Twenty-two Skeletal Duets for Horns

Medium: Chamber Music

Twenty-two Skeletal Duets for Horns is a set of duets of easy to moderate difficulty specifically designed for teachers to play with their students in private lessons. The first 15 duets are arranged from “Fifteen Safari Duets for Tubas” which was composed in 1989 for playing with my tuba students at Berklee College of Music. They are at different levels of difficulty and in various styles so that we always had duets to play no matter what was the ability of the student. The additional seven duets were added in 2020. The title of each duet is a name for a bone in the human body, hence the name “Skeletal Duets”. There is something in each duet for students to learn: the basics of tone production, rhythms, melodic phrasing, jazz, graphic notation, etc. Most are sight readable and some have been performed in concerts. Nineteen Skeletal Duets for Trombones and Nineteen Skeletal Duets for Euphoniums are the same duets but in bass and treble clef respectively. “Twenty- two Skeletal Duets for Horns” includes the first 19 as in the trombones set with three additional duets added. Some of the trombone and horn duets are in the same key so they can be played together. 1. Cranium This duet presents the cantabile (singing) style as studied for playing the horn. I find that this duet helps the student much like the melodies of Borgodni (Rochet) etudes. 2. Stirrup This duet provides an opportunity to read basic rhythms and articulations. I find that the more advanced students can read in a faster tempo where the less skilled students work best in the slower tempos, a common choice for all of the duets. 3. Humerus This waltz helps the student match phrasing in a cantabile setting. There are a few instances where the teacher (playing the first part) plays a phrase then the student plays a similar phrase. 4. Vertebra This is in a “rock” style with syncopated rhythms with cantabile melodies. Articulations are especially important in this duet. 5. Axis Legato scales and syncopated rhythms are the features of this duet. 6. Tibia This duet alternates in rock style and swing. Articulations and manipulation of “swing” rhythms are important. 7. Clavicle This duet is based on a theme by Beethoven. 8. Fibula This uses the easiest of rhythms and range of the duets, especially for the 2nd (student) part. 9. Scapula This duet is non-metric and uses graphic notation. This was a favorite duet of my students as many had never experienced this notation before. 10. Atlas This is an Invention in the Bach style. 11. Radius This duet is in a “Medium Swing” jazz style. Each part has a chance to play a little bit of a “walking” bass line. Articulations and manipulation of “swing” rhythms are important in this duet. 12. Femur This duet works on double time and half time tempo changes. 13. Patella This is another duet that includes graphic notation. In this duet “Free rapid legato lines” are used. 14. Anvil This gallop displays different types of articulation. 15. Hammer This duet is in the style of a fanfare. 16. Rib This duet is a melody, “Magallon Blues”, that I originally composed when I taught at a summer music camp in Magallon, Spain. In that camp each of the students would practice playing a jazz solo. This duet also has jazz chord changes so you can add piano or guitar. The use of drums is also an added option. 17. Sacrum This duet is a short arrangement of Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusic”. 18. Ulna This duet is a short arrangement of the traditional Irish folk song “Londonderry Air”, more commonly known as “Danny Boy”. 19. Ilium This duet is a short arrangement of the Beethoven’s song “Ode to Joy” which represents the triumph of universal brotherhood against war and desperation. Mandible This duet is a fanfare in the mood of two “Hunting Horns” announcing a foxhunt. 21. Sternum This is an arrangement of “I Cieli Immensi Narrano” by Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739), also known as Psalm 18. It is a standard of the brass ensemble literature. 22. Pelvis This set of duets ends with another fanfare for horns.