JOSH WINIBERG BA (Hons) DipABRSM (piano) is a UK based pianist, composer and producer who specialises in soundtracks.
A relatively late starter on the piano, Josh began teaching himself to play in 2002, aged 14. What he lacked in experience and formal education, he made up for with an insatiable hunger for music. A year later, this drive intensified following the terminal diagnosis of his step father, who gave Josh his keyboard. After chancing upon Ludovico Einaudi on Classic FM, Josh was inspired to compose an album to give to his step-father before he passed away.
Following an intense few months of non-stop work on this project, by 2004 Josh had composed and released his first solo piano album, ‘Sunrise’. Although very rough around the edges, it received positive feedback from Ludovico Einaudi who complimented the playing and described the album as full of character. As a result Josh was invited to perform his work at the prestigious Ravello Festival, Italy, where he debuted his second piano album, ‘Silent Embrace’.
A year later, Josh received his first commission, composing the soundtrack for the cartoon platform game ‘Mr Smoozles Goes Nutso’ (by Steve Ince of ‘Broken Sword’ and ‘Beneath a Steel Sky’ fame). As of 2020, Josh and Steve are once again collaborating on the upcoming point-and-click game, ‘Crow Girl’.
Upon finishing school, Josh began studying a BA in Music Composition at Dartington College of Arts. In 2008, he took part in an ERASMUS exchange program to Berlin, a city he returned to on a long term basis following the completion of his degree. While continuing to compose soundtracks for films, theatre productions and contemporary dance performances, Josh became increasingly inspired by the nightlife in his new home. Within a few months of sampling the Berlin scene, (and true to every cliché about the city), Josh was producing and performing electronic music, blending his classical flair with the hypnotic German flavour of after-hour techno. Since then, Josh’s productions have been supported by some of the world’s top DJs and electronic music magazines including John Digweed, Pig & Dan, Josh Butler, Faze Magazine and DMC Word Magazine.
Returning back to the UK in 2013, Josh was approached by American Film Institute alumnus and long term collaborator Quan Zhou to provide the soundtrack for his next film, Woman in Fragments. This powerful drama went on to be screened at film festivals internationally, including Cannes.
The soundtrack to Woman in Fragments, as well as the narrative themes running throughout the film, formed the basis of a new instrumental album, Change, which was released in 2017. This album was featured by the HDSounDI YouTube channel and has since received over a million streams.
In 2018, Josh turned his attention to the traditional piano repertoire, taking part in classical festivals and competitions, winning the 2018 Southend Music Festival piano section with three gold medal performances of Beethoven, Chopin and Schubert. A year later, he gained the DipABRSM performance diploma in piano.
The last two years have seen Josh return more extensively to soundtrack writing, scoring three short horror films (‘Off the Hook’, ‘The Woods Near Jacob’s Farm’ and ‘See What She Did’), as well as the drama ‘Paradise’.
Other notable credits include a commission for the National Lottery’s 20th Anniversary (2014), and a spot on BBC’s ‘The One Show’ directing the Fishwives Choir (2013) alongside Jon Cohen and Phil da Costa (Military Wives Choir). Music from his 2009 album, ‘Those Nights’, was used in the BBC radio documentary, ‘A Fishwives Tale’. In 2009, hang drum pioneer Manu Delago premiered one of Josh’s compositions for hang and string quartet.
As of 2020, Josh is working on a series of new releases, re-works and remixes, with a busy release scheduled line up for 2021.
1. The trumpet section plays the melody during the introduction. During his solo, the lead plays a soprano trombone. It is smaller and higher sounding than the trombone we looked at, but the slide is a giveaway.
2. The famous piece of music is known as Flight of the Bumblebee. It was a very short section in an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov. It didn’t originally have a name since it was only a short interlude. However, Rachmaninoff’s arrangement for piano established it as crowd pleasing favourite in its own right.
If you look it up you can see people playing it on other instruments as well!
3. The instrument featured in Havana is a trumpet.
4. The piece by Mozart is his Horn Concerto No. 4 It is in a major (happy/bright) key, and is classical music.
In today’s lesson we are going to look at the brass family of instruments, specifically the trumpet, French horn, trombone, and tuba.
The brass family are types of labrophones. The word labrophone comes from the Greek words ‘labro’ (lip) and ‘phone’ (sound). Sound is made by vibrating one’s lips into the mouthpiece. The air passes through the metal tubing to make a note. Different pitches (notes) are produced two ways: by changing the embouchure (shape of the mouth), and by changing the length of the tubing that the air passes through.
