do you need to read bass clef to play Bb Bass?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by _si, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. _si

    _si Member

    I have written in another thread that i am considering a comeback into banding and that i am tempted to switch from Baritone to Bass.
    I forgot to mention that i only read treble clef, is this going to cause me problems? i just dont know what Bass parts are written in, as ive never played one :)
  2. tubalation

    tubalation Member

    Only Bass Trombone players are mad (clever?) enough to read bass clef...

    Unless you're going to play any concert (wind) band music you won't have any problems; Brass Band BBb Bass parts are just like baritone parts, but sound an octave lower (and probably only have half as many notes) - if you're lucky enough to get a 4 valve BBb then you have to keep your left index finger busy as well.

    Welcome to the club...

    BBb Bass
    Newstead Brass
  3. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    ^What he said.
  4. _si

    _si Member

    thanks you two :) thats good news!
  5. Robhibberd29

    Robhibberd29 Active Member

    Bit of one, a lot of the other ;-)
  6. Here, it's very seldom you will find a treble Bass part.
  7. MartinT

    MartinT Member

    Indeed. I once sat in with a US band, and found myself playing an orchestral tuba and reading a bass clef part. Not a great success musically :redface:
  8. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    the Bass world is indeed srange. Always wondered why the USA was so different regarding Bass parts.
    I heard EEb Tuba's are pretty rare in the US to. US using mainly BBb and C and of course on Bass Clef.
  9. Beesa

    Beesa Member

    Bass Tronbone - the ginger cousin of the brass band
  10. We do have EEb tubas, but they are not as common. We do not have brass bands as common either. In the wind bands we use BBb's, and in the orchestras the CC is fairly common. The F tuba is usually the instrument of choice for solos, and chamber work. I do use a C for a Dixie band, but it's more because I enjoy that particular instrument than a choice of key. I actually used an EEb sousaphone while in the University marching band back when dinosaurs were still roaming.
  11. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    my Sousa is an Eb King 3 valve. was made in 1945. I beleive King stoped making Eb sousaphones in the early 1960's. much fun to play though. great for out door functions and caroling.
  12. ISBBBb2

    ISBBBb2 Member

    Although its not a necessity to know bass clef to play BBb, don’t limit yourself by not learning it. Its a handy thing to know how to read bass clef and, also how to transpose EEb and BBb music (usually in bands that have rubbish librarians!)
  13. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    If I recall correctly (an american chap told me this once although I've never been to the states myself) it's to do with most American bands coming from Military/Garrison bands, where the players were taught music 'properly' and to understand how each clef related to the next - eventually leading to the long tradition of wind and marching bands they have in the states.

    Is that about right, William?

    Whereas over here, since the brass band format developed for facility of reading, and for players who were not primarily musicians, (coal miners, mill-workers etc) and primarily as a means of keeping working men occupied and away from alcohol (despite being synonymous with beer today) it was simpler to write everything in transposing treble clef. Even basses. Plus it made it easier to move down a part or up a part as required, because the valves were the same whatever you played.

    I have to say, since the vast majority of my playing/writing experience comes from brass bands I now even think in transposing treble clef. (I can hear the sharp intakes of breath from tombonists everywhere already...) If you put a bass clef part in front of me the only way I could play it would be to pretend it was in Eb treble and add three sharps to it and then read it up a fourth.... which is enough to make my brain melt.
  14. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    The Americans have it right, as do orchestras. The Tuba is a bass instrument, so should be in bass clef! It's only logical. To me, playing a bass instrument and not being able to read bass clef makes as much sense as a violinist or flautist not being able to read treble clef, reading bass clef and putting it up a couple of octaves.....
  15. _si

    _si Member

    but what does it matter if by reading whats written you can play the correct notes at the correct time? surely whats on the paper is not the issue, but whether it can be understood by the player?
  16. Phil Green

    Phil Green Supporting Member

    You don't need to read bass clef but if you can it'll really broaden your horizons. Also, it'll mean that you can play EEb parts on your BBb by just changing the clef in your mind and adding some sharps :)
  17. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    But it's not what's written, it's in the wrong octave....
  18. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I know what you're saying, but to take it to its logical conclusion, then the piccolo player would have unmanageable leger lines to cope with, and at the other end of the spectrum, the double bass would barely touch the stave!
  19. I would hesitate to say that either is right, or better. Both work in their respective application, and the result is music.

    In some of the original historic documents the are parts for trombone in treble clef, and more rarele treble clef parts for BBb. I have not seen parts transposed for EEb in treble clef.
  20. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Nail, head.

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