Believe it or not, you cannot really be playing Sackbut and its related Repertoire until you start thinking like a trombone player from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Can you imagine a trombone player who never heard Mozart’s Tuba Mirum, the Ride of the Valkyries, or the David Concertino? Try to forget for a while the wonderful trombone heritage of the last 200 Years, orchestral excerpts, the marvelous playing of Christian Lindberg and Slokar Trombone Quartet.
The best way you can do this is to rethink your concept of trombone playing: start, for example, by playing Sackbut in A as our ancestors did until the Middle of the 18th century. This is neither absurd nor impossible as it sounds - actually it is easier than learning modern trombone. All you have to do is to learn first the positions of natural tones starting from A or E in first position. Don’t try to think chromatically with seven positions: Sackbut players didn’t do that since there was not yet a "modern" concept of tonality and a "well tempered" tuning system. They used to play mostly natural tones on four main Positions on the slide and "correcting" these positions in order to play a sharp or a flat note.
Most professional and amateur trombone players think that professional Sackbut players play Sackbut in A in order to play with professional ensembles in high pitch (466Hz), which is essentially correct. They think also that since we play today normally in 440 Hz, we are allowed to play the baroque trombone in "B-flat" like every modern trombone player. Try another point of view - since we want to play the sackbut like trombone players 400 Years ago normally did, try thinking of an Sackbut in A (with an A Overtone Series in first position) because of the 16-17th-century normal pitch of about 466 Hz. As we are nowadays "forced" to play the Sackbut repertoire in a pitch which is a half tone lower (440 Hz.), we can try to extend our instrument an half of tone lower in order adapt our A Sackbut to this modern pitch. …. Actually the B-flat Sackbut never existed.
Don’t be scared that a trombone extended about 14 cm with a longer crook does not sound good anymore, or that the overtones pitch and relations are no longer correct… It is a still a quite short extension and the Sackbut will still work properly - It is just a question to becoming comfortable with it.
Here are some preliminary exercises that can help you to make the "right" step into the original way of playing trombone in the wonderful repertoire of 16th and 17th Century ….try them and feel free to contact me for any question via email or live via FaceTime: firstname.lastname@example.org !
First step and warmup for "A" Sackbut - Trombone in La: easy Divisions on long tones.
Play slowly and memorize the new positions - Feel free to change the rhythm of the "divisions".Play sometimes with the mouthpiece in order to get a clear and focussed sound and pitch. Sing the notes "with their name" in your head
→→ Download Note lunghe diminuite
Second Warmup for "A" Sackbut.
Play it slow and "legato", and memorize the new positions.
Switch between Trombone and Mouthpiece playing
Sing the notes in your head and use a Tuner to get confident with the meantone pitch
→→ Download Warmup A
When we practice scales with natural tones in order to learn "A" Sackbut, we also learn about the musical Modes (Modi Gregoriani) which were still used in 17th century.
Play the scales with different Articulations (Dalla Casa/Rognoni).
Start slowly, memorize the new positions and patterns
Sing the notes in your head, and use a Tuner to get confident with the meantone pitch
Play also the Mouthpiece!
→→Download Modal scales
→→Download First modal patterns
Girolamo dalla Casa | IL VERO MODO DI DIMIUIR CON TUTTE LE SORTI DI STROMENTI (Venezia 1584)
Here you have some tablature played with midi "Cembalo" and "Organ" sounds. You can play along with these accompaniments while practicing divisions on these beautiful motet/madrigal/ostinato. The pitch of these soundcloud tracks is 440 Hz. Meantone temperament 1/4 comma (Aaron). The metronome is 46 for „Pulchra es“ and "Io son ferito", 44 for „Anchor" and 50 for the two Passamezzi. Any other pitch or metronome are available at any time on request.
Run it here on these soundcloud tracks, or get a mp3 download of it, playable on any device, paying the few Euros via Paypal (I will send the mp3 via email). Please specify for custom pitch and metronome.
PS: Self-evident, that this accompaniment will never replace the beautiful sound of a real instrument and a competent musician playing a Continuo Instrument (Cembalo, Organ, lute etc.), who will take care a.o. to avoid parallels between the accompaniment and your music line. It is just a machine, which can be used as practice tool in order to get more confident with the piece you are going to perform. Moreover you can practice with a musical, perfect meantone pitched Metronome ;-)