Bb Bass Solo recommendations (no cheese please)

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by winterman, May 17, 2011.

  1. winterman

    winterman Member


    So I am on the move again! This stop, Bb Bass (boy I'm going to regret this at March Contests and Durham! :$).

    So, I am on the look out for decent Bb Bass solos, preferably without the usual cheese that seems to be the norm for Bass players.

    Thankfully the Baadsvick version of Gabriels Oboe (which I've only just bought) also comes with a Solo Euphonium version so I am thinking of simply switching from the Eb to Bb copy (okay it will be an octave down on the Eb Bass version) but should still sound good.

    Any thoughts?

  2. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    it is interesting to note that the guards bands have stopped marching with BBb tubas on health and safety grounds....

    as for a solo, it depends what you want, but the mozart aria "O Isis O Osiris" from the Magic Flute (arranged by RSA for Eb in the SA general series) should sit nicely on the BBb
  3. Independent Silver Band

    Independent Silver Band Active Member

    Variations on "Judas Maccebeus"
  4. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    Unless your doing something unexpected or messing around, I don't think many people are interested in bass solo's. The instrument doesn't have the color which is why most serious bass solos naturally end up going into the euph/horn range (often out of tune) and not the natural range of the Tuba..... I think serious solos bottom out at the Euph and Tenor Trom and only a small percent of that serious repertoire is any good, much of it is fairly dull........ Dean Morley played Belle American once or twice on the two Lung in my early days, it was amazing playing but ultimately couldn't be heard so I think as he would agree fairly pointless......
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  5. BassBlaster

    BassBlaster Member

    EEb Bass solos are ok, check out Tony Nash`s version of Carnival of Venise, awesome, Sunlife I think.
    But BBb are very sparse, you have to put on a Red nose and dress stupidly to get an effect!. Though, flight of the Bumble bee, or Czardas both euph and can play on BBb are a good try in a concert. There is a great euph solo that translates pretty well which escapes me at the moment........nope, can`t remember, I will get back to you. :) .
  6. Independent Silver Band

    Independent Silver Band Active Member

    i am sure it's a difference in culture, as we don't use Eb's as much, but we have quite a bit of literature for solo BBb. Another good one is"Una Voce Ma Colpito". I am at school, so I can't give information on these at the moment.
  7. Jack

    Jack Member

    Years and years ago the bass player from our band used to play blaydon races, the euphonium solo
  8. winterman

    winterman Member

    Thanks all for the feedback, especially ISB (some very new and different choices there) :)

    I would take issue with the responses of "Basses CAN'T do solos of any merit though". That, IMHO, is frankly absurd (without trying to be offensive). In my view that is purely down to a lack of 'understanding' of the instrument.. ..and you wonder why there is a massive shortage of Bass players these days.

    It is true that there seems to be an assumption amongst brass players (especially in British brass bands, not so much in Europe) that the Bb Bass is only good for Umpah style playing or the the odd "WWII Bombers" effect at the bottom of a chord, unless you want to go for the cheese factor.

    Why not use it to show the musical abilities of the player and the actual high versatility of the instrument?! Take Baadsvik (as well as Les Neish and of course Mr Gourlay) for example, major forces in tuba playing.. My example of Gabriels Oboe is astoundingly good, now I can just about play that on Eb (for which it was written) without "too much" worry, after a bit of practicing on my E's above the staff.

    There are some fantastic Eb Bass solos out there which push the boundaries of what is perceived as a
    Basses ability (without going off into the experimental or ridiculous), my personal aim now is try and do the same (in my own humble way) whilst I am down in the Bb Bassment.

    I am lucky in that I am almost entirely self taught as a player so have no real preconceptions of what an instrument "should" be able to do and I have to say the Americans do seem to have a better grasp of what the instrument is capable of and I may well have to look that way and to Europe for some new material.

