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PULSE
2011-12 Front Ensemble
Technique Manual

ThankyouforyourinterestinthePulseFrontEnsemble!
Thisisnotmeanttobeadefinitiveguidetomallettechnique,butareferenceforyoutousethroughout
theseason.MuchofthismaterialhasbeencompiledfromvarioussourcesandIdonotclaimittobemyown
butithasallproventoworkverywellformeinthepastsoitwillbeourgotoguidefortechniqueand
approach.Ifthereareanyquestionsaboutthematerialintheguidepleasedonothesitatetosendmeanemail
atgrom@boxsix.com

KEYBOARDS

Posture:Ourfeetwillbeshoulderwidthapartwithourkneesslightlybent,toenableustomovebehindour
instruments.Feetshouldbeslightlyangledoutwardtofacilitateourshiftsaroundtheinstrument.Formost
instances,thetorsoandshoulderswillstayparallelwiththekeyboard.Eachkeyboardshouldbeatan
appropriateplayingheight.Keepyourshoulderssquareandyourheadup.NoSlouching!
Vibraphones:yourrighttoesonlywillbeonthepedal.Thisistoensurethatyourrightfoot/heelwillbe
providingbalanceforyouasyoumovebehindyourkeyboardwithyourleftfoot.
SetPostionMalletheadsarealignedequallyatfullextensionabovethekeyboard,whichisalsothetopofthe
PistonStroke.Thiswillchangedependingondefinedheight.MalletheadsshouldangleinandcreateourA
shapedframethatwewillmaintainaswemovearoundthekeyboard.
PrepThisishowwetapourselvesoff.Onepersonwillgivetwoprepsfortheensemblesentrance.Further
explanationwillbegivenatauditions.

2MalletTechniqueRearFulcrum
Dividethemalletshaftintothirdswithyoureyes.Youwillplacethebottomthirdinthepalmofyour
handgripingthemalletwithyourpinkyandringfingers.Yourindexfingerandthumbshouldlineupdirectly
onthethirddivisionofthemalletleaving2ofthemalletstickingoutofthebackofyourhand.Thethumband
indexfingershouldconnectwiththemalletatyourfirstknuckle.Anaturalspaceshouldoccurbetweenthefirst
andsecondandthethumbandindexfingers.

Attheslowesttempos,thefrontfingershavearelaxedgripwithlittletonopressureappliedtothe
mallet.Astemposincrease,thefrontfulcrumengagesonlyasmuchasisneededtocontrolthemovementof
themallet.Thinkofthefrontfulcrumassteeringthemalletversusgrippingit.
Ninetyfivepercentofthestrokeshouldcomefromthewristsoitisimportantthatthetechniqueinthe
handissolid.Thebackfingersshouldremainclosedintothepalmandtheindexfingercanbeslightlyrelaxed
(butnotpointed).Theotherfivepercentshouldcomefromthearmasanextensionofafullwriststroke.There
willbeexceptionsattimesbutthiswillbethestandard.Amarimbaorvibraphoneplayedwithmalletsdoesnot
havereboundsothisapproachallowsustocreateourownreboundforthePistonStroke.

PistonStrokeAtypeofstrokewherethestartingandstoppingpointarethesame(withtheexceptionof
horizontalmotionacrossthekeyboardcreatingaShift).Nowastedmotioniscreatedbyapistonstroke.Yougo
straightdowntoplayandstraightuptoreturnbacktotheoriginalplayingposition.Thestrokeisrelaxedyet
precise.Atslowertempostherewillbeapauseinbetweenthestrokes,andasthetemposincreasesyouwantto
smoothlyconnectthemotionwhenitbecomescomfortabletodoso.

