What have we wrought?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by tpter1, Dec 8, 2006.

  1. W Scott

    W Scott Piano User

    Dec 8, 2003
    Carson City, NV.
    '.....trying to get it as technically perfect as the record'. Wow, what an enlightening statement. The Conn I play is sixty years old and if we go back sixty years to look at music, what a difference there is. The recordings and radio broadcasts back then weren't all that good. They were good enough that you could hear the tune and know something about what the band or solosist was doing. But the recordings weren't so good that you could figure out exactly the technique.

    I've read lots of interviews or biographies of musicians from this time period, and what they often would say is 'we heard this music, and then we figured out a way to play it'. They developed their own individual way of producing the sound that they had heard.

    The other thing was that the preferred way of hearing music, because of the limitations of the recording equipement, was live. Folks were used to hearing live performers where often there were goofs and gaffs. It was still better (usually) than the records of the time and folks were more forgiving of mistakes.

    Today, so many are concerned with how to exactly duplicate a piece in the way that..........(fill in the blank) played it, that musicality goes out the window.

    There are musicians out there, trumpet players, that IMO aren't doing this but are making good music. Alison Balsam is an English, lady trumpet player with a new album called 'Caprice'. She took musical pieces that aren't played on the trumpet and adapted it for trumpet. It's an album that takes risks, it's not a reproduction of anything, and she gets criticized for it. I've heard comments such as 'Maurice is better on the picc than her, Harkenberger has far better technique'....and to me these comments really show how far music has strayed from the originial intent.

    The original intent is to make music that touches other peoples hearts, and to play with emotion and feeling. If technical perfection happens along the way--great!

  2. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    Years ago over the summer I took some lessons with Robert Nagle.

    I played what ever it was and he asked me,

    "Why did you play it that way?"
    I replied, "I am trying to put music into it." (something like that)

    He replied: "Just read the music and play what is written and you don't have to add anything"
  3. W Scott

    W Scott Piano User

    Dec 8, 2003
    Carson City, NV.
    I really have to disagree with the 'play the ink' idea. Every one of us needs to bring the music to life for them. I remember I was playing one of the Vacchiano Orchestral Etudes (#3) for my teacher, who's a principal for a symphony. That etude has at least a couple of places where what's written looks like it should be a trill---at least I figured that's what worked and sounded best. So, I played this etude and I see my teacher start looking really hard at the music. I get done and he takes the book, studies it for a few seconds more and says 'What you played isn't the ink, but it's probably what the composer would have written if he had thought about it!"

    Instead of making me 'just play the ink' (which sometimes is exactly what you should do) he realizes there are times when you need to figure out and play what the composer was trying to put across.

  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Play the ink is a real interesting concept. Here is a question for any and all of you: what is a bigger complement after a concert?
    a) it is wonderful to hear the great music that Telemann wrote for trumpet
    b) You did an incredible job playing
    I think you all get the idea. If we as performers bring the composers message to the audience, we have done a great justice to that composer and composition. If we put our brilliant stamp on everything do we do great justice to ourselves?
    2 examples: Maurice André with his personal brilliant stamp on everything he played and Ed Tarr as a servant to the composer/composition. Both sides have their charm! I'd say Ed Tarr came closer to "playing the ink" but that doesn't take away from the brilliance of a Maurice André rendition. I think it is important for a trumpet player to realize the difference however. Many of us had a period where we wanted to play like MA - without realizing what that meant!
  5. trpt2345

    trpt2345 Mezzo Forte User

    May 21, 2006
    Morelia, Mexico
    Manny, you completely misunderstand the point I was trying to make. Often complaints about players with a lot of technique but who supposedly lack "soul" is simply jealousy on the part of the person making the complaint. It doesn't reflect on the person they are commenting about, but rather on themselves. Trumpet player A complains that trumpet player B plays with a lot of technique but no soul or musicality. What it often means is that trumpet player B has more technique than trumpet player A and the latter is jealous. That is the meaning of the comment which we discerned when I was at Eastman, and as a result it lead to a diminution of complaints of that sort. Technical accomplishment is no small feat and should in my opinion never be denigrated.

    Michael McLaughlin
  6. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    Please don't misunderstand me. I don't mean to belittle the accomplshments of musicians with great technical prowess.

    My intent is to stimulate a discussion about the hyperfocus on accuracy in many of today's performances at the expense of musicianship; and how this seems to be largley related to the overuse or abuse of technology, however subtle.
  7. robertwhite

    robertwhite Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    I honestly don't believe it's a today vs. yesterday idea. There's always been this debate about technique vs. musicality and sixty years ago folks were talking about even earlier by-gone "good old days".

    I think what Mike is saying carries a lot of truth. Although there certainly IS such thing as a clean but cold performance (I've heard a few), playing with something approaching technical perfection requires real commitment and dedication. As trumpeters, we have a special situation, since compared to many other instruments, we really don't have much of a solo repertoire. Often, our most technically demanding solos are pretty dumb when you get right down to it. Even though this is changing, it still remains true that the finest music we get to play (on the whole) is in the orchestra - where flashy technical displays are not nearly as frequent as refinement, control, sensitivity, beautiful sound, lyrical phrasing, etc. It's still technique though, isn't it?

    I'll agree that it seems some people play more fearfully today than in the past. But can you blame us? We have to worry about what people on TrumpetHerald and TrumpetMaster will say if we miss any notes! :D
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2006
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I had a gig tonight and at the beginning, an annoucement was made to turn off the cell phones because a recording was being made.
    I think that because just about EVERYTHING is being recorded today, there is more stress placed on being technically accurate. If we would turn off the damn tape recorders, we may just get better musical results - we would have no proof in either direction!
    This is something band directors could consider for recitals - record the dress rehearsal and not the performance. It may reduce the stress level for the students
  9. tomba51

    tomba51 New Friend

    Jan 5, 2004
    There weren't that many in the days of Cootie, Bunny, and Pops either. When you hear them and the other greats from that time, you're hearing the cream of the crop. The other musicians of that time have simply been forgotten. There were lots of musicians in that era that were technically proficent, but just didn't have that something extra that gave them an individual voice. Since just about the only people that we hear now from that era are the ones that did have that individual voice, we may forget that there were lots of others that did not. Maybe fifty years from now, people will be saying the same thing about our era.

  10. Rimshot

    Rimshot Pianissimo User

    Feb 14, 2005
    I honestly do not agree with the premise that today's performers are routinely rendering musically sterile performances as a result of their technical mastery.

    In fact, I believe a lot of good and very good performances are resulting because it is the musicians rising to the musical occasion in spite of the almost routine void in artistic LEADERSHIP that is much more characteristic of the musical scene today than any corruption by perfection.

    I doubt most musical groups outside of the very top flight of professional orchestras 40 or 50 years ago could have hoped to match the high level of execution AND musicality almost common today, even down to the level of many regional, or in some cases community outfits.

    I suspect the discussion generated in this topic in more indicative of a heightened sensitivity to the artistic side of things, rather than any deterioration.

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