    In my humble view, make the most of the instrument you have been landed on (this is hopefully only a temporary stop until we find a replacement, which is unlikely in this climate), don't think this is what it "should" do through historically blinkered eyes. I intend to make the most of it whilst I am on it!

    Sorry if that sounded like a rant (in a way it was), but it does get my goat that Brass Bands cannot seem to see past the Iron Curtain of Banding from yesteryear (there is no arguing that the older Cast-Iron Bb Basses really couldn't do what is possible today). No, don't lose your heritage (I love banding history and you cannot compare a lot of modern music to some of the older works, the classics win hands down), but also don't get stuck in the past, we have to evolve or we WILL die (as we can already see at the moment in parts of the country)!
  9. hobgoblin

    hobgoblin Member

    TBH you are probably best going down the comedy "biggest instrument in the band plays surprisingly well" road. I think a nice slow melody on Bb would leave the average audience pretty perplexed, but it could have some novelty value - like watching an elephant sewing or riding a bike. Good luck with your rumbly noises.:tup
  10. StellaJohnson

    StellaJohnson Active Member


    You have probably answered your own question, there isn't much about and the serious ones played are generally played on euph. No reason why Bb or Eb players shouldn't break the mould though. But it isn't my cup of tea.

    Bring on the cheese!
  11. paddo

    paddo Member

    well said Winterman, i am well sick of people thinking BBb players cannot do solos. I recorded "Trouble with the Tuba" and I would like to think I played it well, even on the top D's or was it top C sharps lol1

    I am also looking at doing a new solo at Shat and JR is well up for it so it cannot be that bad to listen to. Got a few Euph solos to look at and I will let you know what I choose fella. Ignore all the comedy stuff, I cannot stand it, just makes us look like muppets.....
  12. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    I have a version of Le Basque - you can see the solos part here.
  13. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    it is somewhat irritating when other instrumentalists give opinions on what the tubas can do, without really understanding them.
    If you learn read the bass clef (and I do mean read it, not try to transpose it) you will find a wealth of music to play from europe, the US and form other instruments such as the bassoon and double bass. Good luck
  14. winterman

    winterman Member

    Excellent, I'll have to brush up on my Bass Clef (it's been over 20 years), thanks.

    Excellent stuff too Paddo, I thought you might be on board with my sentiments, let's show 'em how it should be done eh? :D
  15. paddo

    paddo Member

    trouble is Winterman, when good quality BBb players are not int he band, they miss us. Just because we are not a usual choice for a solo, we are just classed as a joke.

    Watch this space
  16. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    Well I don't profess to be an expert on the instrument, but have played off and on for a few years. I wasn't trying to put anyone down or put anyone off. Its just that the ear doesn't naturally pick up low tones which is why most of the solo rep on Tuba goes high and the nearest the Tuba gets to a solo instrument is the F tuba. Ive heard Les N and Jim G doing there solo stuff on a few occasions and while the playing is unlike anything Ive ever heard, the audience are never as pleased as when someone plays the Teddy bears Picnic or the Sun has got his hat on. That is just plain facts, not trying to be argumentative for the sake of it!!
  17. winterman

    winterman Member

    Thanks Andrew, I'll take a look at that, seems relatively simple to get around.. I might actually take a look at your New Dawn too, think that might work well for a light number.

    Transposed the old classic Bass in the Ballroom (which I personally think is slightly cheese laden) over last night as the band already have that worked up from my previous incarnation on Eb and we have a double concert in 2 weeks so might need a secondary solo.
  18. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    Yes it's not too hard - A New Dawn should work, I've taken a look at it - as long as the tutti basses are kept light.
  19. bigE

    bigE New Member

    Know its officially classed as a Euph solo but I think we have The Swan from Carnival of the Animals in the library. Quite lightly scored in the accompaniments if I remember and I reckon it would work a treat on BBb cos members of the public know the tune so they wont be potentially bored with serious pieces which they have never heard before....just a thought.
  20. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    it makes a great contrasting piece with the Elephant