Posted in Percussion instruments
Idiophone, autophone, plate, and bar group, are the terms used to designate concussion instruments. Membranophone is used to indicate the drum family. Together these contain the most ancient and primitive instruments known. Man learned to rub and strike objects together before he learned to blow into a hollow reed or pluck a taut string. Idiophones, including castanets, cymbals, sticks, clappers, and other similar instruments, are as a class even more venerable than the drum. Stick clappers date back at least to 3000 B. C., cymbals to 1100 B. C., and rattles to 2500 b. c. These went under the general name of “sistra” and were found in many varieties.
Posted in The French horn
The horn has been in use throughout Europe and Asia for more centuries than one would care to imagine - probably about thirty centuries, give or take a few. For all except the last three of these its existence had little to do with music. The ancient “shofar” of Biblical times was used for war and worship; the nearer relative found in the Middle Ages was used for battle and for hunting.
Posted in The saxophone
Contrary to widespread opinion, the angle of the alto saxophone, like the soprano saxophone, is correct when the instrument is held in front of the body with the head in normal position and the neck not twisted but relaxed. When the saxophone is at the side and pulled too far back, tension in the right arm and fingers results, and sometimes bad embouchure also. It is not incorrect to play the alto saxophone to the side (although the angle must be less than with the tenor saxophone) as long as the mouthpiece is adjusted so that the head and neck remain in a straightforward, relaxed position. The vertical position is preferable since it is less apt to encourage bad habits of posture and position.
Posted in The bassoon
The origin of this strange and wonderful instrument is unknown, but it can be traced back to the “phagotus” which Afranio of Ferrara built in the early sixteenth century. Its name is derived from its resemblance to a bundle of sticks. Another early form of the bassoon was the “curtal,” or short
Posted in The clarinet
The various instruments of the clarinet family, ranging from the E-flat soprano to the contrabass, are constructed with similar parts. Precautions which apply to the assembling of one apply to all.
The parts fit together tightly - the tenons, covered with cork, insure a close fit. Because the pieces do not slide together easily but must be coaxed, beginners tend to wiggle the pieces until they have arrived at the proper place. Wiggling may loosen a joint, cause air leakage, or even break the tenon. The pieces should be assembled by a gentle downward pressure and slight twisting, always in the same direction. In assembling the upper and lower joints, the ring over hole three (hole two on the 17-6 model clarinets) on the upper joint must be depressed.
Posted in The oboe
The double-reed instruments are nearly as old as the flute. Their record of use and popularity is perhaps greater because their fuller tone gave them a wide adaptability. Instruments with a double-reed mouthpiece of cane date from 3700 B. C.; an oboe is mentioned as early as 2000 b. c. in the literature of Mesopotamia. The instrument, appearing in many shapes and forms, dominated the music of the ancient
Posted in The flute
The flute has the longest history of any of the wind instruments. There are in existence today two flutes taken from Egyptian tombs, believed by scholars to date from about 2200 b. c. Amazingly, both are in playing condition. Wall drawings and paintings from this period show flute players at various court and religious functions. Around 1300 b. c., a double-pipe instrument related to the flute existed, each pipe with three
Posted in History of instrumental music
A knowledge of the history of instrumental music is not essential for success as a band or orchestra conductor. Still, it seems appropriate to begin a site on instruments and instrumental teaching with a brief historical survey. Besides the intrinsic interest which history holds for us, there is a practical value in the perspective gained from a knowledge of history. One can become aware of trends, observe the ways in which things were done at previous times, make contact with objectives, procedures, and methods, and gain a greater understanding of the reasons behind present practices and present situations. Hopefully, such knowledge will help the teacher plan upon sound bases, avoid mistakes of the past, and shape the future intelligently.