Punkte is an orchestral composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, given the work number ½ in his catalogue of works. Punkte originated as a punctual orchestral work, begun in September in Hamburg and had reached a first-draft stage by 30 September; the final draft was completed on 24 October 1952. The work did not receive the title by which it is known today until much however. In a letter dated 4 November 1952 to Alfred Schlee, Stockhausen called his new score Zweites Orchesterspiel / Kontrapunkte / für Saiten- und Blasinstrumente, in a letter to his friend Karel Goeyvaerts dated 14 January 1953, he calls the orchestral work Nr. 4 Kontrapunkte, adding, "It will be difficult to perform this work". At this point in time, the chamber composition now known as Kontra-Punkte was instead called Nr 5…, für 10 Instrumente. After a heated discussion in March with Hermann Scherchen, who Stockhausen hoped would conduct the work at a festival in Cologne, he decided to withdraw the score, substituted the chamber work for ten instruments, now redesignated "Nr 1", given the title Kontra-Punkte.
The withdrawn orchestral score, which has never been performed, was renamed Punkte at some unknown point in time. Stockhausen wholly recomposed this score in 1962, at which time it was given the retrospective work number ½. Work was begun during a four-week stay in Finland in the summer, when Stockhausen was lecturing at the Jyväskylä summer university, it was intended for performance in Palermo in the year, but the score was not finished in time and the event was cancelled. Having rescheduled the premiere for Donaueschingen the following year, Stockhausen resumed work in October 1962 while staying at the house of his Darmstadt pupil Jack Brimberg in Locust Valley on Long Island, New York. After some anxious correspondence with Heinrich Strobel, director of the Donaueschingen Festival, the score was completed and dispatched to Strobel on 28 February 1963. In its new form, the "points" of the original version scarcely appear as such. Instead, they have become centres for groups, crowds and vibrating masses, become nuclei of micro-musical organisms.
This "renewed" composition was premiered on 20 October 1963 at the Donaueschingen Music Festival, by the Orchestra of the SWF, conducted by Pierre Boulez, was published by Universal Edition that year in facsimile. Not yet satisfied with the result, Stockhausen made major changes to the new Punkte in 1964, again in 1966; these versions were published, Stockhausen made further revisions in 1969, at which time Universal Edition began work on an engraved edition. Production stopped in 1973 only to restart in 1974 and, after Stockhausen made still more revisions in 1975, work resumed the next year; the engraved score was only finished in 1996. The original version was for a small orchestra of either 27 or 30 players: 1 flute 2 oboes 1 E♭ clarinet 1 B♭ clarinet 1 bass clarinet in B♭ 1 soprano saxophone 1 baritone saxophone 1 bass saxophone or bass sarrusophone 2 bassoons 1 horn in B♭ 1 cornet in B♭ 1 trumpet in C 1 trombone 1 percussionists, playing 12 chromatically tuned bongos 1 piano 1 piano 2 harps 2 violins 2 violas 2 cellos 1 contrabass 3 flutes 3 oboes 3 clarinets 3 bassoons 3 horns in F 3 trumpets in C 1 tenor trombone 1 bass trombone 1 bass tuba 3 percussionists: tubular chimes, keyboard glockenspiel, 2 pedal timpani vibraphone marimbaphone 2 harps 2 pianos 8 first violins 8 second violins 8 violas 6 cellos 4 contrabasses Punkte is divided into 144 overarching sections, characterised by sets of shapes and textures.
