Sounding history: a diminution method for modern trombonists
Malamut, Liza Nicole
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Method books have played a core role in mainstream trombone pedagogy since the turn of the eighteenth century. Students develop technical facility and musical style using compilations and transcriptions of targeted material, often from a specific time period, region, or genre. In spite of this tradition, no method books designed to teach music from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries exist. This is especially surprising given that this time period signified a golden age for trombonists. The trombone's chromatic double slide resulted in an adaptable instrument that could conform to every tuning system, placing trombonists among the most essential members of early modern ensembles. The resultant music forms a vast repertory that is surprisingly underexplored by modern players. Over time, this has resulted in a significant gap in the knowledge of trombone teachers and their students. My dissertation uses the method book model to fill this gap. I have compiled and transcribed eighty-eight trombone-idiomatic diminution studies from original sources dating from 1553-1642 to form a targeted, progressive collection of etudes designed to teach historical technique and style. The diminutions constitute a rich repertory of solo works that are as yet unexplored by modern trombonists. Diminutions from improvisation manuals by Giovanni Bassano, Francesco Rognoni Taeggio, Diego Ortiz, and others provide insight into early modern instrumental performance practices that can be used to fill an area of trombone pedagogy that has long been empty. My work acknowledges the challenges inherent in the formation of a historically grounded teaching method for early repertoire, especially the lack of extant sources as a result of oral communication and master-apprentice traditions. However, I have been able to combine information gleaned from surviving trombone-specific sources, as well as literature for diverse instrumental study - sources per ogni sorte di stromenti - to form an accompanying explanation of early modern trombone pedagogy and style for use by teachers and students. I argue that the aesthetics of vocality played a primary role in performances of diminutions by trombonists, and that the techniques required to perform early repertoire stylistically may be easily integrated into mainstream trombone pedagogy.