Sonata for Trumpet and Organ - seeking comment

This is a piece written and dedicated to my roommate at the Oberlin Conservatory, Rick Pressley. Rick spent his professional career as the Seattle Symphony's co-principal trumpet. He did perform this piece and did a great job, but the performance was marred by a less than acceptable performance by the organist. For that reason, this computer generated performance is offered. Please listen at:



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  • this is a rather engaging neoclassical piece from your past, as I see it was written over 30 years ago. I particularity enjoyed the rather sad slow movement which makes an effective foil to the high spirits of the outer ones.

    • Hi David -

      Thanks for listening. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

      When I set out to write this, I wanted to write something idiomatic of the trumpet. The second movement is a little out of character, but all the brass family is capable of a singing style, so this aria-like piece resulted. I don't know if you remember Robert Nagel, (a fine trumpeter of the last generation), but he did perform this piece using an arrangement for orchestra I did for him at the time.



  • Hi Ken,

    A great piece; I enjoyed listening again. I still advocate that you should seek and get a performance recorded if you can. You could keep the organ track as a VST as it is convincing enough, and perhaps hire a trumpet player for a relatively low cost to bring that aspect to life. You can do this for a reasoable price these days as many serious players have the capability to produce a high quality recording from their homes, and there are many online resources for hiring. It would make a world of difference! Of course, it's all about how much you want to put into it. Nonetheless, an enjoyable work. 

    Best regards

    • Hi David -

      It pleases me to hear that you enjoy the Trumpet Sonata!

      Tell you what, as soon as I win the lottery, I intend to hire an orchestra, organist, with trumpets and all, and throw a gala concert to introduce my music to a larger audience. All my musical contemporaries are now either retired or dead, so I've got no one to ask to perform my music, having the slightest interest in it. My retired income does not allow me to hire musicians, so wish me luck in acquiring a winning lottery ticket!



      • Hey Ken,

        As soon as you find that winning lottery ticket, let me know!

        However, all sarcasm aside, your assertion that winning the lottery is necessary to hire a player drives me to wish to prove further that you do not need to win the lottery to hire a player. We live in a world where you do not need to have friends or music contemporaries to solicit low-budget recordings of your work. There is a vast resource of freelance work-for-hire sites where you could send your score to a musician and, depending on the complexity of the work, have a high-quality recording in a couple of hours. For your sonata, if you dug deep enough and found a player who enjoyed the work and had even a small home studio setup, we are talking a couple of hundred dollars. With a well-produced score and, even better, a click track with the organ track provided to them, it would be an easy gig. Home studio setups allow as many takes as they need while not running a clock in a large scale studio, and since they would be recording to the organ track which is as a VST, there is no coordination and rehearsal needed with another human being. This makes life much easier for the musician. Are you going to get Wynton Marsalis recording in Abbey Road? No, of course not. But you'd be surprised at the number of great players out there willing to do great work, even on a budget.

          From there, you could solicit someone to mix the live recording with the organ VST recording. Myself and likely others on here or elsewhere would be willing to do this for you without any catch because not only would it be easy, but because we believe in the music and feel it deserves better treatment. So what I'm getting at is if there is a will, there is a way. I know a couple of hundred dollars is a lot of money, especially if on a fixed income budget that is stretched thin, but what I'm trying to highlight is it could be well more within your reach without having to win the lottery. Heck, if one didn't buy lottery tickets for a couple of months, they might have enough saved to hire a player.

        • Hi David -

          Your response gives me hope.

          I am not aware of the resources you mention. I suppose I could do an internet search and find something, but if you know of well regarded sources, I'd be glad to check them out, rather than "cold calling" and hoping for the best. Likewise, I'd love to hire a brass quintet for my latest thing: "All You Can Play, Brass Buffet". Maybe over a period of time, recording one voice at a time? In my past, I sat in my house with headphones on, microphone into a mixer and played the trombone parts to quintets of mine, where the computer supplied the other four parts. It was great fun. One could record each part separately (using the computer recording, minus each part as needed, for tempos) and then mix together, I suppose. I do not have the equipment or software to do this anymore, but I suppose nowadays this combo is fairly commonplace.

