Changes to brass band setup

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by stevetrom, Oct 13, 2007.

  1. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

  2. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    Ever played one, Steve?

    Paul Milner (then bass trombone with Opera North, now with the LSO) let me (and everyone else) have a try on his Thein contra at a British Trombone Society event last year. I have enough trouble finding enough breath for my bass trom, let alone a contra!

    I agree that they are magnificent beasts, but I'm not sure how useful they would be in a brass band. I don't think that the sound would stand out in a brass band as well as it does in an orchestra.

    BOC alert...

    In the early 1900s, the Salvation Army (which at the time had it's own instrument factory) experimented with Eb contras, one of which is (or used to be) on display in the Salvation Army museum. Regent Hall SA Band had one, where it was used to double on the Eb bass part. I understand that Coventry City SA Band had one as well.
  3. Hells Bones

    Hells Bones Active Member

    If I am honest, I don't think the Contra Bass Trombone would be very beneficial in a brass band.

    Imagine the difficulty bands would have if a test piece was announced with a contrabass part. Even Championship section bands.

    Quite frankly, there are not enough bass bonists around, never mind trying to get one that doubles on contra as well.
  4. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    I don't think a contrabass trombone would be added, for the reasons given above. But I'd like to see a third tenor trombone added. SA pieces often use four trombone parts, and there's nothing like the sound of a true trombone quartet. Can't be duplicated by three bones and a baritone ;)
  5. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    ...and I read they had a mechanically operated rear facing second slide - a kind of pushmepullyou arrangement.
  6. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    Would be interesting in a brass arts festival though.
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I found a pic of the Miraphone contrabass trom online. I was curious to see how a modern design would look.

  8. Hells Bones

    Hells Bones Active Member

    Yes, that is the double slide version.
    Thein and Rath both do a single slide version (The Rath I have had a go on)
    Contrabass trombones are like Tuba's. You can get them in FF, EEb, BBb
  9. David Mann

    David Mann Member

  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    The Miraphone, I believe, is in BBb and one of the cheaper options.
  11. Hells Bones

    Hells Bones Active Member

    Are you on the BTS forum?

    As said previously, the only way a trombone section could be changed with an improvement in mind would be to add a third tenor. Maybe also (depending on the piece and the tone required) you could have an alto on the top.

    But that begs the question, how many Tenor players do you know that double on Alto?
  12. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    How many cornets would have to be improved to make a contra? :biggrin:
  13. dentondiva

    dentondiva New Member

    Its hard enough to find Bass trom players espically in lower section bands and in even harder in schools i wouldnt like to be given the task of finding someone willing to play a contrabass ,it would be fun to have a go though
  14. MartinT

    MartinT Member

    MoominDave has one of these in BBb - fairly certain it's a Miraphone, certainly has the double slide. In his hands it produces a most impressive sound, very Wagnerian (which was what he got it for in the first place). When I blow it, I'm afraid it sounds like a slightly inadequate tuba :(.
  15. Hells Bones

    Hells Bones Active Member

    Don't be disheartened by that, you, being used to a tuba, will play it like you play a tuba, meaning you will try and make it sound like... you guessed it... a tuba.

    I find when switching instruments (Even from Tenor to Alto or Bass Trombone or from Trombone to Euphonium) that I need to stop before hand and think about the sound I am to produce.

    Also, because the Trombone has less curves than a Tuba, there will be far less resistance.
  16. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    In fact it is the exact same instrument shown in the picture that brassneck posted! Plus a bit of a crinkle in the bell now :(

    A contra in F is the way to go, I think. The double slide BBb designs are too unruly, and can't blend with a section at above MF.
  17. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - oops! :cool: (maybe I should have tried to find the source again!)
  18. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Your source will tell you that the picture comes from Edward Solomon, who I bought it from...

    On the subject of using one in a band, I don't think it's a great idea, though I'm sure it could be made to work with the right players. The modern school of band bass trombone playing pretty much has the "shouting in the extreme bass register" niche already covered, and so the only possible use would be as an extreme bass support in quiet passages where no tuba is written.

    Interestingly, many of the (very few) parts that exist for contra trombone in the orchestra contain a lot of writing high in the register. I think it is fair to say that composers have struggled to find a truly appropriate way of scoring for this monster.

    If I could change anything about the trombone section in a brass band, I'd firstly make it sit on the other side of the band. If you are a bass trombonist who doesn't like to point downwards when playing (it hurts my neck after a while if I do this), it is impossible to sit in a straight line with the rest of the section and see the conductor - the bell gets in the way. If the cornet and trombone sides swapped over, bass trombonists wouldn't have to turn around so far that they point out into the audience in order to see the conductor, and perhaps we wouldn't see so many examples of bass trombone sounds protruding inappropriately.
  19. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Ben van Dijk, awesome bass/contrabass tromboner that he is, does talk some guff on this link about repertoire. His first examples are:

    Of these four examples, two are not for contrabass trombone at all - Strauss' 'Alpensymphonie' is for ordinary bass, and the Glinka is a mistake for 'Gliere' (Glinka did not write any symphonies at all, so far as I'm aware). The 4th trom parts in both Gliere 3 and the Strauss do go very low (pedal Eb in the Gliere, pedal G in the Strauss), but neither of the parts say anything about 'contrabass', it wasn't usual practice at the time of writing where they were writing to use a contrabass for an extra low part in the trombone section, and the scorings make it manifestly clear that an ordinary bass is more appropriate.

    He's trying to make it look like it isn't quite as unusual an instrument as it plainly is...
  20. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    There's the small matter of the Ring cycle!

    I don't think the contra would be good for bands. Firstly, if the instrumentation were to change (in any way), it would leave 150 years of music unplayable. Secondly, they cost more than a whole section of cornets!

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