Last night I attended my friend’s recital in Pickman Hall at the Longy School of Music. A few months ago I was fortunate enough to play a show with a fantastic Chinese Guzheng soloist who plays traditional Chinese music as well as contemporary world and American music. The concert contained beautiful melodies and harmonies from the distant lands in the far east as well as a few pieces that resembled harmonies and melodies reminiscent of Appalachia. She adapted traditions from a culture predating the United States of America by thousands of years in a way that fuses the music of Eastern and Western cultures to create something innovative and unique.
Innovation and music are words that consume my thoughts as of late. A few years ago I thought the obvious path for the trombonist was to move into rock music. I played many shows with a few Ska bands as attempted to define my place in the musical community. I often joke about the time my colleague and I played a show at the Palladium because for it was the one and only time the ladies in near the stage were cheering on the trombone players. Unfortunately, I discovered that a widespread interest in Ska music did not exist and the band broke up shortly after our arrival at the Palladium. Clearly Ska isn’t sufficiently innovative to revive interest in the trombone.
An idea came to me over the summer involving extended techniques and electronic effects. I was at my friend Erik’s audition for a local Metal band when the idea occurred to me. Heavy Metal speaks to me so why shouldn’t I be able to play it on my Trombone. I am currently formulating ways to apply heavy metal band timbres using the trombone in conjunction with electronic effects and extended techniques. The challenge I will face with this development is achieving untapped versatility while not diminishing the relevance of the trombone. The project could lead to a whole area of musical possibilities and innovations in performance practice. While it may not make the trombone the next electric guitar, it has potential to breath new life into the curiosity of a younger generation of musicians and listeners.