Bandstand in Norwich England is a Tribute to Swing Era Great

Monkey Puzzle Tree and Bandstand

Monkey Puzzle Tree and Victorian Bandstand in Norwich, England where Glenn Miller performed on August 18, 1944. Photo: Eric Ortner

Recently, we had the opportunity to attend a wedding near Norwich, England. While there we stumbled upon a very interesting park called Chapelfield Gardens. In the center of this quant park stands a nicely appointed Victorian era bandstand.

At the time, I was primarily captivated by a young Monkey Puzzle tree growing near the pavilion. Later, I discovered that the bandstand behind it was of great interest to those with an appreciation for Big Band and Swing Music. You see it was there on Friday, August 18, 1944 that Glenn Miller and members of his band put on what seems to be an impromptu performance for the residents of Norwich.

Official U.S. Military records indicate that the set took place sometime after 9 p.m. Glenn Miller and the American Band of the AEF were the entertainment at a 100th mission celebration in a B-24 base in Attlebridge until 9 p.m.  They then made the short ten mile trip to the bandstand in the center of Norwich. It seems following the performance in Chapelfield Gardens, they moved onto play a set at Samson and Hercules Ballroom downtown.  Samson and Hercules was a popular haunt for enlisted men during World War II and the building it was in still stands today. The band then returned to Attlebridge where they stayed the night due to inclement weather.

These performances in Norwich were only two sets out of six that took place on August 18th. It is also interesting to note that Miller received the promotion to Major the day prior. Apparently the band gave Major Miller a promotion party and they stayed up late as a result. Therefore, they must have been pretty exhausted by the end of their set at Samson and Hercules.

Glenn Miller played around 800 sets in England between July 8th and his disappearance on December 15th 1944. It was common for this group to work grueling 18 hour days. It’s very difficult to fathom modern American pop-stars maintaining a schedule that packed.

Although the Norwich bandstand performance took place more than sixty-five years ago, Glenn Miller’s sophisticated sounds seem to be enduring the test of time. Glenn Miller Orchestra’s songs are still performed routinely today by events musicians. Songs like In the Mood, Moonlight Serenade, Tuxedo Junction, String of Pearls, Pensylvania 6-5000, and American Patrol can make for great atmosphere at any formal event. This is especially true for cocktail hours and wedding receptions. The next time you hear them, be sure to remember that the composer/bandleader was a dedicated patriot in addition to a talented performance artist.

Source

The Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band
Sustineo Alas / I Sustain the Wind

Volume One by Edward F. Polic 1989

Emily and Joseph Sarnoski’s Old School Baptist Wedding

Joseph Sarnoski and Emily Kosior stand in front of the Old School Baptist Church in Warwick, NY Photo: Eric Ortner

Joseph Sarnoski and Emily Kosior stand in front of the Old School Baptist Church in Warwick, NY Photo: Eric Ortner

Harmonious Music had the privilege of performing at the wedding ceremony of Emily Kosior and Joseph Sarnoski on June 22nd 2010.  The ceremony was held at the Old School Baptist Meeting House in the Village of Warwick, New York at 10 a.m.

After a half-hour musical prelude, Emily processed to J.S. Bach’s Arioso from Cantata No. 156. This Arioso is a great choice for Brides that are looking for an alternative to Richard Wagner’s Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride). Bach’s Arioso is a very light romantic-sounding piece. The “A” section of the song is relatively short and repeats or loops nicely to accommodate the varying length of processionals found in different sized halls.

Joe and Emily’s wedding ceremony was delightful in part because of its setting. The Old School Baptist Church is a wonderful wedding venue. The lovely old church is owned by the Warwick Historical Society. The Old School Baptist Church is not a grandiose hall by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is a proud testament to the puritanical history of the Hudson Valley and is an excellent and well-preserved example of early American religious architecture. Upon entry to the chapel, one can only contemplate the thousands of souls that have attended services there since the completion of its construction in the spring of 1811. The chapel houses an old electric organ; however, this instrument is not in the best of condition and keyboardists should plan on bringing their own equipment if they plan to perform there. The main seating area was originally designed to hold a congregation of 500 and is flanked by a marvelous choir loft. It is easy to say that the wooden Old School Baptist Church is truly elegant in its simplicity. The building itself is perched on top of a hill and is flanked by a large park-like lawn. Some past weddings held in the Warwick Old School Baptist Church have even included their receptions under a tent on the lush green space in front of the church.

Emily was a beautiful and delightful bride. Her face held a contagious smile for the duration of the wedding ceremony. Congratulations Emily and Joe, and thanks for allowing Harmonious Music to be an important part of your special day!

Serendipitous Player Piano

A Player Piano, or more accurately an Orchestrion, tucked away in a corner in Shartlesville, PA

A Player Piano, or more accurately an Orchestrion, tucked away in a corner in Shartlesville, PA

Sometimes you find enthralling historic music in the most unexpected places. Take for example this player piano made by the Western Electric Piano Company.

We were traveling back to the New York City area from a performance at Utz Terrace in Hanover, PA when we decided to make an unscheduled stop. At the time, we were traveling down Interstate 78 and saw a sign for Roadside America promoting a miniature village and railroad in Shartlesville, PA. We were actually ahead of schedule and a little bored with the drive so we said, “Let’s check it out.”

Having grown up near Niagara Falls, I’ve seen a great many disappointing tourist traps so I wasn’t expecting much. I figured it would be mildly entertaining at best. The miniature village itself was surprisingly cool and we actually spent a good deal of time there. However, after wandering around the gift shop we were astonished to find what we deemed to be the most amazing looking machine ever made. It was a working player piano complete with a percussion section hidden away in a corner near the restrooms.

A little white sign read, “50 cents 1 Play Quarters Only.” I dug through my pockets and found two quarters then proceeded to drop them in an old coin slot. Immediately following the drop of the first quarter the machine began to whirr and shortly there after, the music started. It was like stepping back into time as the mechanized sounds started to loft out of the vintage wood and glass.

This machine was way more than just your standard mechanized piano. Its rhythm section was complete with a bass drum, snare drum, cymbal, triangle, tambourine, 12 bells and a xylophone. These cool features earn the player piano a more accurate title of  Orchestrion. The piano strings seemed to have two sounds. Those being the standard pianoforte sound and what I’ll call a saloon piano sound for lack of a better term.

Western Electric

Western Electric

Upon a closer inspection of the piano we noticed a maker’s mark saying Western Electric Piano Co., Chicago Ill. Some quick research uncovered the Western Electric Piano Co. as being secretly owned by the J.P. Seeburg Piano Co. The Western Electric Piano Co. name was really a marketing ploy to inspire competition between retailers. Surprisingly Seeburg actually went so far as to patent some of the mechanisms in these models to keep retailers and the public from realizing that they were really being produced by the same company.

The Western Electric pianos were only produced from 1924 until 1928 and were generally considered to be of good quality. The most popular models produced by the company were a cabinet style, which did not feature a functioning keyboard. The orchestrion models like the one we saw were not as widely purchased, and most likely cost prohibitive.

Most of Western Electric’s models used the standard “A” sized piano rolls, which featured ten songs. We only listened to two of the tunes on the mechanical masterpiece, and both were unfamiliar to us. The Orchestrion at Miniature Village had been retrofitted to accept quarters. In the instrument’s heyday it would have only cost 1 nickel per play. Player pianos actually are often times called nickelodeons due to the association of their cost. The popularity of nickelodeons started to falter in the 1920s as a result of the emergence of broadcast radio. Suddenly people weren’t required to pay for their entertainment and as a result the player piano’s weren’t really needed anymore.