LegatoStrokeThedownstrokeisthesamespeedasthatofthepistonbuttherecoveryissloweronthe
upstroke,creatingaslowmomovementupwardsfromthenote.Themomventisalwaysleadbythemallet
headandshouldlikeyouareslowlypullingeverybitofsoundpossibleoutofthebar.Thearmisusedattimes
tocreateamorefluidlookandtogeneratemoresoundfromthebarsinlouderpassages.Mostlegatostrokes
willhaveeitheradefinedendingbeatorcontinuethemotionuntilthenextnote.Commonmistakeswiththis
includepushingforwardwiththemallets,usingtoomucharm,andgenerallyoverdoingit.Thistechniquewill
beusedmostoftenintheVibraphones,butwillbeutilizedthroughouttheensemble.

ShiftWhengoingfromonenotetoanotheryouusethereturnstrokeofapistonstoketotraveltoyournext
destination.Wewillrefertoitasacheckmarktypeofmotion.

4MalletTechniqueStevens
Thefollowingprocessisthesameforbothhands.
First,gripamalletwithyourpinkyandringfinger.Thepinkyisouranchorandmustwrapalltheway
aroundthemalletprovidingthefoundationforthegrip.Thereshouldbeminimalexcessmalletprotrudingfrom
thebottomofyourpinky.Theoutermalletshouldgoupata45degreeangleinrelationshiptotheforearm.
Thiswillensurethemalletswillhangevenlywhentheinnermalletisaddedtothegrip.Thereisadelicate
balancebetweengrippingtootightlywiththepinkyandlettingyouroutsidemalletdroopdown.

Second,placetheothermalletinthepalmofyourhandjustunderyourthumbmuscle.Yourmiddle
fingerisholdingthemalletintoyourpalm/thumbmusclewiththefingertip.Yourindexfingeractsasashelf
fortheinsidemalletandthemalletshouldbeabletorestwithoutanypressureinyourhand.Attheintervalofa
fifth,theindexfingerswillbepointingateachother,notcurlingintowardsyou.Stayrelaxedatalltimes.

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Finally,placeyourthumbontheinsidemalletdirectlyoverthefirstknuckleofyourindexfinger.The
thumbrestsontopofthemalletandappliesonlytheminimalamountofpressuretokeepitinplace.Thethumb
contactsthemalletwiththefleshypartofthethumb,notthetipofthethumb(asseenbelow).NOBENT
THUMBS!Thiswillallowyoutofreelychangeintervalsaswellasmaintainarelaxedgrip.

4MalletStrokeTypes
TherearefourstroketypesthatwewillusewiththeStevenstechnique:
1.DoubleVerticalstrokes
2.SingleIndependentstrokes
3.SingleAlternatingstrokes
4.DoubleLateralstrokes
1.DoubleVerticalstrokes:
Thisstrokeshouldbeplayedprimarilywiththewrist.Thethumbswillremainontopofthegripthe
entiretime.Neverturnthehandflatasinour2malletgripregardlessofdifficultintervals(majorseconds,etc).
Bothmalletsmustremainparalleltothekeyboardatalltimestoeliminateflammingofthemallets.Wewill
usethephrasewristhingetorefertotheuniquemusclemovementrequiredtoexecutethisstrokecorrectly.
Thismovementwillcausethewristtolooklikeitmomentarilypopsupwhenthemalletshitthekeys.This
wristpopshouldNOTbeexaggerated;itisanaturalresultofperformingthestrokecorrectlywiththewrist.
Gradually,wewilllearntoincorporatethearmintothestroke.Themalletsshouldtravelstraightupanddown
withoutanysidetosidemotion.Makesuretokeepyourfingersrelaxedandthespeedofthestrokefluidand
consistent.
2.SingleIndependentstrokes:
Wewillprimarilybeusingthisstroketypeformallets2and3(theinsidemallets).Theplayingposition
willbeachievedbyrotatingthe"active"aroundtheunusedmallet(i.e.:mallet3willrotatedaroundmallet4).
Inordertodevelopindependence,inthiscase,withtheinsidemallets,itisimportanttokeeptheoutermallets

