And they all seem to be pretty good.
Cornetto technique with Stephen Escher
We did a lot of talking and not much playing yesterday, but
the talking was to the point. We went around the room and talked
about how and why we got into cornetto playing, and each played
single notes and talked about them and what to do to improve
them. In my case hardware is part of the answer. Steve loaned me
his 465 cornetto, which is just enough smaller than a 415
instrument that I can play it, although not easily. And he has a
jar full of mouthpieces that we’re going to see if we can find
something that works better on the cornettino.
He pointed out that once we get a sound we like and are really
listening to, there isn’t that much difference between us and
Bruce Dickey — he just gets to that sound immediately and keeps
it up to the end of the note and we don’t.
That’s what they call the mixed choral and instrumental
performance at the end of the week that everybody can do. This
year it’s the polyphonic church music of the French Calvinists, who
weren’t allowed to play polyphony in Church, so they did it at
It’s all good music for serpent. There’s a bunch of settings
of Psalm CXXXVII, and a large Te
Deum by Claude LeJeune.
I think the class is called “Josquin and Goudimel” or something
like that, but people signed up for it because they want to work
with Wim. There are 8 of us, but mostly trombone and bass curtal
players, so they’re in need of instruments that can play top
lines. I was surprised that anyone would rather listen to me on
cornetto than on serpent, but I did in fact end up playing
cornetto all class. We’re doing two choir music, and I got the
lower of the two top lines (the other cornetto player in the class
is much better than I am).
The music is wonderful, and two choirs full of people who can
sightread it isn’t something I get anywhere else, and Wim is a
really good coach, who can make a piece sound like you aren’t
sightreading in a very short time.
Steve Escher again
I forget what this one is called, but there are 5 loud wind
players playing what Steve brings. In this case, I’m playing low
to middle lines. I started out playing the second from the bottom
line (there’s a good bass curtal player on the bottom), but I
turned out to have more serpent high notes left than the trombone
player had trombone high notes, so I switched to middle lines.
People were pretty zonked by then, so some of theh sightreading
wasn’t as good as the same people had been doing only an hour
before, but I’m sure it will but a good class.