It’s interesting to consider the parallels between the advent of the radio and the current evolution of the internet. Today the music industry is once again struggling to remain viable as MP3 files are being freely traded online. Technology may come and go while tastes and styles change, but the importance of trained, adaptable and soulful live musicians has remained a constant since the first caveman kept a beat by banging two  stones together.

Turkeylony From William Ballet’s Lute Book

Facsimile of Light o’ Love from William Ballet’s Lute Book. This song was mentioned in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Modern musicians will appreciate the number of lines per staff and the lack of time signature. Sheet music or pricksong for Lute was comparable to modern guitar tablature where each line represented a string of the instrument.

Facsimile of Light o’ Love from William Ballet’s Lute Book. This song was mentioned in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Modern musicians will appreciate the number of lines per staff and the lack of time signature. Sheet music or pricksong for Lute was comparable to modern guitar tablature where each line represented a string of the instrument.

Turkeylony, sometimes spelled Turkeyloney was a popular dance from the renaissance era of King James I and Queen Elizabeth I.  There is no certainty where the name originated. It has been surmised that the word Turkeylony is derived from the Italian Tordiglione.  A Tordiglione was a type of Italian Galliard which is a dance that utilizes five steps to a measure .
In England, the Turkeylony was originally a country dance. However, as with many popular country dances it made its way into aristocratic circles as a court dance where it most likely earned its name.
There are at least two known songs from the English Renaissance entitled Turkeylony.  One of the versions is also known as The God of Love. However, the rendition of Turkeylony presented here was originally transcribed from William Ballet’s Lute Book. Ballet’s original manuscript resides in Trinity College in Dublin. William Chappell transcribed the tune in 1859 in his work Popular Music of the Olden Time. Vol. 1.

The following recording of Turkeylony uses an arrangement of Violin, Viola and Piano. In William Ballet’s time this would have been considered a mixed, or broken consort because there were more than one instrument families performing the song.

It is believed that although William Ballet started the book, there was more than one author.  This is because there are different hand writing styles and colored inks used throughout the manuscript. Ballet’s Lute book was most likely a student work used for the instruction of music theory and site reading.
William Chappell paired Ballet’s Turkeylony with the ballad If Ever I Marry, I’ll Marry a Maid.  This was clearly a rather crass song favored by young men. It is a ballad probably more suited to a bachelor’s party than a modern wedding ceremony. Still, reveler’s of today will certainly appreciate it’s comic approach toward picking one’s spouse. The following lyrics are from the broadside If Ever I Marry, I’ll Marry a Maid.

1

If ever I marry, I’ll marry a maid
To marry a widdow, I’m sore afraid
For maids they are simple and never will grudge
But widows full oft, as they say know to mutch.

2
A maid is so sweet, and so gentle of kind,
That a maid is the wife I will choose to my mind;
A widow if frowned and never will yield;
Of if such there be, you will meet them but seeld.

3
A maid ne’er complaineth, do what so you will;
But what you mean well, a widow takes ill:
A widow will make you a drudge and a slave,
And cost ne’er so much, she will ever go brave.

4
A maid is so modest, she seemeth a rose,
When first it beginneth the bud to unclose;
But a widow full blown, full often deceives,
And the next wind that bloweth shakes down all her leaves.

5
That widows be lovely I never gain say,
But too well all their beauty they know to display;
But a maid hath so great hidden beauty in store,
She can spare to a widow, yet never be poor.

6
Then, if ever I marry, give me a fresh maid,
If to marry with any I be not afraid;
But to marry with any it asketh much care,
And some bachelors hold they are best as they are.

For those interested in the performance of early music, I’ve included a PDF of this version of Turkeylony sheet music complete with the If Ever I Marry broadside. Simply Click Here to download it.

Harmonious Music to Perform at Haiti Relief Benefit

middletown-highschool-NY

Middletown High School in Orange County, New York will be the site of a Haitian relief benefit concert.

Harmonious Music will perform in a Benefit Cabaret Performance at Middletown High School on Friday, April 30 at 7 p.m. This show is a benefit for the survivors of the Haitian earthquake of 2010.

Performances will include music scanning six decades, from The Shirelles and Stevie Wonder to The Beatles, Greenday and The Ramones. Classical selections, acoustic trios and creative storytellers round out the show. This evening’s worth of affordable family fun will help ship needed supplies to our friends and family in Haiti.

Come join the Middletown community as they support efforts to help Haiti recover and rebuild from the devastating earthquakes that shook their world. Come support Haiti Relief Fund 2010!

Tickets are available at the door for donations of $3 (students) – $5 (adults). Children under 6 are free.

…Teachers keep on teachin’
Preachers keep on preachin’
World keep on turnin’
Cause it won’t be too long
Till we reach the higher ground.

~Stevie Wonder, “Higher Ground”

 

Links: Middletown High School: http://middletowncityschools.org/default.htm

Renaissance Wedding Music

Two Newlyweds dance to the sounds of a Violinist during a wedding</br> from the time of the renaissance.

Two Newlyweds dance to the sounds of a Violinist during a wedding from the time of the renaissance.

There were several factors influencing the music that was being performed for weddings in England during the mid to late 1500s and early 1600s. The first major influences were the Protestant Reformation and Puritanical beliefs. Another driving force was the newly emerging educated middle class and its quest to follow the fashions of nobility. All the while newly invented musical instruments were improving sound quality and versatility allowing for more complicated and intricate instrumental music. These conditions set the stage for music to manifest itself in every walk of life during the Renaissance. Therefore, music was certainly an important element for a memorable Renaissance wedding.

By the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the church had become an important part of any marriage. In fact, for a marriage to be legal, the pending union needed to be announced in church on three consecutive Sundays. It is important to understand, though, that in England the church was in a tremendous period of transition. This was a result of Henry VIII’s excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church and his subsequent creation of the Anglican Church. When Queen Elizabeth I rose to power she made a concerted effort to maintain peace in the potentially volatile struggles between Catholics and Protestants. As a result, a group of highly educated Protestants became extremely critical of the Queen’s religious compromises. This group became known as Puritans because they wanted to purify the Anglican Church of Catholicism. Since Marriage was so intrinsically tied to the church, the Puritan’s religious principles managed to manifest itself into most aspects of wedding music.

Once the intention to marry was made public in church through Crying the Banns it was possible to hold a wedding ceremony. Then as now, the first part of a wedding ceremony was the procession. In the time of Renaissance England the procession was a noisy and raucous affair. It began at the bride’s house where the bride would prepare for the ceremony with her bridesmaids. The groom and his family would often meet at the bride’s home and commence the procession following the bride’s family. The procession would then travel to the local church accompanied by musicians who performed on flutes, viols, drums and other “haut” (loud) instruments. Through the first half of the 16th century Bagpipes were also used in processionals and there is documentation of ministers performing on them during the procession. However, by the end of the century the popularity of bagpipes had waned significantly. There are records that indicate that the Puritans objected to the processionals and even brought the matter before Parliament.

The procession would eventually arrive at a Christian worship service that was quite a bit different compared with the customs of today. One of the most noticeable differences would have been the lack of seating. There were no pews, and the congregation stood for the duration of the service.

The Renaissance wedding ceremony was a very solemn service. There would have been little to no music performed during most ceremonies. If music was performed it would have most likely been Madrigal or vocal. The sparse presence of music resulted from the Puritan’s believe that most of the traditional religious music should be discarded. This was largely because the Anglican Church service was to be held entirely in English as opposed to Latin. Unfortunately this has resulted in a great deal of early English sacred music performed in Latin being lost to the sands of time.