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asstillaspossible.Theouterwillbedefinedasbeinghalftheheightoftheplayingposition.Inordertoachieve
thisDON'TUSEANYTENSION!!Relaxedfingersactasshookabsorberstensionwillcausetheoutermallets
totwitchverticallyand/orhorizontally.Makesurethatyoukeepyourindexfingerandthumbfirm,but
relaxed.Thiswillhelptokeepcontroloftheinsidemallets.
3.SingleAlternatingstrokes:
ThisstroketypeiscloselyrelatedwiththeSingleIndependentstroke,butwithoutconcernformotionin
theothermallet.ThesetpositionandplayingpositionarethesameasintheDoubleVerticalstroke.Asone
malletstrikesthebar,theothermalletwillraiseinresponsemuchlikeapendulumtransferringitsmomentum.
Besuretonotsimplyrotatethewrist:instead,thinkofthepivotpointasbouncingfromonemallettothenext.
Thiswillallowustocontrolthearticulation,rhythmanddynamicofeachmallet.Itisimportanttonotethat
TEMPOisamajordeterminingfactorforwhenaSingleAlternatingstrokeTURNSINTOaonehandedroll
motion.Asthetempoincreases,theabilitytocontroleachmalletwilldecrease,untilthemotionissolelya
rotationofthewrist.
4.DoubleLateralstrokes:
DoubleLateralstrokesshouldnotoperateliketheother3stroketypes.Thegoalhereistoproduce
TWOstrokesthroughONEhandmotion.Again,thesetpositionandplayingpositionarethesameasaDouble
Verticalstroke.InthecaseoftheoutsideDoubleLateralstroke,playasifyouweregoingtoperformaSingle
Independentstroke(theoutsidemalletwillstrikethebarfirst)andthenrotatedyourwristcounterclockwiseto
strikethebarwithyourinsidemallet.Themotionofyourwristshouldbesimilartoturningadoorknob.In
ordertoachieveaconsistentsoundfrommallettomallet,youwillneedtousealotof"torque"inyourwrist.
DdImentionstayrelaxed?
Itisimportantthatyouareawareofthetechniquethathasbeendefinedandthatyouarealways
workingtoapplythetechniquetotheauditionmaterial/warmups/show.

RHYTHMSECTION
DrumSet
Beabletodemonstrateawidevarietyofgrooves,withspecialattentionpaidtomoreuniquestyles
(drumnbass,modernhiphop,etc.)Tastygroovesarealwaysmoreimpressivethanbusychopskeepthatin
mind.ENSEMBLEAWARENESSisthemostimportantthingwhenauditioningfordrumsetinthis
ensemble.Youmustbeabletofollowthekeyboards,holdsteadytimeandshowdynamicsensitivity.Be
familiarwithallofthekeyboardexerciseseventhoughtheydonothavedrumsetparts.Youwillbeshowna
specificgrooveontheflyfortheexercises.Thiswillallowustoseeyourabilitytolearnandadaptquickly.
Ashort12minutesolodemonstratingyourskillswouldbehelpfulbutnotrequired.Wearemore
concernedwithyourabilitiesasanensembleplayerthanavirtuosicsoloistHOWEVERifyouhavesome
outstandingskillsyouwouldliketoshare,pleasedoso!

Synthesizers
Apianobackgroundishighlyrecommended.Knowingsomepopandjazztheorywouldbean
advantageforyou.Learningandretainingontheflyisalsoamustforthesepositions.Tempocontroland
timingisEXTREMELYimportant!Pleaseprepareashort12min.etudethatshowcasesyourrangeabilities.
Bepreparedtoplayonasemiweightedsynthesizer,notapiano.
*Guitarandbassisacceptedonayeartoyearbasis.Thoseinterestedshouldcontactmeviaemail

PercussionRack
Ifyouareauditioningforanauxiliarypercussionspot(rackpercussion)itisrequiredthatyouare
comfortablewithallpercussioninstruments.Concertsnare/toms,concertbassdrum,cymbaleffectparts,and
playinginstrumentssuchasxylophone,bells,andchimes.Thedefinedtwomallettechniquewillberequired.
Beabletoreadmusic,demonstratemusicianship,anddemonstratetempocontrol.Thewarmuproutinefor
theseplayerswillsometimesincludeplayingalongwiththekeyboards.Othertimeswillbespentonstick
control,rudimentalandrhythmicpermutationexercises.AnyworldpercussionskillsareaHUGEbonus!

