Bass Section Etiquette

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by JonBond, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. JonBond

    JonBond Member

    I've just recently agreed to move onto BBb Bass for the Guernsey Concert Brass Band and figured that all my life I've been front row cornet (and gap filling) I don't really know what goes on at the back of the band. My experience as MD also means I can easily articulate what I may want from a section.

    However, what are the unwritten rules for the bass section? Obviously the main focus is to work well as a section, but how do you guys organise that? Any thoughts would be great! :)
  2. davethehorny

    davethehorny Member

    The answer is mainly down to teamwork - sharing breathing and above all doing what the MD or Principal player tell you (same as on cornet).

    It is also your responsibility to bring on the young players in the section (assuming that some of them are under 50) - we are lucky in having three bass players under 19.

    Of course I am biased having spent many years telling the rest of the section what to do!
  3. JonBond

    JonBond Member

    Thanks Dave. Fortunately I'm the youngest at 29! How about pedalling - as MD I've rarely had the privilege of two BBb's. I love a good, well placed (and musically appropriate) pedal note from the Monster Bass (old-school!). Double up on pedals or take turns or what?
  4. simonium

    simonium Member

    If it doesn't sound like Derek Jackson or Les Beevers, don't do it!
  5. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    I would say the main pre requisit is all having a chat about DIY, and then taking it in turns to look the conductor in the eye when one of you mess up and say, oh sorry, I thought you said from letter A !

    Then hope its not cocked up next time through

  6. davethehorny

    davethehorny Member

    Pedaling - that sounds too much like exercise.

    As an Eb player that would rather be playing horn (it is lighter) I never play below a bottom G!
  7. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    but you won't get that sort of sound without practice, so have a go, it's fun! :)
  8. mattthebass

    mattthebass Member

    Pedalling definately to be used in the right place, nothing more annoying than sitting next to some plonker who thinks it's fantastic to give it a pedal C at every opportunity! Defo practise pedalling, it not just a case of opening ya mouth more or relaxing the lips!

    Choice of mouthpiece is still important on bass it's not find the biggest bucket you can ;) , but hopefully a better player than me can give you advice!

    You'll definately appreciate the pp's more!

    PS you now have to become the comedy element in the band, forget everything you've learned and when musical terms are thrown at you shrug ya shoulders and say that's what a quavers is!
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2013
  9. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    You must always remember not to fart when its not your turn. :)
  10. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    your biggest mistake there is expecting them to remember anything !
  11. mattthebass

    mattthebass Member

    hey come on! I remembered to turn up for extra rehearsals this week, forgot the bass but that's not the point, I was there!!!! ;)
  12. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    but the rehearsal was tuesday, not wednesday !
  13. Neillyboy

    Neillyboy Member

    I have worked with many bands over the years and the main pointers I can give you are as follows:

    Its not an every man for themselves instrument, basically one breathes on a barline, the other in the middle of a bar. That way you can never be short of breath!!

    In solo passages, always get the second to cover for a breath, it is probably the most important part of the solo line getting that right.

    Kick the nutter who goes bravado with the pedalling. It's ok for some pieces where a long note could do with a wider sound but I have sat beside some plonkers who just let rip in technically demanding passages and instead of enhancing, it's becomes bogged down and really mushy.

    Designate one player out the 4 to be the boss. Then work in 2's and the principal who isn't the boss can chat about stuff with the boss principal and relay it back to the second.

    The 2 Bb players can decide which one is the powerhouse and which one is the back up. This gives more control of sound quality etc.

    and above all, remember to breathe properly. My ff sound lasts a bar at most!!

    And welcome to the holy shrine of brass banding!!
  14. Neillyboy

    Neillyboy Member

    And in regards to mouthpieces, to get some really fat meaty sound, a dw 1xl or equivelant is yer boy every time, for more technically difficult use a dw 1l or equivelant which will make it easier for attacking tricky stuff!
  15. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    What's it etiquette for? Is it etiquette for a show? The football? Is et a season tiquette?
  16. JonBond

    JonBond Member

    Neillyboys - thanks. Very helpful. The rest of you not so!! ;)
  17. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    don't be surprised that as a bandmaster and cornet player tuba playing is a mystery, that is as it should be, we work hard at keeping that way, and all conductors and cornet players should be grateful and just move on.:)

    Seriously, though, tuning is crucial in the bass section, it will affect the whole of there band, as is deciding the length of the notes you play (sometimes in our band there are several version of how long a dotted crotchet should be).
    Mouthpieces, in my opinion, don't matter. Blending in a section goes on within and between the ears of the players, so play with a mouthpiece that is comfortable and works for you.
    be sensitive to passages where you don't need 4 tubas, and don't let your ego get in the way when deciding when to play one on a part.
    I would also say do not play with vibrato - what sound warm and expressive on a cornet will sound out of tune on a tuba (especially the Bb version)
    Do some breathing exercises and shoulder stretches before you play, and if you can, convince them to get you a Yamaha Neo, and remember to have some fun playing the thing.
  18. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    ...And develop a sense of humour and broad shoulders. Get used to being ignored by adjudicators and wear ear plugs/defenders if you are in front of the percussion. If you stick to bass playing for a long time, your hearing will suffer - especially if you are near the suspended cymbals. People I know who play BBb say that Alexander Technique helps with your breath control. Get yourself an Arban and use it to help your technique. It's not just for cornet players!
  19. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

  20. George BB

    George BB Member

    Stick your pedal notes in at rehearsal and see if you get a scowl or a grin from the conductor then mark up in pencil for future occasions.

    Re position, don't push your chair back against the timp. I did once and their piece started with a fff roll. A double B takes some catching.

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