Baritone switching to Bass for new band?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by B.Portas, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. B.Portas

    B.Portas Member

    Hi there,

    I've been playing baritone (and brass in general) for about a year, and have progressed to roughly grade 3 standard with a non-contesting band, and help from my fiancée. I have my own instrument, but moving to a new area has given me the opportunity to play EEb or BBb bass in a new band, with the instrument supplied.

    Playing tuba really appealed to me, right from the start, and I'm pretty sure I couldn't hack playing euphonium to a high standard, as the euph parts for most marches and contest pieces are ridiculously hard from what I've seen, but I know that it'd be very difficult to transfer instrument in any case. It wouldn't be a case of laziness, to just get away from the harder parts, because I know how difficult some bass parts can be, but I have a lump of scar tissue in my lip, that makes it difficult for me to play baritone in the higher register, and I use a pretty large mouthpiece too. Plus, I love the role of bass in any ensemble, having played bass guitar for a number of years, and would be a familiar sonic territory for me.

    I just wondered how many people have switched from 3 valve baritone to, skipping past euphonium as a middle ground, and jumping straight in on 4 valve EEb or even BBb bass? What tips/hints could you give me, if I decide to go for it?

    Thanks for your time,

  2. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    Baritone is the back door out of a band, you are now opting for the trap door ! my god, you'll be on drums next !

  3. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    Make sure you support the sound in all dynamics. This is most important at the dynamic extremities. The middle dynamics can generally be sustained with the column of air that is producing the note. However this is not advisable, because, if you attempt this at quieter dynamics, it will sound like a case of the DT's, and higher dynamics that note won't sound, or will just crack. So always support every note. You will probably find that your stomach muscles start moaning, but this is a good thing, and will become easier with practice and general playing.

    In all cases take a big lung full of breath, and initially, breathe whenever you have to. Once you get used to the amount of breath that is required for different phrases, you can then start working in tandem with your Bass Brethren to breathe in the right places. Always have a pencil with you, as a lot of bass players are forgetful, so this means that you can mark your part and their's.

    If you have the choice start on the EEb. A lot of EEb players struggle to play a BBb. They are two very different animals. Another consideration is the type of bass that is available to play on. Some of the older BBb's have the mouthpiece set very high, and the player needs to be able to play with the mouthpiece in a position where the face is straight on to the mouthpiece and not looking up, even at the shallowest of angles. For instance, old Sovereigns need a player of above 6' 4" to comfortably play with the BBb on their lap, but most players will rest it on the chair, or on specially made rests that set the bass to the exact height.

    Although you play on a big mouthpiece for a Baritone, even the smallest bass mouthpieces will dwarf this. Whichever instrument you decide on, I would suggest starting on something like a Wick 3 or equivalent, e.g., Bach 24AW, Yamaha 66, Mike Finn 3, or even a Kelly 24AW! These are all in the middle of the Bass Mouthpiece range, and will give you leeway to move up or down, depending on what parts you are playing.

    Good luck with the switch.
  4. bumper-euph

    bumper-euph Member

    I hope you realise that as a Bass player , you will no longer be able to hear when a tree falls in a wood.........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:biggrin:
  5. Matthew

    Matthew Active Member

    Good luck Bryn!

    Yes, you're right, IMO (I'm biased!) some Tuba parts in Championship level test pieces etc can be as difficult (or more so) than the other parts in the band (especially on BBb, which to play well and with a nice tone, is always challenging to many players). :)
  6. B.Portas

    B.Portas Member

    Some great advice here, thank you!
  7. Matthew

    Matthew Active Member

    I'd second that actually - try EEb first. Going straight to BBb will probably put you off forever! ;)
  8. eflatbass

    eflatbass Supporting Member

    EEb bass players will tell you that it's the best instrument in the band. Believe them - it's true! Seriously; if you really do take the instrument to your heart, it will repay you a thousand times over.
  9. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Agreed 100%

    ~ Mr Wilx
  10. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    Dont waste your valuable time practicing Napoli and Zelda. You will never have to do that kinda stuff and if you do have moments like it you can waffle it anyway. nobody can tell in that octave. Just do a load of long notes. The sound you make is all anyone is intersted in.
  11. eflatbass

    eflatbass Supporting Member

    Napoli on EEb is a real blast, but not to be recommended outside the safety of your own home. I think iancwilx will agree.
  12. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    BEST ADVICE EVER for any low brass player - and anyone working in a section! Aweseome stuff, Mr. Beam.

    As a virtuoso 2nd trombone I usually have at least one spare pencil on the stand... ;)
  13. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    I'd echo most of the above. Stick to EEb to begin with - it's far more forgiving than that it's larger cousin. BBb is, in my opinion one of the most challenging seats in the band - very good BBb Bass players are few and far between.