The Puritans were also quite vocal about the style of music used in religious services especially when it regarded Polyphony and instrumentation. Polyphony is music with two or more independent melodic parts sounded together. This counterpoint had become the mainstream in music throughout Europe during the Renaissance. The Puritans believed that the gospel sung in polyphony interfered with the congregation’s ability to comprehend the word of God. The Puritans also believed that the use of musical instruments during a church service was an element of Popery. They deemed instrumental music in worship services to be profane leaving the worshipers more interested in the musical performance than in the word of God. This mindset resulted in the removal of 100s of organs from churches by the over zealous reformers throughout England and much of the rest of reformed Europe. Interestingly, though, many smaller organs created by the same craftsman who had previously built instruments for churches began appearing in private homes.

During the Renaissance the chief benefactor to the arts was the Church. Unfortunately, the Puritans pious and hard-nosed stance on sacred music created a great void in the labor market for instrumental musicians. Many of the most talented musicians were forced to work abroad or even gave up the trade entirely. The performers that managed to scrape by found work performing in weddings for wealthy and middle class families with enough status to ignore the Puritan’s creeds. A select few musicians were lucky, or perhaps talented enough to gain patronage from the extremely wealthy nobility in private chapels. One example of a private house of worship was Queen Elizabeth’s own Chapel Royal. Chapel Royal was the primary venue for several famed Elizabethan era composers including William Byrd.

William Byrd became one of the most renowned composers of the renaissance in England and specialized in music utilizing polyphony. Some of Byrd’s Hymns are still favorites of the Anglican Church today. Although it is unclear whether any of Byrd’s work was actually performed during weddings of the Elizabethan Era, some of his compositions used subject matter directly related to marriage. Two prime examples The Match That’s Made and La Verginella were contained in his 1588 volume Psalms, Sonnets & Songs of Sadness and Piety.

Eight pieces for Virginal by William Byrd were also published in Parthenia, a wedding gift for Elizabeth Stuart who was the daughter of King James I. Parthenia was published between 1611 and 1613 and has the added distinction of being the first published collection of English keyboard music.

Composition II by William Byrd from the Virginal Work, Parthenia. This is an excellent example of the pricksong of the time. Notice the extra number of  lines on the staff and the interesting rythmic markings.

Composition II by William Byrd from the Virginal Work, Parthenia. This is an excellent example of the pricksong of the time. Notice the extra number of lines on the staff and the interesting rythmic markings.

There may have been little or no music performed during Renaissance wedding ceremonies, however, melody filled the air during wedding feasts. The music performed at a feast would have varied widely depending on the social class of the newlyweds.

The newly emerging middle class had an extremely strong appreciation of music. Most nobleman and merchants were able to read pricksong or sheet music. In lieu of video games and television, Elizabethan families would sing and play instruments following dinner in their newly found leisure time. Lutes were by far the most popular instrument and at least one could be found in most middle and upper class homes. Music was so important that if it was found that a dinner guest could not sing pricksong at sight, (sight read) he would be looked at in disdain in many circles and considered to be of unsavory character. With an appreciative audience like this it is easy to understand the importance there would have been in hiring the best professional musicians during a wedding feast.

Any wedding feast, regardless of class, would have included dancing. Dance was a popular form of social exercise. Queen Elizabeth herself would dance every morning. During the English Renaissance dances would be set to a variety of instrumentation including a cappella, instrumental or a combination of both. The Dancers would follow the periods “pop” music, which tended to be Broadside Ballads. One of the period’s most popular broadside dances was called Turkeylony. The following lyrics were printed in 1557 or 1558 and are believed to have been sung along with the Turkeylony melody.

If ever I marry, I’ll marry a maid
To marry a widow I’m sorely afraid;
For maids they are simple, and never will grutch, (grudge)
But widows full oft, as they say, know too much

The dances at wedding feasts for all classes would have most likely been stepped in circles or in rows that could support an unlimited number of participants. However, There were other popular dances of the time that included a fixed number of dancers such as two or three couples.

Although the upper and middle classes did partake in the dances of the commoners, they also had a long list of specialized dances known as Court Dances. Court Dances could be divided into two categories basse which were slower dances or Haute or fast dances. A dance party during the Elizabethan Renaissance would begin with basse dances. Basse Dances were considered “low” dances because the dancers would stay on the ground. As the wedding feast progressed, the music’s tempo would increase to tempos suitable for haute dances. Haute Dances were considered “high” because the dancers would actually skip, hop and jump during them.

The slower basse dances included the Allemagne which was considered the most sentimental court dance, and would have certainly been suitable as the first dance for a pair of newlyweds. The couples partaking in Allemagne or Alman held each others hands through the entire dance. The beauty of this dance didn’t come from fancy steps and flourishes, but rather from its grace and tenderness.

A consort performs on viols at an outdoor renaissance wedding for reveling dancers. Puritan's look on in disdain in the background. Painting by Joris Hoefnagel Fete 1859

A consort performs on viols at an outdoor renaissance wedding for reveling dancers. Puritan's look on in disdain in the background. Painting by Joris Hoefnagel Fete in 1859

At a racier wedding, the married couple might dance a Lavolta, which were written for two people. This haute waltz was one of the most difficult dances because men would lift their dance partner into the air. The leap often caused the lady’s skirt to lift. In some circles this would be far too obscene. The more conservative members of the court were dismayed that a lady’s knees would be shown and in some cases their garter would be revealed. A Fashionable woman who planned to dance the Lavolta would be sure to pick a garter that was adorned with gold or silver. Onlookers would laugh as the newlywed’s grasped and bumped parts of the anatomy that were considered taboo by most. The groom would place his right hand on the bride’s back and his left hand just under her bosom. The groom would then use his thigh to push the bride’s hindquarters further into the air as she twirled. Many preachers and Puritans condemned the Lavolta because it could lead to much debauchery, and at a wedding feast this would certainly be the case.

The peasant or servant class during the time of the Renaissance also was very fond of dancing. There isn’t a great deal known about the daily lives of the peasant class, however, their dances eventually became popular with the nobility as well. As a result there is a fair amount of documentation regarding the peasant “country dances.” Some of the dances that found their way into noble society included Brawls, Gavottes, Jigs, hornpipes and reels.

Many of the peasant wedding customs were passed down from pagan traditions. One key example of this would be Morris Dance. Morris Dances were especially associated with May Day or May 1st, but they were also common at country wedding feasts. The May Day celebration originated in England as far back as the time of the Druids. The tradition continued with the Roman occupation of England as it became a time of praise for the God of Spring, Flora. The May Day tradition had further evolved by the time of the renaissance due to many centuries of European conflation and conflict. As a result a new set of characters was associated with Morris dance. They included the Queen or Lady of May, a Jester, A Piper, and up to six Morris Dancers.

The Piper in a Morris Dance would have most likely been a Pipe and Tabor player. The pipe and tabor was perhaps the earliest version of the “one man band.” The “pipe” in this case was a home made three holed whistle or flute played using the thumb, index and middle fingers. While the performer blew away on the pipe, he would pound out a lively beat using a stick on a drum slung over his shoulder called a tabor. It also wasn’t uncommon for other percussionists, fiddlers, harpists and bagpipers to perform during Morris Dances. Although still popular in the lower class during the time of Elizabeth I, the pipe and tabor was quickly being replaced by more modern woodwind instruments in more affluent circles.