Each isolated tone of the 1952 version was used as a "nucleus", these nuclei were composed out into a variety of complex figures. There are six basic triangular shapes, with the nucleus at one apex: The nucleus tone is sustained while other pitches expand above it into a band: The nucleus tone is sustained while other pitches expand below it into a band: A band of sound begins, the upper notes descend until only the nucleus is left at the bottom: A band of sound begins, the lower notes ascend until only the nucleus is left at the top: The first two shapes are combined, so that pitches fan out in both directions to form a band both above and below the nucleus The third and fourth shapes are combined, so that a band of pitches narrows toward the nucleus at the centreThe vertical width of each pitch band is controlled by a serial distribution of chromatic intervals, from a single tone, via the minor second, major second, minor third, so on up to a major seventh; each of these six shapes may be composed in any of six textures: All notes continuous Notes are rhythmicised The sound texture is perforated by rests, sounding like Morse code All notes in the texture make glissandos All notes have tremolos or trills The note attacks are
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was an American composer and leader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from 1923 until his death over a career spanning more than fifty years. Born in Washington, D. C. Ellington was based in New York City from the mid-1920s onward and gained a national profile through his orchestra's appearances at the Cotton Club in Harlem. In the 1930s, his orchestra toured in Europe. Although considered to have been a pivotal figure in the history of jazz, Ellington embraced the phrase "beyond category" as a liberating principle and referred to his music as part of the more general category of American Music rather than to a musical genre such as jazz; some of the jazz musicians who were members of Ellington's orchestra, such as saxophonist Johnny Hodges, are considered to be among the best players in the idiom. Ellington melded them into the best-known orchestral unit in the history of jazz; some members stayed with the orchestra for several decades. A master at writing miniatures for the three-minute 78 rpm recording format, Ellington wrote more than one thousand compositions.
Ellington recorded songs written by his bandsmen, for example Juan Tizol's "Caravan", "Perdido", which brought a Spanish tinge to big band jazz. In the early 1940s, Ellington began a nearly thirty-year collaboration with composer-arranger-pianist Billy Strayhorn, whom he called his writing and arranging companion. With Strayhorn, he composed many extended compositions, or suites, as well as additional short pieces. Following an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival, in July 1956, Ellington and his orchestra enjoyed a major revival and embarked on world tours. Ellington recorded for most American record companies of his era, performed in several films, scored several, composed a handful of stage musicals. Ellington was noted for his inventive use of the orchestra, or big band, for his eloquence and charisma, his reputation continued to rise after he died, he was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize Special Award for music in 1999. Ellington was born on April 29, 1899, to James Edward Ellington and Daisy Ellington in Washington, D.
C. Both his parents were pianists. Daisy played parlor songs and James preferred operatic arias, they lived with his maternal grandparents at 2129 Ida Place, NW, in the West End neighborhood of Washington, D. C. Duke's father was born in Lincolnton, North Carolina, on April 15, 1879, moved to Washington, D. C. in 1886 with his parents. Daisy Kennedy was born in Washington, D. C. on January 4, 1879, the daughter of a former American slave. James Ellington made blueprints for the United States Navy; when Ellington was a child, his family showed racial pride and support in their home, as did many other families. African Americans in D. C. worked to protect their children from the era's Jim Crow laws. At the age of seven, Ellington began taking piano lessons from Marietta Clinkscales. Daisy surrounded her son with dignified women to reinforce his manners and teach him to live elegantly. Ellington's childhood friends noticed that his casual, offhand manner, his easy grace, his dapper dress gave him the bearing of a young nobleman, began calling him "Duke."
Ellington credited his friend Edgar McEntree for the nickname. "I think he felt that in order for me to be eligible for his constant companionship, I should have a title. So he called me Duke."Though Ellington took piano lessons, he was more interested in baseball. "President Roosevelt would come by on his horse sometimes, stop and watch us play", he recalled. Ellington went to Armstrong Technical High School in Washington, D. C, he gained his first job selling peanuts at Washington Senators baseball games. In the summer of 1914, while working as a soda jerk at the Poodle Dog Café, Ellington wrote his first composition, "Soda Fountain Rag", he created the piece by ear, as he had not yet learned to write music. "I would play the'Soda Fountain Rag' as a one-step, two-step, waltz and fox trot", Ellington recalled. "Listeners never knew. I was established as having my own repertoire." In his autobiography, Music is my Mistress, Ellington wrote that he missed more lessons than he attended, feeling at the time that playing the piano was not his talent.
Ellington started sneaking into Frank Holiday's Poolroom at the age of fourteen. Hearing the poolroom pianists play ignited Ellington's love for the instrument, he began to take his piano studies seriously. Among the many piano players he listened to were Doc Perry, Lester Dishman, Louis Brown, Turner Layton, Gertie Wells, Clarence Bowser, Sticky Mack, Blind Johnny, Cliff Jackson, Claude Hopkins, Phil Wurd, Caroline Thornton, Luckey Roberts, Eubie Blake, Joe Rochester, Harvey Brooks. Ellington began listening to, imitating ragtime pianists, not only in Washington, D. C. but in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, where he vacationed with his mother during the summer months. He would sometimes hear strange music played by those who could not afford much sheet music, so for variations, they played the sheets upside down. Henry Lee Grant, a Dunbar High School music teacher, gave him private lessons in harmony. With the additional guidance of Washington pianist and band leader Oliver "Doc" Perry, Ellington learned to read sheet music, project a professional style, improve his technique.
