A few sample pages

AEJ is out of town for a few days, so I’m putting in 14-hour days just working on the Trombone Concerto.  Somehow, I think I only checked Facebook once today.  I know. It’s crazy.

The current task is orchestrating the 13 minutes I’ve already written. Part of that includes making the trombone solo part, which only existed as a MIDI mess, start to look like a playable part. I’ve created a PDF of three pages of the solo part, and I’d welcome any thoughts about playability. You’ll see a lot of gliss-looking markings before notes, and those are rips. I need to figure out a good way to differentiate between actual glisses between notes, and simply rips up to a note from the furthest-possible position. As of now, there are only a few true glisses; almost everything else is a rip. There are also a few “gliss hits,” which was something that Joe Alessi showed me a few months ago. These are just lightning-fast glisses down from a note. I’ll have more of those in the last movement.

You’ll see that the part is very high and very loud. There’s a stretch of rests after the part you’ll see, and then it’s quiet for a minute before going all ape-shit at the end of the first movement. (That’s the part where Dionysus — the trombone — is brutally destroyed, torn to shreds by his own worshippers.)   I’m a little concerned about fatigue with the part I’m posting. It doesn’t really stop, and most of it is at middle-C or higher. The part before this is relatively subdued, though. Still, it’s three minutes of, well, balls-to-the-walls solo trombone.

I might end up finding a place or two to drop out the soloist for a few bars. Does that seem necessary? I should also point out that this whole stretch is solidly in F. There are some “dirty” notes, but it’s F.  It’s kind of a barn-burner, with a bunch of call-and-response with the band.  (There’s a hint — just a hint — of gospel to it.  In a few minutes, though, this “service” is going to go very wrong.)  I only mention the tonality because on their own, and without the benefit of hearing the accompaniment, these 3 pages feel like a whole lot of F, but it makes it more striking when it goes out of control in a few more minutes.

Oh, and those 17 measures of rest in the middle of page 2: a great big percussion break for tom-toms, timpani tuned flat and muted, cymbals, bass drum, roto-toms, and djembe.

Alright – back to it.


Sean Dolan says

Hey John!

Looks possible to me, but, hey, I have NO CLUE about Trombone. I just wanted to say hello! heehee.....I'm sure, if it's a real big problem, you could assign some of the rips to the horns or something, no? Just enough time to give the guy/girl a chance to breath for a second! I am a vocalist, so I do know that a second or two can make all the difference.

You always did write relentless stuff!!


All the best!


Christopher Lee says


I'm very interested to hear the concerto when it's done. My thought on the pages you have posted is that in general they look fine, but to sit in such a high register might be a bit much on the second page. Maybe you could find a place for another bar or two of rest between 132 and 170. My experience has been that brass players are always too accommodating when you ask them if something is playable. It usually turns out better if you err on the safe side. As for glisses vs. rips, the rips look good as you have them, but I always use a straight line (with or without "gliss.") for real glisses.

Charles says


The only trombone problem that I see is that it will be nearly impossible to fill in the gliss at 203. There just aren't enough partials between those two notes to make it very smooth. The range and power required would probably be a problem for most people, but I have no doubt that Mr. Alessi will be more than capable of handling it. The A-flat to B gliss (if I got that right) in m. 158 is awkward, but possible. It looks like nasty writing, but it should would be fun!


Rusty says

This looks very do-able for the professional trombonist so far. The A-flat to B gliss will be a bit awkward, but it is definitely possible with practice. Shaking of the C's in bar 124 might be a bit hard for some, but, again, definitely possible. The gliss hits in 168 will probably be the most awkward thing, though, since going from low range to pedal range is challenging at that tempo for tenor trombonists, but, yet again, possible.

The G-flat to pedal C gliss that you have in measure 203 won't really be a gliss, just because of how few partials there are between those two notes. It will still be a nice effect in my opinion, though.

Those who say that range might be a bit difficult--Anybody who would even attempt this piece probably has range security up to high F (the F in the optional 8va at the end of the second page), so range isn't a problem.

Anonymous says

If ganondorf wrote music, it would probably be something like this, but with less percussion.

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