Harmonious Music actually still regularly includes a Morris Dance in their wedding ceremony set. The name of the tune is English Country Gardens. Although the ensemble does not include vocals for the performance they are as follows:

How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you’ll surely pardon
Daffodils, heart’s ease and phlox
Meadowsweet and lady smocks
Gentian, lupin and tall hollyhocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, forget-me-nots
In an English country garden

How many insects come here and go
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you’ll surely pardon
Fireflies, moths and bees
Spiders climbing in the trees
Butterflies drift in the gentle breeze
There are snakes, ants that sting
And other creeping things
In an English country garden

How many songbirds fly to and fro
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you’ll surely pardon
Bobolink, cuckoo and quail
Tanager and cardinal
Bluebird, lark, thrush and nightingale
There is joy in the spring
When the birds begin to sing
In an English country garden

Other variations of Morris Dances would include the use of a “Hobby Horse.” A Hobby Horse was a man wearing a wicker frame in the shape of a horse. He would prance around and mimic the movements of an actual horse. In some versions another person would wear a similar costume intended to resemble a dragon. The Hobby Horse Knight would then slay the Dragon reenacting the story of St. George.

The Morris Dancing at spring wedding feasts took place around the May Pole. The May Pole was another relic of England’s pagan past and most likely originated in Germany. It was a large tree of varying sizes sunk into the ground. This giant post would be painted and adorned with flowers and wreathes. The May Pole was considered a phallic symbol, and dancing around it was actually a fertility right. Visitors to modern renaissance fairs will watch dancers weave ribbons around the May Pole. However, this tradition did not start until the 19th century as England reexamined its “Merry-Old” past. Puritans despised the May Pole believing May Pole dancing to be a form of idol worship. As a result, it was banned in England by the Mid-Sixteen hundreds.

Conclusion

Although, the customs were somewhat different, there are still many parallels between music that was performed in religious and wedding ceremonies from the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I and the contemporary United States. Currently, as houses of worship struggle to maintain membership many are stripping away the more traditional music in favor of more contemporary sounds. However, customs and traditions still remain varied in the United States, often depending on socio-economic conditions and religious and cultural differences. Meanwhile, the innovations of electricity and the resulting modern instruments such as electric guitars and MIDI keyboards continue to push the use of music in wedding ceremonies to new heights.

Sources

Music from the Age of Shakespeare: A Cultural History
by Suzanne Lord

William Byrd’s Fall From Grace and his First Solo Publication of 1588: A Shostakovian “Response to Just Criticism”?
By Jeremy L. Smith

William Byrd: The Collected Works of William Byrd.
Edited by Edmund. H. Fellowes

http://www.elizabethan.org/compendium/62.html

http://celyn.drizzlehosting.com/mrwp/mrwed.html

http://www.archive.org/stream/popularmusicofol01chapuoft/popularmusicofol01chapuoft_djvu.txt

http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/lod/vol2/ecd_16th.html

http://www.hago.org.uk/free/country-garden/lyrics/

The lute in Britain: a history of the instrument and its music
By Matthew Spring

Courtly Dance of the Renaissance: A New Translation and Edition of the Nobilitá di Dame (1600)
By Fabrito Caroso, Julia Sutton, F. Marian Walker

The Lute Books of Ballet and Dallis Music and Letters Journal
by H. Macaulay FitzGibbon

Popular Music of the Olden Time Vol. 1
by William Chappell

Shakespeare’s Songbook Vol. 1
by Ross W. Duffin

Review of SmartScore X Pro

SmartScore Pro X Box, rests on  a MacBook Pro a Harmonious Match For a Musical World Photo: Eric Ortner

SmartScore Pro X Box, rests on a MacBook Pro a Harmonious Match For a Whole New Musical World Photo: Eric Ortner

I’ve recently purchased a copy of Musitek’s SmartScrore X Pro . I Primarily bought it to publish a few songs that I am referencing in a forthcoming article about wedding music from the time of the Renaissance. I didn’t want to run into any copyright infringements for reproducing 500 year old music from relatively modern sources and thought that I should look into some music OCR programs to simplify the process of reformatting and arranging them.

I decided to purchase SmartScore X Pro after I did some extensive testing on demo versions of it and Neuratron’s PhotoScore Ultimate, along with the less expensive limited editions of the SmartScore. While testing the demo versions I used the same cleanly scanned sheet of five line choral music from a book published in 1948. I found that SmartScore recognized the notes, articulations and dotted rhythms much more accurately than PhotoScore. However, I noticed that PhotoScore did a better job of recognizing lyrics than SmartScore. Who cares about the lyrics, I thought, I need this to recognize music not text anyway, right?

In my initial tests, I found that SmartScore was much easier to use than PhotoScore. This reviewer felt that the keyboard shortcuts were much more intuitive than PhotoScore’s. I also found that in PhotoScore you had to go back and forth several times to the same menu items to do rather mundane tasks like adding dots to half notes. Now, not surprisingly, all of the music OCR programs seemed to have problems with dotted rhythms and staccato articulations, but SmartScore seemed to handle it best. I did like the way PhotoScore laid the original music directly behind the vectorized version better than PhotoScore’s method of comparison, but since it wasn’t as accurate I decided it would still be more labor intensive in the long run to use PhotoScore.

So this week I finally received my version of SmartScore in the mail and I diligently began recognizing, editing and arranging “The Match That’s Made” by William Byrd. As I expected SmartScore Pro X did a great job recognizing the music, but the lyrics were a complete mess. This ended up being a bit more of a problem than I expected because of the way that the lyrics are tied together with their corresponding notes. You have to select the notes with the Lyric tool and then click into the text below the staff to edit them. It actually ended up taking me longer to clean-up the unrecognized lyrics than it did the music itself. However, this tedious task actually helps you ensuring that the lyrics line up with their corresponding notes during reformatting.

Another issue that I had was that the program kept recognizing dynamic markings as lyrics and I found it somewhat difficult to remove them. I ended up taking out most of the dynamics completely for the time being. Dynamics were also an issue when reformatting the layout. When I reformatted the systems to fit on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper to be aesthetically pleasing, the dynamic symbols like fortissimos and pianos would stay in the same place they were originally placed; and in some cases move completely off the side of the page. Pretty annoying!

Another issue I had related to a Hand of God error that seemed like it would have been easy to rectify, but it turned out to be quite a tedious fix. Somehow I didn’t import one of the original document’s pages. It was the second last page of the piece and I didn’t notice it until I was just about finished reformatting everything to fit on a letter sized paper. I found it very difficult to merge the two additional missing systems from one recognized file to the other. To get the copy and paste to work I needed to format the new scan to the exact number of measures per system and same part names as the edited file. Even after I did manage to paste the extra page into my main file it caused a lot of problems with text styles.

The limitations of the text styles manifested themselves in other ways. Even before merging the two documents together, the text styles kept defaulting to the original fonts after the file was closed and re-opened.  The fact that the fonts kept defaulting to incorrect styles was particularly annoying in my example because Renaissance Madrigals tend to be similar to canons. Therefore, my example held 5 completely separate lines of lyrics per system. Most users won’t be won’t be as hindered by the program’s lyrical limitations as I was in this scenario. I am also disappointed with the size of the automatic page numbers, which I found to be way too large with no apparent way to adjust their size.

Probably the biggest issue I had with this program was that it seemed to be a little unstable. I am running SmartScore  X Pro on a MacBook Pro with Mac OSX 10.5.8 and 2 gigs of memory. I found that SmartScore would crash frequently for what seemed like no reason.

Despite SmartScore Pro’s shortcomings, I am still very pleased with this progam’s overall performance. I was very impressed with its ability to scan renaissance music in modern notation. Those familiar with music from the renaissance will understand that it was written without any real time signature. This means that every part contains measures with a differing number of beats. However, SmartScore’s recognition preferences gives you the opportunity to adjust for this. It’s playback features also allow to play music as written so the differing time signature’s between parts didn’t throw the playback off. Most user’s won’t appreciate this feature, but this reviewer certainly does.