          Any advice on this is welcome!




          • Hi Ken,

            Regarding some sources, I'd recommend a few sites - the three major ones that come to mind are Fiverr, Upwork, and Airgigs. All these sites would allow you to browse and sample musicians, along with reaching out to explain your project if you enjoy their playing.

            Hiring a brass quintet for the other piece you mention would indeed be more of a significant expense. Now, we are dealing with hiring and paying five musicians. However, a more financially viable option could be, as you laid out, having each part recorded remotely by separate players or one player (to a click track to ensure timing and synchronization) and then piecing it together in post. While this is certainly possible, whether by five separate players or one individual playing each instrument, you'll start to lose some of the nuances and natural rubato and phrasing that come to light when you have five players weighing, pulling, and hearing each other in a more traditional approach.  ( Although, as you mentioned, you could record each track separately and have the next player layer their part over that one to combat this.) Another issue with hiring multiple players is each player would not be recording in the same space and the variance of whatever hardware they choose to record with is not really an ideal variable in the mixing and mastering process. It would likely still sound much better than MIDI, however, if the players are decent and the post production is done properly.

            Nowadays this combo is extremely commonplace, yes indeed. 

            • Thanks David! I will check them out.



        • This reply was deleted.
          • That's an interesting stance, Jon. It's one I disagree with, but I suspect your concerns stem from the idea that musicians may not approach a composition with genuine artistic interest if they are being compensated. I'd argue that financial considerations don't necessarily negate the emotional or artistic connection that performers can have with a piece. Many musicians play very passionately, even for music they don't necessarily like. Think of the 60+ musicians in some orchestral performances you may have (paid to have) seen; do you really think every individual there is in love with the work at hand? Very likely not. However, they won't sacrifice professionalism (or expression!) because it's quite literally their job to perform well and accurately. Do you think every session musician hired is passionate about every work they record? Absolutely not, but again, it's their job. I feel your mindset is a bit impractical or challenging to implement in the real-world context of music performance.

            Just like fine musicians, composers spend their lives refining their craft. If you were asked to write music for someone unknown, with no substantial credits to their name, requiring a significant investment of your time and the use of your abilities that you are trying to make a living of, would you expect to be paid, or would you do it for free?

            Just an alternate perspective on my end. 

            • This reply was deleted.
              • The whole question of whether it's worth paying musicians to perform live is not so straightforward and I have some sympathy with Jon's initial view. First my own limited experience -- two of my chamber works were performed last year. A clarinettist was a friend and genuinely liked my piece. The others were (more or less) professional musicians who came via my wife's violin teacher who certainly liked the works enough to be willing to learn and play them but not necessarily much more than that. Comparing the concert to my own mock-ups, I would say one piece was clearly better in the mock-up and other was rather swings and roundabouts.

                A friend who has had quite a few commercial recordings including all his quartets by a leading UK string quartet said they completely failed to understand the tension and feeling of desperation in the music of the most important one which he felt was brought out in his mock-up. I agree -- and his mock-up was not even using one of the top libraries (although certainly better than stock libraries or native NotePerformer). His main point was that to achieve any sort of recognition, you must get live performances of your music, even if they're second rate interpretatively, otherwise you won't be taken seriously.

                Now I would say that for chamber music, a decent, sensitive interpretation -- very far from a given --by professional live musicians will beat one by virtual players. However, once you get to a work for full orchestra, you're only likely to get more musical results with a major professional orchestra (assuming that you're willing to invest in half-decent virtual libraries in the first place which some clearly aren't) and only a tiny handful of composers will see such performances/recordings unless they have at least 25,000 $€ (often much more) burning a hole in their pocket.And even then, the composer is porbably not the conductor and won't have full control over the end result.



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