to call this a 30,000 foot view since it throws out several points but doesn't go into very much depth.

Branley address the belief that street band music in the 1880's rose out of the need for music at events such as funerals or weddings being combined with the instruments that remained from the Civil War era brass bands. That music eventually began to fuse with early elements of jazz within the bars and brothers of Storyville.

Brass Band Jazz, Part One

In part one of a three part series on "modern" brass bands in the late 1980's Kalamu Ya Salaam writes more in depth on the topic of the early origins of the style. One thing he discusses that I had not though of before was how popular polka bands were in the New Orleans during the late nineteenth century. He asserts the the brass band movement was the combination of polka, parade bands, and early jazz music. I'm also interested in his discussion of how the brass band movement was an essential part of early jazz music with artists such as "King" Oliver and Louis armstrong making their way in brass bands before playing more traditional jazz music.

For what it's worth Off Beat Magazine, the publication this article comes from is focused on the native music of Louisiana, which shades the discussion of brass band music being from unique to New Orleans. In the passage below Salaam writes beautifully about what less tangible elements lead to the prevalence of this form of music in New Orleans.
Although it might seem obvious that brass band music would naturally develop in New Orleans because of its cultural richness, the fact is that the jazz band was not simply an extension of existing American popular musical activity, but rather the traditional New Orleans marching jazz band was a radical synthesis and transformation that combined both traditional African cultural antecedents with the technical demands of existing European musical cultural expressions to produce a music that is profoundly American in the truest and most accurate sense of what American musical culture is and aspires to be.
Eureka Brass Band (1885)

McNeese State University

The is cited by the Grove Dictionary of American Music and several other sources as being one of the earliest known New Orleans Style Brass Bands. As you can see by the picture this is by no means what we now think of as a New Orleans style brass band, and may seem more in line with a small community marching band in the British brass band tradition, of course with the addition of clarinet.

Despite the lack of sousaphone and the "whiteness" of the group I like how this photo demonstrates the community nature of early and even present brass bands. You can see the inclusion of young children in the group as well as the inconsistencies in the uniforms indicating this was likely not a professional ensemble. The caption reads:

Here is the band that supplied the music for the 'Grand Entertainment.' For many years this was the only band in our little town. The men in the picture are, readingfrom left to right1st rowLouis RunteFrank Shellman2nd rowPaul SullivanunknownFerdinand RoyLang ClarkSteve SedlockDrKnappWillie MayoRudolph KrauseErnest TaylorWalter MoelingCharles Winterhaler and MrTaylor (father of Ernest). This picture was taken in front of the old fire station on Pujo street about where the taxi stand is nowopposite the Majestic hotelMarch 1885(This site is now (1949) occupied by the Pioneer Building.)
I really like how this photo paints a different picture than I expected to find in early New Orleans brass bands. I hope to continue to use these posts as a venue for my discoveries regarding the origins of the genre.