Random Bits

Here are a bunch of random bits:

Iowa Brass Online
This year, the University of Iowa brass area has created four new online and social media outlets: the Iowa Brass Area Website, a Facebook page, a Google+ page and a Twitter account @UIowaBrass. Check them out!

Droning On
I was recently looking for some kind of tuner app that would play pitches and I discovered these wonderful tuning drones on  Jennifer Cluff ‘s blog. They were originally created by David Valdez for saxophone players. You can download all twelve of them for free and that last for about three minutes and they sound like a combination of a didgeridoo and a sitar. They immediately inspired me to improvise to them, but both Jennifer and David have excellent suggestions on how to utilize them.

Start Making Sense
A student of mine recommended I listen to a new recording by David Byrne and St. Vincent. The recording is called Love This Giant and you can hear the album in its entirety on NPR’s First Listen. In typical Byrne fashion, it’s unique and quirky, but the best part is the horn section. The lines are funky, creative, and minimalistic – but they seem to really drive the entire album, and yes Virginia there is a tuba, and a baritone sax at the bottom of the band.

Clark’s St. Vincent cohort John Congleton, who co-produced 2009’s Actor and 2011’s Strange Mercy, programmed percussion long-distance, emailing files that the pair would pull apart and reconstruct. A few friends came in for overdubs: drummer Anthony LaMarca and percussionist Mauro Refosco, but once the horn parts, arranged mostly by Tony Finno, had been laid down, Byrne and Clark did the rest themselves. Says Byrne, “Often when we could, we didn’t use any bass. The tuba or the baritone sax would do the job of the bass and Annie and I would play guitar. I was more the rhythm guitar guy. And she was the incredible lead guitarist.”

This summer, two of my students participated in the newly-formed Southeast Tuba Euphonium Workshop (STEW). Held at the University of Georgia, the workshop consists of a week of lessons, master classes and chamber music and the faculty includes Ben Pierce, Demondrae Thurmon and David Zerkel. By all reports, it was a stellar program.

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