Expected Range of a Baritone Player

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Jack E, Nov 23, 2018.

  1. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    1,145
    Thank you, Tom - I'll give that a go over the next week and let you know what happens.

    With best regards,

    Jack
     
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  2. David Broad

    David Broad Member

    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Chedworth Gloucestershire
    Coming to this thread rather late and after playing Baritone last week for the first time since last year (2017) I do wonder about the original thread title, "What is the expected range of a Baritone."
    The Christmas music I have been playing, various Wright and Round, Bernearts, and Richardson and Sally Army "Christmas Praise" have a range basically of C on the first ledger line to G above the top line, with precious little below E on the bottom line and a lot around E in the top space, I can't remember any top "A's" Now I don't have Jack's problems, I struggle with the F above top C on Baritone, but I do wonder if practicing low notes outside the normal range you play is causing some of the problems. I drag the old Imperial Baritone out, practice hitting a few random notes from cold and never bother with anything below C. I would suggest you practice the range you play, the note below the stave to the one above the stave. concentrating on getting a good sound from the middle of the stave upwards. Get a mouthpiece which gives a comfortable feel on those notes and if you struggle down the bottom no one will know. Very few sensible arrangers put Baritones down in the basement. I do have Jacks problems when I try to play Bass, I can't get the high notes, (and the low ones aren't great) so I don't play Bass...
     
  3. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    1,145
    Well, I don't struggle with notes below the stave; in fact, when I had my first lesson and was asked to play an open note, the tutor was rather surprised that I played the C below the stave. He said that most learners, when asked to do that, played the open G on the second line. I grant you that the lowest note I've been asked to play in public is the D below the stave, but as I'm only in the junior band at the moment, I wouldn't expect anything too extreme.

    Flicking through my Wright & Round book (Bb 2nd Baritone), I see that most of the notes are E upwards, but there are a number of Ds and Cs below the stave; 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' has a number of Bs, and in 'We Three Kings', the first eight bars are nothing but Bs.

    In my 'Boosey Brass Method - Book 2', there are quite a few pieces which go down to G below the stave - so, although I thought the editor might have included them only to get learners really comfortable on low C and B, I thought it at least possible that I might be asked to play that low if and when I move up to the main band.

    There is another point which wouldn't necessarily apply to other people; I still have a problem with my lungs tending to clog up, and I notice that if I play some very low notes during the latter part of my warm up, that really seems to blow the crud out, and gets them nice and clear.

    Re. your point about playing low notes interfering with my reaching the high ones - I can't say I've ever noticed that it makes any difference to me. When I started playing, I only went down to the low C - it's only more recently that I've started working all the way down, and initially, it was with a view to getting used to adjusting my embouchure, tongue and air delivery fairly rapidly. Earlier on, I wasn't very good at coping with large intervals on short notes at fast tempos - and the warm-up exercises I've been doing have certainly helped with that.

    With best regards,

    Jack E.
     
  4. Raymond Morris

    Raymond Morris Member

    Messages:
    38
    It might interest readers to hear that in the year 2000 when I played briefly in the Ottawa Community Concert Band at Ottawa, Canada there was a woman playing an old American double-bell euphonium. After passing through the valves the tubing forked into a narrow cylindrical pipe leading to a Baritone bell and a fat conical pipe leading to a euphonium bell with a 4th valve for switching between the two bells. That unusual instrument gets a mention in "76 trombones".
     
  5. SometherebecallmeBob

    SometherebecallmeBob New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Jack, I don't post here much, but I've definitely been there, not quite managed that. (I play a tenor, but double on cornet and flugel. I might be playing euph in a concert in June... yeah, there aren't a lot of players around where I live...)
    This is what I have done that helped me:

    I start with exercises on low notes, down into the ghost notes below F#. They are difficult on tenor, dead easy on the cornet, and nearly impossible on flugel. What they give me is a better control over the air stream.

    The next thing I do is the Earl Irons book, "27 exercises." The exercises are progressive. Mostly I hang around exercises 6-9, which is what Irons himself found most useful.

    There are a couple of long tone exercises I do.

    There is an exercise posted by a guy called Rusty Russell, called the 19/30 exercise. It works for a lot of people, and I'm one of them.

    The second one I do is to work up to the highest note that I'm comfortable with, and play it a lot. I do this from time to time.

    Third, (and I have no idea if this will work on bari or not) is what I was introduced to as the Cat Anderson exercise. Take the G in the staff, and play it as quietly as possible, for up to 20 minutes at a time. (The longest I've managed is about three minutes. It helps to watch television while you do it, as it makes other long tone exercises feel like a canival of intellectual delights. Seriously, it's boring, but it helped me get around the instinct to either muscle the horn, or overblow.

    Finally, based entirely on my own experience, there's good new and bad news:

    Good news, it doesn't take years, it takes minutes. Minutes with the horn on your face.

