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Most horn players are familiar with the Fripperies, Quipperies, Tripperies, etc. Spike has made these and other arrangements and compositions available through his publishing company, The Hornists' Nest, and Spike can be found at an exhibit table at most international symposiums and many regional workshops. Spike was born in in Joliet IL. Both his parents were amateur performers who believed in the value of musical training.
His father brought a horn home when Spike was in the sixth grade, a rental from Lyon and Healy in Chicago.
Spike had been studying piano for several years with little enthusiasm. After a few months, his grade school teacher sent him to a trombonist, Jaroslav Cimera, with whom Spike studied until his senior year in high school, when he studied with Max Pottag. That association sparked Spike's interest in making horn his career. Spike earned a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in , continuing his studies with Max Pottag, who stressed musical playing in their large horn ensembles.
A smaller group met on its own. Some arrangements for that group are now in the Hornists' Nest catalog. The members were encouraged to arrange music for the many groups within the organization; "it became a four-year lab course in playing and writing," remembers Spike. Occasionally the dance bands were short a trombone, and Spike filled in, learning how to play the uneven eights that are the basis of the Fripperies.
Spike went back to Northwestern for a master's degree. Philip Farkas was then the horn teacher, and he guided Spike in changing his embouchure. In , Spike started auditioning and won the position of second horn in the Buffalo Philharmonic, where he stayed until Asked about the origins of the Fripperies, Spike explains, "The first Frippery was written as an exercise for my horn students at the University of Buffalo.
For several years I was the band director at UB as well as the horn instructor. There was interest among the band students in forming a dance band, and, as there weren't too many charts available at that time, I began writing arrangements for the group.
As long as I was going to be at the rehearsals anyway, I added a horn part to the standard big band instrumentation so I could play along. The horn students were eager to have the chance to participate, and we were soon using a horn section of four players. Rather than let them embarrass themselves the way I had when I first had the chance to play that style music, it seemed best to give them some small exposure to particularly the eighth-note patterns that are so different from what we had experienced in the Kopprasch books.
My aim was to give them some idea where those pesky final off-the-beat eights fall within the uneven swing notation.
The name "frippery" came about because "I was looking for something to suggest the frivolous, fun, light-hearted nature of the music. The word 'fripperies' came to mind, and it was several years later when I finally looked up the real meaning of the word.
Something about a cheap, showy bauble of little intrinsic worth was the nicest of the definitions. Somehow, it stuck. Spike organized his university students into a horn choir as he was convinced, from his experience with Pottag, that the ensemble was a good teaching tool. Area professionals and high school students joined, forming the Buffalo Horn Club, which played some of the LA Horn Club arrangements as well as original compositions.
A member who was moving away suggested that, instead of copying the arrangements just once for his future use, they start a publishing venture in The business gradually grew from there. Gradually it became clear that it was really a one-man operation and I bought the others out. What started out as a spare time activity now keeps me quite occupied in my retirement. In addition to the Fripperies, the first of which were written in the s and which now number 40, Spike has written 19 Bipperies, 4 Tripperies, 8 Quipperies, and 13 Just Desserts for solo horn with optional string bass parts — and counting.
Spike has arranged many other works for horn choir. There is rarely a dull line in a Bach composition. Each voice is always heading somewhere.
I still enjoy playing in horn ensembles, attending workshops, and keeping in touch with the many friends I have made through music. Spike received the Punto award at the symposium at Eastern Illinois University and was award Honorary Membership at the symposium in Brisbane, Australia.
Shaw, Lowell - Fripperies, Vol. 1, Nos. 1-4
The bracketed numbers tell you the precise instrumentation of the ensemble. The first number stands for Flute , the second for Oboe , the third for Clarinet , the fourth for Bassoon , and the fifth separated from the woodwinds by a dash is for Horn. Sometimes there are instruments in the ensemble other than those shown above. Whenever this occurs, we will separate the first four digits with commas for clarity. Thus a double reed quartet of 2 oboes, english horn and bassoon will look like this:. Titles with no bracketed numbers are assumed to use "Standard Instrumentation. Following many of the titles in our Brass Ensemble catalog, you will see a set of five numbers enclosed in square brackets, as in this example:.
Fripperies : for four horns
Shaw, Lowell Fripperies, v. 7
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