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Author Topic: The Black Birch Baton.  (Read 5222 times)
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Petros Greenvale
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« on: 24 July 2007, 06:41:47 »

Overview

The Black Birch Baton (Or more commonly referred to by younger bards, as the “Swarthystaff“) is a beautiful single reed, woodwind instrument widely used in orchestras, ensembles ,duets-trios e.t.c and most commonly as just a solo instrument. Its popularity is as a result of its distinct timbre, which in turn originates from the shape of its cylindrical bore and its flared bell.

 The Black Birch Baton has a very large compass of tones. Its lower register is mellow and refined where as its upper register is brilliant and shrill. The origins of this instrument have long since been forgotten, and as about a dozen tribes claim to be its creator it is difficult to research in depth. Although physical evidence suggests that the “Swarthystaff” was developed as a joint effort between the Humans and the Thergerim. Archives state that they  developed a lesser Black Birch Baton long before the modern instrument was even thought about, although not as advanced as its younger sibling, this Human/Thergerim instrument clearly lead to the development that we see today.


Description

The Black Birch Baton is a long,elegant, Jet black wind instrument. The average Ah Black Birch Baton is 7 handspans long, but its relative instruments can range from 1 handspan to 1.3 peds. It has a thick cylindrical bore which is approximately 4 nailbreadths in diameter ( in the Ah variety) and a flared bell, it is these two features which help to produce its lucious sounds. The average Black Birch Baton has 8 fingerholes (6 front, 2 back) but instruments built for beginners usually only have 1 fingerhole in the back face, reducing the complexity of the fingering, although this "easy way out" elementary instruments have a much smaller pitch range than there more confusing counterparts.

The Black Birch Baton also boasts a complicated network of metal keys, which allow it to play a large variety of notes and registers. This maze of keys results in its fingering being complex and very difficult to learn, so the notes that a student Black Birch Batonist produces are usually accompanied by the occasional squeak or stutter.

The best Black Birch Batons are made of a single piece carefully hollowed out black birch. But they are more commonly found in 5 detachable pieces, these cheap and portable instruments are often used by students and travelling musicians but the sound and tonal quality is never up to the standards of their single piece cousins.

 There is not only a single type of  “Swarthystaff” however for it belongs to a family of around 12 other sizes, each with a unique pitch range, key and authenic (the note it plays without holding down any keys)  ranging from the Soprantulisa (Modernly nicknamed the Trilobee) playing in Que to the Octacontrabassi Playing in Ey. The majority of this large family are rarely used and the Most common is the one described above, The Ah Black Birch Baton ("originally" named, for the Ey a Black Birch Batonist would play would be the equivelent to an Ah on a resonance organ).


The pitch range of a black birch baton depends on the type and length of instrument being played. For instance a Soprantulisa Black Birch Baton has a smaller but higher pitch range than its Ah sibling.

Here is a table of all the Orchestrally used members of the black birch baton family, their size and pitch range. (note that the majority of these instruments are rarely used and the range can often differ from crafter to crafter.)
 

Instrument
Soprantulisa
Soprinos
Descantus
Alto-Descantus
Altano-Symphonious
Bassiter
Length
1.5 Handspans
2 Handspans
3.2 Handspans
5 Handspans
7 Handspans
1 Ped
Bore Diameter
12 Grains
21 Grains
30 Grains
2 Nailbreadths
4 Nailbreadths
6 Nailbreadths
Pitch Range
Mid Goh/True Fo
Mid Os/High Que
Mid Re/High Eh
Low Je/High Eh
Deep Eh/High Eh
Deep Ba/Low Que
Key
Que
Ur
Eh
Os
Ah
Neh



The Black Birch Baton has a wide dynamical compass to compliment that of its variety of tones. Although the Black Birch Baton is generally classified as a loud instrument because quite alot of physical effort is needed to get a sound out of its reed, as a result of its amplitude  it is often played outdoors at dances e.t.c and there is usually only two per orchestra.

Production

These beautiful wind instruments are usually constructed by human tribes, such as the Centoraurians. But some of the most masterfully crafted instruments have been made by the hands of a Thergerim or Elf. There is no particular region where black birch batons are constructed but the densest concentration of workshops is in Central Sarvonia.

Black Birch Batons (as the name normally suggests!) are hand crafted from exquisite but sturdy black birch. However some woodworkers have tried to construct them with different types of wood, but the tonal quality was never the same. The best Black Birch Batons are traditionally made from a single piece of wood which is hollowed out using a complicated method, but for the sake of speed, money and portability, cheaper instruments are made in five detachachable pieces, The mouthpiece, barrel, top joint, lower joint and bell.