Once I discovered how to use it, I really appreciated Smart Score’s “Nudge Mode.” It made it very easy to manually adjust note spacing. Since the lyrics were tied directly to the notes they corresponded with you could easily hold down the shift key and slide the notes. The nudge feature made it very easy to move text around within a staff so that it was more legible to the reader. Nudge mode also was great for adjusting legato or slurs as well as fine tuning the space between lines and measures in order to accommodate lyrics or long passages.

SmartScore X Pro also gives the user the ability to add changes in velocity within the music, as well as the ability to record directly into the program from a MIDI instrument. I haven’t really had the opportunity to use these features yet, but they seem like they should be fairly robust.

Upon completion of your final arrangement you will appreciate the ease of creating PDF files for print or distribution. The resulting PDF files print quality is commendable. The resulting file was completely vector with no noticeable post script errors. User’s are also given the ability to save the file as ENF, MIDI 0, MIDI 1, NIF or XML formats.

In conclusion I am generally pleased with my purchase of SmartScore X Pro. It certainly simplified the process of scanning and reformatting sheet music. I believe that it will be a great aid in practicing music that  I am unable to find recorded samples of because it turns the printed word into MIDI. It will also be easier to modify mistakes in purchased music. Although, the program speeds up the process, be prepared for a bit of a learning curve when first using the program and expect to still spend some time editing and reformatting the recognized product. On a scale of 1-5 I give it a 4.

Violinist + Trumpeter = A Rare and Affordable Combination

A Violin and Trumpet Nestle Together on a Bed of Sheet Music. How Romantic! Photo Eric Ortner

A Violin and Trumpet Nestle Together on a Bed of Sheet Music. How Romantic! Photo Eric Ortner

One of the things that sets Harmonious Music apart from other wedding ceremony and cocktail acts in the New York Metropolitan Area is the violinist’s ability to also play trumpet. This added skill comes in particularly useful during wedding ceremonies.

Imagine this scenario: Your guests are being seated during the ceremonies prelude to the elegant sounds of a classical violin and piano duet. Soon the groom and wedding parties enter to the gentle sounds of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. The energy level among the congregation increases as each bridesmaid walks down the aisle. Suddenly, the sound of a trumpet fanfare rings through the air announcing the arrival of the bride. The change in instrument from violin to trumpet has further heightened the grandeur of the Bride’s entrance and signifies the importance of the event

Historically trumpets have always been used to announce the arrival of royalty. So on your big  day why not get the royal treatment and stroll the aisle to the sounds of Trumpet Voluntary or Wagner’s Bridal Chorus performed on trumpet and Piano or Organ.

DJs Versus Bands at Your Wedding Six Myths DJs Use To Sell You Their Services

Djs Vs Bands Six Myths that DJs Use To try and Sell You Their Services

Djs Vs Bands Six Myths that DJs Use To try and Sell You Their Services Photos courtesy of James Farmer and Professor Alex

If you think that you are better off hiring a DJ instead of  live musicians for your wedding or special event, you should think again. There is a never-ending debate between musicians and DJs regarding which service vendors are better to hire. Most of the arguments that favor DJs are complete myths and this article aims disprove them.

Myth #1 DJ’s Are Capable of Playing a Greater Variety of Music.
This may be the case in some situations, but with modern technology and the use of digital effects that statement is quickly dissipating. In addition, if you know you are seeking a variety of music, most musicians welcome the opportunity to take your requests as an opportunity to add to their own repertoire. I have met very few serious musicians that listen to only one style of music. You probably wouldn’t seriously consider hiring the individuals that fit into this category for a wedding or special event anyway. Besides, most DJs tend to limit their libraries to pop music, so if you have an off the wall request that has a significant importance to your family, there’s a good chance they won’t be able to fulfill it on the spot anyway. Believe it or not, too much variety can actually be a  hindrance to an effective performance. Let me elaborate, not very long ago, I attended an anniversary party. Someone requested the song Dancing Queen. The DJ with his hi-tech computer system, and most likely free downloads, managed to perform some awful techo-remix version that he ended up having to fade out half way through the track because someone literally booed (It wasn’t the author either).

Myth #2 Bands Are Too Expensive.

The same can be said for DJs. I’ve performed in bands with five members laying down tight covers with vocalists that you would swear were the original singer. We often only charged $500 for a public show. The smallest ensemble that Harmonious Music offers only costs $300 for the first hour of performance. The DJs that I see in the New York Metropolitan area charge $1,000 on average. That’s $1,000 in one person’s pocket. Most of the larger bands in the area rates range between $3,000-$5,000.
However, when you hire a musician, you are getting a lot more for your money. Let’s face it, not everyone at your party is going to want to dance. Some of your guests physically aren’t able to dance and some of them just don’t like to, so why not entertain them with a real performance. Live musicians add an extra element that a DJ just can’t provide, and that is multi-person showmanship. At many performances I’ve noticed the majority of the audience just enjoy watching the band perform. Musicians have skills that are easy to appreciate on their own, and the best ones are consummate performers with quick senses of humor, off the wall antics and expressions that aim to impress. You’ve probably been to countless weddings and events where the DJ is annoying at best and rude or inappropriate at the worst. Most DJs have no performance training, while almost all serious musicians take a class somewhere along the line about good showmanship. In fact, the best musicians tend to have studied at least some music in college. When you pay a premium for a live musician, chances are, you are paying in part for their education. How many pro DJs do you know that went to DJ college and came out with a BDJ? Let’s face it, when you hire live musicians you just get a lot more for your money.

Myth#3 A Band Will Be Too Loud for the Size of the Venue
This myth is just plain ridiculous. Most professional event bands can play at any volume. If you hire an ensemble like Harmonious Music that specializes in classical or jazz styles of music, volume is never an issue. In fact, with many classical ensembles, you may run into the opposite problem. That is why Harmonious Music has the equipment and ability to play directly into a PA system. The only time that volume becomes an issue with bands is when they are performing with a drummer. However, once again modern technology has changed this. Most of the serious professional drummers today own an electronic drum set that can be adjusted to any required volume level. Moreover, think of all the events that you have attended that used DJs. Now, at how many of them was the P.A. system cranked so loud that you couldn’t hear the person next to you? Probably most of them, DJs tend to like to show off the power of their equipment. Professional event musicians tend not to play overly loud for a number of reasons.

  • The first is it can damage their own hearing, and that would put them out of a job.
  • Second they understand that the music shouldn’t interfere with the most important aspect of a social event and that is the conversation.
  • Finally, professional event musicians understand that it easier to appreciate music when it isn’t too loud and in your face.

So by planning a correctly sized ensemble  with proper equipment, an event band won’t be too loud for a smaller venue.

Myth #4 DJs Are More Reliable than Bands Because There is Only One Member to Worry About.

Hmmm, let’s do the math here. A one man show gets stuck in traffic or lost on the way to a wedding. What is the likely hood that this person will make it to the beginning of the cocktail hour or reception? None. A band with 3-10 people are on their way to a Wedding there is a traffic jam and a few members get stuck in traffic. What is the likelihood that at least some of the music will start on time. Fairly good. Anyone, even the bride and groom can get stuck in traffic. It’s a fact of life especially around the New York Metropolitan area. However, Harmonious Music has been in the area long enough to know their way around traffic congestion. Harmonious Music, always pads their arrival time by one hour to ensure enough time for proper set up prior to the wedding.
Again, when it comes to reliability professional event musicians depend on their reputation as a large part of their lively hood. They aren’t going to tarnish their reputation by stiffing a client and simply not show up to a Gig. Being the consummate entertainers they are, they truly believe “the Show Must Go On.” I know a drummer who played a show with a broken arm. He didn’t want to risk loosing the gig. I’ve personally played many shows where I was extremely ill. When you are a musician, the concept of calling in sick to work is simply non-existent. I’ve never really heard of a DJ calling in sick either. However, to say one is more reliable than the other simply is unfounded.

