Going Down??

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Terrible Tuba, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. Terrible Tuba

    Terrible Tuba Member

    Im a BBb Bass player wanting to improve on my lower register, does anyone have any advice or know of any exercises that will benefit me;

    Any help will be greatly appreciated, cheers.

  2. bassinthebathroom

    bassinthebathroom Active Member

    Slurs into the lower register are great. i.e. Start with bottom C on open and slur to a bottom G on 4th. Continue downwards chromatically until you run out of notes/steam! Try these with the first note piano cresc. to forte and vice versa. Also using a mute is a great help when practising lower register. Also try putting a cushion or blanket down the bell and doing the above exercise, and try harmonic lip slurs using all valve combinations up and down and hold the lower notes. Muted and unmuted. Hope this helps, and if I think of any more I'll put them up. I also use Kopprasch Horn study books (in treble clef, also available in Bass Clef) as there are some great lower register building studies in there.
  3. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Oh. I see.

    Thought it was another anti Alan Pardew comment!

    Relax as much as possible when playing. Make sure you are as comfortable as possible, that the chair is suitable and that you are not over reaching to the mouth piece. (Obtain a tuba stand or "ping pong bat" if your Bb Bass has a nipple to help the leadpipe and mouthpiece be in the correct place.)

    As with many things, if you do the basics properly, the more complicated stuff will flow.

    Thsi method works equally well at cricket - someone at my club "clears his mind" when waiting to receive a delivery. Doesn't take long, mind!

    Will (who is now going to do some practice and and practice what he preaches...)
  4. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    The engine room
    Some people are never happy, even when the local team wins.

    I would reiterate the sensible suggestion of a chair. If you are playing on a besson 700 series, then you will need to be at least 6'2" to be able to play without the bass needing to rest on the chair, or a stand. Relaxation is the key, a tight set of chops will not be conducive to low note playing.

    In addition to the slurs in 4ths, try slurs in octaves from C on the stave to Middle C, and then descend in semitones.

    Lastly it depends on the depths that you wish to plumb as to what may be the last resorts. You won't generally find anything below pedal C's in the lower section test pieces, even in previous championship test pieces, as these were written for 3 valve instruments. Bourgeois often likes to get the full extent out of BBb basses and I have seen him write down to pedal A.

    My own personal favourite for obtaining low notes is to play on an EEb bass and try to get as low as possible on that first.
  5. tubaplayer

    tubaplayer Member

    I think it is also very important not just to play 4ths and octaves. If you look at most of your music it is probably not the most common set of intervals. I suggest practicing whole tone scales, slurred down into the low register. The reason for this is that the interval between each note is always a tone, helping your intonation. Also, as a mind thing. Try and imagine playing your low register as good as your middle register. Try taking some of your pieces down an octave in practice and maybe even two and get them to sound as good as when you play them at pitch!!!

    Hope that helps!!
  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Hadleigh, Essex
    I agree with tubaplayer that developing good intonation and tone in the bottom register is vital. I tend to spend time playing melodies, hymn tunes etc, down the octave, as well as lots of descending and ascending scales and arpeggios.
  7. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    Farnham, Surrey, UK
    As my name may suggest to you, I am not a tuba player. However, I do find that many of my trumpet students struggle to play cleanly in the lowest registers of our instrument, so I thought I would post a few of the exercises I do with them (I also do similar things with my horn, trombone, euphonium and tuba students). They are also exercises I have found very useful in my own playing, I hope they might be of some use.

    Descending chromatic exercises. Start on a comfortable note that you can produce your fullest tone with. Set you metronome at about 80 then descend downwards in minims. Minim play, minim rest, concentrating wholly upon the sound you are producing. When the tone starts to deteriorate, stop descending and hold that note for as long as you can, trying to increase the fullness of the tone. Then go back a few notes (up a few semitones) and start descending once again. Do this for about 5-10 minutes each day.
    Doing this daily (please note - daily practice is essential for improving either extremity of any instrument) should bring about a noticeable improvement in tone and clarity in your lower register. You will probably find that after a few days your "comfort zone" starts to drop down a few semitones. This is a good sign.