Ellington was inspired by his first encounters with stride pianists James P. Johnson and Luckey Roberts. In New York he took advice from Will Marion Cook, Fats Waller, Sidney Bechet. Ellington started to play gigs in cafés and clubs in and aro
Albany Leon "Barney" Bigard was an American jazz clarinetist known for his 15-year tenure with Duke Ellington. He played tenor saxophone. Bigard was born in New Orleans to a family of Creoles; the son of Alexander and Emanuella Bigard, he had Alexander Jr. and Sidney. His uncle, Emile Bigard, was a jazz violinist, he studied music and clarinet with Lorenzo Tio. In the early 1920s he moved to Chicago, where he worked with others. During this period, much of his recording, including with clarinetist Johnny Dodds, was on tenor saxophone, which he played with great lyricism, as on Oliver's "Someday Sweetheart". In 1927 Bigard joined Duke Ellington's orchestra in New York, where he was part of the Harlem Renaissance, he played with Ellington until 1942. They played at the Cotton Club until 1931 toured nonstop for over a decade. With Ellington, he was the featured clarinet soloist, while doing section work on tenor saxophone. After leaving Ellington's orchestra, Bigard moved to California, he did soundtrack work for Hollywood film studios and had an onscreen featured role with an all-star band led by Louis Armstrong in the film New Orleans.
He began working with trombonist Kid Ory's group during the late 1940s. He worked with Armstrong's touring band, the All Stars, others. Bigard appeared and played in the movie St. Louis Blues, with Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey and Eartha Kitt. Bigard wrote an autobiography entitled With The Duke, he is credited as composer or co-composer on several numbers, notably the Ellington standard "Mood Indigo". The first version of the song "Caravan" was recorded in Hollywood, 18 December 1936, performed as an instrumental by Barney Bigard and His Jazzopators. Two takes were recorded and were issued, although L-0373-2 is by far the more found take; the band members were Cootie Williams, Juan Tizol, Barney Bigard, Harry Carney, Duke Ellington, Billy Taylor, Sonny Greer. All of the players were members of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, drawn upon to record small-group sides. Though Ellington was present at the recording date, the session leader was Bigard. In keeping with Ellington's formation of small groups featuring his primary soloists, Bigard continued to be featured under his own name on Variety and subsequently Vocalion Records and OKeh through 1940.
When Ellington signed with Victor in 1940, Bigard recorded for Bluebird under his own name. He sat in with the Glenn Miller Orchestra for some of their biggest hits, such as "Moonlight Serenade", "Little Brown Jug", "Tuxedo Junction". Bigard was a member of Louis Armstrong's All Stars before and after Edmond Hall joined. Bigard can be seen with the All Stars in the movie The Glenn Miller Story. After World War II, Bigard recorded under his own name for Signature Records, Black & White, Selmer Records, Keynote in 1944–45, he recorded an album for Liberty in 1957 and an album for French Vogue Records as "Barney Bigard-Claude Luter Quintet" in 1966. Bigard died on June 1980, in Culver City, California, he was 74. With Louis and The Duke – Barney Bigard's autobiography Barney Bigard on IMDb Barney Bigard at the Internet Broadway Database
An electric piano is an electric musical instrument which produces sounds when a performer presses the keys of the piano-style musical keyboard. Pressing keys causes mechanical hammers to strike metal strings, metal reeds or wire tines, leading to vibrations which are converted into electrical signals by magnetic pickups, which are connected to an instrument amplifier and loudspeaker to make a sound loud enough for the performer and audience to hear. Unlike a synthesizer, the electric piano is not an electronic instrument. Instead, it is an electro-mechanical instrument; some early electric pianos used lengths of wire to produce the tone, like a traditional piano. Smaller electric pianos used short slivers of steel to produce the tone; the earliest electric pianos were invented in the late 1920s. The earliest stringless model was Lloyd Loar's Vivi-Tone Clavier. A few other noteworthy producers of electric pianos include Baldwin Piano and Organ Company and the Wurlitzer Company. Early electric piano recordings include Duke Ellington's in 1955 and Sun Ra's India as well as other tracks from the 1956 sessions included on his second album Super Sonic Jazz.