Myth #5 A Band Will Need To Take Breaks
O.K. this one isn’t a myth, but it isn’t really an actual issue either. The human body can only do so much repetitive physical activity before it needs to stop or it will start making mistakes. At weddings there are plenty of opportunities for musicians to take breaks. One prime example is just following the cocktail hour while people find their seats to be served dinner. Honestly, music can just add to confusion during this period. It’s easy to stop the music and direct people to their seats. In-fact, you can even have the bandleader make the announcement that dinner is about to be served, just let them know what time to do it. Once everyone is finally seated, hey what-a-ya-know, the band kicks in to its quiet dinner music with volume set at the perfect level for conversation. Another great breaking point for event bands are toasts and speeches this even works at corporate functions, because most of them require awards and announcements too. The band usually needs to give up the microphone for these anyway. Then there are other opportunities during typical wedding traditions after dinner such as cutting the cake, and throwing the bouquet or garter. Hey with a little bit of planning, you can break from the dancing and do these on stage as the band steps down so that everyone can see. Guess what, you are supposed to be the centerpiece of your wedding, shouldn’t everyone be paying attention to you and not distracted by what those amazing performers are doing at these points anyway?
So look at that there really are plenty of opportunities for the band to take breaks and not stop the action at weddings and events after all.

Myth #6 There isn’t enough space for a band.
Now this can be true of a 10-piece band, but there are certainly plenty of ways to book a live band and have them fit into smaller rooms. For example, Harmonious Music can fit its core ensemble into a six foot by four foot area without any problems. Most DJs can’t even fit their gear into an area that small. Think about it, a DJ has a table with speakers on either side plus another table filled with CDs and amplifiers. Most larger dance bands can pare down their set to fit into a surprisingly small area that doesn’t take up anymore space than a DJ would. For example the instrument that tends to take up the most room is the drum set, but most professional drummers possess what is termed a “road set” which can fit into a three or four foot area. The rest of the musicians don’t take up more space than any other adult standing upright. In really tight quarters the guitar, bass, and keyboards can go directly into a Power Amplifier to save space. The short and long of it is DJs require a lot of space also, and a professional band’s past experience has taught them how to use the space provided efficiently to present a brilliant performance.

The Bottom Line
When trying to decide whether to a hire a live band or a DJ it really comes down to what type of atmosphere you want to present to your guests. If you are trying to present an aura of sophistication and elegance then hiring a live band is really a no brainer. The myths listed above can actually work in a hosts favor. For example don’t you want it to look like you spared no expense to entertain your guests and hired a live band? Simply put won’t your guests enjoy watching a stage packed with multiple professional entertainers more than watching someone put a CD into a Drive? Don’t forget that all a DJ is really doing is reproducing the work created by actual musicians, wouldn’t you and your guests prefer to be entertained by the real thing.

Even if you decide that the classical style performed by Harmonious Music is not the proper backdrop for your event, hopefully this article has swayed you to hire a live band instead of a DJ for your wedding or special event.

Adolphe Sax, his Saxhorn and the People Who Made It Popular During The War Between The States

Adolphe Sax at the Age of 40 Illustrated by Eric Ortner

Adolphe Sax at the Age of 40 Illustrated by Eric Ortner

Written and Illustrated by Eric Ortner

Originally Published in The Civil War Courier

Some of the most important social activities in the mid 19th Century were performances from community music ensembles. Around the time of the American Civil War the ensembles were more often than not brass bands. The great popularity of the brass band was a result of many individual’s contributions to the improvement of brass instruments.

There have been thousands of instrument manufactures through the ages. Yet in the minds of most people today, there are really only two names associated with the title instrument maker. The first is obvious, Stradivarius. The second is equally well known, but seldom thought of; Adolphe Sax. Sax was the inventor of the saxophone and more importantly for those interested in the history of the Civil War, the Saxhorn.

Adolphe Sax was born in Brussles on November 6, 1814. His father, Charles Sax, was a joiner and cabinetmaker. Charles eventually worked in a factory and later began to produce woodwind  instruments like serpents and flutes. Charles was self-trained, and his work became so well regarded that King William I appointed him Instrument Maker to the Court of the Netherlands. This required Charles to supply the Belgian military bands with instruments. What Charles Sax learned in the creation of his acclaimed instruments was, that variations in tones were created by the proportions of an instrument’s bore. The sound further depended on whether the instrument was cylindrical, conical or a combination of both. He also noticed the importance of the method by which the source of the sound was created. He closely studied the oboe’s double reed, the clarinet’s single reed, the trumpet’s cup mouthpiece and the flute’s open hole. Charles Sax was one of the first people to conduct thorough research in this field. Charles’ eldest son, Adolphe, was there to assist him with all of his work, and in the process, Adolphe learned a great deal.

There is not a whole lot written about Adolphe’s mother. She bore 11 children, few of whom survived into adulthood. The only quote that she is known to have said is, “The child is doomed to suffer; he won’t live.”

She said this of Adolphe after he nearly drowned in a river. He had numerous other mishaps that consisted of several poisonings, a serious fall down stairs, a close call with a gunpowder explosion, which badly burned him, a hot frying pan falling on him along with a roof stone hitting him in the head leaving a scar that remained long into adulthood. This sort of bad luck can almost be seen as an omen of the sort of life that lay ahead for young Adolphe.

Adolphe’s misfortunes did not hinder him in becoming a skilled instrument manufacturer though. Before he was even in his teens, Adolphe Sax had learned how to drill the pieces of a clarinet to perfection. He was even able to create the involved key work of these instruments. At the age of 14 Adolphe began to study music at the Royal School of Singing. He started studying flute, but later took up the clarinet under the instruction of Valentine Vender, who was a famous Belgian bandmaster. He learned quickly from Vender, and in 1834 Joseph Küffner, a German bandmaster and composer dedicated a work for two clarinets to Adolphe.

Although Adolphe Sax gradually drifted back to producing instruments in his father’s shop, what led to his career as an instrument maker was his vast improvements to the bass clarinet which were made public in June of 1838. After a successful trip to Paris with the instrument, Adolphe returned to Brussels where he met great disappointment in the Brussels Exhibition of 1841. Sax was encouraged by Jacques Halévy, whom he had met in his trip to Paris, to return there and continue to create his family of instruments. Against his father’s objections, Adolphe left Brussels for Paris with only 30 Francs to his name.

Sax’s arrival in Paris bordered on disaster. His father had warned him when he left that the French manufacturers did not take kindly to foreign competition on their own soil. He was loaned 4,000 francs by Halévy and other friends. Sax then set up a shop on Rue St. Georges and began to advertise his instruments. When a local conductor tried to write parts for them, the orchestra members refused to use them because they were not French. Shortly after, almost all of the loaned 4,000 francs were stolen. It is believed that the offender was most likely one of Sax’s competitors.

Upright Family of saxhorns

Upright Family of saxhorns

There was a call for support from King Leopold of Belgium to sponsor the work of Sax. Initially the King was uninterested, but General Rumigny was able to convince him that Sax’s instruments were optimal for military style music. As a result of the King’s new-found interest, stock in the company was made available on the Paris Stock Exchange. Sax’s rivals bought out all of the stock and sold it for half the price. His competition once again succeeded in ruining his business.

