'It's Just Blowing Air into a Tube!': Analyzing Slide Schemata in Arthur Pryor's "Blue Bells of Scotland"

Paul Garza, University of Houston

Trombone virtuoso Arthur Pryor (1869–1942) was soloist with the Sousa band and a prolific composer of trombone music. Pryor's ability was so highly regarded that he has been called the "Paganini of trombone." How is it that, though Pryor was renowned for his virtuosity, the same music is accessible for young trombonists? Building upon investigations of musical gesture by David Lidov, Robert S. Hatten, and Steve Larson and studies of trombone technique by David Vining, this study uses Arthur Pryor's Blue Bells of Scotland as a case study to dissect how Pryor wrote idiomatically for the trombone to make technically challenging passages more accessible. This analysis focuses specifically on three basic slide schemata that Pryor used to balance the roles of the trombonist's slide and embouchure with the larger goal of developing the role that slide technique plays in a theory of musical gesture that incorporates brass instruments.