The popularity of the electric piano began to grow in the late 1950s after Ray Charles's 1959 hit record "What'd I Say", reaching its height during the 1970s, after which they were progressively displaced by more lightweight electronic pianos capable of piano-like sounds without the disadvantages of electric pianos' heavy weight and moving mechanical parts. Another factor driving their development and acceptance was the progressive electrification of popular music and the need for a portable keyboard instrument capable of high-volume amplification. Musicians adopted a number of types of domestic electric pianos for pop use; this encouraged their manufacturers to modify them for stage use and develop models intended for stage use. Digital pianos that provide an emulated electric piano sound have supplanted the actual electro-mechanical instruments in the 2010s, due to the small size, low weight and versatility of digital instruments, which can produce a huge range of tones besides piano tones.
However, some performers still record with vintage electric pianos. In 2009, Rhodes produced a new line of electro-mechanical pianos, known as the Rhodes Mark 7, followed by an offering from Vintage Vibe; the Neo-Bechstein electric piano was built in 1929. The Vierlang-Forster electric piano was introduced in 1937; the RCA Storytone electric piano was built in 1939 in a joint venture between Story & Clark and RCA. The case was designed by the American industrial designer, it debuted at the 1939 World's Fair. The piano hammer action but no soundboard; the sound is amplified through electromagnetic pickups, circuitry and a speaker system, making it the world's first commercially available electric piano. Many types were designed as a less-expensive alternative to an acoustic piano for home or school use; some electric pianos were designed with multiple keyboards for use in school or college piano labs, so that teachers could instruct a group of students using headphones. "Electric piano" is a heterogeneous category encompassing several different instruments which vary in their sound-producing mechanisms and consequent timbral characters.
Yamaha, Baldwin and Kawai's electric pianos are actual grand or upright pianos with strings and hammers. The Helpinstill models have a traditional soundboard. On Yamaha and Kawai's pianos, the vibration of the strings is converted to an electrical signal by piezoelectric pickups under the bridge. Helpinstill's instruments use a set of electromagnetic pickups attached to the instrument's frame. All these instruments have a tonal character similar to that of an acoustic piano. Wurlitzer electric pianos use; the reeds fit within a comb-like metal plate, the reeds and plate together form an electrostatic or capacitive pickup system, using a DC voltage of 170v. This system produces a distinctive tone – sweet and vibraphone-like when played and developing a hollow resonance as the keys are played harder; the reeds are tuned by removing mass from a lump of solder at the free end of the reed. Replacement reeds are furnished with a slight excess of solder, thus tuned "flat"; the Columbia Elepian, the Brazilian-made Suette, the Hohner Electra-Piano use a reed system similar to the Wurlitzer but with electromagnetic pickups similar to the Rhodes piano.
The tuning fork here refers to the struck element having two vibrating parts – physically it bears little resemblance to a traditional type. In Fender Rhodes instruments, the struck portion of the "fork" is a tine of stiff steel wire; the other part of the fork and adjacent to the tine, is the tonebar, a sturdy steel bar which acts as a resonator and adds sustain to the sound. The tine is fitted with a spring which can be moved along its length to allow the pitch to be varied for fine-tuning; the tine is struck by the small neoprene tip of a hammer activated by a simplified piano action. Each tine has an electromagnetic pickup placed just beyond its tip; the Rhodes piano has a distinctive bell-like tone, fuller than the Wurlitzer
A potentiometer is a three-terminal resistor with a sliding or rotating contact that forms an adjustable voltage divider. If only two terminals are used, one end and the wiper, it acts as rheostat; the measuring instrument called a potentiometer is a voltage divider used for measuring electric potential. Potentiometers are used to control electrical devices such as volume controls on audio equipment. Potentiometers operated by a mechanism can be used as position transducers, for example, in a joystick. Potentiometers are used to directly control significant power, since the power dissipated in the potentiometer would be comparable to the power in the controlled load. There are a number of terms in the electronics industry used to describe certain types of potentiometers: slide pot or slider pot: a potentiometer, adjusted by sliding the wiper left or right with a finger or thumb thumb pot or thumbwheel pot: a small rotating potentiometer meant to be adjusted infrequently by means of a small thumbwheel trimpot or trimmer pot: a trimmer potentiometer meant to be adjusted once or infrequently for "fine-tuning" an electrical signal Potentiometers consist of a resistive element, a sliding contact that moves along the element, making good electrical contact with one part of it, electrical terminals at each end of the element, a mechanism that moves the wiper from one end to the other, a housing containing the element and wiper.