    Bad news.... It takes an appalling number of minutes. People who know a lot more about brass than I do have told me that talent is an illusion; skill is in direct relation to the time spent practising. This leads me to the uncomfortable feeling that my shortcomings are my own fault entirely, but that's a different conversation.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  6. yeomills

    yeomills New Member

    Messages:
    13
    A little of subject but regarding Baritones. I often dep with other bands and occasionally play the Baritone part. I have been looking at instruments and they appear to come in 3 basic styles. A simple 3 valve, a 4 valve which i believe to be non compensating and a 3 valve with extra tubing which I take to be compensating. Any opinion on the merits of 3 valve compensating versus 4 valve would be welcome.
     
  7. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    1,145
    @yeomills
    Re. 4th valves; I pulled out a lot of comments from a thread on here last night (but stupidly forgot to make a note of the thread address!), but these are some extracts which I found of interest, and may prove helpful to you.

    From Thirteen Ball:
    "I have to say I don't see the point of four-valve baritones. Mainly because the four-valve versions seem to incorporate a wider bore, which makes them sound more euphonium-like and ruins the bridging position the instrument occupies at the bottom end of the horn section. Three-valve baritones are generally fully compensated on first and third valve (that's the extra bit of tubing that goes from 1 to 3) so unlike a cornet or horn, the low D (1+3) and C sharp (1+2+3) are fine pitching wise - whereas the four-valve ones are only compensated when the fourth valve is in use, the same as a tuba. So you are forced into using the fourth or the C-sharp and D will be very sharp. Since the primary value of a fourth valve is to correct tuning issues (which I've already outlined don't apply to a well-constructed 3-valve) and to fill in the gap between the low F-sharp and pedal C (which is a range that a baritone player simply doesn't need in 99% of the repertoire) then the extra cost for a 4-valve isn't justified in my book - particularly when you're normally getting a woollier sounding instrument for your money, and a fourth valve is by no means a perfect tuning solution!"
    Note the points I've made bold - which I wasn't aware of - regarding compensation on 3 and 4 valve baritones.

    Further on in the same thread, Thirteen Ball wrote:
    "Most three valve baritones have an additional section of pipe which fully compensates the instrument when the first and third valves are used in conjunction, but not separately. This flattens the instrument slightly on 1+3 and 1+2+3 and puts the D and C sharp in tune without compromising the 1+2 or 2+3 combinations - or any single valve on it's own. I don't necessarily see any problem with incorporating a fourth valve on a baritone - I just can't understand why that always seems to come parcelled up with a needless widening of the bore of the instrument which causes a complete change of tone colour (almost to a euphonium) and a hike in price of a grand or so, for something that will largely be redundant to the player for 99% of the repertoire and will actually make the tuning worse."
    (as before, my emphasis)

    From Moomin Dave:
    "Personally, I have always found a well-designed 3-valve baritone to be about as in tune with itself across its whole register as any valved brass instrument. I suspect what happened was that some marketing department sent their engineering department a memo declaring that the time for a 4-valve baritone had arrived. The engineers grafted on a fourth valve to their existing baritone design, and I suspect strongly would have found that it made it blow noticeably more stuffily - hence the increase in bore to offset this hypothetical increase in resistance. I don't see why else a bigger bore would have got bound up with the extra valve in the way it has."

    Please note that I've never played a 4 valve instrument myself, am still very much at the novice stage, and am definitely not qualified to offer an informed opinion on them! But I think you'll find that the people I've quoted do know their onions.

    HTH

    Jack E
     
  8. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    1,145
    @yeomills
    I've just turned up another thread (link below) which includes the following from Moomin Dave:

    "4-valve baritones are a gimmick. Firstly, let's deal with the possible positives:

    1) It allows the player to reach the notes below low F#.
    But there are no parts for the instrument that call for these notes, and very few that even approach that range. True, if 4-valve baritones were common, people might start writing below low F#, but the tone is rather like that of a hose, and the notes are not easy to obtain - that's the reason why baritone parts almost never descend below low C.

    In addition to this, the design of the model I have tried on various occasions (Sovereign) is faulty in the compensating tubing on the 3rd valve, which is significantly too short, and not adjustable (whereas on a euphonium that particular loop has a slide). The result is that non-pedal notes below low E (3 leger lines) are uncorrectably sharp.

    2) It aids the tuning in the low register by supplying alternative fingerings.
    No it doesn't. The usual 3-valve compensating system on a baritone does the job very nearly perfectly down to the low F#.

    3) It helps with the fingering on low, fast passages.
    And how many of these are there in the baritone repertoire? In any case, it doesn't - coordinating movement of the left hand with the right hand is just as difficult as coordinating the movement of the fourth fingers. There are passages that one could write that would be easier with a 4th valve - but nobody wants to write them for baritone anyway; it isn't a happy instrument in the low register.

    Now let's look at a few minus points of the design:

    1) It's too heavy.
    Very nearly as heavy as a euphonium, in fact - a recipe for back damage. The Sovereign isn't easy to hold either.

