Friday, May 31, 2013

A trumpet player in Edinburgh, Scotland.

My name is Gordon Hudson and I am a trumpet player living in Edinburgh, Scotland. I occasionally blog on trumpet and cornet related issues.

You can find other articles by me tagged "trumpet" here, or cornet here.

About me

In the late 80's and early 90's I did quite a lot of freelance/semi pro playing but these days I spend my time working for a charity and playing the trumpet and cornet on an amateur basis. Before moving to Edinburgh I played the trumpet with the Open Orchestra for seven years until 2010. After moving to Edinburgh I spent a year playing principal cornet with Penicuik Silver Band and then solo cornet with Kingdom Brass B until it's demise. I then played repiano cornet with the Bathgate Band in first section. Although I am currently not a member of a brass band I practice daily, play a bit of traditional jazz, and do occasional orchestra concerts and big band gigs. Until something more permanent comes along I am doing a bit of home recording which I call "The Sofa Sessions". Its an occasional thing and you can find the videos on my Youtube Channel.

My experience of Edinburgh is that there are not a lot of playing opportunities here. The same people seem to do all the gigs and there is a general preference by amateur groups for people who have been to music college. As a result, since moving to Edinburgh, most of my playing has been outside Edinburgh and mainly in the brass band world.

I started playing at the age of 10 (french horn) switched to euphonium at 14 (because I really wanted to play in a brass band) and then trumpet and cornet at around the age of 19 (although I still doubled on euphonium for a couple of years).

My brass band experience includes Stirling Public Band, Alloa Band (1st and 2nd section) and Alva Band (championship section), Livingston Brass Band, Newlands Concert Brass, principal cornet with Penicuik and solo cornet with Kingdom Brass B. I have played Bb cornet and Eb soprano cornet.

As an orchestral player I have performed a wide range of repertoire from baroque to modern works including concertos and other solos. This includes a lot of piccolo trumpet playing in baroque music.

In addition to playing trumpet, cornet and piccolo trumpet I play french horn to a level good enough for second or third horn.

Favourite players: Maurice Andre, Phillip McCann, Ludwig Güttler, Chet Baker, Jack Mackintosh, Bix Beiderbecke and, of course, Louis Armstrong.

Equipment

I have a range of instruments for different types of playing:


Bb Trumpet - Bach Stradivarius 43

I used to play on Monette equipment, but switched to this a couple of years ago. It has a larger bell than the standard 37 Bach trumpet that most players use but it is still a medium large bore. It was bought as a compromise for big band or orchestral playing. I find it works well in all situations.


Bb Rotary Trumpet - Scherzer 8218W


Scherzer 8218W
This is currently my main orchestral trumpet. I have two tuning slides - one with the single water key and one with two uberblasenklappen, or Vienna keys for C and A. The Scherzer 8218W is based on the Monke design which is why they call it their "Kölner Modell". The bore is 11.5mm (slightly larger than most rotary trumpets). The bell is made of gold brass.


Bb Trumpet - Selmer 19A Balanced



Selmer Paris 19A Balanced Trumpet
The same model played by Louis Armstrong. Mine was made in 1952. .450" bore. Quite small by today's standards, but has a surprising depth to the sound. More on this instrument here.

Mouthpieces

I have tended to play mouthpieces around the 3C/1.5C diameter. Because I play on instruments with different fittings and different requirements I have an abnormally large number of mouthpieces. I do 90% of my playing on a Horntrader HT-3-27 and a Flip Oakes Extreme X3X.

