Canonbury Brass – odds & ends  

All sorts of bits and pieces that might be interesting and important … or not …

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This website
Taking a pause, not a farewell

I've kept my promise to add something new to this site, every day of this school year, since the lockdown started. If you have a look at What's New you can see how it starts right back on Monday 23 March – the very first day we were closed – and runs up the end of the Summer Term. I hope that you have enjoyed this material and found it useful.

Now that we have hit the holiday I feel that I can slow down or even stop for a while. I am certainly not giving up the site – there is a lot here that is valuable and I have many ideas for the future. So please check back from time to time and see what has changed. I will always announce it at What's New, with a little hint on the home page too.

I am hoping that in September we will see ways of working with brass at school, and then it might be clearer what direction this site should take. Until then, I hope you agree that there's nothing wrong with the current diet of tunes, links and other odds and ends!

Until then, have a good summer and I will look forward to seeing you back here before too long. Here's a link to the the Sweet Canonbury song video with a cast of (nearly) thousands … and some brass playing …

SEVEN trumpets and timpani!
Lockdown spectacular on old-style instruments

Please visit this YouTube link for the Concerto for 7 trumpets and timpani by Johann Ernst Altenburg who was an 18th-century German composer.

You will remember that a few weeks ago we had Alison Balsom talking about the Baroque trumpet – it's down below here, about 5 rows or 17 cards under this one. Well, this an amazing and rather joyous and noisy piece for seven of those plus a set of timpani (sometimes called kettledrums, though not by the cool kids). That total of seven is divided into a solo superhero and two groups of three who share the rest of the work between them. The timps just come in as needed and are not glued to one group or another. I like to imagine a monarch arriving at their court with something like this to announce them!

Make no mistake – what these players are doing is very hard: it is an amazing skill to play these old-style (look Mum, no valves) trumpets. I am proud to say that one of these people, Brian Shaw, often seen at the bottom left on a blue background, is a friend of mine. Can you imagine how much practice it takes to get that good? Plenty. You could do it – it's about going for it and doing the work to get where you want to be.

Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald

Two of the greatest jazz artists of all time perform Summertime from George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess". It's just … well, I find every note perfect. Please go and have a listen at ❗this YouTube link and see what you think.

Dvořák's fantastic Largo
Another of those tunes that you know, even if you think you don't

The Czech composer Antonín Dvořák worked in the US from 1892 to 1895. Fascinated with America and its music, in 1893 he wrote his Symphony No. 9, From the New World, in which he tries to capture some of his ideas and feelings about the country. This tune is the main theme of the symphony's second movement. I can pretty much promise you that if you play it to an adult, they will know it – even if they think it is the "Hovis Advert Music"!

It's not that difficult but I have made you high and low versions so you can choose which you are more comfortable playing. The first version, with the higher notes, is more authentic – closer to the original – but if you would prefer the lower note version, please go for it and it will still be great! The PDF is here and I hope that you will enjoy playing this lovely tune.

This Old Man
Another nursery favourite

Here's another great tune that you will already know. This Old Man is not too hard to play - if you know your First Five Notes™ then all you need to add is an A with valves 1 and 2 and you've got it. Here is the PDF.

There's a tiny bit of maths to look at here too. Do you like to read the start of this tune as Tee-Tee Ta or Ta Ta Too? I've given you both on the same sheet. One is marked 60 Beats Per Minute (BPM) and the other is 120 BPM. What on Earth is going on here? Have a look for yourself!

Susato Ronde v1
A quick dance

This Ronde is by the composer Tielman Susato, who lived in Antwerp (which is now in Belgium) in the 16th century. He wrote lots of great tunes, many of which we still have. This busy dance is not as hard as it looks! Start slowly, and keep going – you can make it go a bit faster as you get more used to it. Want a backing? Just let me know.

Please click here for the PDF, and enjoy playing this great tune.

By the way, this is called Version 1 because there is more to the tune than these 8 bars, and we can maybe do some more of it in a later version.

Take It Easy
A relaxed, easy tune

After yesterday's busy song I thought you might like an easy, slow song that's relaxing and calming to play. First four notes only – you can do this. Here is the PDF for Take It Easy and as usual the music asks, and I am asking you, if there is something you would like adding to it to make it better for you. Go!

Run Canonbury Run
Not a walk in the park?

Here is the PDF for Run Canonbury Run, our newest tune. Have a look, and please tell me if there is anything you need to help you with this one.

Oh When The Saints
Another great tune

Here's another popular, quite easy, tune that you can play with your First Five Notes™. The same things I said for Twinkle Twinkle are true here too. Would you like a backing for this one? Just let me know.

Please click this link for the PDF of Oh When The Saints.