    2) The bore has been increased.
    It feels very much like it on the Sovereign, anyway. Now it sounds much more like an old-style euphonium (think Boosey & Co. "Class A" from the 20s) than what we know as a baritone. The tonal variety in that register will be lost, and bands will sound a bit more big and woofy at the expense of tonal "lightness". In addition, playing high for long periods (the baritone's "home territory") will be much harder work.

    Having said that, the German "tenor horn" solo in Mahler's 7th symphony would be pretty much ideally suited to this instrument with its greater tonal weight and saxhorn bore profile. We're straying a little from the brass band baritone though...

    3) The compensating system is poorly implemented.
    As discussed under "positive" point number (1) above.

    It seems like a no-brainer to me to stick with the 3-valve versions..."


    http://www.themouthpiece.com/forum/threads/baritones-4-valves-or-3.25495/#post-494453
    HTH
     
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  9. David Broad

    David Broad Member

    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Chedworth Gloucestershire
    I think Jack E summed it up nicely. 4 valve Baritones are a gimmick, but it makes the 2nd Baritone player feel wanted if you buy him £5Ks worth of 4 valve horn even if he doesn't really know what 4th valve is for. Its not hard to lip a non compensating 3 valve Baritone into tune on typical 1st Baritone parts but compensation makes life a lot simpler, still have to work on 1st valve D's, open E's etc....
     
  10. yeomills

    yeomills New Member

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    13
    Thank you all for replies. There is no urgency but I will look out for a 3 valve compensating. Regards Barry
     
  11. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Always slightly alarming to see people quoting your words from so long ago that you feel like a different person! 13 years, my goodness. Mid-20s Dave was a blunter writer than late-30s Dave, but fortunately both of them are in agreement on the matter of 4-valve baritones. Note that I've since learned that later 4-valve baritone designs corrected some of the mistakes of the earlier designs (too big bore and wrong compensating loop lengths). I would still always prefer a 3V compensator myself though on grounds of weight and non-utility of the extra valve. I'll let Andi Cook (thirteen ball) know that he's still being quoted on TMP - sure it'll amuse him to hear.
     
  12. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    1,145
    Dave - I have been known to quote words of wisdom first said in the 17th century!! Sound advice is always worth passing on :)
    Re. changes in more modern 4-valve baritones; as long as a well-made compensated 3-valver can provide correct intonation, I can't see any point in adding a 4th valve.
    Through my career in engineering, I've always found that the simpler you can make something that actually works well, going for something more complex pushes up the first cost, adds more parts which wear and add to the cost of refurbishment, and the more complex it is, the more likely it is to go wrong - in other words, I was taught to work according to the Engineering Law of KISS.
    "Keep It SIMPLE, Stupid!"
    That was a principle always employed by the late Dr Barnes Wallis. When his 6 ton follow up to the bouncing bomb (as used by the Dam Busters) proved to be inaccurate, he worked out that it was reaching the speed of sound on its way down from 22,000 feet. At this point, pressure waves built up under the nose until they were partly supporting the weight of the bomb, the tail fins lost their effectiveness, and it started to topple over sideways. As it did so, drag increased and the bomb slowed, the tail fins became effective, and the bomb straightened up again (the whole process was only taking a second or less).
    Bear in mind, research into supersonic flight had barely scratched the surface, then.
    Wallace's assistants suggested various remedies, along the lines of air brakes, drogue parachutes, etc - Wallace just got out his slide rule, and worked how much the tail fins should be angled enough that, by the time the bomb hit the sound barrier, it was spinning fast enough that the centrifugal force would keep it flying true (like a rifle bullet). They angled the fins accordingly, and another bomb was taken to the test zone in the New Forest. Some cynic on the test team planted one of the recording cameras right in the middle of the white spot in the centre of the target.
    The Lancaster, equipped with its gyroscopic bombsight, duly made it's ten mile, straight and level bomb run, dropping the Tallboy from three miles back, and over 4 miles up . . . and the bomb landed smack on the white spot . . . :cool:
    I think the current saying would be "RESPEC, bro!"
    :D
     
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  13. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

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    6,568
    Location:
    Oxford
    Found the thread you were quoting @Jack E . This one's a mere 7-and-a-bit years old.

    It's actually quite a nice illustration of the importance of knowing who's who in an internet discussion in order to understand what emphasis to take from it. While both myself and Andi were talking sense at that particular moment (but then I would say that...), there are posters in that thread with much greater baritone expertise than either of us (much Albert Hall experience, etc) - and it's not immediately clear which there are experts, although profile pages provide some hints.
     
  14. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,145
    Dave - many thanks for posting the link. I was quite cross with myself for not making a note of it at the time!

    Re. advice; I generally try to give everyone a fair hearing, especially when in a field in which I'm very much a novice, but I don't follow anyone blindly. Always suck it and see!

    With best regards,

    Jack
     
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