Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fun-Size Horns!

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the piccolo horn!

This tiny horn-shaped brass instrument is hardly a horn at all, except for its shape. Most are keyed in Bb and sound almost like a trumpet, but one of my aims as soon as I have a salary is to purchase one of these! Seeing a comically small horn sitting somewhere would be too alluring; I would have to pick it up and play a few notes. Here is a video of someone playing one. The guy is really weird and doesn't hold it like a horn, but you'll get the picture :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Alan Civil: playing horn for The Beatles

Alan Civil may be the most widely heard horn player on the planet. Not because of any fame in the horn world, but because of his squeaking high (yet very controlled) solo in the Beatles song For No One on their 1966 album Revolver. I found that the solo itself outlines an F# major arpeggio, and goes up to a high D# above the treble staff. Civil's playing is ridiculously controlled, quiet, and smooth despite the register.

Civil was called upon by Abbey Road Studio engineer Geoff Emerick because, in Emerick's words, he was "the best horn player in London." As a student of Aubrey Brain (Dennis Brain's father), one would expect no less.

Civil also played in the orchestra used in A Day in the Life, another famous Beatles song at the end of their landmark album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. According to Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, Revolver stands at #3 while Sgt. Pepper stands triumphantly at #1. Way to land a gig, Alan...