See drawing. Many inexpensive potentiometers are constructed with a resistive element formed into an arc of a circle a little less than a full turn and a wiper sliding on this element when rotated, making electrical contact; the resistive element can be angled. Each end of the resistive element is connected to a terminal on the case; the wiper is connected to a third terminal between the other two. On panel potentiometers, the wiper is the center terminal of three. For single-turn potentiometers, this wiper travels just under one revolution around the contact; the only point of ingress for contamination is the narrow space between the shaft and the housing it rotates in. Another type is the linear slider potentiometer, which has a wiper which slides along a linear element instead of rotating. Contamination can enter anywhere along the slot the slider moves in, making effective sealing more difficult and compromising long-term reliability. An advantage of the slider potentiometer is that the slider position gives a visual indication of its setting.
While the setting of a rotary potentiometer can be seen by the position of a marking on the knob, an array of sliders can give a visual impression of, for example, the effect of a multi-band equalizer. The resistive element of inexpensive potentiometers is made of graphite. Other materials used include resistance wire, carbon particles in plastic, a ceramic/metal mixture called cermet. Conductive track potentiometers use conductive polymer resistor pastes that contain hard-wearing resins and polymers and lubricant, in addition to the carbon that provides the conductive properties. Multiturn potentiometers are operated by rotating a shaft, but by several turns rather than less than a full turn; some multiturn potentiometers have a linear resistive element with a sliding contact moved by a lead screw. Multiturn potentiometers, both user-accessible and preset, allow finer adjustments. A string potentiometer is a multi-turn potentiometer operated by an attached reel of wire turning against a spring, enabling it to convert linear position to a variable resistance.
User-accessible rotary potentiometers can be fitted with a switch which operates at the anti-clockwise extreme of rotation. Before digital electronics became the norm such a component was used to allow radio and television receivers and other equipment to be switched on at minimum volume with an audible click the volume increased, by turning a knob. Multiple resistance elements can be ganged together with their sliding contacts on the same shaft, for example, in stereo audio amplifiers for volume control. In other applications, such as domestic light dimmers, the normal usage pattern is best satisfied if the potentiometer remains set at its current position, so the switch is operated by a push action, alternately on and off, by axial presses of the knob. Others are enclosed within the equipment and are intended to be adjusted to calibrate equipment during manufacture or repair, not otherwise touched, they are physically much smaller than user-accessible potentiometers, may need to be operated by a screwdriver rather than having a knob.
They are called "preset potentiometers" or "trim pots". Some presets are accessible by a small screwdriver poked through a hole in the case to allow servicing without dismantling; the relationship between slider position and resistance, known as the "taper" or "law", is controlled by the manufacturer. In principle any relationship is possible, but for most purposes linear or logarithmic potentiometers are sufficient. A letter code may be used to identify which taper is used, but the letter code definitions are not standardized. Potentiometers made in Asia and the USA are marked with an "A" for logarithmic taper or a "B" for linear taper
A wah-wah pedal is a type of electric guitar effects pedal that alters the tone and frequencies of the guitar signal to create a distinctive sound, mimicking the human voice saying the onomatopoeic name "wah-wah". The pedal sweeps the peak response of a frequency filter up and down in frequency to create the sound, a spectral glide known as "the wah effect"; the wah-wah effect originated in the 1920s, with trumpet or trombone players finding they could produce an expressive crying tone by moving a mute in and out of the instrument's bell. This was simulated with electronic circuitry for the electric guitar when the wah-wah pedal was invented, it is controlled by movement of the player's foot on a rocking pedal connected to a potentiometer. Wah-wah effects are used when a guitarist is soloing, or creating a "wacka-wacka" funk-styled rhythm for rhythm guitar playing. An envelope filter or envelope follower is referred to as an auto-wah; the first wah pedal was created by Bradley J. Plunkett at Warwick Electronics Inc./Thomas Organ Company in November 1966.