    Lip Bending exercises. Reading a treble clef C below the stave (this is a brass band based forum, but this confuses the heck out of me - treble clef for the BBb bass monsters:confused: ), play the C, then the B, then return to the C. Listen very carefully to the intonation. Then repeat the exercise WITHOUT USING THE SECOND VALVE! The aim is to produce the same quality of tone and the same accurate intonation using just the lips. When this can be easily achieved (don't be upset if it takes a few days of real work), try going from B to Bb then back to B, using just the second valve. When that is easy (it will probably be relatively easy compared to your first efforts going from C to B), go from C to B to Bb and then back up again, using only "open."
    ALWAYS start each attempt by playing it through WITH the valves, to get the intonation secure in your head.
    As your proficiency at these exercises increases, extend downwards.

    Do you ever do mouthpiece buzzing?
    Compared to a trumpet or cornet, this is relatively difficult to achieve with any level of proficiency, however, if you find that you are able to produce a full tone on the mouthpiece alone, when you add the instrument on to the end of it you should find that the tone is even more full than before.
    If you can buzz a long tone on the mouthpiece, try playing simple tunes, especially in the lower register. If you find this hard, don't be surprised - most people I have tried this with (on all brass instruments) find it difficult. Be critical of the tone (keep it as full as possible) and be very certain of the intonation.

    Be assured, if a note exists on the instrument, someone will write for it. It is worth learning right to the bottom end of the pedal register, just in case. You will probably also find that if you are able to play into the very depths of the pedal register, the more "standard" notes you are expected to achieve become relatively easy.
    I find that I do this with my warm-up. By the end of my warm-up routine I am covering from double pedal C to double C (that's 5 octaves). Not because I ever need this sort of range in my playing (rarely need the low stuff, the high stuff does appear), but because I know that if I am prepared to play an octave below where I need and an octave above, the notes I am going to be playing on the gig are not going to be those that I am struggling with.

    Out of interest, do you have a teacher, or somebody you could go to for advice relating directly to your playing? Online resources are an excellent place to get ideas, but we are in no position to check whether you are doing anything unadvisable in terms of your emnbouchure set-up, that may be affecting the way you play in your lower register.

    Apologies for not being able to address the specific needs of BBb bass playing, but these are exercises I have found useful in my own playing and the playing lives of my students.

    Good luck descending to new depths.
  8. kiwiposaune

    kiwiposaune New Member

    I thoroughly endorse trumpetmike's suggestions - especially the pitch bending and buzzing.

    Virtually the first thing I do each day (besides asking my wife why she has orchestral grade earplugs in) is buzzing - first free buzzing (without the mouthpiece) and then with the mouthpiece. My goal is to be able to buzz anything and everything that I have to play with the best possible tone. Upping my buzzing from 10 minutes a day to 45 minutes (about 2 years ago) has brought about more improvement in my playing (including my very low range) than any other single thing I've ever done.

    The pitch bending exercise is just about the first thing I do with my trombone, euph, bass trumpet, alto,etc. (the first thing I do is play a middle C - its the easist note for me to make a good sound on and it sets the standard for every other sound I want to make in that session). I start on low C (Bb concert pitch), descend by a semi-tone and then back to the C, descend 2 semi-tones and return, etc., until I'm descending to F# (E concert pitch) and returning by semi-tones to the C. After 10 minutes of that, my chops feel very flexible and I'm much better able to produce the same sound in the low (or high) range that I can in the middle.

    Playing exercises, tunes, excerpts, etc. down the octave or up the octave is a superb exercise. Don't just do it by rote, however, work hard to increasingly make the extreme ranges sound just as good as the original octave.
  9. Terrible Tuba

    Terrible Tuba Member

    Thanks for all your help fellas, it is greatly appreciated.

    Unfortunately not, due to work commitments, the time I do not spend at band, I spend at work, much to my wifes annoyance,

    Thanks again.

  10. lewis

    lewis Member

    Guildford, Surrey
    low playing

    Try false harmonics. That means lip down to the next harmonic from each note going down chromatically. Then when you come the playing the lower harmonics for real they should have opened up quite a lot.

    Another tip is just to play chromatic scales with long notes quitely going must lower than you would need to normally so then the really low stuff will become your comfortable register!

    it's all very boring practise but good luck with it.
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