- Tapa blanda: 148 páginas
- Editor: Pendragon Press (10 de mayo de 2008)
- Colección: Bucina
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 1576471373
- ISBN-13: 978-1576471371
- Valoración media de los clientes: Sé el primero en opinar sobre este producto
Valved Brass: The History of an Invention (7) (Bucina) (Inglés) Tapa blanda – 10 may 2008
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In the history of brass instruments, few developments can rival the early nineteenth-century invention of the valve for enduring significance. Nevertheless, the acceptance of valved brass instruments proved controversial, as newspapers and other documents repeatedly attest.
Christian Ahrens, (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) in his important monograph, Eine Erfindung und ihre Folgen: Blechblasinstrumente mit Ventilen (1986), devotes considerable attention to this heated controversy, as he traces the early use of valved brass instruments in the realms of art music, military music, and Volksmusik. Stressing social and aesthetic issues over the more familiar mechanical aspects, the author draws on a rich body of journalistic source material to detail a compelling reception history.
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This thoughtful and well researched look at the history and development of valved brass instruments during the 18th and 19th Centuries shows us that our usual assumption that new technology supplants the old shortly after arrival is naïve at best. We live in a time of standardized mass production and we forget how recent an innovation this is. Even the mass production of the second half of the 19th Century would appear rather artisanal to us. See the illustrations on pages 95, 96, and 97. Prior to that, all manufacturing, including musical instruments, was done in very small quantities and without the kind of standardization that became the hallmark of the 20th Century. Look at the chart of instrument makers in just Paris from 1769 through 1892. Imagine having 180 companies making just pianos just in Paris in 1847. I suspect we don't have that many in the entire world today (don't count "brands", which are often made by the same companies to sell into various price ranges). Brass instruments, the subject of this book, rose from 2 in 1769 to more than 20 in 1847 and 1855. After that the numbers go down, but the quantities of the surviving firms go up.
The book has nine chapters plus an introduction. They cover a history of valves on instruments. Here we learn that they began earlier than suspected and the early examples were awkward to use and produced tones that did not smoothly transition and were rejected by virtuoso natural horn players. Chapter II provides testimonies of period musicians on their thoughts about valved horns. The third chapter is very important because we learn about the reticence of art musicians and serious virtuosos to adopt horns, trumpets, and bass brass instruments with valves. Chromatic horn effects were achieved by having two or more natural horn players in different keys play the part. Some horn groups were father and son teams who practiced to produce a matched tone. There were also guilds of musicians who worked against the adoption of these new fangled instruments.
Where brass instruments with valves were adopted, developed, and successful were in military bands (chapter IV) and in popular music (Volksmusik). I found it fascinating how the trombone was refashioned into something like our modern baritone to allow marching military bands to not have to deal with slides. Of course, we dealt with it just fine in my high school band and we had baritones, too! As these instruments evolved they also attracted their own brilliant players and from there they migrated into the art music world. Eventually, the guilds who hand blocked valved instruments not only lost the battle and war, they became extinct. We learn about these developments in chapters VI on the social aspects of using these instruments, and chapter VII on the economic changes wrought by these instruments (the rise of the great instrument manufacturers). Chapter VIII covers the way other instruments, especially the grand piano, were improved and developed during the second half of the 19th Century. The summary provided in chapter IX is very nice reading and pulls the entire story together. The illustrations throughout the book are well chosen and illustrate the times and technology very well.
I enjoyed this book very much.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI