Two sops at contests

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Jack, Apr 18, 2016.

  1. Jack

    Jack Member

    I know it was a while ago, but I was looking through photos from last years national finals at the RAH on Facebook and I am sure I saw at least two bands playing an extra sop sat on the front row. I have also seen other bands at other contests play two sops. It is allowed, (I checked) I just wondered what people's opinions on it are?
  2. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    What did they sacrifice?
  3. Gadgie

    Gadgie New Member

    It's all about making best use of your resources. Some played an extra sop, some swapped some sop work on to the front row, whatever works best to horse out the loud bits and be fit to play the delicate stuff. Some even played as written! If it's seamless, it's good management.

    Front row sacrifice would be the obvious one at RAH but the rules are different for some other contests, notably the Europeans where some bands have often used 2 sops, so it's an extra rather than a sacrifice.
  4. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    While I agree that bands can and should do what they need to do, I find it odd that at that level that sop players cannot make it through a single 15-20 minute performance without needing to share the load. Are the sop parts unreasonably demanding (genuine question, if I tried to play a sop I think I would swallow it)? Stamina issues aside, it must be pretty boring to rehearse only 50% or so of a piece and have your instrument on your lap the rest of the time.

    Or am I getting it wrong and 2nd sop is being used to help out the front row through the big/high stuff?
  5. Sop68

    Sop68 New Member

    Hi Guys.
    We used 2 sops at the RAH last year. There is definitely no rule against it! If anything it really makes sense when tackling one of these huge Euro type test pieces.
    As far as how much of my part the other sop played? A total of 6 bars. But they were a very welcome 6 bars rest!!! I would say it enabled me to deliver the rest of the piece comfortably. As far as the rest of the Test went he was pivotal in assisting the front row in what was a very tough high blow for them.
    At the Europeans it has been the norm for a lot of bands for a while. It's a tough 2 day contest!
    Having said that I will be attending as the lone sop this year. I'm feeling brave!!!!!!
    Lots of love from a tired old sop owner.
  6. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    Cleared it up for me, thanks!
  7. Sop68

    Sop68 New Member

    'Twas a pleasure my Man.;)
  8. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    Time to update the name of that other website! Would it be 6 BarsRest or 4 BarsRest plus 2?
    On a serious note, thank you for the very informative comments. That post was everything that tMP is all about! You think of yourself as a "tired old sop owner" but you sure don't sound like a "tired old sop player". Keep it coming!
    Sop68 likes this.
  9. It's all within the rules GUS did it too as I recall. A band can turn up with 10 sops, 10 bass trombones and 5 BBb basses if they want, although they might loose. I recall a few years ago at the nationals a piece was set with no rep part, so the band's had a piece that only needed 24 players, so they all had a spare man somewhere, usually a fifth on the front, but some were more imaginative.
  10. Gadgie

    Gadgie New Member

    Yes, Steve, but only one stood up to play the last note!
    MoominDave, Sop68 and Slider1 like this.
  11. David Broad

    David Broad New Member

    There definitely used to be rules restricting the number of Eb Cornets many years ago. The is / was the lack of players able to play the Sop part, If you cant hit that high concert C square on at the end if the piece you are better employed getting a round of drinks in. In the past I have often swapped from Bb to Sop in mid concert and even mid piece. Is there anything in the contest rules to prevent this? Or indeed stopping the Sop player picking up a BBb Bass and playing the last note 5 octaves or so lower. Should get a laugh.
  12. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Contest rules usually prohibit players from playing more than one brass instrument - apparently goes back to the early days when a player played the euphonium solo, then switched to valve trombone for the trom part. The only exceptions are when it is a requirement of the test piece, as in 'Dances and Arias'.
  13. This is true. The rules states 25 brass players and lists the different types of instruments you can take on the stage. I don't think any contest says that the 25 instruments have to be in the normal contesting ratio. As a rule it wouldn't solve a problem worth solving. With the exception of a bit of adding an extra sop and loosing a cornet, no one ever does anything else with the RAH or British open instrumentation. Further down the contesting spectrum, it likely that you might only have say three basses on your books, but you've got four tenor horns. Telling your bottom horn he can't play, unless he picks up a BBb bass would help no one and just upset.

    The last thing we need is more rules!!
    midlandman, Slider1 and Tom-King like this.
  14. Chris Hicks

    Chris Hicks Member

    When I played at the Open a couple of years ago with Flowers, we used two sops. It was the year Vita Aeterna Variations was the test piece. Our second sop player played mainly front row parts as they were very high throughout and demanding stamina wise, although he did cover the odd Sop bar, although not many from what i recall. We played with three on the front row, and the fourth front row player played the sop.
  15. JimboFB

    JimboFB Active Member

    Further to Chris's post above id add that we were lucky that our 4th man was at the time a very accomplished soprano cornet player at the welsh college who was playing front row with us while he was at music college. We were lucky in that we had this option available to us within the ranks.

    Sadly for us, Ben has now moved on to work for Her Majesty as a musician, so keep your eyes peeled for him - a great player for sure.

    My only observation is why is it only the sops that get help? Quite often on the ol G trom, i'm totally knackered by the end of one of these banzai test pieces, could do with a sub halfway thru for a few bars off too!
  16. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    I am one of two second troms these days and my lungs thank me every day (you should hear the thugs on solo and bass, and in the UK I was known as a loud player with a big sound).
  17. GordonH

    GordonH Member

    I am not convinced that stamina is the issue. Maybe stamina over a week of long rehearsals making playing on the day of the contest difficult. Surely it is about getting a bit more dexterity in the upper register so you can play more cleanly and with more control? Possibly aiming for that type of sound too?
  18. JimboFB

    JimboFB Active Member

    There's an element of composers (and also players) pushing the boundaries of playing both in range and dynamics. The question is whether its still classed as enjoyable at the end of performance for both the player and audience.

    Work smarter, not harder - my motto in life.
    Euphonium Lite and Slider1 like this.
  19. Gadgie

    Gadgie New Member

    Well that certainly worked! Two super performances, great win for the band and place secured for Ostend next year. Congratulations!
  20. carlwoodman

    carlwoodman Member

    Tredegar Town Band has sacrificed a 3rd Cornet for an extra Eb Bass in the recent past.

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