Changing the embouchure can make the lips vibrate faster or slower. Faster vibrations produce high pitches, slower vibrations produce low pitches. By controlling the lips, we can produce different notes along the harmonic series. Watch this video for a demonstration.
Just using the harmonic series isn’t enough to produce all the different notes we use in music. By changing the fundamental, we can fill in the gaps. On most brass instruments, we do this by pushing down valves (buttons), which changes the length of the tubing the air travels through.
Here you can see how trumpet valves work, and listen to how the instrument sounds:
The tuba works the same way as a trumpet, except due to its size it sounds much lower. As it works the same way as a trumpet you only need to watch the first 2-3 minutes.
The French horn also uses valves, although changes in pitch can also be produced by inserting the hand into the bell to change the airflow. You need only watch the first 6 minutes or so.
The odd-one-out of the brass family is the trombone. Instead of using valves, trombonists slide the tubing in and out to make it longer or shorter. You can find out about the trombone here. You can get trombones in all sorts of sizes, including very small ones called soprano trombones.
Videos and Exercises
Now you’ve been introduced to the brass family, let’s listen to some music. There are also some questions for you to answer as you go.
1. The first video is a swing band.
Which brass instrument plays the main melody during the introduction?
In jazz and swing there are moments where band members take it in turn to play solos. Which instrument does the lead singer play during his solo (beginning around 3 minutes)?
2. This next video features a very well-known piece of music by Rimsky-Korsakov that virtuosos (masters of their instrument) often use to show off their skill. It’s named after an insect. Can you guess which one?
3. Brass is also used in pop music, especially in Latin influenced pop. Just using your ears, can you tell which brass instrument features in the following song at 2:38?
4. Which instrument features in this next concerto (piece of music for soloist and orchestra) by Mozart?
Is this song in a major key or a minor key? Can you name the genre (style) of music?
The names of the movements in the order you heard them are:
Mars, the Bringer of War (I)
Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age (V)
Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity (IV)
Venus, the Bringer of Peace (II)
Uranus, the Magician (VI)
Mercury, the Winged Messenger (III)
Neptune, the Mystic (VII)
How many did you get right?
Even though Pluto had been discovered by the time Holst wrote the planets, he didn’t include it in the suite – possibly because the idea of a new planet confused astrologists. A few years ago, NASA declared that they no longer consider Pluto a planet, so perhaps Holst was on to something!
However, back when Pluto was considered a planet, some composers and conductors wrote an 8th movement, in honour of Holst (although possibly against his beliefs!).
Here is one, an improvisation by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. An improvisation means the music is not written down or planned before hand – they are making it up on the spot! Because of this, the piece is named Pluto, the Unpredictable! Prepare for some very strange music…
The Planets is a musical suite of seven orchestral pieces written by the British composer Gustav Holst between 1914 and 1916:
1. Mars, the Bringer of War 2. Venus, the Bringer of Peace 3. Mercury, the Winged Messenger 4. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity 5. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age 6. Uranus, the Magician 7. Neptune, the Mystic
The planets themselves are named after ancient Roman and Greek gods. Each of those deities had their own characteristics. However, The Planets isn’t about those ancient gods, nor the planets themselves. In fact, The Planets was originally called Seven Pieces for Large Orchestra, and didn’t feature the planets’ names at all – the pieces were just called Bringer of War, Bringer of Peace, etc. The inspiration behind the pieces is actually about their astrological (not astronomical!) influence. Astrology is the supposed effect that planets and the stars have on people and events on earth – for example, horoscopes – while astronomy is the actual science of stars, planets, blackholes, and all the other weird and wonderful things beyond Earth.
If you completed lessons 1 and 2, you will probably have guessed what your task is for this week: listen to the suite and match each movement to its title. This is the last exercise we will do like this – next week we will continue looking at the different instruments of the orchestra and concerti. For this exercise I would like you to try a different approach. Rather than guessing the names straight away, for each song I would like you to either:
draw a picture based on what you hear, or
write down some words based on how the music makes you feel. This can be a short story or poem, or it can just be a list of expressive words.
You can do both if you like, or writing for some movements and drawing for others. Just remember you will only have a few minutes for each piece. When you have finished writing/drawing for each of the seven movements, use your writing/pictures to help you figure out which song belongs to which title.
