Pip Eastop, Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Posts tagged “arpeggios

Effsharpminor Syllabub

I found this, while looking through some old photographs. 

effsharp minor

I must have thought it worth keeping or I wouldn’t have written it down, or taken the photo. I’ve not seen the actual bit of paper since that day. 

It’s an arpeggiated exercise for learning chordal patterns within F# Melodic Minor. It may seem a bit abstruse but all those patterns are very useful. 

I’ve just tried to play it – and it’s very difficult. That’s over four years now (going by the date stamp of the photo) and I still haven’t learned it. I think I’d better get on with it…

Humble John

I’m becoming a bit frustrated by not getting enough study time. We are on holiday and the kids need occupying, taking out, playing with etc. for many hours each day. On top of that I have get my horn chops working because I’ve a couple of hard gigs at the end of the week, in Germany and Italy with London Brass.

As usual with that crowd it’s a whole new pad of pieces (to me) and I have precisely three and a hours of rehearsal time in which to learn how to play Richard Bissill’s stupendously difficult horn parts. 

The scraps of trumpet practice I have managed in the last few days have been on arpeggios and scales. I really need to start learning some standards and trumpet solos from recordings.

I’ve been running quite a lot (something else which shortens my available practice time) and I always listen to music on minidisc as I run. Due to a mix up last week I found I had inadvertently kept a disc which John Barclay lent me. After an hour or so of listening I found he had recorded it in LP mode, which means you can cram more music on the disc. He had used not just LP mode, but LP4 mode, which give an available 300 minutes (5 hours!) of music on just one disc. The quality is not so good but it’s really not bad – and certainly good enough for the vintage jazz recordings which John had copied. I didn’t even notice the poor sound as I was running.

The amazing thing is that John has recorded himself playing along with some of the tracks, so every now and again another trumpet player pops up – in a different sound, in a different acoustic. John, a closet jazzer, is very good! He’s got a wonderful sound, a great feel for jazz harmony and bags of style. What’s funny about it is that even though, I guess, he recorded the stuff on his own at his home without any idea that someone else might one day listen to it, he still sounds apologetic, as if he’s poking his head around a door and saying, “hello? does anyone mind if I just squeeze in here and play along with you guys – just a few quiet twiddles – don’t mind me, I’m only messing about…”

Such a superb musician – he’s obviously going to be a great jazzer – but curiously such a humble soul. John also happens to be one of the funniest people I have ever met.

John and I have a plan to spend some time together thrashing out some jazz. I’m expecting to learn a lot from him …though I can’t imagine he’ll learn anything from me.

Lodes Of Modes

I’m on holiday with the family in a cottage in Sherringham Park, Norfolk. Nobody lives anywhere nearby so I can practice at anytime and most of what I’ve done so far has been outside.

I’ve brought Kenny’s Benge pocket trumpet with me and I’m doing irregular bursts of modes and jazz-chord arpeggios from an exercise I’ve written called “Lodes of Modes”. See below.  

I’ve also had the odd stab at repeat tonguing in the high register – something I find rather difficult. So, I’m not really being very systematic but then this is a holiday. I guess what I’m doing adds up to about 90 minutes or so each day.

The little Benge is perfect for a holiday practice trumpet. It takes up almost no space – it even fits inside my regular horn case, next to my horn, and, most importantly, it’s a serious piece of gear – an excellent instrument by any standards.

Benge Pocket Trumpet

Benge Pocket Trumpet

With a cup mute in it’s nice and quiet so it doesn’t disturb the kids trying to get to sleep.

Here’s “Lodes Of Modes”: 

This evening, I’ve just discovered a good way forward. I sat down with Aebersold’s Turnarounds book and CD (volume 16) and tackled the progressions for what are called “Turnarounds No 3”. It’s basically this progression: DM,F7, BbM,Eb7 repeated three times followed by a variety of unsubtle modulations into another key – and through all the keys.

I started off by playing along with the CD but soon realised I was just deepening previous grooves I had made rather than finding new pathways. I turned off the playalong and started to play just the chord notes of each chord symbol. Difficult! Ken Bartells was right – I must learn to know what notes I am playing and learn play ones I choose rather than playing exclusively by ear.

Valves v. pistons

Having got back from holidays with the cornet I had to check my hornplaying was still working before heading off to Edinburgh with the Britten Sinfonia, to play some stuff by James Macmillan. This would be followed by a week of film sessions (Peter Pan) for Joel McNeely. To my great relief the horn playing seemed hardly changed. Perhaps a little unfocussed in the high register but elsewhere, if anything, improvements had taken place. How completely brilliant! I really didn’t know what sort of damage I might have done so I was very relieved. 

What struck me most of all was the difference of practice technique. With the cornet I had been playing scales and arpeggios and improvising bits of melody and jazz licks. With the horn, on the other hand, I found myself playing long tones with crescendi and diminuendi and bathing in the sheer loveliness of the sound. The cornet is nice but it really doesn’t have that fascinating, hypnotic timbre. I don’t think I could have spent thirty years practicing long notes on a trumpet like I have with the horn.

Another difference which became obvious was that rotary valves sound very different to pistons. I had no idea about this before learning the cornet. It’s not just a left hand versus right hand thing, it’s a different mechanism with a different sound effect. The rotary valves of a horn are capable of giving a very quick change, more like a switch than a valve, whereas the piston can be moved slower if required and the half-valve sounds are more useful and easy to use than those of the horn. I wonder now what a modern piston horn would feel like to play. I must earmark that idea for a future project.

I’m still working at Locrians (Ø), diminished whole-tone scales (C7+9), and Diminished (beginning with the semitone) (C7-9).