Making those extra low notes

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by 2nd tenor, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    On the bigger instruments it is possible to play notes between ‘bottom G’ and ‘peddle C’ without using a fourth valve or ‘f section’. It takes a great deal of skill to get these ‘falset’ notes ( ) and I have never managed to produce any despite many attempts. Fortunately notes that low have never been asked of me as Tenor Trombonist, but if given a Bass Trombone part to play the skill could come in real handy.

    Have any of the low brass players on the forum any tips on how to make those extra low notes ‘speak’ through a three valve ‘Tuba’ (Euphonium, Eb Bass and Bb Bass) or straight Trombone?
  2. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I have never been able to play anything lower than f# without using a 4-valve instrument. If I go the octave lower I can do it but, again, there's a gap below the next f#. AFAIK, the notes you are talking about are not available due to the restrictions imposed by the harmonic series. What you call pedal notes are the fundamental or first harmonic notes of the tube.
  3. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the reply, it’s much appreciated. You give the reasons I expected for the gap in the playable range and it’s reassuring to me to find that a very experienced Brass Band player hasn’t come across the falset tones which can bridge that gap.

    I came across falset tones by chance. If you go through a thread on the American trombone forum (,78646.0.html) you will find both a couple of ex-professional trombonists’ talking about them and links to a video demonstrating them being played.
  4. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    They are certainly easier to obtain with larger instruments, and my main experiece has been on BBb bass, before we had 4-valved instruments. Salvation Army music would quite often write the bottom F or EB, frequently giving the fingering (open for the F, 1st valve for the EB). As to how to obtain them that's hard to explain, except that you need a very open embouchure.
  5. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Although they are not impossible to play on smaller instruments; however they are not tonally "useable". I was taught to use them as an embouchure development exercise when I studied trumpet with the late John MacMurray, and I believe they are a core principle of the Di Maggio exercises.
  6. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    On a striaght trombone, you use extended positions, so 3rd becomes 3rd+ in reality more 4th!
  7. Andy_J3

    Andy_J3 New Member

    Whilst I can't comment on the trombone side of things, they are definitely obtainable and usable on the tubas. In fact, it is advocated among many good teachers as an embouchure strengthening exercise to assist one's low register playing in general. As Peter suggests, I find an "open" or relaxed embouchure is key and one needs to use a significantly higher volume of air because you are blowing against the false harmonic. Here is an example of one of the masters showing it in practice, starting on low C down to low F:

  8. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    On trombone, they are easier to obtain on smaller-bore instruments. Easier on tenor than bass, in short. Even easier on a small jazz tenor. Although on some tuba models notes a perfect 5th below the 2nd partial just seem to fall out of the bell easily, playing these notes on trombone requires some strength of embouchure to 'grip' them - i.e. to aim for the right pitch, despite knowing that the note 'shouldn't' be there. I find that they usually work best with slide position as for a major 3rd higher; so (in transposing treble clef), I would fake low F in 4th, E in 5th, Eb in 6th, and D in 7th. Then C# requires a trigger to fake. Some claim to find it easier to bend a 4th - I don't know why - shape of mouth cavity perhaps?

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