[NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC]

NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC

VOL 3, NO. 1, FEBRUARY, 2001

 NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC
VOL 3, NO. 1, FEBRUARY, 2001


© 2001 Copyright of David E. Smith Publications
All Rights Reserved. Made in U.S.A.

Table of Contents
The Publishers' Space
The Lone Arrangers's Space
Woodwind Space
Thinking
String Space
Percussion Space
Humor Space
Brass Space
Sayings





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THE PUBLISHER'S SPACE
by David E. Smith


 

The number of dealers handling our publications grows literally every week. Check with them for the availability of our product line. You can check on our website for a partial listing of those dealers.

We are most appreciative of your patronage and the support of our writers’ work. Our goal continues to be one of exalting God with our talents and our music. We trust that is your goal as well!

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LONE ARRANGER'S SPACE
by Dana F. Everson


NEVER STOP LEARNING!

Is there ever a time when a composer or arranger (or anyone else) can say...
"I have arrived; I am now the perfect musician"

What are the ways by which a writer stays fresh? How can I be assured of continuous improvement and growth? Here are a few suggestions...

1. Seek the Lord daily- This is your greatest need as a creative writer. Go to THE Source of all true creativity. You might start by soaking in the Psalms and Proverbs. You might add to that some thoughtful meditation on some of the great hymns of the faith.

2. Listen constantly- This is your second greatest need. Listen for the melody, harmony, form, color, and rhythm. Listen to music outside of your usual habits. (For example, if piano solo is your main diet, listen to orchestral and vocal music to get a good balance.)

Listen for those techniques which make arrangements unique to each arranger. Listen especially to the greatest writers, but don't ignore less mature ones. You can learn something from just about everyone.

3. Read regularly- In the last issue of Lines and Spaces (November, 2000) I listed a number of excellent books on the subjects of orchestration and arranging. Take advantage of these. A visit to the local library, or better yet, to a college or university library could pay great dividends in personal education. Also, seek out those workshops and clinics for musicians and music teachers.

4. Accept criticism graciously- Force yourself to ask the questions, "why is the critic making this statement? "and, how can I improve?" If you maintain a learner's attitude, you will often be amazed at what you learn about your writing, your motives, and how others perceive your work.

5. Examine your own attempts objectively- This is incredibly difficult, but one can get better at this with practice. Tips...

  • (a) Try to listen as if you were hearing this arrangement for the first time.
  • (b) Record your attempts, put them away for a few days, then get them out.
  • (c) Compare and contrast your arrangement in the context of other really fine arrangements for the same instrumentation.

6. Fellowship with and learn from others-- One-on-one sharing among those of kindred minds is absolutely irreplaceable. Over the past dozen years I have probably received more insights and encouragement in arranging from my friend David E. Smith, publisher of this newsletter, than from any other single source. There are others, as well, who have had some wonderful impact in my growth. Each of us ought to be grateful for people that God has placed in our lives for our growth. Also, seek ways to minister to others. A person never stands taller than when he stoops to help someone else!

7. Pray for ideas-- The composer "Papa" Haydn made no bones about it. He stated that he often begged God for ideas. Should writers of sacred instrumental music do any less? Dana Everson has over 125 published sacred instrumental arrangements with David E. Smith Publications. Following 22 years as Asst Prof of Music at Delta College, he moved to Wisconsin in the summer of 1999 to take up teaching duties at Northland Bible College. Everson holds the BME, MM and MSM degrees. He has arranged for the Michigan State University marching and concert bands and spent a summer as a performer in the Disneyland All-American Band.

 

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WOODWIND SPACE
by Harlow E. Hopkins

 

INTONATION

Recently, I asked a friend what subjects he would like to see discussed in this Space.

After a short silence, he replied “Intonation.” In his teaching he finds that to be one of the most frequent problems, and one which is difficult to handle.

In giving thought to the subject since that conversation, I was reminded of a junior high band rehearsal which I attended several years ago.

