Campaign for the Preservation of Brass Sound

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by JonBond, Feb 4, 2014.

  1. JonBond

    JonBond Member

    How many bands have players that insist on using orchestral brass in there banding? I suspect it may not be a huge problem, but it is certainly out there.

    I detest the sound of an Eb trumpet in place of a Soprano. Is it not incredibly clear that the timbre of that instrument is completely out of place amongst a brass band?

    And what is the obsession with using trumpet style mouthpieces (eg Vincent Bachs) for front row cornets? Surely the bigger the better! I know a smaller mouthpiece eases the upper register, but who decided it wasn't worth practicing.

    Join in my campaign by showing your support below! :)
  2. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    So what is your position on large bore tenor trombones and double plug bass trombones?
  3. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Or cornet players making lovely mellifluous sounds on Bach mouthpieces? I can see at least one viewing this thread right now...
  4. JonBond

    JonBond Member

    Well that's a good question. My tendency is towards the more rounded sound of the traditional brass band. Granted that over the years the bore sizes of brass instruments have generally increased it is perhaps an erroneous position to have.

    The issue is simple. If the instrument doesn't blend then it is out of place. Large bore tenor trombones tend to blend well into the standard brass band setup. Eb trumpets do not.

    As for the Double Plug Bass Trom - it's a percussion instrument so out of scope!! :)
  5. JonBond

    JonBond Member

    As for the sonorous playing on the VB mp - that's great. Where it is chosen as a shortcut to an improved upper register, without the work to properly support the playing I see the issue. Developing a good tone that matches the band your playing in should be the priority, not the simple adoption of an integral piece of kit based on a shortcut to a desired outcome.
  6. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    so you were'nt good enough to play in the orchestra and they kicked you out eh !

  7. JonBond

    JonBond Member

    Never tried. But you can't beat a brass band :)
  8. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Going to the biggest piece one can manage is a popular philosophy in banding, but it's one that many adoptees don't really think about in enough detail. To turn your point on its head, a lot of players use a big mouthpiece as a crutch to increase the width of their sound, at the expense of colour of sound. The players that make a big sound on smaller and shallower mouthpieces - it tends to be those players whose sounds I most admire.

    Bring back the G trombone!
  9. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Oh yes you can, with a bass trombone !
  10. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    why are cornet players told to use the biggest mouthpiece they can handle and bass trom players told the total opposite?
  11. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    The biggest cornet mouthpiece isn't actually all that big, relative to the cornet. The biggest bass trombone mouthpiece is gigantic relative to the instrument.

    Also, we have less to play, so spend more time fiddling with mouthpieces...
  12. JonBond

    JonBond Member

    @moomindave you make a good point.

    Yes this post is a little tongue in cheek, but it does raise a valid point which is applicable to a large proportion of brass bands. Too often a band is clearly the sum of its parts - and it sounds like it. To introduce such a vast range of timbres is unhelpful and presents a dislocated sound. Taking my original example, whilst a Sop can add colour to the top of the band, an Eb trumpet playing exactly the same part pierces and stands out. It no longer becomes the icing on the cake, and stands seperately as a unpallatable side show.
  13. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Well, again, it really does depend strongly on who is wielding the Eb trumpet. A good player will blend in fine; the difference between trumpets and cornets these days is surprisingly much a matter of playing approach.

    I think the debatable introduction of specific instruments and mouthpiece brands is proving a distraction from what I think is your main point here - to talk about what it takes to blend properly in a band? There are those that play ultra-orthodox equipment who will never blend (one hearing-impaired older gentleman with the widest slowest vibrato stands out particularly in my memory - that in a band where the 2nd baritone player had been playing on a high pitch instrument for 30 years without realising it...), just as there are those that play unorthodox equipment much more satisfactorily. Obviously, there's a expected middle-ground of sound quality, and straying too far from expected instrument choices makes that too hard to reach (e.g. the reason French horns don't work well in a brass band to my mind - too different to be the same, but too similar to be different), but the 'soft machine' (i.e. the player) is a much more flexible part of the whole than the 'hard machine' (i.e. the equipment), and it doesn't hurt to experiment.
  14. JonBond

    JonBond Member

    Dave - you answer your own point. Yes the point is about how to blend properly with your band. And you rightly point out that there are some instruments that will not (I like your example of the baritone in high pitch!). The question surely raised by your comment is why put oneself at a disadvantage by playing an instrument / mouthpiece / brain combination which requires an insurmountable amount of work to simply sound as though you are a part of the ensemble you are sitting with!
  15. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Agreed... and as mouthpieces have been mentioned, which mouthpiece you choose to plug in the end will make a huge difference too.

    There are plenty of lazerbeam soprano sounds being made with (as you named bach) Bach E cups, for example and some Shilke A cups also sound very shrill in the hands of most players... I'd imagine if you plugged a fairly deep mouthpiece (say for argument a warburton D or XD cup, or a DW S with an adaptor) into an Eb trumpet and gave it to a bunch of players, most of them would sound more suitabe for a traditional brass band than they would on a soprano cornet with a Bach 7E or a schilke 14a4a.
    Sure, some players make lovely sounds from very shallow mouthpieces and blend well on them, many do not - I wonder how many of the Eb Trumpet players being chastised here for not fitting in were using similarly bright mouthpieces?

    Not to mention the fact that modern Soprano's are getting to have more and more in common with Eb trumpets. The difference may be more in the perception (and the mouthpieces you'd normally hear chosen - you'll meet a lot more soprano players on fairly deep pieces than you will Eb trumpeters) than in any quantifiable difference between the two instruments these days... it would be interesting to hear a soprano with a 14a4a back to back with an Eb trumpet with a 14a4a and then the same two instruments with a deeper piece.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2014
  16. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

    If you are talking the traditional sound then a Bach is closer to the old style (kosikup or something ike that) than a Denis Wick any day.
  17. VegasGeorge

    VegasGeorge Member

    Well, I certainly have something to say about this, and we don't even have a brass band tradition like yours over here. As a former French Horn player I always detested the idea of French Horns playing in bands. I was introduced to the Alto (your Tenor Horn) at an early age, and I immediately appreciated its rightful place in the band. French Horns do not blend nicely with other brass. They always sound out of place. Even their bells are pointed in the wrong direction. In an orchestra or smaller ensemble with strings they are fabulous. In mixed wind quartets and quintets they are very good. In brass groups they are out of place. I am horrified by the dismissive attitude most American band directors have toward the Alto or Tenor Horn. All I can say is , "Please, do not allow it to happen over there."
  18. VegasGeorge

    VegasGeorge Member

    As to mouthpiece selection, I have to add that it isn't just the mouthpiece that determines the sound. Every player and every instrument has slightly different tone qualities, and each player needs to find a mouthpiece that either compliments or corrects for the overall tone that's desired. It isn't a one size fits all type of situation. A barrel chested, relaxed player with a dark sounding instrument may need a shallower mouthpiece to brighten up the sound to match others in the band. An up tight string bean of a player with a bright sounding instrument may need a deeper mouthpiece. And, there are a lot of other variables to take into account.

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