Trumpet
Horntrader HT-3-27 (general and classical - like a Bach 3, but with a very open backbore)
Horntrader HT-3CS-28 (lead - like a 3C but tighter throat and slightly shallower cup, but with more volume at the bottom of the cup)
Horntrader HT-3-Jazz (like a flugel mouthpiece for a trumpet - see my video review here)
Josef Klier 7DW (piccolo trumpet)
Breslmair 3C cup with Mount Vernon 3C rim and Frost Custom Brass 6 backbore (on Selmer 19A)

Rotary Trumpet
Breslmair G2 cup with Mount Vernon 3C rim and G backbore (rotary trumpet)

Cornet
Flip Oakes Extreme X3X (brass band)
Denis Wick 3 trumpet top married to a backbore from a Bach 6 (jazz)
Gewa 3C - copy of a Mount Vernon 3C (soprano cornet)

Flugel
Breslmair F1 underpart in special Besson small fitting with 3C Mount Vernon rim

In the past I have used a Jet-Tone MF-P for big band which is a pretty rare mouthpiece with a #22 throat. I am not really doing that kind of playing any more so it rarely comes out of its case.

Piccolo Trumpet - Hybrid Rotary




This is a four valve rotary trumpet made in China but modified with a Blackburn leadpipe for A. Although it looks like a Scherzer the bell is bigger. It seems to be a copy of the "Melton" rotary trumpet which was made by Scherzer in the 1980's. It plays very well in A and is the best piccolo trumpet I have ever owned in that key. In Bb it plays OK, but its not quite as good as it is in A.
Mouthpieces: Josef Klier 7DW (similar to a Bach 7DW but with a bigger backbore). Starting to experiment with the Horntrader HT-3CS-28.


Flugel Horn - Boosey and Hawkes Imperial



Boosey & Hawkes Imperial Flugel Horn


This instrument is from the early 70's and is of the narrow bore style of flugel. It has the added advantage of using a cornet shank mouthpiece.
Mouthpieces: Breslmair F1, Mount Vernon 3C rim


Cornet - Yamaha Maestro



Yamaha Maestro Cornet

This is one of the earlier Maestro's without "UK" after the model number and with no engraving on the bell. I bought it second hand and had it overhauled to bring it back into new condition.
Mouthpieces: Flip Oakes Extreme X3X.


Cornet - Douglas & Sons

This is a collectors item , made in the late 19th century in Glasgow. You can read the full story of this instrument and my research into the maker here, or view my video review - here.
Mouthpieces: Lewington McCann custom; original 1890's narrow mouthpiece.


Cornet Mouthpieces




I play on two currently which are around 3C diameter. One is the Breslmair F1 with MV 3C rim. The other is a Lewington McCann mouthpiece which is of similar diameter but with a flatter rim. This has been "skeletonised" with mass removed from around the rim (see comparison photo above). This makes it feel a bit freer blowing and a bit more agile, but it does make the sound a little bit brighter.

Repertoire


This gives you some idea of the types of music I have performed in concerts over the years.


Solo Performances

  • Trumpet Concerto in Eb - J Haydn
  • Trumpet Concerto in D - Telemann
  • Trumpet Concerto in D - Fasch
  • Carnival of Venice - Arban (Cornet)
  • Trumpet Sonata - Purcell
  • Suite in D - Jeremiah Clarke


Orchestral

  • Most of the standard classical and romantic repertoire.
  • Bach Mass in B Minor and Christmas Oratorio.
  • Verdi Requiem.
  • Vaughan Williams Symphony no 2 (London) (Trumpet and Cornet parts).


Ensemble

  • Played with a 10 piece brass ensemble (using London Brass / PJBE arrangements).


Operas

  • Marriage of Figaro - Mozart
  • The Mikado - Gilbert and Sullivan


Musicals

  • Camelot
  • West Side Story
  • My Fair Lady
  • Kiss me Kate


Oratorios

  • Christmas Oratorio - Bach
  • Messiah - Handel


Big Band

  • Played trumpet with Forth Dimension big band in the late 80's.
  • Occasional recent playing in local bands.


