Clark Media Productions

Clark Media Productions is a place for me to share my love of audio production, music, trombone, and music technology. Subscribe to my email list for late breaking blog posts, videos, and educational content!

Filtering by Tag: french horn

Great 3 days of recording with Stiletto Brass

I recently had a chance to record and produce for an outstanding brass quintet, Stiletto Brass. This ensemble has been around for quite a few years, and has been a consistent presence at international brass festivals and workshops. They have a previous album, featuring none other than Doc Severinsen on trumpet, and they contacted me this spring about putting a new album together this summer.

I simply love recording brass quintet. The ability to hear the sonic blend and resonance of a great brass ensemble, hearing the overtones produced when all the voices are in tune and balanced, is truly a special experience in the musical world. Stiletto Brass has the enviable trait of having 5 individuals who each have a stylish musical voice of their own, able to stand out as soloists, yet still come together to produce a beautiful, sonorous, and blended sound quality that fits the various styles they recorded perfectly.

Speaking of style, Stiletto Brass is able to play anything from jazz, to baroque, to modern music composed just for them, in a convincing way. It was a treat to hear a new work commissioned by the ensemble by Drew Bonner, as well as a jazz tune called Boy Meets Horn (nicknamed Girl Meets Horn by both the group and me), a baroque standard by William Boyce, and a piece by Andre Lafosse that I wasn’t familiar with called Suite Impromptu. Lafosse was professor of trombone at the Conservatoire de Paris from 1948 - 1960, and contributed some important works to the trombone, and brass quintet literature. The piece Stiletto found and recorded is an absolute delight.

For the recording, I covered all my bases and used two sets of main mics (omni and cardioid), plus my stereo ribbon mic to gather the sound in the room where we recorded. Flank mics to add width, and spot mics for any minute balance adjustment in post production rounded out the mic-ing plan. The chapel at Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church was a beautiful venue for us to record in for the three day session.

Oh, and did I mention that this ensemble is all WOMEN?!?! I figured you might guess that… ;) I have to say it is wonderful to see these musicians leading the way as brass players in a field that is starting to see greater numbers of women as professionals. I can only imagine the young girls who might be inspired to know that they can play trombone, tuba, horn, or trumpet, and that they have professional role models to hear and emulate. A discussion about the title of “Boy Meets Horn” needing some reworking for this recording just might have taken place… I can’t wait for you to hear it!

Release details will be forthcoming, and I will certainly make an announcement here when the finished recording is ready. I’m excited for you to hear and to get to know Stiletto Brass.

Stiletto Brass is Amy Gilreath and Susan Rider (trumpets), Rachel Hockenberry (horn), Natalie Mannix (trombone), Velvet Brown (tuba)

You may find their website HERE.

Their first album is HERE.

Happy faces when the producer says, “OK, that’s a wrap!!!”

Happy faces when the producer says, “OK, that’s a wrap!!!”

Healthy Habits During Marching Band Season

OK you young trombone jocks, I'm on to you! I know exactly what you do every day beginning in August: standing outside, slide parallel to the deck, running set after set in the hot sun, and playing AS LOUD AS YOU CAN PLAY! Yeah, I know that's what you're up to! How do I know? I know because I like to do that too! Who doesn't love to go out on the football field on a hot August morning or a cool October Friday night and play loud in your pre game warmup, loud in the bleachers, loud at half time, and loud during the 4th quarter? That's all well and good, provided you are playing with a good sound. You are thinking about your tone quality out there, aren't you?!?!

I want to address one way that we, as brass players, stay healthy. Well, what the heck does "staying healthy" mean? Do you ever have those moments where you play really hard and loud at a game or contest, and the next day your face feels like a brick? Maybe it's hard to warm up, your sound is super fuzzy, articulation and starting notes is difficult... sound familiar? That feeling is not healthy and it's a sign that you could be overdoing it! LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, it is trying to tell you something!

Now, I'll be the first to admit that restraint is not a common virtue among trombone players! We tend to have the reputation for getting a little excited at times, maybe overdoing it a bit... So, I want you to think about your practice habits during marching band season! BALANCE is key! If you are outside playing loud during rehearsal or performance, then the vast majority of your practicing should be easy. Work on soft long tones, lip slurs, Rochut etudes 8ba and in tenor clef 8ba. This is also a good time to catch up on listening and studying recordings of new pieces. You might work on music theory or ear training practice. There are many options. When I have had a period with a lot of loud playing, especially if it's outside, I balance that with easy, soft practicing on my own. Try it, I think you will feel, and sound, much better!


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