Vobaron’s 20 Melodic Solo Examples

Occupying pages 33 through 41 are 20 short but sweet “etudes”, which are perfect sight-reading material, gradually working through from Ab Major through E Major.

Markings and Interpretation

Perhaps one of the first things that strikes the reader is the use of either short diminuendos or rather large accents (>). In my edition, I have opted to include these as accents (>). Vobaron appears to describe these on page three:

In the FORTISSIMO [=accent?] one expresses the stroke of the tongue with more force by the syllables ‘Da’ and ‘Ta’. [Da suggested F2 – E3, Ta F3 and above]

In addition, one will notice short wavy lines, denoting what Vobaron terms a Portamento. On pages three and four, Vobaron discusses this technique (rough translation):

A very advantageous means of instruction is to (flow/run) a note by raising it to its third or to its fourth. It is used in singing; but it was an insupportable monotony if it was abused. We will distinguish it by this trait – (portamento marking).

It is remarked that many trombonists have the bad habit of not tonguing enough- it follows that some of the notes of passages are retracted, and leave [something] to be desired. It is therefore essential to attach oneself to the knowledge of the true principles if we wish to obtain a clear and easy execution.

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Vobaron also notes that one should be careful not to slur everything, providing a few “Bad” and “Good” examples (left). One has to remember that Vobaron was about military trombone music, and thus his opinion about phrasing is shaded by this background. He suggests a simple rule as to when to use the ‘slur’:

Use a [slur] when ascending or descending from a third or a fourth.

The slur is probably best interpreted as an uninterrupted breath, while the portamento is probably best interpreted as a slightly more pronounced connection of notes. However, there is no indication that a glissando-type technique was employed according to Vobaron’s instruction. Like much of historically informed brass performance, we are left to figure out what vocal tradition at the time dictates- something I am not experienced with (any thoughts on that are welcome).

Interestingly, phrasing is the very first thing Vobaron discusses, before bothering to even introduce positions 2-7. Poor phrasing must have been a major pet-peeve of his… and yes, he does recommend practicing your long tones, so don’t think you can get out of those just yet!

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One final note- when playing the original notation, one should be careful to not confuse the quarter note/quaver rest from the eighth note/semi-quaver rest. Early notation buffs will probably enjoy the picture to the right.

Content

Most of the Vobaron’s writing is rather classical in nature, featuring a central motif that is explored and eventually recapitulated. For example, we encounter this motif at the start of exercise 1…

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… and this motif in the final quarter of the same exercise.

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These little pieces begin at a good level for intermediate and pre-professional players. Their short nature and wide compass of range means they function nicely as warm-ups and short etudes for minor recitals. Vobaron wasn’t sleeping when he wrote these; there are some enjoyable little bits of temporary tonicization and the theory buff will enjoy a few Neapolitan chords here and there. Personally, these pieces are a bit hit-and-miss for me. Some of them are fun to play, others are more tedious and bland. They definitely aren’t as personally enjoyable as the duets, which I feel are the highlight of the book, but they do stand up on their own.

Suggested Positions

Vobaron put in a lot of suggested positions, one might say an unnecessary amount, even for a relative beginner. These do come in handy when you get into key areas you aren’t very familiar with, but even for an average player, they are almost more of a nuisance than a boon, so I have largely removed them in my edition. There are a few cases where I have put them in as reminders or to show an easy motion. If you like positions written in, you can always take them from the original scan included below with the finished pdf (do note there are a few typos and misprints in Vobaron’s plates which I have not changed or addressed).

Download Links

For Trombone:

PDF
MUSX (Finale)
Original PDF (79 MB)

For Bb Trumpet (includes optional transpositions for ex. 17-20 for easier reading)

PDF
MUSX (Finale)

My edition is currently in Version 1c, as of February 27th, 2017. If you downloaded the retypeset PDF or MUSX version before this date or have an earlier version, it is recommended you delete that version and download again.

– Fixed two mis-transcriptions in 14 and 15.

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