    Sound is everything. Make sure you fill the instrument. I was once advised to blow through the instrument, not into it and I think it's a good a bit of advice as I've ever had.

    Remember bass playing is a team game, perhaps more so than any other section in the band, apart from perhaps percussion.

    Golden Rule - Always blame the Euphs. You're not dragging, they're rushing!
  14. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    I haven't had a go at Napoli, but I have spent hundreds of hours over a lot of years attempting, but never convincingly succeeding in playing stuff like Old Kentucky Home, La Belle Americaine, Facilita (Without the triple tonguing lasting more than about three bars), Cleopatra (Extremely limited success !!), Jenny Jones, Robin Adair, Zelda, Zanette, all the Air Varie excerpts in the back of Wright and Rounds Tutor. I improved my double tongueing by playing the 2nd Varie of Facilita tongued all the way through, and to help with triple tonguing, Cleopatra starting off the triples at dead slow.
    I'm currently making a right mess of Arbans Carnival of Venice which I last failed to master about 50 years ago !
    I've never succeeded in playing any of these correctly, but it does make practicing interesting, and, if addressed seriously, can considerably improve technique, BUT as "EbBass says, there must also be long note practice every day and interval slurring along with chromatic scales both slurred and tongued to improve tongue and finger synchro which is harder on a bass than smaller instruments.
    If you find long notes intolerably crushingly boring, then I recommend playing lots of slow melodies concentrating on breathing, filling the bars and musical phrasing.
    As Roy Roe once told me, the only time there should be silence in a bar is when a rest is written.
    Importantly, a bass section must play as a team. For instance, it is a good idea to have a rule that in a team of two Eb Bass players (and BBbs) one of you will only breath on the bar line, whilst the other guy will never breath on the bar line. This helps in broad sustained passages.

    Just a few thoughts that might be helpful.

    ~ Mr Wilx
  15. Toxophile

    Toxophile Member

    Oddly enough I wrote a blog post about moving to Bass from a higher register instrument. I moved from trumpet to Eb bass and never looked back. Eventually finished up on BB and will agree that the parts for BB can be some of the most challenging in any test piece. Having said that, I love the instrument and will echo everyone elses comments about organising your breathing within the team. Bass playing is certainly the activity in any band that requires a real team effort.
  16. Tam O Shanter

    Tam O Shanter Member

    Which band are you doing that with then?:wink:
  17. hobgoblin

    hobgoblin Member

    What utter bell-waft! I played 2nd Bb Bass at Folkestone in the 2nd section (quite a few years ago now) and my triple tonguing in Tam O'Shanter was singled out for special praise by the Adjudicator. All those hours spent playing 'cornet' solos on the Bb certainly paid off. I've heard many bass players that make a big sound - but so does a hoover, the fact that when I play Bb it sounds like a baritone an octave down seems to give more clarity to technical lines. Mr Hobson can spend all day conforming to the stereotype of boring tuba practise, but you will just be another ordinary player not getting anything except a big fat sound and a load of low notes. I have played every instrument in the band except sop, and I like to think my days on Bb Bass were my finest.
  18. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    Ha Ha Ha...Love it.......

    In that case, I may just follow your advice and dust of my soloists companion and have a blart or two. That'll get my scally neighbours back for letting their flee bitten dog **** on my lawn!!! They wont do that again after they hear my having a crack at Wiederkehr at FFF!!!
  19. Red Elvis

    Red Elvis Active Member

    Preach it Bro. Toxophile !
    I've played euph , 1st bari and trombone and enjoyed them all , but there is something very special about playing EEb bass as part of a team - for whatever reason a bass section seems much "tighter" than any other I've played in and there is a real sense of it being a team effort. One always plays for the band as a whole , but there s a real added sense of playing for the bass team on top of that !! I'd echo what Mr Wilx and LBB say above - work on the breathing and sound quality. Talk to each other and sort out the phrasing / breathing breaks and you'll be there putting that foundation in for the rest of the band.
    Most importantly , the sheer effort of playing / supporting the air through the instrument is a perfect excuse for the fluid intake after each rehearsal / job !! :)
  20. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    there is no real excuse for practising the tuba to be boring, there is a wealth of great music out there for the instruments, one slight problem is that much of it is in bass clef, but if you can get your head round it, its great. look at Oystein Baadsviks website, or google tuba music and you will find it.
    Long tones are boring and actually not that helpful. I heard Roger Webster describe them as preparing for running race by standing still. Baadsvik has asked what happens if instead of playing long tones, you play a tune (he suggested camp town races I think)? your mind and your fingers get involved in the warm up process too. I'll add one further celebrity comment that has helped my playing on the tuba, Patrick Harrild, on a Youtube masterclass, said that "…you have to be big and brave, and blow the thing'.
    Always aim for a beautiful sound, and if you have played 2nd Baritone, the tuba lines will not be that unfamiliar. Good luck