This pedal is the original prototype made from a transistorized MRB potentiometer bread-boarded circuit and the housing of a Vox Continental Organ volume pedal. The concept, was not new. Country guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins had used a similar, self-designed device on his late 1950s recordings of "Hot Toddy" and "Slinkey". Jazz guitarist Peter Van Wood had a modified Hammond organ expression pedal. A DeArmond Tone and Volume pedal was used in the early 1960s by Big Jim Sullivan, notably in some Krew Cats instrumental tracks, in Dave Berry's song "The Crying Game"; the creation of the modern wah pedal was an accident which stemmed from the redesign of the Vox Super Beatle guitar amplifier in 1966. Warwick Electronics Inc. owned Thomas Organ Company and had earlier entered into an agreement with Jennings Musical Instruments of England for Thomas to distribute the Vox name and products in the United States. In addition to distributing the British-made Vox amplifiers, the Thomas Organ Company designed and manufactured much of the Vox equipment sold in the US The more regarded British Vox amplifiers were designed by Dick Denney and made by JMI, the parent company of Vox.
Warwick assigned Thomas Organ Company to create a new product line of solid state Vox amplifiers called Vox Amplifonic Orchestra, which included the Super Beatle amplifier, named to capitalize on the Vox brand name's popularity in association with the Beatles, who used the JMI English Vox amplifiers such as the famous Vox AC30. The US-made Vox product line development was headed by bandleader Bill Page. While creating the Vox Amplifonic Orchestra, the Thomas Organ Company decided to create an American-made equivalent of the British Vox amplifier but with transistorized circuits, rather than vacuum tubes, which would be less expensive to manufacture. During the re-design of the USA Vox amplifier, Stan Cuttler, head engineer of Thomas Organ Company, assigned Brad Plunkett, a junior electronics engineer, to replace the expensive Jennings 3-position MRB circuit switch with a transistorized solid state MRB circuit. Plunkett had lifted and bread-boarded a transistorized tone-circuit from the Thomas Organ to duplicate the Jennings 3-position circuit.
After adjusting and testing the amplifier with an electronic oscillator and oscilloscope, Plunkett connected the output to the speaker and tested the circuit audibly. At that point, several engineers and technical consultants, including Bill Page and Del Casher, noticed the sound effect caused by the circuit. Page insisted on testing this bread-boarded circuit while he played his saxophone through an amplifier. John Glennon, an assistant junior electronics engineer with the Thomas Organ Company, was summoned to bring a volume control pedal, used in the Vox Continental Organ so that the transistorized MRB potentiometer bread-boarded circuit could be installed in the pedal's housing. After the installation, Page began playing his saxophone through the pedal and had asked Joe Banaron, CEO of Warwick Electronics Inc./Thomas Organ Company, to listen to the effect. At this point the first electric guitar was plugged into the prototype wah pedal by guitarist Del Casher who suggested to Joe Banaron that this was a guitar effects pedal rather than a wind instrument effects pedal.
Banaron, being a fan of the big band style of music, was interested in marketing the wah pedal for wind instruments as suggested by Page rather than for the electric guitar as suggested by Casher. After a remark by Casher to Banaron regarding the Harmon mute style of trumpet playing in the famous recording of "Sugar Blues" from the 1930s, Banaron decided to market the wah-wah pedal using Clyde McCoy's name for endorsement. After the invention of the wah pedal, the prototype was modified by Casher and Plunkett to better accommodate the harmonic qualities of the electric guitar. However, since Vox had no intention of marketing the wah pedal for electric guitar players, the prototype wah-wah pedal was given to Del Casher for performances at Vox press conferences and film scores for Universal Pictures; the un-modified version of the Vox wah pedal was released to the public in February 1967 with an image of Clyde McCoy on the bottom of the pedal. Warwick Electronics Inc. assigned Lester L. Kushner, an engineer with the Thomas Organ Company, Brad Plunkett to write and submit the documentation for the wah-wah pedal patent.