 The keys are added onto the instrument by a specially trained professional due to its high complexity and the fact that that if the keys are a just 0.5 grains off the whole sound is ruined. On the best (single piece) instruments the keys are usually made of specially selected aurium, but on their "more affordable" siblings they are usually steel or bronze. And this is all topped off with a reed made from carefully cut Boombox Palm, the thickness depends on the players ability, strength 0 is for absolute beginners, 1 or 2 for students, and so on until 7 which is for the master players allowing them to access the full potential of their instrument. A fully finished “Swarthystaff” is a beautiful sight indeed, with its shining keys and luscious black bore, so after the strenuous building process the majority of players agree that it was worth it!



Playing

 The sound of this instrument is created when air is pushed past the sharp edge of the Boombox Palm single reed causing it to vibrate, thus creating the sound. Changes of pitch are acquired by covering up the fingerholes, or by pressing one of the complicated networks of keys. These keys operate by lowering a circular piece of metal with a pad on the bottom, so that it is covering a hole in the bore. They are usually pressed by tilting the hand slightly so that the side of a finger comes into contact with it, or by simply being pressed by the left hand pinky.

 There are 8 finger holes in total, 6 on the front which are operated by the fingers and two on the back which are operated by the thumbs. The thumbs are free to move at will because unlike other wind instruments the whole instrument is supported by the left hand pinky, which is neatly tucked under a small hook. Pantheon changes are obtained by removing the thumbs from their finger holes, in a certain combination.

In order to extract the most refined sounds from a Black Birch Baton you will first have to master its peculiar embouchure. The bottom lip is brought up so that it covers the bottom teeth and the reed and mouthpiece rest on top of the lip, the player will then bite down on top of the mouthpiece and make sure everything is sealed by lowering the top lift to cover it. It sounds complicated when written, but it is a fairly simple technique when taught by a tutor.


Usage

The Compendium writer apologises, for he states in advance that this section is not going to be anything but long, for all that basically needs to said is that the Black Birch Baton can be used in basically any musical situation, and in many musicians opinion it is probably the most versatile of all instruments (apart from the resonance organ of course!). Although it isn't the most "folky" of instruments. It can be found in orchestras, ensembles, the occasional  folk group ,duets trios etc, accompaniment and solo, so im not surprised if you are sick of the sight of it! Probably the most famous use for the “Swarthystaff” was as the solo part for the *Avas dream* suite for Black Birch Baton and resonance organ by Allegro Aninus. This is probably one of the most emotionally vivid pieces ever embedded on manuscript, for the Beautiful tones of the Black Birch Baton mesh splendidly with the lovely drones of the resonance organ, they compliment each other quite nicely!

 Despite there being only two per orchestra (because sadly composers don't usually take advantage of the beautiful sounds of this instrument.)  that is all that's needed, for its graceful notes can often be heard sailing above the heavy slurring of the bowed strings. In the Orchestra there will be a first Swarthystaff who will play the melody and a second who will be the harmonious accompaniment, usually these parts will be altered so that the glorious first part is shared equally but if there is one player who has a much greater experience than the other it will often be the latter who will solely play the second part.

 Although the black birch baton is a more human orientated instrument many other races are giving in to its luscious sounds, particularly the Thergerim ( some of the best sounding Swarthystaff choirs are practice deep within the heart of a volcano!!) the elves however do not usually take this as their instrument of choice, and so they stick to their delicate flutes.

(the compendium writer apologises for his digression)


Origin and History

The Origins of this instrument are fairly murky, but it has been accepted that its creation was thanks to a Human/Thergerim partenership some Centuries ago. The first primitive Black Birch Baton was crafted in around 956 a.s by two musical crafters Aeheldred the Thergerim metalworker and Bellatrix the Centoraurian musician and woodworker. These two craftsmen both had the same dream, to create a wind instrument free from the shackles of single pantheons, and so they put their differences aside and gave their own area of expertise into this project. Bellatrix was famous for her amazing woodwork and theoretical knowledge, and she gave the black birch baton a wonderful bore and flared bell allowing it to have a wider compass of tones and its rich Timbre. And Aeheldred was a talented Theregrim metal worker and he gifted the black brich baton with beautiful and complex keys, allowing it to change freely from pantheon to pantheon. Their finished creation was a fair sight indeed.  The First ever Black birch Baton was created in a small workshop just outside Bardavos.