RehearsalSupplies
ThereareafewthingsyouMUSThaveateveryrehearsal.

1) YourmusicThisseemsobviousbutweveallbeenthere.Allofyourmusicneedstobeinclear
plasticsheetprotectorsina3ringbinder,noexceptions.

2) PENCILthemostimportanttoolinanymusiciansarsenal.Wewillconstantlybetweaking,
refining,reworkingtheshow.Itisvitallyimportantthatyoumeticulouslynotatethesechangesin
yourmusic.Apenisnotacceptable.

3) Journalthiscanbeassimpleassomesheetsofpaperinyourbinder,butyouneedtohaveajournal
totakenotesforeveryrehearsal.Ifyouhaveaconsistentissuethatispointedout,oraparticular
passageofmusicorexercisethatneedswork,writeitdownandreviewitregularly.Thisanswers
questionsinsectionalswheneveryoneaskswhatdoIworkon??

4) CommitmenttoExcellenceTheexcellenceyoustriveforinrehearsalwillbetheexcellenceyou
achieveinperformance.

Carefortheequipment
Theinstrumentsaretobetreatedwiththefinestcareatalltimes.NothingisEVERtobeplacedontop
ofthekeyboardsortimpaniforanyreasonshortofmallets,sticks,andofcoursetheinstrumentcovers.
Instrumentsaretobecoveredatalltimeswhentheyarenotbeingplayed.Sticksandmalletsarenevertobe
placedontheground/floor.Nooneoutsideofthepitmembershipistoplayanypitinstrumentatanytime

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withoutpermissionfromaninstructororthepitsectionleader.Everytimeaninstrumentismovedallscrews
andmovingpartsmustbechecked/tightenedbeforeandafteritismoved.

TheTruck
Loadingandunloadingthetruckissomethingthatdevelopsintoaroutineoverthecourseoftheseason.
Dependingonthenumberofveteransinthegroupthismayormaynottakealotoftime.Jobswillbeassigned,
speedandcarewillbeimportant.Instrumentsmustbeloadedontothetruckthoughtfullyandcarefullywith
considerationtotheenduranceofmanyhoursofhighwayspeedsonroughroads.Thetruckmustbeunloaded
withefficiencyandorganization.Allinstrumentsaretobelinedupneatlysuchthatwelookgoodevenwhen
nothinghasbeenputtogetheryet.Thisgoesallthewaydowntofoldinginstrumentcoversandstackingthem
neatly.Moreonthislater

Careforyourhealth
Atnotimeshouldanyoneplaywhilehurtwithoutusknowingaboutit.Ifyoususpectaphysical
problemduetoyourplaying,youMUSTinformusimmediately.Wearenotdoctors,butifsomethingcanbe
doneforyouwewilltakecareofit.Ifnot,pleaseunderstandthatweneedtoavoidcreatinganylastinginjuries
suchastendonitis.Thetechniqueprogramisdesignedtoavoidtheseproblems.Muchofthewaywedesigned
itwasbasedonpersonalexperiencewithtendonitiswhenperformingandadjustingthetechniquesothatone
couldplaywithoutpainorfurtherinjury.Sticktothetechnique,workdiligentlytomakeadjustmentstomatch
thetechniqueandyoushouldnthaveanyproblems.

Careforthegroup
Therearemanypartsofthisactivitythatgowaybeyondplayingandmarching.Farmoreimportantis
howwellyouworkwiththegroup,howwellyouinteractwithothersfromdifferentbackgrounds,different
abilitylevels,differentages,anddifferentexperiencelevels.Weareallinthistogetherandyouhavetotake
careofeachothernomatterwhat.Partofyourauditionwillincludeyourabilitytobecomepartofthegroup
andbringothersintothegroup.Eventhoughyouareincompetitionwitheachotherforspotsinthegroupyou
shouldstillhelpeachotherbecomegreat!Whoknows,thatmightbetheveryactionthatgetsyouaspot.