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Blending in a section



 
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Oncewasaplayer
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:51 am    Post subject: Blending in a section Reply with quote

If you are playing in a big band section, what are your thoughts on blending with the other horns? I'd like to pick your hive mind on approaches to blending. What does blending mean to you? How do you do it? Is it more than playing similar horn types? Is it more than simply matching a similar horn sound or does it refer to precision, articulations and style in playing (which all seems like different things)? Thanks for your thoughts.
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Jerry
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you mean blending or do you mean matching?
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Oncewasaplayer
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I honestly don't understand what matching means.
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Seymor B Fudd
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:29 am    Post subject: Re: Blending in a section Reply with quote

Oncewasaplayer wrote:
If you are playing in a big band section, what are your thoughts on blending with the other horns? I'd like to pick your hive mind on approaches to blending. What does blending mean to you? How do you do it? Is it more than playing similar horn types? Is it more than simply matching a similar horn sound or does it refer to precision, articulations and style in playing (which all seems like different things)? Thanks for your thoughts.


I have never ever played in a bigband trumpet section where all guys played the same horn. Period. I think the essential blending consists of what you mention: precision, articulation and style. In my opinion the number one priority is to have the section play as one; holding each note to its full value; articulate the same way - meaning accentuate, look out for tenutos or the reverse, be sure to nail the beat properly, not a fraction of a second later (or earlier); styles can differ; I play a lot of swing classics so often shorter more separated tones versus the modern groovier accentuations/syncops. A lot more could be said by professionals.
Different horns with different tonal characteristica - in my view - only contribute to the overall palette. On the other hand sometimes a kind of weighing/balancing might be considered. I´m thinking of the development of horns - particularly evident in the brass bands; "fatter/bigger" heavy end (e.g trombones) perhaps have to be compensated by heavier cornets (in comparison with the thinner/brighter cornets prior to the seventies.
Perhaps also in the big bands???? If someones projects too much this could depend on the player, not the instrument - I mean harsh attacks etc - always the possibility of borderline cases (not in the psychiatric sense, mostly..).
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never heard matching used that way, either.

Blending to me means providing the kind of tone that forms a homogenous sound with the rest of the section, as well as matching the articulations, phrasing, etc. of the lead player.

I will add that in most of the big bands I've played, the blending of tone, while important, was not a major concern, not nearly as essential as matching the other characteristics. In the classical ensembles, matching tone color is much more important.

(Due to some overlapping, I think we may have written our responses at the same time, since I responded to the OP and after it posted noticed others had posted in the interim, LOL.)
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cheiden
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blending in a section to me never means playing same or similar horns. Nor does it mean using same or similar mouthpieces. It really speaks to players trying to approach the music with the same intention. Sure some extremes in equipment can make blending harder but it really comes down to how the individuals blow and articulate.
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nieuwguyski
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:47 am    Post subject: Re: Blending in a section Reply with quote

Oncewasaplayer wrote:
Is it more than simply matching a similar horn sound or does it refer to precision, articulations and style in playing (which all seems like different things)? Thanks for your thoughts.


Well, precision should always be a goal... right?

Following the lead trumpet player and matching what he or she is doing with dynamics, articulations, rhythms, and style is the job of the section player. That said, the job of the lead player is to play consistently, so the section and the band know what to expect.

Volume level is a big deal. I've played in big band sections with trumpet players who observed dynamics... but either consistently too loud or too soft. Don't out-blow the lead player, but make sure your part can be heard. This may sound vague, but I guarantee a decent band will offer feedback (constructive, snide, passive-aggressive, or something else, but if you're paying attention it will be there).

I will offer one observation on the tone thing. I've played in big band sections where the third and/or fourth players were wannabee lead players and simply couldn't play in the low and middle registers with a full sound. If you're playing third or fourth trumpet in a big band, accept that your part comes with low notes and prepare accordingly.
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plp
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting post, and something I'm having to come to grips with myself.

I play in a rock and roll band, hardly equivalent to big band in the demands normally for blending as a section. However, we now have an arranger who is doing a lot of stuff where we are covering strings, or other parts not normally covered by brass, so we are doing some harmonies that require a true blend, as opposed to just blowing our brains out.

And yes, we are individually micced before you ask.

We have 4 trumpets, one who also doubles on baritone (don't ask, but hey, it works) one trombone, and one tenor sax. We all double on flugel and I also bring a cornet, when we need some more middle and lower toned stuff. So we have a wide variety of tonal ability as needed. Two of the other trumpets are amazing improvisers and soloists, so end up doing a lot with them soloing and the rest underneath doing accompaniment. The trumpets, because there are so many of us, are called on to be more versatile.

The blending and matching thing is exposing itself more to me as we work stuff up, on disparate parts we don't match, but still need the same style, articulation, attacks and releases, to blend. Think the difference in playing a Jimmy Webb chart as opposed to a Chicago chart as opposed to a James Brown or Tower of Power chart, is the best example I can think of.
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