A friend had invited me to stop by and hear his band. On a trip north I stopped in a Chicago suburb to hear the group.

Upon hearing the group I was immediately struck by the sound of the brass instruments-especially the trumpets. It sounded like every one of the players was the daughter or son of a Salvation Army trumpet player. That distinctive tone quality was unmistakable. The intonation was excellent!

I asked George about the parentage of his players when the rehearsal concluded.

He laughed and said that every day when the group enters the rehearsal room the players are subjected to recordings of Salvation Army bands. That “brain washing” had produced “clones” which sounded remarkably like their training was taking place at the local Salvation Army Citadel.

That experience entrenched itself in my memory and dramatically emphasized the close connection between tone quality and intonation..

As tone improves, intonation invariably improves.

Since that experience I have encouraged students (of all ages) to buy some records, (now CDs of course) which I recommend, and begin listening to them regularly.

We begin to develop a vocabulary which describes a “good” tone. Focus, center, rich, resonant, etc., are all words which begin to be used frequently to describe tone. In the case of reed instruments one is provided an opportunity to talk about reeds and, depending on the particular student, begin the process of learning to adjust reeds.

The IMPORTANT ingredient is LISTENING. Time after time, as tone improved so did intonation. Before playing duets with my students we always tune. This provides an opportunity to introduce the phenomenon of “beats” which can help to produce sensitivity to pitch as well.

There is no quick fix for improving poor intonation. However, over time, the solution does lie in exposing players to fine tone quality and helping them develop a model tone which they should strive continually to match.

Finding all available listening possibilities should be a constant goal for every student. As fine quality tone becomes instilled in the mind it will begin to show in the tone and in sensitivity to pitch as well.

Harlow Hopkins holds a Bachelor's degree from Olivet Nazarene University, a Master's degree from the American Conservatory of Music (Chicago) and a D.Mus. from Indiana University (Bloomington). His teaching career took place at Olivet Nazarene University (Bourbonnais, Illinois) where he taught 42 years, conducted bands for 39 years, and chaired the Division of Fine Arts and the Department of Music for 29 years. He was honored by the University in 1995 when the Alumni Center was named for him. Hopkins retired in 1996 and continues to reside in Bourbonnais and teach part time at ONU, play clarinet, co-conduct a New Horizons Band and edit newsletters.

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Surely there must be more words spoken EVERY DAY than there are grains of sand in the world. In the days following last November's election, I grew tired of listening to all the TV and radio personalities who were discussing the election stalemate from every conceivable angle.

THINKING
by Harlow E. Hopkins


WORDS

 

The media had an absolute field day. They were absolutely ecstatic because an ongoing situation allowed them to talk ad infinitum-I began to think it would never end. (Make no mistake, I was VITALLY interested in the outcome!!) Words flowed freely, constantly for days and days. Words, words, words… Eventually I stopped listening--a saturation point had been reached. One evening the opening words of John's gospel came to mind:

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

I began to think of the word "word". I know, I know, "word" with a capital "W" has an entirely different meaning than its uncapitalized relative. But, there IS a connection! God's Word, through study, has produced who knows how many words over the centuries. The study of God's Word results in higher-plane thinking-thinking which produces thoughts about eternal values…there's no saturation point here!

The number of sermons and homilies and devotional messages which have been delivered down through the centuries by the servants of God can never be calculated and the total keeps growing week after week, year after year. God's Word is many centuries old but always new--a perennial paradox--fresh every day--an absolutely inexhaustible source of inspiration and instruction! It will never be fully explained or drained of its electrifying message. It is Truth-a constant.

I think "the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart" (Psalm 19:14) need to more frequently reflect the growing sense of gratitude and love I have for the Word.

Yes, in the beginning He was the Word, He is the Word and eventually He will have the last word...!