Adolphe Sax had many powerful connections, though, and as a result his competitors were never completely able to keep him down. As a third chance to rebound from his economic woes, a concert was arranged. It was a competition between bands using traditional instrumentation and instruments produced by Sax. The commission and huge audience that was in attendance supported Sax. He believed that his financial problems would finally be over, but this was not the case. Adolphe’s competitor’s bribed his employees to get the plans for his instruments and then promptly sued him saying that Sax had stolen their instruments. As a result, Sax sold the factory for four thousand Francs.

He traveled to England promoting his saxophones with limited success in small concerts. He then returned to France in the fall of 1845 and bought back his factory. The French government, which was convinced of the Sax instruments superior quality due to the contest, ordered hundreds of instruments for the official military bands. Upon General Rumigny’s suggestion, prison labor was used to produce these instruments. This was only because Sax could still not afford to pay skilled employees.

This new success was still very short lived. In 1848 the French government was in upheaval due to revolution. The turmoil which ensued lead to the revocation of Sax’s military contract. His banker went bankrupt as a result of Sax’s inability to pay his loan. Adolphe was thus thrown into debtor’s prison. He was released shortly after because of his friend’s support.

When President Louis Napoleon appointed himself Emperor Napoleon III, opportunity once again arose for Sax, and once again Sax’s powerful military connections saved the day. The Emperor’s Aide-de-camp Colonel Fleury, was a friend of Adolphe, and introduced him to the Emperor. With strong urging on Fleury’s part, Napoleon III agreed to give Sax payment of 20,000 Francs per month to build the instruments for military bands. Unfortunately for Sax, this arrangement did not last long. He lost a similar opportunity in 1859 when the French government replaced all of their military instruments.

In the area of brass instruments it is difficult to call Sax an inventor. It would be much more accurate to call him a perfectionist. Adolphe Sax’s principals were gained primarily from the work of his father. Sax was interested in the study of acoustics. He was concerned with correct proportions such as measurements of bore size, tube length, valve placement, and mouthpiece construction. He realized that by paying close attention to such details, the discrepancies in intonation between instruments could be eliminated. What his efforts resulted in, were the creation of homogenous families of instruments.

Prior to the work of Sax, military brass instruments came from many manufacturers in a wide variety of shapes. These deviations resulted in a discrepancy of tuning. These problems were further amplified due to the fact that many bands had both keyed and valved brass instruments intermixed.

The complete family of brass instruments, although vastly improved was not even Sax’s invention. Previously, a French manufacturer, Danays, created a family of valved bugles called Clavicors. What made Sax’s work significant was the overall quality of his instruments. By 1849, Adolphe Sax had unveiled three of his greatest contributions to the brass world. Sax adopted an upright tuba shape for all of these instruments. Originally, even the highest pitched instruments in his family of five were positioned upright. However, his quest for acoustic perfection later caused Sax to use horizontal patterns that resemble the modern cornet.

All the Sax families utilized the same bore size regardless of whether they were conical or cylindrical. The saxhorn was a conical family, which used the same fingerings for notes, and the same basic mouthpiece shape for all its members.

Cutaway Diagram of a Berliner Pumpen Valve Illustrated by Eric Ortner

Cutaway Diagram of a Berliner Pumpen Valve Illustrated by Eric Ortner

Sax took existing ideas in valve design, and improved them. He borrowed some of his valve designs heavily from the instrument maker Moriz in Berlin. Adolphe became skilled at making Moritz’s Berliner-Pumpen valve, and even was able to make an improvement to it. He did so by smoothing out the nine sharp angles that were integral to the valve system. These sharp bends in the wind passage of brass instruments were often the cause of poor tone. He did some similar work with rotary valves.

Adolph’s efforts in the creation of a valved instrument with great tone resulted in the creation of the saxhorn. The Saxhorn family was patented in October of 1845 and utilized a wide coned, deep cupped mouthpiece which resembles a modern French Horn’s. There were numerous lawsuits filed against Adolphe by his competition in regards to this popular instrument. However, none of the cases were successful.

Saxhorns had a larger bore than that of a trumpet. The bore’s conical shape produced a mellow tone. This warm sound was preferred by the nineteenth century audience, both in the United States and in Europe  over the bright tone of a cylindrical trumpet. These preferences most likely resulted from the lack of mellow sounding woodwinds in an all brass band. The bright tone of an ensemble made up entirely of cylindrical brasses would have been very overwhelming.

The complete saxhorn family, was designed to perform in military as well as orchestral functions. The instruments intended for military use were tuned in E-flat and B-flat, while instruments designed for use in the orchestra were in the keys of C and F. The complete set of Saxhorns consists of seven members. The soprano in E-flat and the soprano in B-flat were identical in pitch to the standard cornet. The alto member of the family was tuned in E-flat, while the baritone was in B-flat. The bass was built in the key of B-flat. The bass also had a big brother tuned to BB-flat. Sax completed the family a couple years after he unveiled the original 5 instruments with a tuba in E-flat. The differences in baritone and B-flat bass Saxhorns are subtle. The bass members of the family have larger bores and as a result are able to produce fuller low notes with less effort.

Saxhorns gained more favorable attention from military bands than they did in orchestras. This is partially because they blended too well with string instruments and the desired contrast in tonal quality between the two families is absent. This reason was in addition to orchestra member’s dislike for the instruments. Their distaste was not simply due to Sax’s nationality, but also because the orchestra members would be forced to purchase and learn how to perform on new instruments. However, a few composers did find a place for the saxhorn in their arrangements.

Even with great critical acclaim and powerful connections in France and abroad during his life, Sax died on February 4, 1894 a penniless man. He was forced to sell off his valuable collection of 467 instruments in 1877 to repay his debts. His debts were of course a direct result of poor business skills. This weakness caused Sax to fall victim to the greed of his unscrupulous competitors. So with all of Sax’s misfortunes, how was he able to earn a name on instruments in the United States? This question is easily answered with another family name.

The Distin family were an English quintet. The leader, and father, John Distin was a member of King George IV’s Household Band. At this point, John was playing slide-trumpet on which he was considered to be the second best performer in Great Brittain. He was the first trumpet in the orchestra that triumphed the coronation of Queen Victoria.

John’s children were encouraged to take after their father. The Distin family toured Great Britain as a miniature brass band, and were immensely popular with all who had heard them. With their success, the family decided to try their luck on the rest of the continent. It was on this tour that they made the acquaintance of Adolphe Sax.

The Distin family did not achieve the same critical acceptance in the rest of Europe that they had previously been used to in England. This was especially true in Vienne. There they performed terribly in an audition. Their shoddy execution was a direct result of their crude instruments. On February 4, 1844 they met Sax at the Rue-Saint-Georges workshop after hearing the saxhorn for the first time the night before.

Sax was eager to present the Distin’s with his creations, according to Henry Distin’s recollections. Success for the Distins followed with the receipt of their new instruments. Although the new found friendship between Sax and the Distins was mutually beneficial, it almost certainly did more for the promotion of Sax’s instruments. The instruments were taken back to England where they earned a great deal more notoriety. In 1846 the family took saxhorns across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States of America where many heard the instrument for the first time.

It is believed that the first band to purchase saxhorns in the United States was the Stonewall Brigade Band of Staunton, Virginia. In fact before they joined the 5th Virginia Infantry, the performers called themselves the Mountain Saxhorn Band of Staunton. They carried these instruments throughout the Civil War. They were by no means the only southern band to do so.

