Brass Band Instrumentation

Do you think the American system of teaching bass clef eupho and baritone ONLY (!!!!!!) is good or b


  • Total voters
    57

Lauradoll

Active Member
I was taught to read bass and treble clef, probably because I had lessons with a trombone player when I first started playing. I found it very useful and still comes in handy from time to time. It's dead easy once you get your head round it, however if I was to try and learn it now, I'd probably have a load of trouble!
 
:lol: As a trombonist who was brought up playing in concert & brass bands and orchestras with 4 clefs the previous points just confirm that most other instrument players are either not bright enough or too lazy to be a trombonist.

Bass/treble clef - stop moaning and get practising.
 

John Brooks

Well-Known Member
I attended a seminar by Eric Ball a number of years ago and he expressed a personal desire to see two soprano cornets. He found himself somewhat limited by there being only one.

That was a long time ago, but I believe that's the essence of his comments on the topic.
 

Brian Kelly

Active Member
Morghoven said:
PeterBale said:
...featuring a trombone quartet or similar as a feature.

As a slight aside (and a follow-on from what Dave Payn and others have said)...I'd like to see four trombones become standard for a brass band! Any takers?

Dave

I would definately be for it. I have spent most of my playing career in Salvation Army bands which do not have the size restrictions imposed on contesting bands. As a result, much SA band music is written for a section of 4 trombones, and the SA has published many trombone quartets, both with band accompaniment and as unaccompanied quartets. There is even some SA band music written for a section of 5 trombones, and I understand that SA composer Michael Kenyon once wrote a trombone septet with band accompaniment for a tour of Scotland by the Hadleigh Temple Band in the 1970s (maybe Peter Bale knows more about this?)

There are also SA band pieces written with 3 Eb bass parts instead of 2, and with divided 1st cornet (repiano) parts and divided 1st baritone parts.

On the clef issue, I had to learn bass clef when I moved on to bass trombone, as, curiously, only the bass trombone and percussion play in bass clef in brass bands. As I moved from a valved instrument on to bass trombone, it was probably easier for me to learn bass clef than it would have been if I had moved from tenor trombone, as I was learning "new" notes and new slide positions simultaneously. Learning bass clef opened up a whole new musical world to me, which would have remained closed had I remained restricted to treble clef. There could be a good argument for publishing bass parts in bass clef (gets rid of all those ledger lines), and maybe the tenor trombone parts as well. I believe that the American Band Journal, published by the Salvation Army in New York, provides parts in both bass clef and treble clef for basses, trombones, and euphoniums, perhaps influenced by the US education system.
 

Trom41821

Member
Having learnt valved brass at school I was only ever taught TC. Now in my old age and lunacy I've taken to the Trombone as well as Euph I now acknowledge my own downfall. where do I begin in trying to learn BC?? :cry:
 

blue euph

Member
When I learned BC (back in my sophmore highschool days), I used a beginner yahama euph. methods book then just got used to transposing to the point where it became natural. Similarly, I think Trom41821, you could get a beginner euph book in bc. Yes, I know the songs are simple etc. , but its a good place to start.

I started in TC b/c I started out as a trumpet player andplayed trumpet in concert band and jazz band. The only reason I learned BC was I had to play valve trombone in senior jazz band (and for the record I was able to play the vbone in tune and blend well). At the time, getting into senior jazzband as a sophmore was almost unheard of.
 

didjeeman

New Member
I think it is important to learn both treble and bass clef as well as transposition so players are polyvalent and can play any kind of music..:-D don't you think??
 

brasscrest

Active Member
Low brass players should learn both clefs. And alto and tenor clef also. And also rudiments of transposition.
 

Incognito

Member
People playing bass instruments should use bass clef. If it was a good thing to use trebel cleff then pianists and cellists would use trebble clef for the bass parts.

The main differecne between a trumpet and a cornet is actually the mouthpiece these days.
Teh average cornet is quite close to the average trumpet.
Trumpets tend to have longer (reversed) lead pipes than they used to and the bell flares tend to be faster at the back end than they used to be.
I am pretty certain a court would define my Eb trumpet as a cornet (it has the Schilke A bell on it).

Anyway, that aside, the reason there is no great clamour for change of instrumentation is that classical brass players tend not to mix in brass bands and visa versa.
This is mainly because of the clef/transposition issue.
I often get asked to find people to play in orchestra concerts, but i can't ask anyone from a brass band normally because all the trumpet parts are in odd keys and you really do need to be able to transpose. The trombome and tuba parts are in clefs brass band players are not normally used to. Writing it out would be rather complex.

There is a whole different community of brass players who play in orchestras.
The standard is usually lower than brass band players and the individuals involved are usually of a higher social class (I can hear people groaning already)

In my secton in the orchestra we have me (MD of a reasonably large company), two doctors, a computer programmer, a librarian, a music student.
I have never met a doctor who played in a brass band (although i am sure there must be some).
Nearly every second person in our orchestra is a doctor or surgeon.
Its great if you can't get an appointment.

I am afraid the two communities will never mix for purely social reasons.
If we start getting french horn parts in brass band scores it will be very difficult to get horn players in to play the parts, abd its not easy to double on because its left handed and the valve fingering is different.
 

groovy

Active Member
I don't see the point in euphs/baris learning bass clef if they are only going to be playing in a brass band, cos the parts are usually quite high and TC means you don't end up in ledger-line land.
As for general instrumentation, I would love to hear a french horn playing with brass band accomp. I'm not sure how well this would work, but the french horn is fantastic. I don't think the standard line-up needs changing, but sometimes features with other instruments are great. e.g YBS at the European's gala earlier this year, when they had the trumpet & bodhran. just mho.
 

brassneck

Active Member
Try listening to Frank Lloyd/Desford playing Edward Gregson's Horn Concerto on the first Gregson CD (Doyen CD 017, 1992) conducted by the composer.
 

Incognito

Member
I started as a french horn player.

Its quite useful having an understanding of the instrument and it means I am not too hard on horn players :-D

Its a very difficult instrument to master and keep on top of.
French horn players need a very good sense of pitch to keep it in tune.
 

brasscrest

Active Member
groovy said:
I don't see the point in euphs/baris learning bass clef if they are only going to be playing in a brass band, cos the parts are usually quite high and TC means you don't end up in ledger-line land.
As for general instrumentation, I would love to hear a french horn playing with brass band accomp. I'm not sure how well this would work, but the french horn is fantastic. I don't think the standard line-up needs changing, but sometimes features with other instruments are great. e.g YBS at the European's gala earlier this year, when they had the trumpet & bodhran. just mho.
A couple of points in favor of learning both:

1. Much of the good practice literature for low brass is in the bass clef. You can only go so far using trumpet and cornet books for other instruments.

2. You might someday be asked to play bass trombone :)

3. Knowing bass clef makes it much easier to cover an Eb part on a Bb instrument (read the treble clef Eb part as bass clef, adding three flats to the key signature, up an octave when necessary).
 

Louis

New Member
One phenomenon in American bands is the marching band doing halftime shows at football (American) games. In my school system, we didn't march with baritones/euphoniums. All bari/euph players learned trombone for this. This was bass clef, of course. So I'm tempted to conclude that one of the reasons why many bari/euph players here only read bass clef has to do with the marching band and the need for trombones. But maybe that was just my experience...

Negative: No treble clef reading.

Positive: Learned both trombone and euphonium.

I was fortunate enough to start out WAY back on trumpet. So I was exposed to treble clef there. I just started playing with a British-style brass band two weeks ago, and the Bb treble reading actually came back to me remarkably easily.

Louis
 

groovy

Active Member
brasscrest said:
1. Much of the good practice literature for low brass is in the bass clef. You can only go so far using trumpet and cornet books for other instruments.
I don't agree with this, I used trumpet/cornet practise books quite sucessfully on euph and still do. In fact, some simply have trumpet/cornet in TC and transpose the same material into BC for low brass.

brasscrest said:
2. You might someday be asked to play bass trombone :)
I know. I was! ;) However, the trombone is different, as bass clef is very useful as orchestral/wind band and some brass ensembles all have trombone in bass clef. I agree that it is good to learn at least these 2 clefs on trom, if you wish to play in groups other than brass bands. However someone learning baritone is unlikely to be asked to play bass trombone.

brasscrest said:
3. Knowing bass clef makes it much easier to cover an Eb part on a Bb instrument (read the treble clef Eb part as bass clef, adding three flats to the key signature, up an octave when necessary).
Again true, and useful, but I don't think it is good enough reason to justify learning completely in bass clef on euphonium or baritone.