Wind The Bobbin Up
Also not in the book!

Another nice tune, following from Twinkle Twinkle on Friday. In fact, everything I want to say about it is the same as for Friday ... so please carry on!

Please click this link for the tune PDF.

Please check the previous card, about Twinkle Twinkle, for all the other information. Please contact me if stuck. Or if not stuck. Whatever.

Twinkle Twinkle
Not in the book!

I thought you might like to play the popular classic Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star. It's one of those great tunes that we all know but it doesn't need too many notes so it is not difficult! Sshhhh, don't tell the audience it's easy.

If you click this link it should take you to a PDF of the tune.

If you have any trouble with the PDF please let me know. We can try other ways of getting the music to you.

You will see that the PDF asks you to let me know if you would like it changed – maybe you would like the lyrics, or the fingerings, or the note names, or something else? Just let me know on Class Dojo.

And maybe I will add a backing some day, too. Would you like that?

Two horns
You can play Spot The Difference among several metres of tubing!

Continuing from yesterday's lovely horn music:

Let's call this top horn A ...

Photo: a horn on a lawn.

... and we can call the other one L.

Photo: another horn on the same lawn.

These are both horns – they are examples of the instrument sometimes called a French Horn. Lots of horn players don't like the French Horn name and they much prefer to call it just a horn. Unfortunately that does not always work and sometimes you pretty much have to specify French or some other way of making it clear what you mean.

Can you think of a situation where it might not be clear what you mean? What else might people be thinking if you say "horn"? Does it depend on where you are, or to whom you are talking?

Now let's look at the photos. A and L are both horns. Are they the same? If they are not, then what differences can you see? What similarities? Do you think one looks better than the other? Might one cost more? I would love to know what you think when you compare A and L!

A postcard and a tune that I love
What is going on here?

Here's a beautiful postcard, one of my most favourite things. What do you think is going on here?

Picture postcard of an estuary scene with moored boats. There is horn music along the top of the card.

To see the card much bigger and to read more about the picture and the music, you can click this link or the little picture above.

Have a listen to the music at the top of this card by pressing the Play button just below here. This is just the very start of a much larger work. What can you hear in this music?

Remember Happy? Here is a clever multi-trombone version

I know you were a bit little in 2013! Even so, you may well, since then, have heard the Pharrell Williams song Happy which was a huge hit. Continuing our theme of amazing multi-trombone videos, here is ❗Happy: Trombone Loop with Christopher Bill playing all the parts and doing very clever looping using software called Ableton which is designed for "live" use – that is, Christopher Bill isn't going back and editing this together afterwards: he is doing it right there on the spot. That is why he has to be so fast and clever, to not only do the trombone playing but also to control the software so that he gets the right bits recorded and played back. I wish I could do this but it is a very very advanced skill which I do not currently have!

Minor language warning: as noted above, what Christopher Bill is doing in the video is complicated and demanding, and you can see him having to move back and forth quickly between the trombone and computer. So it is maybe not a huge surprise that something goes wrong in the middle - the music stops for a moment because he made a computing mistake. Christopher says a mildly bad word here. You know it and I know it; we don't use it in the classroom and at other times when we are talking politely because it's not appropriate. So no, you can't say it in front of your favourite auntie and then blame Christopher Bill (or me!) for it, because you know how to use language sensibly. OK?

Bizarre and brilliant multi-track trombone video

A pBone is, as the name might suggest to you, a plastic trombone. In this rather ridiculous but clever video, ❗THE (pBone) CLONE WARS, an excellent trombonist called Michael Munzert plays his blue pBone – and a couple of other things besides. If you want a couple of questions to try, how about:

  • How many Michael Munzerts do we see in the video (to the nearest whole Michael Munzert)?
  • What other instruments – not the trombone(s) – do we see in the video? The real names are a great answer if you can find them but a guess or just a description are fine too!

Plastic trombones are, as you see, a real thing, and surprisingly good!

Hmmmm: I might come back to this topic one day …

Short funny YouTube video

Content warning: this video has a small plastic squeaky pig being played along with two trumpets and a piano. It's possible that for religious or cultural reasons you would rather skip it – that's fine. Everyone is different. If you know that you don't want to see it, just don't. If you know you do want to see it and you're sure it's OK then fine, enjoy. If you are not sure, please seek adult advice first.

So what is this?

Here is ❗the link to the video of Oink by Anthony Gustav Morris, performed by the composer with Aneel Soomary playing the trumpets and Agnes Wolf on piano. It's a very very short piece of modern classical music (just over one minute) with a really hard piano part and a really hard part for two trumpets (the one trumpet player swaps between them). There is a less challenging part for the squeaky pig, though it is still quite hard and must be played right. I am not qualifed to assess Mr Morris's pig playing but I can tell you that the pianist and trumpet player are both rather wonderful.

