Brass Band Vib ...

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by katharine, Oct 27, 2004.

  1. katharine

    katharine Member

    A discussion arose in a class today about the introduction of vibrato into the brass band movement. Apparently it wasn't really used until Harry Mortimer introduced it in around the 1930s.
    Can anyone shed any more light on this matter?

  2. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    There have been a couple of lively discussions on this forum regarding vibrato. Although I wasn't around in the 30s, the theory stated is plausible. Orchestral brass does not and never has engaged in vibrato to the extent that it was used in brass bands.

    I have an old LP jacket from the 50s with liner notes by Ralph Vaughan-Williams, where, commenting on an orchestral piece featuring a flugel solo, "The flugel here returns from the brass band, where it has been allowed to indulge in the unsavory practice of vibrato". (He also says some mean things about saxophones in the same commentary :) ).
  3. katharine

    katharine Member

    what a fantastic quote! it makes it sound like indulging in a giant chocolate cake!

    (or perhaps i just have chocolate cake on the mind!)
  4. RonBarnes

    RonBarnes Member

    I think you'll find that orchestral brass playing without vibrato was a British preference. If you listen to European Orchestras of the 1950s era you'll hear plenty of vibrato, especially from the French who wobble up and down like nanny goats.
    Fortunately in the 50's and 60's most orchestras, and brass bands, adopted the British style, and now excessive vibrato just sounds comical. But it has it's place, even in brass bands, if tastefully used in solo playing; but I emphasise 'tastefully'!
  5. Lil Miss

    Lil Miss Active Member

    how much is too much??? I mean i've been only playin cornet for about 4 and 1/2 years and for some reason without meanin too, i've got a natural vibrato that comes when i'm runnin out of air or just anytime, except when i really focus on stoppin it and i use more air to stop it. I don't mean to use vibrato it just happens, but because i also do trumpet playin i need to learn to control cause it doesn't really always fit with the style of music that i play on my trumpet. Anyways i agree that it should b used tastefully, because sometimes i hear ppl use stacks and i just think how weird it sounds, and for some reason i always associate it wth old retired brass players, i'm talkin 60+ , not all are like that just some.
  6. RonBarnes

    RonBarnes Member

    Brass Band Vib . . .

    If your vibrato is because of nerves or running out of air then you must learn to control it and play straight. It may be difficult to overcome your natural tendency to play with vibrato but I'm afraid it has to be done. When you can play straight then is the time to introduce controlled vibrato. Keep trying and good luck.
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    ... odd as it may seem, this is one of these situations where an electronic tuner can assist anyone with problem vibrato, caused by nerves (or just plain unawareness). Something cheap, but accurate like the Korg CA-30 can tell the player how much his/her vibrato is moving out of it's central pitch, and is helpful for giving feedback in learning how to control the variation. The same can be said for training the ear for crescendo/dimuendo on selected notes during practice (players tend to lip slightly under starting quietly and err on the sharp side when reducing volume or returning to the quiet state).
  8. peatair

    peatair Member

    Vaughan-Williams certainly disliked the use of vibrato. In his Variations for Brass Band he marked the score in places senza vibrato. Need to watch this if playing in the 2nd Section next year!
  9. bennem

    bennem Member

    I remember a trumpet lesson at school when I turned up and started playing with vibrato. Ian Muirhead, my trumpet teacher, instantly said stop the vib and then incredibly accurately said "'ve been listening to a brass band haven't you.."

    "...there is a time and a place for vibrato playing and orchestral trumpet isn't it .." was the next bit of advice.

    My grandfather had just introduced me to brass bands by playing me an LP (thats one of those 12inch black pizzas) of someone or other.

    I have always annoyed many a brass band conductor by showing my trumpet playing routes by playing "straight" but luckily I can vib on demand using my jaw.
  10. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    As I've referred to on these boards previously, RVW (via his musical friend and colleague Roy Douglas) states, with regard to his Overture Henry V, that he would have preferred the use of trumpets instead of cornets and that 'in any case, the vulgar, sentimental vibrato which disfigures most brass band performances should be strictly avoided'. The piece was written around 1932 but was not given its first performance until 1979. I guess the composers 'wishes' with regard to vibrato MAY have been a factor in the piece's neglect. Still, clearly even in 1932, vibrato must have been prevalent in brass band performances for RVW to have comented on it in such a way!

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