Brass Band

Solo cornet or soprano cornet with:
  • Alloa Town Band (1st Section)
  • The Alva Band (Championship Section)
  • Newland Concert Brass
  • Penicuik Silver Band (principal cornet)
  • Kingdom Brass B (second solo cornet)
  • Bathgate Band (repiano cornet)

Clips

Here are some clips of me playing (NB: variable quality recording qualities)


Cornet

Ye Servants of God (hymn tune: Laudate Dominum):
MP3

Bring Him Home:
MP3

Goose Pimples (Bix Beiderbecke):
MP3


Gnossienne 3 by Erik Satie:





Piccolo Trumpet

Prelude to te Deum by Charpentier:



Beatles Penny Lane Solo:





Bb Trumpet


Neruda Trumpet Concerto in Eb - 1st Movement (excerpt):
MP3

Neruda Trumpet Concerto in Eb - 2nd Movement (excerpt):
MP3

Neruda Trumpet Concerto in Eb - 3rd Movement (excerpt):
MP3



Contact me

To contact me click here.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Is modern evangelical Christianity "pistic"?

I am more and more coming to the conclusion that modern evangelicalism is actually a "pistic" religion. I may even have coined this phrase by writing it down in this article. Whereas gnosticism is a system of revealed knowledge of God, pisticism (based on the Greek word "pistis" meaning faith) is a a system of revealed levels of faith in God.

Here is how a hypothetical pistic religion would work:
  • The initial faith requirement would be quite low and within the bounds of intellectual reason. 
  • Once the initiate had accepted this basic position a process of development would be carried out (we might want to call it "discipling" in a Christian setting) where they are exposed to more complex ideas about God which require greater levels of faith to accept.
  • If the initiate is wavering about accepting this they can be told that the true path is narrow and difficult.
  • Using imagery like this enhances the hierarchical approach to the different levels of faith which can be acquired.

There is some evidence of this "pisticism" when you look at modern evangelistic techniques and the practices of evangelical churches. Rather than a case of "one lord, one faith, one baptism" people seems to get hooked in at a low level where faith can seem very reasonable indeed. Over time the demands for greater faith increase and the leaps taken get greater and greater. For example, faith healing, creationism or dispensationalism may be added into what the person is expected to agree to.

Modern evangelicalism is certainly very complex.

While we are talking about leaps of  faith here is the Order of the Leaping Berylians:








Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What is Anthroposophy? Part 2


The Nature of the Human Being

Rudolf Steiner’s understanding of the human being is primarily threefold - body, soul and spirit. He believed that we experience the world through this threefold nature. This is primarily explained in his book Occult Science - An Outline.


  • The body is the vehicle in which the soul and spirit travel and experience the world.
  • The soul links those experiences of the world to our own existence - our desires, passions and interests.
  • The spirit allows these experiences of the world to reveal themselves for who and what they are.


Here is an example of how we experience the world through these three natures. Imagine a flower. Through our body we can see the flower is colourful and has a fragrance. This awakens a sense of joy and pleasure in our soul. Our spirit then recognises the rose’s inherent qualities of fragility and impermanence. In this way we have fully experienced the flower rather than just observing it.

This reflects Steiner’s idea of the world in which we live as being threefold:

  1. In the physical world we form a world outside of us. 
  2. In the soul world we develop a world within us. 
  3. In the spirit world we learn about a higher world beyond ours. 


Steiner subdivided the three natures of body, soul and spirit into nine facets. All of these work together as part of the same unitary body:

body
material body - the physical organs of the body.
etheric body - the blueprint of the shape of the human body.
soul body - the boundary that contains the soul within the limits of the physical body.

soul
sentinent soul - the processing centre for information derived from our senses - where tastes and passions are centred.
mind soul - the thinking and reasoning part of the soul which receives perceptions from the physical senses and the invisible world.
consciousness soul - the part most connected with the invisible world.

spirit
spirit self - the part of the human that exists in the spirit realm.
life spirit - the divine force that fuels us.
spirit body - container for the spirit part of the threefold nature.


The Seven Fold nature of the Individual

Following his identification of these nine facets of the human individual, Steiner then simplified them to seven by combining the soul body & sentient soul and calling it the astral body and combining the mind soul and the consciousness soul into the “I” or ego.