The patent application was submitted on
Tricky Sam Nanton
Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton was an American trombonist with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Joe Nanton was born in New York City and began playing professionally in Washington, DC, with bands led by Cliff Jackson and banjoist Elmer Snowden. From 1923 to 1924, Nanton worked with Frazier's Harmony Five. A year he performed with Snowden. At the age of 22, Nanton found his niche in Duke Ellington's Orchestra when he reluctantly took the place of his friend Charlie Irvis in 1926, remained with Ellington until his early death in 1946. Nanton, along with Lawrence Brown, anchored the trombone section. Nanton was one of the great pioneers of the plunger mute. In 1921, he heard Johnny Dunn playing the trumpet with a plunger, which Nanton realized could be used to similar effect on the trombone. Together with Ellington's trumpeter Bubber Miley, Nanton is responsible for creating the characteristic Wah-wah, or wa-wa, effect, their expressive growl and plunger sounds were the main ingredient in the band's early "jungle" sound that evolved during the band's late 1920s engagement at Harlem's "Cotton Club".
According to Barney Bigard, Nanton "grabbed his plunger. He could use that thing, too, it talked to you. I was sitting there, looking up at him, every time he'd say'wa-wa,' I was saying'wa-wa' with my mouth, following him all the way through." Sensing Nanton's impressive manual dexterity, the jovial alto saxophonist Otto "Toby" Hardwick inclined to tag friends with fitting nicknames, dubbed Nanton "Tricky Sam": "anything to save himself trouble—he was tricky that way."From his early days with the Ellington band, Tricky Sam was featured regularly. But he and Miley worked well in combination playing in harmony or "playing off each other". Nanton and Miley incorporated plunger skills in their playing to evoke moods, people, or images; the celebrated brass growl effect was vividly described by Duke Ellington's son, Mercer Ellington: There are three basic elements in the growl: the sound of the horn, a guttural gargling in the throat, the actual note, hummed. The mouth has to be shaped to make the different vowel sounds, above the singing from the throat, manipulation of the plunger adds the wa-wa accents that give the horn a language.
I should add that in the Ellington tradition a straight mute is used in the horn besides a plunger outside, this results in more pressure. Some players use only the plunger, the sound is coarser, less piercing, not as well articulated. Nanton and Miley gave the Ellington Orchestra the reputation of being one of the "dirtiest" jazz groups. Many listeners were excited by the earthy sounds of their growls and mutes. Among the best examples of their style are "East St. Louis Toodle-oo", "The Blues I Love to Sing", "Black and Tan Fantasy", "Goin' to Town", "Doin' the Voom-Voom". After Miley's premature departure in 1929, Nanton taught Cootie Williams, Miley's successor, some of the growl and plunger techniques that Miley had used. Williams became a plunger virtuoso in his own right and helped the band retain its distinctive sound; the sounds they created were copied by many brass soloists in the swing era. While other brass players became adept at growl and plunger techniques, Nanton's sound was all his own.
He developed, in addition to other tricks in his bag, an astonishing "ya-ya" effect with a plunger, in combination with a Magosy & Buscher nonpareil trumpet straight mute. Like a chef zealously guarding the recipe of a sensational dish, he kept the details of his technique a secret from his band mates, until his premature death; some ingredients in Nanton's unique "ya-ya" sound, are known: inserting a trumpet straight mute into the bell, using a large plumber's plunger outside the bell, "speaking" into the instrument while playing. This sort of speaking involved changing the cavity of the mouth while silently reproducing different vowel sounds without vibrating the vocal cords. By shaping the soft palate to change from "ee" to "ah", Nanton was able to make his trombone sound like a voice singing "ya", his palette of near-vocal sounds was radical for its time and helped produce the unique voicings in Ellington compositions, such as "The Mooche" "Black and Tan Fantasy", "Mood Indigo". Nanton died from a stroke in San Francisco, California, on July 20, 1946, while on tour with the Ellington Orchestra.
His death was an enormous loss for the Ellington Orchestra. While trombonists, including Tyree Glenn and Quentin Jackson, tried to duplicate Tricky Sam's plunger techniques, no one has been able to replicate his legendary sound. Nanton had a wide variety of expressions, his intricate techniques were not well documented. Vintage Mutes: VintageMutes.com - Virtual museum of historical Wind Mutes