This sequence comes from the 2nd movement of Leos Janacek‘s Sinfonietta. I chose this sequence to close out my Birthday Month because the Sinfonietta is the first piece I ever played in an orchestra. That experience inspired me to pick up a bass trombone, and my life has been forever changed because of it.
Janacek was commissioned to write this piece for the Sokol Gymnastic Festival. He dedicated the work to the Czechoslovakian Army and said it was intended to express “contemporary free man, his spiritual beauty and joy, his strength, courage and determination to fight for victory.”
One way Janacek made this piece special was the instrumentation. He drew inspiration from Brass Bands by scoring for 4 Horns, 12 Trumpets, 2 Bass Trumpets, 4 Trombones, 2 Euphoniums (Tenor Tubas), and 1 Tuba. This fanfare brass section is capable of remarkably powerful and colorful sound. The first movement, scored for brass and percussion, sets the table sonically as well as thematically. Each of the 5 movements are based on the theme presented in the first seven bars.
Check out the glorious sounds of the piece demonstrated by the London Philharmonic lead by Sir Simon Rattle.
Adaptation – ELP
I was surprised to find out that the progressive rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer used Janacek’s Sinfonietta as inspiration for their song Knife’s Edge. Please excuse me while I go listen to all of their music. You can hear Janacek immediately in the bass line, and really get into it with the instrumentals around 1:45. VIDEO LINK
This theme soars out of a dark moment in the second movement like the sun bursting through the clouds on an overcast day. Strive for your richest, warmest sound as you sing through the phrases. Start the first note of each slur group with a ping, then sustain your resonance through to the end of the phrase.
This sequence will help you improve your sound, lyrical playing, and intonation.
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