Those seven subdivisions are:

  1. physical body - the physical organs of the body.
  2. etheric body - the  life force that the life force that maintains the physical body's form until death.
  3. astral body - the centre of our desires, drives and passions. 
  4.  I - our individual essence - our sense of self.
  5. spirit self - the part of us that exists in the spiritual realm.
  6. life spirit - the divine force that fuels us.
  7. spirit body - container for the spiritual parts of the threefold nature.


How these work together

The I lives within the body and soul which act as vehicles through which it can experience life. The spirit lives within the “I” which allows it to experience the physical life. It needs the “I” because it is part of the immortal spirit world which can not directly experience the mortal nature of the physical world. The “I” acts as a conduit through which the spirit can experience this.

The difference between animals, plants and humans

Steiner used these different bodies to differentiate between plants, animals, humans and inanimate objects.


  • Minerals only have a physical body.
  • Plants have physical and etheric bodies.
  • Animals have physical, etheric and astral bodies.
  • Human beings have physical, etheric, astral bodies and an “I”.


The relationship of the physical, etheric and astral bodies

The etheric body keeps our physical body alive and binds the astral body to it. The life processes and forces in our etheric body heal and maintain our physical body. It is the life force through which we are kept alive. At death the etheric body gradually detaches from the physical body. At this point physical forces overwhelm the body and it decays. This is why Anthroposophical Medicine addresses medical issues through spiritual awareness  of the etheric and astral bodies as well as the physical body and the “I” of the patient.


Sleep

During sleep the astral body and the “I” leave the physical confines of the body. The experiences had during sleep have an effect on the etheric body. Steiner suggested that there were two kinds of dreams, or sleep experiences. The first is echoes of things that have happened during the day combined with some things from the astral world. These may have some effect on the etheric body, but there is a second kind of experience. This consists of thoughts sent to the sleeper from higher individuals (Steiner sometimes used the theosophical term “masters” to describe them). By spending the daytime pursuing noble thoughts and meditation  a person can become receptive to these messages and thoughts during sleep.





Monday, May 13, 2013

How to fix the Spotify android app white screen problem


Since the last update to the Spotify Android application many users have been reporting a white screen when trying to launch the app. This problem seems to be caused by the app not closing when you return to the home screen. For some reason the app is unable to relaunch using this existing instance and tries to start a new one which leads to the white screen. This has been a long term problem for Spotify and seems to crop up on a new range of handsets with each upgrade to the app. This time it seems to be the HTC Desire HD that is mainly affected. Until Spotify decide to issue an update that corrects this issue here are instructions for fixing it.

If the white screen appears:

  1. Press the home button.
  2. Open your list of apps.
  3. Launch "Task Manager" and give it a few seconds to display all the current processes.
  4. Find the Spotify process and click on the X next to it.
  5. Now start the Spotify app.

In most cases this will fix it. If it does not launch try killing the process again and relaunching the app.

To speed up this process you could add an icon for the Task Manager app next to the spotify icon on your home screen.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What is Anthroposophy?


This article has been written to provide basic information about the spiritual path known as Anthroposophy, which was first formulated by Rudolf Steiner. Anthroposophy means literally “knowledge of the nature of man” and is sometimes called “spiritual science”.

The principal idea of Anthroposophy is that it is possible to use scientific methods to undertake spiritual investigations. Steiner came to this idea logically after deciding that the categorisation of things as either physical or spiritual was artificial and arbitrary.

There is no division between the physical and spiritual world

Today’s world is dominated by two views. Firstly, Materialistic nomism,  typified by pure science and the new atheist movement, says there is only one world. This is the physical world that we can see and that we can investigate with science. Secondly, the dualism of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), which says that there are two worlds: the physical world that we can see and investigate and a spiritual world which we can not.

Steiner said  that this division is artificial and caused by people choosing to categorise things as either spiritual or physical for arbitrary reasons. Steiner believed that the physical (visible) world and the spiritual (invisible) world are inextricably linked and suggested a nomism in which physical and spiritual forces are both manifestations of the same reality. For example, if a man raises his right hand we could understand this by talking about his brain, skeleton and muscles. We might also understand this as an act of his will, and understand why he was raising his hand. Every physical action has a spiritual cause or connection to this invisible or “supersensible” world.

