A Crabby Clarke

A “crab canon” is a piece of music that can read forward and backward–at the same time. It’s called a crab canon, because crabs seem to walk backwards. The musical term for backward is “retrograde,” and, sometimes, if we practice our difficult passages backwards, we get better at them. Retrograde practice.

My friend, Ralph Dudgeon, retired trumpet professor at SUNY Cortland (having served for 27 years there and having established himself as one of our great trumpet researchers), likes to practice in retrograde. When he saw that I had re-imagined the Clarke Second Study in triplets, he wrote an email to me.

I really like the piece you recently did on Clarke #2.  I’m attaching my take on them, playing each of the studies backwards.  In the etude, I play them forward and backwards.  The retrograde resolves to the fourth, so the next one starts forwards a fourth up and they continue that way until all the keys are delt with in the etude.  Feel free to share this with the community.  I’m interested to see if it helps folks.  Playing things in retrograde has always helped me with difficult passages.  I don’t know how widespread this practice is among trumpeters.
Here is what he sent–first, the regular Second Study exercise with this treatment:
Clarke’s Second Study in retrograde by Ralph Dudgeon

And then Etude II this way:

Clarke Etude II in retrograde (key of C) by Ralph Dudgeon

There are many more examples. You can see them all here in this PDF. Clarke Study #2 Dudgeon

Important! Let me know if you like these, so I can pass it on to Ralph!


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