Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bach Stradivarius TRUMPETS and Imitators

Trompete der Firma Bach
Trompete der Firma Bach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For years, the Bach Stradivarius Trumpet has been the mainstay of the performing trumpet world. Sure, there were other trumpets out there, and in the Jazz world, many of them were very successful. In the classical world, the Bach reigned supreme for many years.

Today, the Bach is still the dominant instrument, but it has had its setbacks. The Bach strike a few years ago had a major impact in the Bach reputation. The strike lasted for a couple years, and many horror stories were told about poor quality trumpets being made after the strike. Also, the price increased substantially after the strike ended.

The end result of everything...the Bach trumpets made now are as good as they have been in many years, and many people think they are even better. I played on several trumpets at a convention recently, and they played better than any Bach I have played in years. I would not hesitate to recommend them right now. Bach trumpets have always played much different from horn to horn. In the past, you might get a good one, or you might get a great one. You seldom saw a bad one. A friend of mine remarked recently that even though the current crop of Bach trumpets all still play differently, they are all great horns. That is a definite positive change.

Since Bach was the predominant trumpet on the market, many companies produced trumpets that shared many of the same features. Yamaha started things with their Heavywall series...the 6335HS. The large bore version was the 6345HS. The "H" is very important in that designation. They also produced 6335 trumpets of totally different styles that did not use the "H" in the model number. These trumpets played more like a Bach, than any other trumpet up to that time, but it still did not have the Bach sound that most people liked in the classical world.

Yamaha later brought out the Xeno line of trumpets which is still made. Their model number is the 8335S. These are quite comparable to Bach trumpets. Yamaha is also considerably more consistent in their manufacturing processes. Yamaha trumpets pretty much all play the same.

The most recent addition to the Yamaha line of classical trumpets is the artist series. These are truly exceptional trumpets. Yamaha recently hired Bob Malone to design their trumpets, and he has totally revolutionized the line. These horns are some of the best available today.

The B&S Challenger line is also another option today in Bach-like trumpets, and it's a good one. There are quite a few professional players using them today, and depending on the current exchange rate, the price is often close the price of a Bach.

The Getzen custom line is also another option. The custom series is comparable to Bach and Yamaha instruments. Getzen has always been known for their valves. Once you try Getzen valves, you'll probably always like them.

There are many other copies out there, but for truly good Bach or Bach-like professional horns, this pretty much rounds out my list. They all play very well.

    Harry Richardson has been a band director for 14 years with college degrees in trumpet performance and music education. For more information on selecting and purchasing trumpets, please visit .

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Saturday, September 24, 2016


All people enjoy one or the other kind of music. Music has a soothing effect on the body and the mind. It also has some healing capabilities which medicine and science have been trying to decipher for years. Music can be enjoyed and learned by people of all age groups. A large number of music schools have come up in the recent years which teach interested persons how to play different types of instruments.

Before you set to buy a musical instrument or even learn one, you need to know about the different types of musical instruments that exist.

Wind instruments in the Musical Instrument Mus...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
a) Wind instruments:
Sound is produced in these instruments when a column of air is made to vibrate inside them. These instruments are further divided into brass and woodwind instruments. The length of the column of air and the shape of the instrument play a major role in determining the frequency of the wave generated. Different tones are produced depending on the construction of the instrument and method of tone production.

b) Percussion instruments:
Sound is produced in these instruments by simply striking them. The sound produced in this case may or may not be of high pitch. The cavity of the instrument surrounding the area where it is struck vibrates and sound is produced. The shape and material of the instrument also decide the type of sound produced form this instrument.

c) String instruments:
These instruments produce sound when the string is disturbed from its original position by the application of force. The length of the vibrating string, the mass, tension and the point at which the string is excited determine the frequency of the sound produced. The tone of sound produced by these instruments can vary depending on the shape and resonating cavity construction of each instrument.

d) Electronic instruments:
Sound is produced in these instruments through electronic means by imitating the sounds produced by other instruments. They resemble keyboards in appearance.

Brass instruments in the Musical Instrument Mu...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
e) Brass instruments:
Sound is produced in these instruments when air is blown into a tube with different length or thickness to generate a wide range of sounds.

f) Keyboard instruments:
These instruments can use any of the above methods to generate musical sounds. Each key in the keyboard can produce one sound or the other. Keyboards are famous for producing a combination of different sounds and can also imitate the sound produced by other musical instruments.

Friday, September 23, 2016


You’ve probably seen videos and CDs for babies. There are some theories that classical music can make your baby smarter, and exposing your baby to music is part of what we do to introduce them to all the sights and sounds of their world.

8 weeks old baby
8 weeks old baby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Music can definitely help calm your baby down and put him in a restful state at bedtime or nap time. What are some good choices for a baby?

Almost anything you love or use for relaxation is good for a baby too. There are good collections of Mozart or Bach for bedtime. The music of Enya can be very soothing as well. Georgia Kelly’s harp music is also relaxing and peaceful.

When your baby’s awake, there are lots of nursery rhymes or music from kids’ movies that can stimulate his senses. We’ve known kids who respond to minimalist Phillip Glass’s music; it’s simple and rhythmic and when they get older, they’ll dance with it. Spirituals and soft gospel music are also good choices to help the baby get to sleep.

White noise, in the form of a fan (not directed right at the baby), or from sound machines that simulate the sound of an ocean or rain can be restful as well, and can block out noise from the home. You don’t need to create an artificially silent environment for the baby, however, since that can make it harder for them to get to sleep when the home’s rhythms and noises get back to normal.

