Monday, April 13, 2009

Natural Trumpet

Here's a link to a great collection of resources on the natural trumpet. It includes lists of books, websites, journals/articles, and methods books pertaining specifically to the natural trumpet. It also features a list of upcoming events and a very long list of current performers and ensembles which specialize in the natural trumpet.

HBS 25th Annual Early Brass Festival

For all of you early brass mega-fans out there, the Historic Brass Society is having the 25th Annual Early Brass Festival this summer, July 17 - 19th at the University of Connecticut, New London, CT. Early Music America has an information page on the event, as does the Historic Brass Society. Check it out!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Historic Brass Society

If you've enjoyed the overall subject matter and trappings of this blog, you should look into the Historic Brass Society. This is an international association dedicated to the study and performance of early brass music and instruments. If you've got an itch to scratch in the field of historic brass, they can help you scratch it.

Cornetto Solo

Crispian Steele-Perkins strikes again! Here he performers on a cornetto.

Washington Cornett and Sackbutt Ensemble

The Washington Cornett and Sackbutt Ensemble performs Claudio Merulo' Canzon 5 a 4. The Youtube page offers some nice information about the piece and the ensemble in the info box to the right if you're interested.

Musica Antiqua

Musica Antiqua is an ensemble resident at Iowa State University dedicated to the performance of historical brass instruments. They have tons of information on different instruments, some of which are not commonly known (like the lizard). The website also boasts performer bios, sample programs, and various honors the group has achieved.

That's a Strange One...

The serpent is without a doubt one of the stranger instruments created. It's oddities start with the fact that it is a hybrid of woodwind and brass instruments, much like the cornett. In order to have a nice low register, the body of the instrument must be very long, but people have short arms. The solution: snake the thing around. It looks odd, and awkward to play, but it became an essential bass voice in the cornett family.

Brass Family History

If you'd like another overview resource, this Brass Family History page is a good selection. It offers brief descriptions of four of the more common early brass instruments, complete with photographs of the instrument being discussed.

Renaissance Cornetto

The cornetto (or cornett) is an early brass instrument which was quite prominent during the Renaissance. One of the most frequently seen ensemble combinations was a cornett and sagbutt ensemble. These instruments are a strange hybrid of woodwind and brass, and you can find more information on this odd instrument on an excellent website dedicated to the Renaissance Cornetto.

Words of Wisdom

Last night my husband and I had Chinese food for dinner, and while this has absolutely nothing to do with brass ensemble literature or renaissance music and instruments, I thought I would share anyway. My fortune cookie said:

"The most utterly lost of all days is that on which you have not laughed."

So true, I think. Everyone's so stressed out this time of the semester with projects, and recitals, and comps. I thought it'd be a nice reminder to everyone to de-stress a little. So, go find something to make you laugh.

Handel on Muted Slide Trumpet

Here's a video I found on Youtube of Crispian Steele-Perkins performing the muted slide trumpet on a live recital.


Quite awhile back I posted a Youtube clip of His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts. Since then, I've found their main website. It has some historical information on the group, bios of members, popular recital programs, and information on their 17 albums, including the newest which features Buccaneer music from England and Spain. Too cool.

American Brass Quintet

In 1979, the American Brass Quintet released an LP of old music titled American Brass Quintet Plays Renaissance Elizabethan and Baroque Music. This old LP was an interesting subject of class discussion since no one listens to LPs anymore. After digging some online, I found out that they released the album as a CD on 7/17/2008. For anyone who is interested in a good brass ensemble playing Renaissance music, check this out. If you're in class and you just want to hear it without all the pops and fuzz, check this out. Either way it's a good time.

Class Listening from April Fool's

One of the topics of interest that came out of last week's listening was the CD Watercolor Menagerie performed by the Premiere Brass Quintet. The music for the CD is original music composed by Raymond Burkhart, who is also one of the trumpets in the ensemble. His website has some information about his background, the CD (as well as ordering information and audio samples), links to various schools, and a nice list of sheet music available for purchase.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Hampshire Consort

Here is yet another group interested in providing modern audiences with the sound traditions of the early brass ensemble. The group was founded in 1979 and is the resident early music ensemble at the Univeristy of New Hampshire. They have a very simple, but informative website which can be found here.

Renaissance Brass Music

If you're interested in a CD of Renaissance brass music, you're in luck. Renaissance Brass Music features the Eastman Brass Quintet and the Paris Instrumental Ensemble to bring you the works of Gabrieli, Scheidt, Weelkes, Simmes, Ferrabosco, Holborne, and Gibbons.

A Little Digression

For everyone in the class who thought the London Horn Sound was amazing (which it is), I have some great news for you. They've released a new CD titled "Give it One" and comprised of entirely jazz music. Who says the horn can't swing?


The Maryland Early Brass Consort is based in Baltimore, Maryland. They specialize in the performance of early brass music from the Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic and Classical periods, using historically accurate instruments. They play for educational workshops, Renaissance fairs, equestrian events, weddings, and the like. They're website has some sample programs, as well as links to some natural trumpet history and a natural trumpet discography. Very cool.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Early Instruments

If you've found the posts so far absolutely riveting, and you are beginning to have the overwhelming feeling that you simply must have a historically correct sackbut, natural trumpet, natural horn, or baroque trombone, then you're in luck. Early MusiChicago happens to have a Sackbut Businesses sight which lists several makers of historical early brass instruments.

Renaissance Slide Trumpet

In searching for some Renaissance ensemble videos I came across a clip played on the slide trumpet. I had never heard of the slide trumpet before, so I did some digging and found a really interesting article which analyzes how early brass instruments would have been played from their depiction in artwork of the time. The author, Patrick Tröster, focuses specifically on the various origins of the slide trumpet.

His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts

I found this really cool video of His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts. This is an excerpt from a live concert in Greenwich, London.


This ensemble was founded in 1980 and late Medieval and Renaissance music on early wind instruments. While the group does have a lot of early woodwind instruments, it also makes use of the early brass like the serpent and sackbut as well. Piffaro has several recordings and is actively touring Europe. Their website has all kinds of cool history on the ensemble and upcoming performances.

What is a sackbut anyway?

It is not a sack, and it has nothing to do with a butt either, so where did the name come from? Apparently sackbut means "push-pull" literally translated, which is a fitting name given the fact that the instrument was the early predecessor to the modern trombone. Other names for this early instrument included saqueboute, sackbusshes, seykebuds, sakbuds, shakebuttes, shagbutts, and shagbolts. Regardless of the funny names, the instrument was considered an instrument of a virtuoso player by the 17th century. So there - just because it has a funny name, doesn't mean it isn't awesome.

English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble

This is a link to the website of one of the groups we listened to in class. The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble is a 15 year old group based in London and devoted to the performance of early brass instruments. So far the group boasts 6 CDs of early Renaissance music.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Brass History

David Wilken of the University of North Carolina Asheville has an excellent web page on brass history. This article establishes the basic definition of a brass instrument, and it surveys the development of a variety of them from antiquity and the early renaissance through the twentieth century.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Hopefully this blog will be a useful venue for an assortment of things related to Renaissance brass ensembles. This blog has been created as a fulfillment of a project requirement for Advanced Brass Ensemble Literature at the University of Iowa. This blog will explore music, instruments, modern day replications, and anything else related to the subject of Renaissance brass. Enjoy!