Grab yourself some paper and pencils/colours, download the worksheet, and get started! I will be listing some of the movements in a different order here so it won’t be obvious which is which.
1. The first video was “Summer”. The first two movements paints a picture of the suffocating summer heat. You can imagine the sun bearing down on a barren desert during the moments of low energy. The oppressive heat finally gives way to a powerful summer storm in the famous third movement.
2. The second video was “Autumn”. This concerto portrays the autumn harvest festivals, where everybody would be dancing and celebrating. If you listen near the beginning of the first movement you can hear the violinist sounding out of tune like he’s playing drunk! The second movement is very different in feel, slow and woozy as they wake up after a late party, feeling a little worse for wear.
3. The third video was “Winter”. The first movement has a desolate, lifeless feel to it which is interrupted by powerful icy winds, represented by the solo violinist. In the second movement there is an altogether different feel, more intimate as if we are sat inside by the fire. If you look and listen carefully you will see the accompanying violinist playing their instrument pizziacto – plucking the strings. This drip drop sound is supposed to portray rain falling outside.
4. The last video was “Spring”, possibly the most famous of the four concerti. You can hear the birdsong chirping with the violin’s trills (notes fluttering up and down quickly). The violins actually are copying the sounds of many different types of birds here, and the whole of the first movement is bustling with life, gentle breezes and murmuring streams.
How many did you get right? You might want to go back and listen to parts of the concerti again, listening out for the sounds described above. Do you feel the music differently now you know which song is which?
Other instruments in the accompanying orchestra were:
Violin Family: Violins (smallest and highest) Violas (a bit bigger/lower) ‘Cellos (large and lower still, played sitting down) Double Bass (biggest and deepest, played standing up)
Harpsichord: Looks like a piano but sounds more metallic, and the white and black keys are the other way around – this, along with the organ, were keyboard instruments before the piano was invented. They always play at the same volume, no matter how hard you press the keys. The piano was the first keyboard instrument that could be played at different volumes, and the piano’s full name, pianoforte, literally translates to quiet-loud!
Lute: A very old instrument from the same family as the guitar. Here you can see it is extra big with a very long neck and even more strings.
The Four Seasons (Le quattro stagioni) is series of four violin concerti by the Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi.
A concerto is a set of musical compositions written for a solo instrument accompanied by orchestra. In a violin concerto, the violin is the soloist. The word ‘concerto’ comes from the Latin word for ‘competition’ or ‘battle’, so a violin concerto is like a battle between the violin and the orchestra, in which they are both competing for dominance.
The violin is a cordophone (string instrument, which makes its noise by vibrating a string). Along with the viola, ‘cello and double bass, it makes up the violin family of instruments which make up the string section of an orchestra. Because it is the smallest of this family, it makes the highest sound. Its strings can be made from animal intestines (‘catgut’) or plastics, and it is mostly played with a bow made from horsehair. Sometimes you might hear a violin called a fiddle instead. Some violins have electric versions which, like an electric guitar, can be made much louder and or run through special sound effects.
The Four Seasons is a type of program music (music which tells a story or paints a picture with sound). As you can tell from the title, each concerto is based on a different season – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Each of those concerti consists of three movements (three individual pieces, fast-slow-fast), so there are 12 short pieces in total. Each concerto can be found below. Before you watch them, please download the following worksheet and have a look at the questions.
The CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS Le carnaval des animaux
written by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1886
The Carnival of the Animals (Le carnaval des animaux) is a fun musical collection of 14 movements (pieces) by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns.
The fourteen pieces each represent different animals. Sometimes, Saint-Saëns clearly copies the sound of the animal in the song, using instruments to make the sound of a cuckoo or donkeys. Other times it is less clear, and he represents the character of the animal instead, like the slow elephant plodding along, or birds flying through the sky.
Below, you can find the 14 different movements to watch and listen to, as well as a some tasks to complete. Before you begin the videos, open up the worksheet and have a look at the questions. Most importantly of all, enjoy the music!
Thrilled to share my latest filmscore project with you all, ‘Paradise’.
This short film focuses on a Polish immigrant in the UK. She tells the story of her childhood, describing her struggles and losses as well as the friendship that helped her find her voice. I found it very moving to work on.
The soundtrack features some new pieces composed especially for the film alongside tracks from Change.