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I was shocked to discover the following quote assessing "Le Maitre," Marcel Mule: "a good player, but not a good teacher - and a bad musician."

Had the source been a Rascher disciple, or a violinist (;)) I perhaps would not have been surprised. But it is attributed to Jean-Marie Londeix on page 30 of Segell's The Devil's Horn. Later, page 252, Segell touches briefly on the schism between the traditionalists Mule and Deffayet on the one hand and the modernist Londeix on the other. Still, I'm not sure how anyone with any credibility can refer to Mule as a terrible musician.

What gives? A quote taken out of context? Hard personal feelings interfering with rational artistic judgement? Or the rest of us are wrong about Mule? Your thoughts please.
 

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Very interesting subject. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say you hit it on the head with what is discussed on 252-3. The "bad musician" label was probably assigned because of Mule's reluctance to play, commission, or acknowledge new literature that was non-traditional. I really enjoy the quote:

"One of the compelling ironies of his (Mule) and Rascher's lives is that, as hard as each worked to advance the classical saxophone, together they presented a formidable obstacle to its finding its natural place in new music."

Thus, perhaps why Londeix feels Mule was a bad musician. One not so open to other viewpoints or new ideas about music.

Teaching was also different in the days of Mule. When Londeix was 15, he probably wasn't calling Mule a bad teacher -- but now that he has done the job for so many years, he is able to look back and see flaws. There was probably a lack of patience, maybe some communication problems. Mule could certainly play, but teaching someone to play is a very different task.

Also, I once saw a video clip of Rascher being interviewed by representatives of a saxophone manufacturer to help boost sales. Rascher was explaining techniques and having a very young Karina Rascher demonstrate. When the subject of articulation came up, one of the reps asked, "And what do you tell a beginning student about articulation?" Rascher's response was a big, German, "Nothing!" Perhaps Mule had some of the same "the student should just figure it out" views.
 

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thejoyofsax said:
...When the subject of articulation came up, one of the reps asked, "And what do you tell a beginning student about articulation?" Rascher's response was a big, German, "Nothing!" Perhaps Mule had some of the same "the student should just figure it out" views.
If I recall the video correctly, I believe what Rascher meant that beginning students shouldn't start notes using the tongue - at least that's the way I interpreted it.
 

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chitownjazz said:
If I recall the video correctly, I believe what Rascher meant that beginning students shouldn't start notes using the tongue - at least that's the way I interpreted it.
My interpretation is that he didn't believe in filling students heads with too much talk of oral mechanics, tongue placement, syllables, etc, preferring the student to simply give it a try and possibly be corrected later if necessary.
 

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I wouldn't take anything in the Segell book too seriously. Forget about bad musicianship - Segell is a case study in bad research! About the Rousseau book on Mule, you could probably find it at a university library. Certainly some interesting information in Rousseau's interviews with Mule as well as the information about music written for Mule and about students at the Paris Conservatory. However, when you read the part about Mule giving the premiere of the Ibert keep in mind that Rascher beat him to it by a few months! ;)
 

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I think DWoz5000 has it in a nutshell. The book is over-sensationalised, poorly researched (lots of material, but not thorough research) and poorly constructed.

There is interesting material, but it is not a book for the serious historian.
 

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I personally enjoyed "The Devil 's Horn." However, that statement has to be taken with a grain of salt. If you take a look at Dr. Umble's biography of Londeix, you get a much more complete view of the relationship between the two. Londeix is a very passionate man. He loves making sweeping statements...In the Londeix biography, you see a very complex, almost father-and-son relationship between the two. There were lots of heated arguments between them, but they were both very proud of each other, and they were very close to the end from what I understand...The relationship between Londeix and Deffayet seems to be another matter entirely...
 

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DWoz5000 said:
I wouldn't take anything in the Segell book too seriously. Forget about bad musicianship - Segell is a case study in bad research! About the Rousseau book on Mule, you could probably find it at a university library. Certainly some interesting information in Rousseau's interviews with Mule as well as the information about music written for Mule and about students at the Paris Conservatory. However, when you read the part about Mule giving the premiere of the Ibert keep in mind that Rascher beat him to it by a few months! ;)
I have a copy of the Rousseau book, and it's basically just Rousseau's interviews with Mule. Mule says a few things that are...dubious...in it, but on the whole, it's very interesting to get his perspective.

As far as the quote from Londeix goes, I would never take anything in The Devil's Horn very seriously. That book has some serious factual errors in it, and Mr. Seagell tends to twist things for his own ends. Londeix and Mule had a very complicated relationship, and combine that with poor scholarship and you get a lot of strange sounding ideas.

Londeix and Deffayet, though, well...let's just say that they didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things.
 

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saxman_aja said:
If you take a look at Dr. Umble's biography of Londeix, you get a much more complete view of the relationship between the two. Londeix is a very passionate man. He loves making sweeping statements...In the Londeix biography, you see a very complex, almost father-and-son relationship between the two. There were lots of heated arguments between them, but they were both very proud of each other, and they were very close to the end from what I understand...
Spot on saxman_aja! Dr Umble's book provides a great insight into their relationship and their differences of opinion. Mule was a role model for Londiex for such a long time, and the latter spent a great deal of his early years trying to emulate his teacher. Once Londiex matured as a musician he came to an artistic standpoint that was vastly different to his teacher. This viewpoint could lead to an out of context quote in regard to Mule. The musical landscape changed dramatically in Mule's time, and Londiex may have been of the opinion that the former was left behind in terms of his use of vibrato and repertoire choices. But as to being a bad musician?
 

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No real interpretation is needed with the Rascher video. He explains right after making the "nothing" statement that when the student wants to learn to play faster, then articulation is discussed. Rascher waits until that point so it is a natural progression of the instrument and not an artificial technique that the student is not yet ready to appreciate.

I also would not give much credit to Segell's book. It is woefully inaccurate in many areas.
 

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I agree that Segell's book, though sensational and entertaining, is not as enlightening as he would proabably have me believe. But he has my money, and is probably now satisfied with the overall results.

Realistically, "Devil's Horn" is beside the point. Segell wrote it to make money off of us, agree or no.

I understand from Dr. Umble's biography of Londeix, as well as messages from Londeix himself and D.Gauthier (Londeix' chief European descendant), that certain works demand certain merit, and we owe it to audiences to be total ninjas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNNwHhqRRUk

Go for it if you dare.

Angel
 

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I've read elsewhere from I believe Eugene Rousseau (not in the book aforementioned) or some other student of Marcel's that he was anything but a poor teacher or a bad musician!
 

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I think it would be very difficult to say that Mule was a bad teacher when you look at the far reaching influence he has had on the classical saxophone. And this influence is almost all from the dissemination of his students, which is on the other side of the spectrum from the influence Rascher has had, mostly through composers who have written for him. Whatever Londiex has said in this regard can probably be chalked up to bitterness for his own personal reasons, which may be valid, but nonetheless doesn't change what Mule had accomplished and why.
 
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