A tough gig

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BradHarrison, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. BradHarrison

    BradHarrison Pianissimo User

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    Oct 31, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    I was asked to play a funeral for the mother of a family friend. I met the organist who turned out to be a very nice person, we discussed the music and got ready to play a prelude.

    I started to play the first song and everything sounded and felt awful. I was cacking and mispitching left, right, and center but I couldn't quite put my finger on what was wrong. I played another song and the same thing happened. Mucking with my tuning slide seemed to have no effect. I eventually tuned to the organ to discover it was nearly a quarter-tone flat(it was so flat I didn't believe my ear while I was playing the first two preludes). Normally my tuning slide is less than 1/2" out, by the time I was tuned up it was nearly 2" out. It was bad.

    I tried to play a few more songs but the rest of the horn was thrown off my being pulled out so far so everything I played was a struggle. The funny thing was that the organ has gone out of tune pretty evenly(except for the pedals, which were sharp and sounded like a rumble more than music) so it sounded fine and I sounded awful. It was so difficult I ended up almost not playing at all. After the preludes the only thing I played was the recessional which was me playing one verse of Amazing Grace without the organ before she came in and played the rest of the song without me. I felt so bad I didn't play more for the funeral of a family friend's mother. Actually, it was pretty embarassing. I'm a pretty good trumpet player but I'm not yet good enough to play convincingly with a keyboard instrument pitching B-natural

    Of course, everyone came up to me afterwards and said how lovely my playing was. I don't think they were just being nice, they were genuine but they didn't know any better. I appreciated their compliments but I still felt bad. I just wish I could have really contributed to the service.

    I just felt like sharing. Anyone else have gig from hell stories?
     
  2. trumpet blower88

    trumpet blower88 Mezzo Piano User

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    I played the national anthem at an Eagle Scout cerimony for one of my friends/fellow eagle scouts. I didn't really have much time to play ahead of time and practice in the hall, and that came back to bite me in the butt later.

    The hall was pretty small, with lots of jagged/cornerd walls up twards the front. I decided to stand in the back and play to the front (this turned out to be a bad idea). I started playing and got off to a good start. After about 5 seconds, I suddenly hear all my sound bouncing back and I hear a really loud echo of myself. That made me loose my focus and I missed a note. Luckly I recoverd quickly and got myself back together, but a couple seconds later that awful Bb (instead of B natural) came bouncing back and I lost all concentration. It just went down hill from there.

    But here's the worst part. At Eagle Scout cerimonies we have what we call the "eagles nest" where everyone there who has earned their eagle comes and sits in a litle group up in the front (there were about 6 of us). So after I compleatly insulted America with my awful performance I had to go sit up in front of the entire crowd.

    During the reception afterwords everyone was telling me how well I did (even though I did awful), and how it's such a difficult piece to play (when it's really quite simple). But finaly this litle kid about 5 years old comes up to me and says "wow, you really did bad..." His mother was so embarrased, but I was laughing and happy that some one was finaly honest with me....


    We all have a few performances in our lives when things just don't go our way, but we need to put those in our past and just go on creating more wonderful music.
     
  3. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    Brad, you sure aren't alone when it comes to fighting with a flat pipe organ! We've got one church here in town that must have been DELIBERATELY tuned flat. It can be.... excruciating... to listen to when it is accompanying a brass quintet or similar. Sure hope the family wasn't upset by the dischords.
     
  4. BradHarrison

    BradHarrison Pianissimo User

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    Oct 31, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    No, nobody was upset except my family because they know what I'm capable of. The glimmer of light in the story is that I discovered the problem before the mass began. It was just too bad I could contribute to the entire service instead of just the recessional.
     
  5. Jimi Michiel

    Jimi Michiel Forte User

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    Boston
    I played a wedding where they wanted pictures at an exhibition. I start playing the promenade and everything is going fine... until the organ comes in a quarter tone off... argh
     
  6. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

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    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Brad,

    I assume it was a pipe organ, not a digital? Decent digital organs like Rogers or Allen can change their pitch easily.

    Greg
     
  7. BradHarrison

    BradHarrison Pianissimo User

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    Oct 31, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    It was indeed a pipe organ. I've played with it many times before but not for a couple years. The pitch wasn't great then but it was workable. It's really slipped since then. I've got to talk to the new pastor about it. It's actually a very nice instrument when it's in tune.

    My favorite memory of that organ was graduating from high school in that church. The entrance hymn was Hymn to St. Michael(the school was St. Michael's) and I was playing with two other trumpets and the organ. When the grads came in they started doing school cheers over the music. I didn't mind it(I thought it was pretty cool) but the orgnist was a priest at the school and cranked the organ up to drown out the grads, who cheered louder. Being surrounded by a great loud organ playing a hymn that had practically been my national anthem through school with my friends cheering for the school below me...it was amazing.
     
  8. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

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    Pipe organs are great when they are on pitch, but they sure do require a lot of attention to keep in order.
     
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Baltimore/DC
    I both love and hate playing with pipe organs, all depending on the intonation of the organ.

    My worst pipe organ experience was at my sister's wedding where the pipe organ in question was not built on the A440 standard - it was built on an older standard like like 415 or 435* - in any case, in order to play in tune with it, my tuning slide was yanked a good 2 inches or more, which really made things quirky with the horn. Because I couldn't really rely on muscle memory to "know" where pitches were, I completely kacked the first note of the recessional - the Purcell Trumpet Tune. To make matters worse, the sister in question, who trusted me with the processional and recessional for her wedding, was an exceptional trumpet player in high school.

    Oh well, what can you do? She had so much other stuff on her mind that day that my blown first note of the recessional never came up in conversation that day, nor has it ever come up since.

    *(Edit: the organ in question was at A415: http://www.ohta.org.au/document/articles/ccpitch.html )
     
  10. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

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    Nov 27, 2003
    Denver
    This is likely not the last time you'll run into this phenominum. It's common in churches. The reverberation comes back to your ears softer than the original note and it sounds sharper. That's a pshyco-acoustic event. The audience, in general, doesn't hear it, unless they're right by you. It gives string players and vocalists fits, making them go sharper and sharper as they try to match what the hear. Trumpeters should just play thru it, knowing that the only people in the audience that hear it will be those right next to you.

    Your trumpet education continues...

    BTW, congrats on your Eagle.

    Dave
     

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