First Solos for the Horn Player: Andante from Horn Quintet, K. 407, by Mozart

Up next in the First Solos for the Horn Player series is the second movement from Mozart’s Quintet for Horn and Strings, K. 407. It’s a fantastic piece, easily the equal of any of Mozart’s horn concertos . For more information on this work, check out John Ericson’s article at Horn Matters.

The slow movement is the most difficult selection in First Solos for the Horn Player. At first I thought the book was organized chronologically, which would explain the Mozart’s inclusion near the beginning. However, that’s not quite the case, so perhaps it’s included early so that anyone casually thumbing through would see something they recognize in the first few pages.

This one took me a while to work up, and though it’s not perfect by any means, I’m satisfied with this recording with SmartMusic accompaniment. On the technology front, I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be better at this point not to stress over the video/audio syncing issues, and instead to focus on making good recordings and including some public domain images to accompany the audio. The syncing issue was never a problem before I started using a Blue Yeti USB microphone, so I presume it will resolve itself when I go back to using my normal audio interface and XLR microphones. For now, though, my current setup will suffice. For the especially curious, here are the technical fixes I’ve tried (unsuccessfully):

  • Set Logic Pro X sample rate to 48 kHz (default is 44.1), and the Blue Yeti specs list its sample rate at 48 kHz.
  • Set Q2n-4K audio sample rate to 48 kHz

Neither of the above resolved the problem, although I have noticed upon further inspection that the camera records at 25 frames per second, and Final Cut Pro adjusts it to 23.9 fps. This may be the problem, but it will take me some time to work out a solution. If anyone has other possible fixes, I would be grateful!

First Solos for the Horn Player: Song of April, by Georges Bizet

For the fifth selection in this series from First Solos for the Horn Player by Mason Jones, I chose Bizet’s “Song of April.” I wasn’t familiar with the work prior to this project, but it’s a lovely tune that lays well on the horn. Technology update: I’m still working on the sampling rate issues I mentioned in my previous post, but have so far not found a resolution. I have a couple more ideas to try…hopefully I’ll have it fixed for the next video.

In the meantime, I have posted two videos for this selection: an audio-only version with some reverb and equalization added, and a version with video that has not been edited. It’s interesting to compare the two, and in the video I get to support one of my alma maters, the University of Wisconsin. Enjoy!

First Solos for the Horn Player: “No More, I Have Heard Everything,” by W.A. Mozart, arr. Jones

The next video in the First Solos for the Horn Player project is “No More, I Have Heard Everything” (Non Pi├╣, Tutto Ascoltai), by W.A. Mozart. Paraphrasing some of the information provided by SmartMusic, this short work was originally for soprano and tenor with chamber orchestra, and was later included in Act II of the opera seria Idomeneo. It’s a lovely tune, and offers ample opportunities for the horn player to work on expressive playing.

For those who might be interested, here’s the equipment I’m using on this project.

  • Horn: Yamaha 667V
  • Mouthpiece: Houser, San Francisco 14-0-2 with 17.5mm Houser E Rim
  • Camera/Microphones: Zoom Q2n-4K
  • Video Editing: Apple Final Cut Pro

I might add that this was the last video recorded in my teaching studio at the University of Louisiana Monroe. Shortly following this session, we were advised that further precautions were being enacted to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The rest of the videos will be recorded from my home, and I might need to adjust camera placement, microphones, etc. to fit the new space. Stay tuned!

New Video Project: First Solos for the Horn Player, by Mason Jones

Like many colleagues around the world, I am now working exclusively online, and all upcoming performances have been cancelled or postponed until further notice. In lieu of live chamber and solo performances, I thought it would be useful and fun to start another video project, similar to my Kopprasch Project from several years ago.

My repertoire choice this time is a book of horn and piano arrangements by Mason Jones, First Solos for the Horn Player. It’s a great collection, but not nearly as well known as his “yellow book,” Solos for the Horn Player, the contents of which can be found on a really great recording┬á by Gregory Miller. The works in First Solos for the Horn Player are generally shorter and less complex, but are very tuneful and lay quite well on the horn. Any of them would make a fine addition to a recital program in need of lighter, accessible pieces.

I plan to post a few of these each week, recorded with SmartMusic accompaniment. It is my hope that teachers and students find these videos useful during this difficult time. If you like these pieces, be sure to order the book!

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