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In the past two columns we have looked at how to choose a hymn suitable to an arrangement for strings, how to plan a framework for that arrangement and how to sketch a first draft. This column will deal with several theoretical "no-no's," proofing the first draft and editing an arrangement.

STRING SPACE
by Jay-Martin Pinner


ARRANGING SACRED MUSIC FOR STRING INSTRUMENTS, PART 3

 

While an arranger should write from the heart or "the spirit," the scriptural injunction reminds us that we should not neglect "the understanding."

An arrangement should be theoretically correct in order to focus the listener's attention on the text and the worship of our Savior, without such musical distractions as parallel fifths or awkward part-writing.

It is important for the arranger to mentally sing the various parts of his work as he is writing in order to keep the voice leading natural and strong. Since string instruments are the closest instruments to the human voice, an arranger will find that what "sits well" for the voice usually makes for good string writing. Wide, disjointed leaps should generally be avoided in favor of a strong melodic "contour" or rise and fall to the line. A rhythmic pulse should provide motion and interest without overpowering the lines. Parallel motion of lines is effective but can be overused within arrangements. Contrary motion provides relief from continuous parallel motion.

Beginning arrangers often return too frequently to the tonic harmony. One way to avoid the harmonic doldrums is to use harmonies found in hymnbooks as a springboard for discovering additional implied harmonies that add freshness to the music and enhance the meaning of the text.

Occasional use of dissonance that underscores the text can be effective. However, consonant intervals are generally more convincing than dissonance within the hymn-arranging context! Melodic and rhythmic materials are especially successful when the source is from the hymn itself.

Changes in mood and style should correspond with the text. Special string techniques such as pizzicato, double stops, bouncing bows, use of a mute or writing continuous arpeggios across several strings should be used judiciously and in good taste.

When an arranger uses a computer program to input music he can pre-select or design score templates to match the needs of a particular arrangement.

Many arrangers feel more comfortable using a pencil and manuscript paper for a first draft. They use a three-stave score for a solo, duo, trio or string orchestra arrangement, and a two-stave score for a string quartet arrangement. This scoring arrangement facilitates playing of all parts at the keyboard.

Upon completing the rough draft the arranger should proof the arrangement either via computer playback or by a private live performance. Ideally arrangers would do well to let the new opus "simmer" by leaving it for a time and returning to it with fresh objectivity.

Unfortunately the luxury of having extra time before a performance deadline is rare for most arrangers. There might be time only to listen to the piece, make a few revisions and immediately begin the editing process.

General editing includes checking pitches, adding articulations, dynamic and tempo markings, as well as adding measure numbers and strategically placed rehearsal letters.

In addition to such usual editing the arranger should add specific string markings such as fingerings and bowings. Fingerings are, of course, instrument-specific and require a comprehensive knowledge of the string instrument(s) for which the arrangement is written.

Bowings, while also somewhat intimidating and mysterious to the non-string player, may actually be added successfully if the arranger keeps in mind several basic principles.

First, bowings should be thought of as phrase markings for the singing voice. Slurs, or the connection of two or more notes under one bow stroke, may be added exactly as the arranger envisions the piece being sung. In fact, the bowings should mimic the text as it would be sung. For instance, if the singer takes a breath the string player should take a bow direction change for similar articulation.

Secondly, there are only two bow directions: up-bow, with the bow moving from the frog (under the player's right hand) to the tip; and down-bow, with the bow moving from the tip to the frog.

One of the most important rules governing string bowing is the principle of the down-bow by which a down-bow is assigned to most down-beats and heavy pulses within a bar. Conversely, the anacrusis or up-beat prior to the beginning of a bar is taken on an up-bow. Any uneven number of bow changes before a bar line usually begins with an up-bow.

For a detailed discussion of bowings refer to The Modern Conductor, by Elizabeth A.H. Green, Prentice Hall, publisher. A comprehensive dictionary of string bowings is published by the American String Teachers Association with the National School Orchestra Association and can be purchased at their web site -- www. astaweb.com.