;)
 

Incognito

Member
Given that bass clef is a direct continuation of treble clef (i.e. its not like alto clef where there is crossover) would it not just be simpler to learn both as part of musc theory when you learn things like FACE ?
I know that I have found ebing able to read bass clef useful for score reading, conducting (occasionally) and other things I have had to do over the years.
If you play the piano you have to learn it anyway.

Mind you I can remember some very old brass abnd parts with tenor or alto clef parts for trombone which must be a lot worse than bass clef.
 

brasscrest

Active Member
groovy said:
I don't agree with this, I used trumpet/cornet practise books quite sucessfully on euph and still do. In fact, some simply have trumpet/cornet in TC and transpose the same material into BC for low brass.
I'm talking about specific methods for specific instruments, not general things like Arban.
For example, every professional trombone player I know (and I know many) use the Rochut series of trombone etudes - and I've never seen these in treble clef.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't use cornet books for practise on low brass, but that there is a much wider array of literature available if you know both bass and treble clef.

Learning tenor and bass clef allows euphonium and baritone players to use a great deal of string literature that wuold otherwise be unavailable (I used to play Vivaldi cello sonatas as unaccompanied euph solos - mostly written in tenor clef, with bass clef sometimes used to avoid ledger lines).

groovy said:
. . . I don't think it is good enough reason to justify learning completely in bass clef on euphonium or baritone.

;)
Correct :) . I advocate learning in all clefs (I voted for the second option in this poll). Learning in just one is deficient either way. I also believe that all baritone and euphonium players should at least learn the rudiments of slide trombone - playing trombone is a great way to train your ear.
 

brasscrest

Active Member
Incognito said:
Given that bass clef is a direct continuation of treble clef (i.e. its not like alto clef where there is crossover) would it not just be simpler to learn both as part of musc theory when you learn things like FACE ?
I know that I have found ebing able to read bass clef useful for score reading, conducting (occasionally) and other things I have had to do over the years.
If you play the piano you have to learn it anyway.

Mind you I can remember some very old brass abnd parts with tenor or alto clef parts for trombone which must be a lot worse than bass clef.
The big difference is that treble clef brass parts are transposed and bass clef parts are not. So a C in a bass clef part is a D in a treble clef part. The issue is not knowing what the note is called in that particular clef, but how to play it. One thing that would help is if all players understood how their parts are transposed and everyone spoke in concert pitch, but that's probably never going to happen. (As a conductor, it's tiresome to have to say "play a C if you're a Bb instrument and a G if you're an Eb instrument" rather than "play a Bb concert".)
 

groovy

Active Member
brasscrest said:
I'm talking about specific methods for specific instruments, not general things like Arban.
For example, every professional trombone player I know (and I know many) use the Rochut series of trombone etudes - and I've never seen these in treble clef.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't use cornet books for practise on low brass, but that there is a much wider array of literature available if you know both bass and treble clef.
For euph/baritone specifically?

brasscrest said:
Learning tenor and bass clef allows euphonium and baritone players to use a great deal of string literature that wuold otherwise be unavailable (I used to play Vivaldi cello sonatas as unaccompanied euph solos - mostly written in tenor clef, with bass clef sometimes used to avoid ledger lines).
This is a good point, and even bassoon music can be used for this purpose. But, for the treble clef euph/bari player there is an extensive range of music written specifically for them, as well as trumpet/cornet/horn etc if playing unaccompanied (as you mentioned above.) ;)

brasscrest said:
Correct :) . I advocate learning in all clefs (I voted for the second option in this poll). Learning in just one is deficient either way. I also believe that all baritone and euphonium players should at least learn the rudiments of slide trombone - playing trombone is a great way to train your ear.
Everyone should learn trombone! :D
 

brasscrest

Active Member
groovy said:
For euph/baritone specifically?
I was mostly thinking of trombone, which requires different and specific technique. There are a few euphonium books, used in university settings, that are specific for the instrument.

groovy said:
This is a good point, and even bassoon music can be used for this purpose. But, for the treble clef euph/bari player there is an extensive range of music written specifically for them, as well as trumpet/cornet/horn etc if playing unaccompanied (as you mentioned above.)
There is an equal, if not larger, range of euphonium music written in the bass clef. Remember, there are many more concert bands, wind ensembles, and orchestras in the world than there are brass bands. I don't agree that only learning bass clef is the right way to go, but neither is only learning treble clef. To be a complete player, you ned to learn all clefs.
 
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