Monthly Archives: March 2013

Electric Trombone

This post probably has more meaning to me than anyone else, because I have played trombone for eleven years, but this is really cool regardless of if you like trombone or not. If you don’t, you probably will after watching these videos. The first video is from a guy named Darren Kramer. He plays a song called “Heavy Metal Paperclip” where Kramer uses an electric trombone setup with FX pedals.

Is that sweet or what? The next video is by a guy named Erik Hughes, playing a song called “Hysteria” by Muse. He uses a loop to play the bass part.

These two guys have different sounds, but they use the same pickup. Yamaha makes a mute called the Yamaha Silent Brass. Essentially, the Silent Brass is a trombone mute that has a microphone inside. It seals all sounds inside the instrument, converting the sound into digital information, while making it feel natural while playing. This piece of equipment is quite versatile, doubling as a practice mute (no noise comes out, but you can listen through headphones) and a pickup.

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The fact that the two trombonists use the same pickup but have different styles reminds me of electric guitars. The Silent Brass allows trombonists to run their instruments through amplifiers, and to employ FX pedals such as distortion, reverb, and delay to create a whole new sound on a classical instrument. There are so many different pedal options, the possible combinations are basically endless.

This makes me wonder what this could mean for orchestral music as a whole. Could we be looking at hard rock orchestra? It would be interesting to see how that would turn out. All I know is that as a trombonist, I am seriously considering investing in one of these bad boys.

P.S. I feel like I should clarify further that this is not a MIDI instrument. It’s just a regular trombone with a Yamaha Silent Brass pickup mute.

Dubstep

I have found the fast growing Dubstep music to be intriguing. It has a song as the outline but it also has an element of chaos and unpredictability. People can take almost any song , from music that’s already upbeat  to taking a mellow song and transforming it completely into dance music.

The exact origins of dubstep are hard to peg down, but apparently we have London, England to thank for the name. More specifically, a small town in South London called Croydon.

Tracing back the influences of this deep-bass dance music goes back to something called “Jamaican dub music”. “ The Jamaican sound systems emphasized disco-type sounds with reproduced bass frequencies underlying. This eventually gave rise to the dub variety of reggae music that had features like sub-bass (bass where the frequency is less than 90Hz, a.k.a. really really deep), 2-step drums and distortion effects.” (History of Dubstep)  This was even before 1999 when us children in America hadn’t even heard the whisper of such music.

Since then, it’s been made popular and promoted starting in the clubs and radio stations such as Rinse FM. I would still like to point out that this was all still Europe.

America eventually started using it in night clubs as well, tagging along with the rest of the world’s pop culture interest in dubstep.

After 2007 and especially in the past few years, dubstep has taken off and big artists like Britney Spears for the pop culture but even in smaller circles it has become of interest.

I was surprised to find on YouTube, a dubstep version of Lead Me to the Cross by Hillsong United, a Christian song frequently used in worship.

I also found dubstep’s versions of God is Able, and Came to my Rescue, coming to realize that this band that had been putting out Christian worship songs for years now had an entire album with their songs made into dubstep!

Personally it took a while for me to warm up to the idea, but for those of us that don’t frequent night clubs, these songs can still be good to use. Dubstep is energetic and great to listen to while working out.

As I am learning more about electronic music I was curious about how dubstep was made. I found a tutorial that explains the making of dubstep and walks you through the entire process (if you have the software).  I don’t have the software, but just watching some of the tutorials was very helpful in helping me understand what makes up dubstep.

Dubstep is now what I call organized chaos.