If the arranger does not feel comfortable marking bowings and fingerings himself it would be wise for him to seek out a string player, either a capable student or professional, who can perform this service. It is mutually beneficial for the arranger and the string performer to work together in this process rather than simply mailing the arrangement off to be edited.

The arranger should not expect this to be done gratis. Depending on the relationship between the arranger and the player, a promise of a complimentary copy of the finished arrangement may be sufficient recompense for a few minutes of work helping in the editing process. In an on-going working relationship the arranger might consider dedicating an arrangement to the string player in appreciation for his help.

Whether an arranger uses pencil and paper or one of the powerful computer music notation programs, the most time-consuming element involved in completing an arrangement is still the editing process. The rewards of thorough editing-the satisfaction of hearing the work as the arranger envisioned it, the time saved in rehearsals, and the adherence to the Biblical admonition to do all things "decently and in order," make the expenditure of time well spent.

The next column will offer recommendations for producing a professional looking manuscript or computer output of a string arrangement. It will also list a few helpful reference books and give several practical suggestions for an arranger's ongoing development.

Jay-Martin Pinner is Head of the String Department at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. He is an award-winning composer and arranger with several dozen published works. Five of his sacred string and brass arrangements are published by David E. Smith.

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What is the purpose and function of a roll? Quite simply it is to sustain the tone, or sound, of a percussion instrument.

PERCUSSION SPACE
by Billy Madison


ROLLS

 

With wind instruments this is achieved by blowing air for the duration of a note and with string instruments it is accomplished by drawing the bow across the string.

However, percussion instruments frequently have a fast decay of sound and must be struck repeatedly to make a note last longer than a fraction of a second. Therefore, a roll allows percussionists to play notes of different lengths according to the style of the music.

Since the decay time varies with each specific percussion instrument and according to the tuning of different drums the speed of the roll will also vary. Frequently, novice percussions will try to play every roll as fast as they can. This usually results in a tone, or sound, that doesn't sound very musical. If they would only realize what the function of a roll is and then work to develop it simply as a means to sustain a sound, they would play much more musically.

Generally the lower the pitch of a percussion instrument the slower the roll should be played and the higher the pitch the faster it should be played. For example, if you are using three timpani tuned to A, D and F, the larger drum (A) would require a fairly slow single stroke roll whereas the middle drum (D) would need to be a little faster and the smaller drum (F) would be even faster. This is due to the size and tension of the heads.

The same concept is true for other drums such as bass drums, tom toms, etc. and for mallet instruments such as marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, etc. The lower register on a marimba sounds better with much slower rolled notes than that required by the upper register.

The best way to determine the relative speed needed for a roll is to strike the instrument or bars and listen for the length of the decay. The longer the decay the slower the roll should be and vice versa. If you strike a suspended cymbal you will notice that it has a very slow sound decay and therefore would not require a fast roll. If you strike a snare drum you will notice that it has a very rapid sound decay and would require a very fast roll to sustain the sound.

Roll practice should be done basically the same as other instruments practice long tones. Play the drum, bar, cymbal, etc. with a roll that will produce a clear, even sound that is characteristic for the instrument. Listen to every roll to make sure that it sounds appropriate for the instrument and that it accomplishes its purpose, which is to sustain the sound.

Billy Madison holds the BME (Instrumental Music), the MM (Music Theory and Composition) and the SCCT in music. All three degrees were taken at Arkansas State University. He has studied composition with Jared Spears and Tom O'Connor. Since 1978 Madison has been a percussionist with the Northeast Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and has taught instrumental music in the Arkansas public schools for fifteen years. Madison currently resides in Newport, Arkansas.

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The children had all been photographed, and the teacher was trying to persuade them each to buy a copy of the group picture. "Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, 'There's Jennifer; she's a lawyer,' or 'That's Michael, He's a doctor.'"

HUMOR SPACE


A small voice at the back of the room rang out, "And there's the teacher. She's dead."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A minister told his congregation, "Next week I plan to preach about the sin of lying. To help you understand my sermon, I want you all to read Mark 17."

The following Sunday, as he prepared to deliver his sermon, the minister asked for a show of hands. He wanted to know how many had read Mark 17.

Every hand went up. The minister smiled and said, "Mark has only sixteen chapters. I will now proceed with my sermon on the sin of lying."

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BRASS SPACE
by Phil Norris


VIBRATO...

...is used to: 1) add warmth to the tone, and 2) give stylistic identity and expression to the music. It's my feeling that the reason tone with vibrato is preferred to tone without it is that vibrato gives a human quality to the tone. By 'human' I mean that it's not perfect or absolutely pure. Vibrato is actually an imperfection of tone, albeit controlled. I think we instinctively relate more to that which is slightly flawed than to that which is pure. In music which conveys a sense of perfection, lack of vibrato may be one vehicle for expressing the idea. Though vibrato should not be used in all circumstances, it is an essential aspect of solo playing and is used in some ensemble situations.

The means of producing vibrato include:

  • Jaw-most common & easiest
  • Hand/Slide-common in jazz styles
  • Breath (Tremolo)-common in classical/symphonic
  • Lip-least common today.
Vibrato can be taught anytime AFTER good, consistent tone quality is achieved. Some musician-teachers hold that vibrato can't be taught, that it is simply imitated. But the mechanics of vibrato can be taught through use of scales or lyrical melodies/exercises. In scale practice, it is helpful to meter the vibrato starting with 3 wavers per second, then 4, then 5.

When the vibrato is more relaxed and even, the player simply lets it go, turns it loose. Melodic material could include chorales, hymns, slow carols, but it's not good to use metered vibrato with these. Save metered practice just for scales. In melodic material, let the vibrato happen in as steady a rate as possible, but NOT in any relation to the timing of the music.

Vibrato should be used CONSCIOUSLY, not automatically. The player should be conscious of its use! Musical style is often defined to an important extent by the way vibrato is used (i.e. its speed, width, and constancy).In concert/classical music, vibrato should never draw attention to itself. It should be fairly subtle in width and have a constant speed of around 3-5 per second, slower in ensemble use, faster in solo playing.

In Jazz & Pop music, the vibrato changes both width and speed much more than in classical/concert style. Jazz will commonly use a wider pitch change AND speeds slower or faster than 3-5 per second. Jazz vibrato also starts and stops (i.e. turns on and off) much more frequently than in classical style.

Once players learn vibrato, they typically will use it all the time. It's important for players in large groups to NOT use it except for solos or sections where more warmth of tone is desired. Vibrato especially sticks out in fanfare passages, where it should NOT be used unless the fanfare is a solo.

Phil Norris is an Associate Professor of Music at Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minnesota, where he teaches and actively performs on trumpet. Last spring he completed a DMA degree at the University of Minnesota. Phil is a former president of the Christian Instrumentalists and Directors Association and continues to compile and edit the CIDA's Sacred List of Instrumental Music.

 


SAYINGS...


Goals are dreams with deadlines.
Diana Scharf Hunt

I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.
Woodrow Wilson

Go the extra mile, it's never crowded.
Executive Speedwriter Newsletter

 



 

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Preach Christ Always
And As A Last Resort
Use Words.
St. Francis of Assisi
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The year 2000 was a banner year for David E. Smith Publications in so many ways. Record sales were in evidence as well as expansion in the Catalog and website development. The tens of thousands of pieces of music that we produce have now been distributed to all 50 states, every province of Canada and 20 other countries. Lines and Spaces, while still in its infancy, has had over 15 thousand copies distributed and many have viewed it on our website. The free subscription service continues to grow and many glowing comments keep coming into the office.

Preach Christ Always
And As A Last Resort
Use Words.
St. Francis of Assisi

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