Steiner believed that it was possible to perceive and investigate this invisible world by a process of free thought that he called “intuitive thinking”. Steiner postulated in his book “The Philosophy of Freedom”  that the only really free activity we undertake is the thinking we do inside our own heads. Even then, some of our thoughts are constrained by social norms, external moral or religious rules or learned behaviours. Steiner suggested a number of exercises which could be used to develop our ability to think freely, leading to an ultimate state which he calls the “ethical individualist”.

The Ethical Individualist

The ethical individualist is someone who knows how to think scientifically and use observational analysis to examine his own thoughts and the situations he finds himself in. This means that knowledge of his thoughts and decisions about how he may act in any situation are obtained by pure reason alone. Steiner called this process “intuitive thinking”.

To prevent outside influence on his decision making the ethical individualist uses conceptual analysis to examines each situation in light of the general principles of ethics rather than specific moral laws. This means that any resulting deed originates within himself and is truly free.

The ethical individualist still studies and tries to live according to the generally agreed ethical principles and laws of society (such as science, sociology or ecology) but he also uses his imagination to create ideals of action from these principles. This moral intuition creates a plan of action, or a goal. Without such idealistic plans moral laws and ethical codes codes are unproductive.

The ethical individualist is self empowered because these goals become the content of his own being. They are pursued not as a matter of duty, but out of love for the deed itself. His goals  empower his will against all obstacles and motivate him to acquire the necessary technical knowledge to accomplish them.

In short , the three essential capabilities for the ethical individualist are:

  1. Ethical Intuition. The ability to intuitively select an ethical principle that applies in a particular situation.
  2. Ethical Imagination. The ability to imaginatively translate that general ethical principle into a specific ideal of an action that may be carried out in reaction to that situation.
  3. Ethical Technique. The ability to transform the world according to our individual ethical imaginations without violating the natural laws by which things are connected.

Initiation

Rather than a magical state conferred through a ritual, initiation is simply  the point at which someone becomes able to perceive the spiritual world. Steiner believed that initiation was open to all and could be achieved by a programme of self training through meditation and spiritual exercises. There is no need for any priest or ceremonial activity in order for someone to achieve this state. The process for initiation was explained by Steiner in his book “Knowledge of the Higher Worlds And Its Attainment”.

The Scientific Investigative Method

Rudolf Steiner rejected eastern style mystical clairvoyance and replaced it with focused meditation. By meditating on a subject, whether it be a physical object or a spiritual issue, Steiner believed that new intuitions would appear. These intuitions could then be tested by logic, in relation to existing knowledge, or through comparisons with the spiritual investigations of others.

Steiner’s starting point was that the definition of an investigation as “scientific” is decided by the methods used rather than the subject matter. Having concluded that the physical and spiritual worlds were really the same holistic world any part of it could be investigated with the scientific method i.e. systematic observation; measurement and experiment; and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.

To Steiner, natural science (biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics) and spiritual science (his methods for perceiving the spiritual aspects of the world) were part of the same process. He observed the spiritual world through meditation, but subjected these observations to reason to determine if they were valid and truthful. This process of considered reflection is important because the data being observed is coming through the human mind, which is a subjective tool. This is why he emphasised the need to become free in our own thinking - as ethical individualists. Without freeing our thinking the risk of bias, error or deception from spiritual scientific investigation would potentially make these observations worthless.

Steiner’s Spiritual Insights

Rudolf Steiner’s work is underpinned by his philosophical work on freedom, his new method of self initiation and his use of scientific observation to examine the invisible world. He went on to write a number of books and give hundreds of lectures on the spiritual insights he gained from using these methods. These spiritual insights were the result of his own meditative processes, through which, he believed he received information from the supersensible world. However, he was always careful to ask people to test these ideas through their own investigations. Because of this Steiner’s Anthroposophy was a process of discovery rather than a fixed credal faith.

That said, there are a number of important insights given by Steiner which are central to current Anthroposophical thinking. I hope to write further articles on these in the near future.