There is a category of etude that I like to practice and assign to my students that I call articulation endurance. These are etudes for which we are single tonguing relatively quickly for an extended period of time. I call them articulation endurance studies because if you are not used to it, these pieces will give you cramps at the back of your tongue.
Trumpet Triumph is a duet version of those etudes for intermediate trumpet players. I wrote this duet to be used in my lessons as an alternative to practicing etudes.
Duets are a wonderful substitute in the lessons for etudes. They can accomplish the same skill building and musicianship maturity that etudes do, but in a more musical context.
Sonic Mischief is a swing duet, in six, that was designed to help students grow their technique on the C sharp whole-tone scale. Every note of the duet is in that one scale.
The C sharp whole-tone scale has the following notes in it:
C#, Eb, F, G, A, B
Whole-tones are symmetric, which means that there is no bottom, or home base note in the scale. All of the notes in the scale can be “tonicised”. In other words, each note in the scale could be the first note of the scale.
The most widely known symmetric scale is the chromatic scale. The chromatic scale can begin on any note and it will still be the chromatic scale.
Street Stroll is an educational trumpet duet I composed to help students learn to play in the 6/8 time signature. This duet can be performed in either two or six. I like to assign it to the students in six first. When they are finished learning it that way, we reassign it but in two the second time. That really helps them to understand how 6/8 works as a compound meter.
Come With Me is an easy duet that I originally composed for my son, Alex, and I to play when he was first starting off learning the trumpet. This one introduces half notes (the first three duets are only whole notes) but the range is still limited to first space F.
Trumpet Dance is a duet I composed in exact canon form, but in 5/8 time. It was inspired by a duet I used to play with Sam Trimble (my trumpet teacher at UTEP) and my friends. If you have the Selected Duets for Cornet or Trumpet, Volume 2, but Voxman, then you probably played that duet before. This Trumpet Dance duet was inspired by the duet on page 32 of that book. It’s titled Allegro (from Canonic Sonata No. 1) by Telemann.
This duet is also one of the Tonalization Duets in the Celebrations book. There are twelve of these diatonic duets in the book. They are 100% diatonic. No accidentals.
The Trumpet Crab Cannon was my first time writing this way. It’s an old composition technique where one trumpet player reads the music forward while the other trumpet player reads the music backward. This kind of music writing poses certain challenges that you don’t see in normal, every day writing.
The Reverent Spider duet is one of the easiest spider duets in the Celebrations trumpet duet book. Spider Duets are based on a harmonic language I invented in the mid 1980’s. There are a number of spider compositions in the Celebrations book.
Ebb and Flow is a diatonic duet, which means that there are no accidentals. The entire duet is in the key of E flat (three flats). I call these Tonalization Duets because I believe that spending time in one key, with no other notes as distractions, helps us learn how to think in that key. All of the Tonalization duets are meant to be used that way, to help the students learn to think in the different keys, as if they were speaking that key as a language.
The idea of writing tonalization duets is a simple one. Write only in the key, no accidentals. That’s the easy part. Making it sound interesting…not as easy. But learning to create within boundaries is how we find our freedom. Boundaries create an environment where creativity is unleashed. Ironic, right? Some of the most interesting trumpet duets in the Celebrations book are the diatonic, Tonalization duets.