Word soon spread around all Santharia about this wondeful new wind instrument. By 1050 The black birch baton was one of the most popular instruments among all races and classes, There were already 15 different types of Black Birch Baton that had sprung into the world. (3 of these have been lost from all record) and you could never go to far without hearing the luscious tones of a Black Birch Baton. Over the years it has been improved and more keys and finger holes have been added allowing the modern player to access more potential from this instrument. Infact a new version of the Black Birch Baton is in the works, deep inside the school of tunes in Bardavos, whenever this new and exciting model will be revealed is a mystery, but keep your ears open! Although still a very popular instrument, its usage has sadly greatly decreased over the years and less people are deciding to take advantage of this beautiful wind instrument (and all wind instruments for that matter! strings are becoming too popular these days!)



« Last Edit: 22 September 2007, 17:52:48 by Artimidor Federkiel » Logged

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Petros Greenvale
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« Reply #1 on: 24 July 2007, 11:33:37 »

you cant say i didnt ask... ;)
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Petros Greenvale
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« Reply #2 on: 24 July 2007, 17:49:28 »

You should add some more details about this instrument. It would be nice for people reading about its sound to know where they could go to hear it. A history section would be nice too it doesn't have to be real lengthy but you could at least tell us where it was first played. Are their any musicians that have achieved any degree of fame at least among big fans of this instrument?
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« Reply #3 on: 24 July 2007, 20:43:47 »

Very fun!  Based on an oboe?

  I developed / am developing alternative classes for musical instruments within Santharia; we don't have 'percussion/woodwind/strings' per se - but I can't remember just what I was proposing to do with that.  I'll have to go back and look - gimme some time, ok?

The alternate name should be simpler and more euphonious - sounds a bit too contrived and 'arithmeticky' atm.

How about:

Beatroiz

Beethrice

Birchone (which somehow SOUNDS like the name of a musical instrument)

Blaebirton (a deliberate compression of the full name, pronounced 'BLAY-beer-tun')
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Petros Greenvale
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« Reply #4 on: 24 July 2007, 21:20:55 »

An oboe is a double reed instrument, so...its probably more Clarinetty. ;)

lovin the ideas...hope you dont mind if i pinch one of them!! :P heart

i was also thinking the: Trinibee
                                Trilobee?

thanks for your comment bard!! hug
                               
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« Reply #5 on: 24 July 2007, 22:03:04 »

I was always partial to Oboemaphone grin
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« Reply #6 on: 25 July 2007, 21:57:39 »

Youve inspired me, i think ill do an entry on a double reed, suspended bore instrument. :)

but ill wait until this and the Aellenrhim harp have been commented on and approved! *hint,hint!! ;)*
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« Reply #7 on: 06 August 2007, 11:42:21 »

Achhh its soo frustrating!!!! angry

Please can anyone tell me if there is anyway i could get my wee table to fit into the board? ive been trying for literally 2 hours but it wont fit in!!! cry

Guess its just bad luck!! :) heart
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« Reply #8 on: 06 August 2007, 14:16:32 »

I had the same problem with my schedule for the festival...Khel formatted it for me, but even then, it did not look right to me until I made the screen wider by clicking the claws at the top, on either side of your name.  This will hide the indexes on either side of the page.  Might help you.
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Petros Greenvale
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« Reply #9 on: 07 August 2007, 09:06:35 »

FINITO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hooray!! grin cool
ive altered my entry to fit into Geans awesome new template and ive added quite a wee bit too!

Thanks so much Altario, i took your advice and now i have a pretty wee table! :)

By the way any feedback would be soooo grand cause id love to get this approved sometime in the near future!! heart
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« Reply #10 on: 07 August 2007, 09:20:49 »

hmm...I can't get the table to look right...and I get a lot of [/td][/tr][/table]'s in my page.... undecided
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« Reply #11 on: 07 August 2007, 09:25:13 »

achhh i spoke to soon!!! angry cry grin
is this any better?...
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« Reply #12 on: 07 August 2007, 09:30:11 »

Coming along..still a little crooked though...Khel is on in the RP side, maybe give her a ring...she did mine for the festival, have you looked at it?
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« Reply #13 on: 07 August 2007, 09:36:07 »

i think i might just do that !! :)
oh wow your table is like soooo neat!
puts mine to shame. :P
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« Reply #14 on: 07 August 2007, 11:01:42 »

HOORAY!!! grin  my wee table is FINALLY complete!!!
ooooh look at all the pretty colours!

Thanks so much to Khel the table master and Altario the very helpfulcool guy!!! heart hug
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