The 26th Regimental Band from Salem, North Carolina also carried them. Brass instruments were far superior to their woodwind counterparts in the conditions of war. That is, of course, one of the reasons that brass bands gained popularity during the Civil War. However, brass instruments could also fall prey to the trials of military life. The Salem band’s instruments were no exception. In April of 1864 the band members requested that Governor Vance attempt to run the blockade and trade cotton for a new set of Saxhorns. The governor’s aide responded by saying, “He (Vance) directs me to say he will ship the cotton for that purpose if you will furnish it, provided the steamers continue to run.”

That was an unfeasible proposition for almost any Confederate soldier in that late month of the war. To add insult to injury, the 26th Regimental Band was forced to give most of their battered instruments up to Union Troops in the last days of the war, when they were captured by the Yankee army. Julius Augustus Leinbach wrote of his capture, “We walked up to them and were taken in charge. Our instruments were taken from us and that seemed to be the bitterest experience of all…”

Some of the Instruments played by various North Carolina Bands, including an E flat bass over the shoulder saxhorn played by Leinbach in the early part of the war, can be seen publicly. These are in the Wachovia Museum of Old Salem. There are other strong collections of Civil War period instruments on public display throughout the country. The Smithsonian and the Henry Ford Museum both have extensive displays. However, there are no public exhibits of a complete set of 7 saxhorns in the United States.

Performing positions of upright verses over the shoulder instruments

Performing positions of upright verses over the shoulder instruments

True upright saxhorns were not widely used by Union and Confederate troops during the war. Instead, they preferred the over the shoulder instruments patented in 1838 by Allen Dodworth and manufactured in Austria. The name Saxhorn is more often than not used to describe over the shoulder instruments as well as the upright style. This is an inaccurate title. However, it is an inaccuracy, which was not started anytime recently. The nomenclature was even used in the wrong context during the time of the War Between the States. However, for the interest of this article, the over the shoulder instruments will be discussed as well.

It is important to note that for the most part, over the shoulder instruments were also made in matching families. Therefore, they at least held true to the principals of Sax. Over the shoulder instruments were made of the same length of tubing. However they had tighter coils which created a longer neck than upright instruments. Therefore they appear longer. Another big difference between the two instruments was that over the shoulder versions utilized rotary valves for the most part, as apposed to the Berliner-Pumpen Valves preferred by Adolphe Sax. (See Coronet Article For Complete Description)

Illustration of a Family of Over-the-Shoulder Saxhorns

Illustration of a Family of Over-the-Shoulder Saxhorns

Allen Dodworth was a strong supporter of Sax’s creation. In 1849 he described them as being, far superior to any other class of instruments in use. Allen Dodworth designed over the shoulder instruments specifically for marching. He wrote a very influential instruction book called, Dodworth’s Brass Band School, published in 1853. It helped to inform small community bands how to start and maintain a successful organization. It is important to note that most of the bands that enlisted in the Civil War were originally amateur community bands that performed with local militias. In Dodworth’s Brass Band School, he suggested, “In selecting the instruments, attention should be paid to the use intended; if for military purposes only, those with bells behind, over the shoulder, are preferable, as they throw all the tone to those who are marching to it, but for any other purpose are not so good ….For general purposes, those with the bell upward, like the Sax Horn, are most convenient, and should be adopted by all whose business is not exclusively military; care should be taken to have all the bells one way.”

Many amateur bands of the day used instrumentation combining over the shoulder instruments, up right saxhorns and bell front instruments. This mixture caused significant problems with intonation. This sort of instrumentation was often partially the result of the cost of instruments, or in many cases simply an ignorance of acoustic science.

Allen Dodworth was very influential as a band leader and as an instrument inventor. One of his most widely known protégés was Patrick Gilmore, the famed cornet player of the Boston Brigade Band. Like Gilmore’s ensemble, The Dodworth Band participated in the Civil War. At this point in time it was lead by Allen’s Brother Harvey.

Harvey Dodworth took over the directorship of the band in 1860. In 1862 Harvey was selected by the war department to serve on an advisory board to suggest a policy for military bands. Naturally, Dodworth’s selection for instrumentation of regimental bands included over-the-shoulder saxhorns.

The band enlisted for three months as part of the 71st New York Militia Regiment. The band was not just an excellent relief from the drudgery of military service. They earned their pay at the First Manassas by serving and rescuing the wounded on the battlefield. Although enlisted for only a short period, the Dodworth Band later aided the Union’s war effort by performing benefit concerts.

The disparity between the two armies is also evident in regards to their bands. While the 71st was gallivanting around in New York’s high society, the 26th Regimental Band from Salem, North Carolina had its own version of benefit concerts. These were solely performed in the interest of putting food in their own stomachs.

Over the shoulder instruments were by no means exclusively made in Europe. This increasingly became the case after 1850. There were many manufacturers in the United States who were quite successful as a direct result of the War Between the States. Some of the manufacturers set up shop in the Boston area. Graves and Company, J. Lanthrop Allen, E.G. Wright were just a few Boston area manufacturers.

There were other instrument makers who constructed Sax style instruments in New York City. C.A. Zoebisch and Sons were one such manufacturer. Harvey Dodworth from New York also has his name imprinted on some over the shoulder instruments. These were not actually manufactured by the Dodworth family, but by John F. Stratton another New York City instrument maker. Harvey’s endorsement was as much required to save the family name, as it was to earn a little extra money. Instrument manufacturers at the time were claiming to produce instruments endorsed by the Dodworths. Many of these endorsed instruments were of poor construction. Therefore, the H.B. Dodworth seal on John F. Stratton’s instruments had a great deal of meaning when it came to quality.

Stratton was also one of the first manufacturers to mass produce instruments. His first factory in New York was established in 1860. In 1861 Stratton was filling government contracts and producing an unprecedented 100 instruments a day. These were for the most part field trumpets and bugles though, not saxhorns. Still his contributions in the area of mass production made sets of instruments readily available at reasonable cost by the end of the war.

One manufacturer who learned a great deal from Stratton’s efforts was Henry Distin. Henry, who was a famed member of the Distin family, worked for a brief time in Philadelphia with the J. W. Pepper Company in 1877.  After working with them he set up his own factory in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1887.

Although over the shoulder saxhorns were very popular during the Civil War, they began to fall out of favor by 1870. The 24 member brass marching band lost its popularity as grand concert bands with mixed winds received the most critical acclaim. With the exception of the baritone, saxhorns are no longer used in most American bands. However, to this day in England, community brass bands still use the saxhorn family. Musical tastes change though. Today in the United States it is painful to watch the attendance of concerts put on by community bands in local parks dwindle in some areas. As fewer and fewer people show up to these community performances, one of the last vestiges of 19th century social life becomes another memory.

Bibliography

The Instruments of Adolphe Sax, Gerald Loren Welker

A Johny Reb Band From Salem The Pride of Tarheela,  Barry H. Hall

Adolphe Sax 1814-1898, Wally Harwood

Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy, Editors of Time Life Books

Music And Musket, Kenneth Olson

A Pictorial History of Civil War Era Musical Instruments & Military Bands,

Mark Elrod Robert Garofalo

Bands of the Confederacy, Benny Pryor Ferguson

Bands and Drummer Boys of the Civil War, Francis A. Lord and Arthur Wise

Early American Brass Makers, Robert E. Eliason

The Music Men, By Margaret Hindle Hazen and Robert M. Hazen

American Musical Instruments, Laurence Libin

The Cambridge Companion to Brass Instruments, Trevor Herbert and John Wallace

A History of Military Music in America, William Carter White

Bands of America, H.W. Schwartz

Brass Instruments Their History and Development,  Anthoney Baines

The Keyed Bugel, Ralph T. Dedgeon

Military Music, Henry George Farmer

The Trumpet, Edward Tarr

The Trumpet and Trombone, Philip Bate

French Horn, Robin Gregory