This is a great time for you to explore classical music as well, if it’s not already part of your life. The same music that’s helping your baby get to sleep can help soothe your own nerves and provide a wonderful time of bonding and restfulness for you and your baby together.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Jerome Robbins
Jerome Robbins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Art of Jazz dance is an amalgamation of  different styles of dance that began between 1800's, and the middle of the 1900's rooted in African American movement.  One man known for this type of dance was the star of vaudeville Joe Frisco around 1910 who danced in a unrestrained fashion in close vicinity to the ground while tossing his cigar,  and derby in a juggling manner. The Jazz dance style up to the middle of 1950's was Tap dance which was always performed with Jazz music such as the Jitterbug, Swing, Boogie Woogie, Lindy Hop,  and the Charleston.  Katherine Dunham is renowned choreographer and dancer studied the cultural dances of Caribbean in Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, Tobago, Martinique and Shango making this African American dance a modern work of pure art.

She took this style to Hollywood and Broadway who embraced a more refined Jazz dance.  Modern Jazz Dance is a smooth style of dance roots from Tap, Ballet and Jazz music which is performed in many musicals from the Pajama Game to Cabaret to Chicago to music videos and the Las Vegas showgirl performances. The usual technique for Jazz dance is that of a ballet dancer for balance and strength from doing slow movements. In contrast the typical Jazz dance has sharp movements, but the skills of ballet smoothes it down into a refined style.

Moreover, Jazz dance is such a versatile style that it can be combined with other dances from lyrical, contemporary and hip hop. Jazz dance like Jazz music can be combined with other dance styles to enhance the dance to another level. For instance,  The United Kingdom witness a new movement of dancers in the 1980's who danced when the Jazz, and Funk music clubs was becoming unpopular known as Street  Fusion Jazz Dance. Due to the new modern music scene, new groups who longed to keep the tradition of Jazz dance, and still leave room for the new styles.

There are two groups known for street fusion jazz dance known as IDJ ( I Dance Jazz), Brother in Jazz and Jazz Cotech.  Famous people of the world of Jazz dance is Fred Astaire, Jerome Robbins, Jack Cole, and Bob Fosse. In the world of Jazz Dance there are terms people use to describe various dance movement.

Jazz Dance Terms:

Ad lib, Axel Turn, Ball Change, Barrel Jump, Barrel Turn, Bounce, Cake Walk, Cat walk, Catch Step, Chasse`, Coffee Grinder, Contract, Curve Or Arch, Dolphin, Drop and Recover, Fall, Fall Over The Log, Fan Kick, Figure 8, Flick, Flick Kick, Freeze, Funk, Head-Roll, Hinge, Hip Walk,  Hip-Fall, Hip-Roll, Hitch Kick, Hop, Jazz Drag, Jazz Run, Jazz Split, Jazz Square, Jazz Walk, Jump Over The Log, Kick, Knee Fall, Knee Slide, Knee Turn, Lay Out, Limbo, Mess Around, Moonwalk, Pencil Turn, Pitch, Pivot Step, Primitive Squat, Release, Ripple, Shimmie, Shiver, Shoulder Fall, Shoulder Roll, Sissonne Fall, Skate, Snake, Snap, Spins, Spiral, Stag Leap, Step, Switch, Table Top, Tilt, Touch, Tripplettes, Turns, Twists, and the Worm.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Suzi Quatro, wearing black leather, plays a ba...
Suzi Quatro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some people think that if you want to change the world you don't become a bass player, but go into something more challenging and stimulating like the Post Office. But does this myth portray how bass players really are? Let's step back from our habitual way of seeing bass guitar players as necessary but boring members of the group. Like accountants. 

Sure we acknowledge the fine contribution they make to their bands by supplying the bass lines and paying for the beer, but do they actually do anything really creative? This brief listing of some prominent men (and woman) of bass will allow you to see that this apparently self effacing member of a musical group could be the creative powerhouse.

Let's start with the leather jacketed but overpoweringly feminine Suzi Quatro. A vocalist and bass player who had a bunch of hits in Australia and Europe in the early seventies, her popularity in the USA stemmed from her role as Leather Tuscadero in Happy Days.

John Entwistle pioneered the use of the electric bass guitar as an instrument for soloists. His aggressive approach to the bass guitar influenced many other bassists.

Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers impressed a lot of musicians with his popping and slapping technique which was originally invented by Larry Graham of Sly And The Family Stone. Flea's innovative use of effects pedals has also influenced many bass players.

Jack Bruce wrote most of supergroup Cream's hit songs. Among his other achievements are fighting constantly with Cream's drummer, Ginger Baker and surviving a liver transplant.

Greg Lake is another artist of the early seventies who played with a number of innovators from the glam rock era. Lake is best known for his vocals, bass and guitar work with Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Rob Bailey is a bassist who plays loud and aggressive. His bass playing is an important element in the music of AC/DC.

Benny Rietveld, a Dutch musician who went to college in Hawaii, is admired for his musical and individualistic style of playing. He worked with Barney Kessell, Sheila E, Huey Lewis and Miles Davis. He has also made an album featuring Carlos Santana. Talk about diverse.

Paul McCartney performs in Dublin, Ireland on ...
Paul McCartney  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Paul McCartney played bass with The Beatles. Many bass players say he's quite good, but he changed the world with his romantic song lyrics.

Considered by some to be the king of bass players, Stanley Clarke employs a variation of the pop and slap technique to produce some truly innovative bass guitar music. His 1976 album, School Days, is acclaimed by many critics as one of the greatest bass albums ever.

A true bass lead guitar player, Billy Sheehan has won Guitar Player Magazine's "Best Rock Bass Player" readers' poll five times. Why a "bass lead guitar player"? Because Billy plays bass as if he were playing lead.

So if you are not familiar with bass guitar players I hope this article has whetted your appetite. Why not spend your next rainy Sunday watching some of their work on YouTube?