Rico Rodriguez
A star trombonist in ska and reggae

Continuing with our exploration of some great brass playing, have a listen to Rico Rodriguez, who was an eminent trombone player in lots of styles but originating in reggae and ska. He seemed to be on every pop song in the 1980s!

This link takes you to his album ❗That Man is Forward from 1981. It's actually the whole album there, going on for about 40 minutes, but you could listen to as few or as many tracks as you like.

It's a YouTube link so, in school, you might need adult help to make it work. The ❗ is there to remind you about online safety on external sites: the next two cards are all about that.

I am planning to make a better page to show you videos and other links, but this one will do for now, I reckon. Do please let me know what you think!

Alison Balsom - baroque trumpet virtuoso
Another great player!

Here is Alison Balsom, a very top player of an interesting and difficult instrument.

This video is from Classic FM: ❗Introducing the Baroque Trumpet.

Have a look, and enjoy the different sound and the weirdness of there being no valves. Some of the language is a bit technical – maybe just let it wash over you and enjoy the video anyway? OR you could look it up, or ask for help with words and ideas that are unclear. Either approach is fine.

It's a YouTube link so, in school, you might need adult help to make it work. The ❗ is there to remind you about online safety on external sites: the cards a couple later are all about that.

Just one cornetto
A great player shows us the instrument and plays a tune

In my Class Dojo videos for 10 and 11 June I showed you the cornetto (no, not the ice-cream) and played you Castle March and a little tune by Giles Farnaby.

Now you need to see and hear someone who can really play it! So here is Lene Langballe to show you her ❗Cornetto Podcast Episode 1 – please enjoy her amazing playing and her joy in making music!

It's a YouTube link so, in school, you might need adult help to make it work. The ❗ is there to remind you about online safety on external sites: the next two cards are all about that.

Online safety❗
The red exclamation mark means that you are following a link off this site. Please be careful.

This thing…

… is telling you that the link next to it takes you to an external site. Here is an example:

❗Just an example

When you see this you need to think about everything you know about online safety. You have done this at school! Remember all the important things from those lessons.

When you are on this site or the Canonbury Primary School main site, you should be safe from most internet threats apart from my bad jokes.

When you venture outside those sites you need to be very careful that you only go to the places that I've recommended and that you don't wander off or click stuff that could be inappropriate for you. 

Top tips

I talked to the brilliant ❗Childnet about this and they gave me some great tips to share with you and with whoever is helping you with your computing.

Top tips 

Some ideas for parents/carers/whoever is helping you with your online work.

• Turn off autoplay – you find this by clicking the settings cog on any YouTube video – this prevents videos from playing straight on, back to back.

• Adults/helpers/chidren sit together or very close by.

• Turn on "restricted mode" – see ❗this article at Internet Matters for more

More tips

To follow soon

Brass instrument notes and piano notes don't match!
Aargh! What is going on?
(There is a graphical version of this on the next card)

Is someone helping you with your music practice? Please ask them to read this!

I occasionally mention this in lessons but it's not a big deal there – the backings are already sorted out and if I play piano I just fix it as I go along, with hardly any wrong notes at all hem-hem.     

The problem is that for reasons waaaay too long and boring to discuss here, the note we call C on your cornet or tenor horn is not the same as C on the piano. Sad but true. We're all lying to each other. Tsk. I apologize.

The solution is that one of you has to change to make up for the difference.

Cornet: the piano has to play everything one tone lower to match. So:
The cornet's First Five notes:
… are played on the piano as:
B♭ C D E♭ F

Tenor horn: the piano has to play everything 4½ tones lower to match. So:
The tenor horn's First Five notes:
… are played on the piano as:
E♭ F G A♭ B♭

I'm sorry: I know it's a pain, but I didn't invent it, and it is mostly useful to us. I might write a bit more about it – and maybe some nerdy music-person notes – later, but I hope this is a help for now.

Important instrument note: what I have said about adjusting the pitch for the piano is the same for violin, flute, guitar and most other instruments. Clarinets and tenor saxes are in B♭, the same as cornets; alto saxes are in E♭, the same as the tenor horn. Not many people know that, but you do now!

Brass instrument notes – the graphical version
Here's the musical notation version of what you just read

Cornet and piano

Cornet and piano notation

Tenor horn and piano

Tenor horn and piano notation

Yes, I cheated a tiny bit. The tenor horn version is really an octave lower. The horn's written middle C sounds as the E♭ below middle C on your piano, bassoon, harp, banjo etc. Go figure.

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