Is a loud sop a good sop?

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
There's the link to the previous "Best soprano" thread and poll:

http://www.themouthpiece.com/vb/showthread.php?t=9340&highlight=soprano

I'd certainly go along with the remarks about Kevin Crockford's currrent playing: much more subtle than he's sometimes been in the past.

On the subject of loudness, a number of the performances of "Jounrney to the centre of the Earth" at Stevenage were marred for me by sopranos apparently ignoring the dynamics: I know you want to make sure of it, but having heard the Dyke recording with Peter Roberts, and knowing how it could be played, many of the others came as something of a letdown.
 

Cornishwomble

Active Member
It's a matter of discipline isn't it. I played sop for a few years and I must admit when I saw I had a cracking high note it was tempting to belt it out in a kind of "Listen to that!" way.
The man in the middle should reign in anyone who does this, but then again all players whatever the instrument are guilty of this when they get a bit they really like.
 
Sop players MUST be able to play quiet and controlled, and know when to do so. However, there is no better sound than a band fortissimo with a great sop player really blasting it out on top.
 

bigcol

Member
The word I would use is "distinctive". A good sop adds sparkle and colour to the mix and can give that 'wow' factor which makes all the difference to quality sounds, especially in tutti parts. The ability to solely play loud is irrelevant - if to be distinctive means playing a bit louder then it is required. It is often just the case that the sop is required to be just under the main dynamic, especially in the middle dynamics.

It's the old thing about control - knowing how to blow loud isn't the same about knowing when to blow loud.
 

2nd man down

Moderator
Staff member
It's the same as every other instrument in the band IMO, an accurate sop who can play loud or soft up and down the full range when required is a good sop.
 

Brucey D

New Member
I agree with most of what's been said, but you have to admit that it is one of the harder instruments to play high and controlled, so we shouldn't go beating up all the lower section sop players about it all - but we should strive to play with the style, control and class that Mr Roberts (God) does. In my opinion the Sop and Bass Trombone go together to almost add an extra dimension to the music, but the really exposed bits should be saved for just one or two moments in a piece, to add that extra something to the music. A good sop player does make a band, and make the solo cornets' job so much easier.
 

bigcol

Member
Brucey D said:
In my opinion the Sop and Bass Trombone go together to almost add an extra dimension to the music

You know that was going to be my next post!!!! My dad always said that Sop and Bass Trom give a brass band colour and so the players of both instruments need to be extra aware of their position in the mix - sometimes above, sometimes below.

Anyway great minds think alike. :clap::clap::clap::clap:

As an example we're rehearsing Arnhem at present, and the march is infact a brass & wind arrangement which can be played by just BB alone. Trouble is that the sop has got basically the whole flute/oboe/clarinet parts to himself (you can tell by the score) - so I've asked him to play above the dynamic in the louder passages as he is representing a whole windband ;). Don't worry I bat on about playing proper dynamics and stuff the rest of the time :wink:

I also have to point out now and again that a brass band is a band, not 24 brass & 3 percussion supporting a sop soloist:eek::cool:
 

andyp

Active Member
I would take the advice of Harry Bentham, currently conducting Coppull and Standish band but a past conductor of ours:

"Anyone can blow, it takes brains to play!"

My pet hate is the kind of sop who does nothing to help their front row, then comes in on last note top C at fffff, then sits back expecting everyone to go on about how wonderful a last note it was. Glad to say has never happened in our band though.
Although Mr Roberts is pretty much acknowledged to be God, for my money Nigel Fielding runs him a very close second, especially in the ability to do both loud and subtle playing well. Mind you, having had a (4 months) stint at sop playing and discovering it wasn't really for me I admire anyone who can play one well.
 
a great piece of advice that i was given by our conductor, Alan Lawton was

"The sign of a good sop player is how much time they spend with the instrument on their knee"

Basically, one that knows when to play and what to play, There is no point a sop player sat their blasting away middle C's and E's on parts that are covered by all the front row and the rep. A good sop player, knows when to support the front row, when to tone it down, play gracefully, when to dominate and when to be soloistic.
I have to say that regarding Kevin Crockford, i agree with what has been said totally, there was a point a few years ago, when Crockpot could really blast it out, but when playing quiet, seemed reallly uncomfortable. It seems that his playing has matured so much and he was spot on at Bradford.
Alan Wycherly and Michelle Ibbotson both have all the characterisitcs of a great player. They are both breathtaking in quiet passages, and never overblow just to get heard,, and they are great band players, which i think is so important in a good sop player.
 

bigcol

Member
In a lower section band a good sop is a great asset - not only do they help with the band's sound and colour, but they also help out in the upper register when you might have have a front row capable of long stints on B's and C's (or play them in tune!)
 

dyl

Active Member
tailor said:
I would add another name to the list if I knew who he was!!
Really? You don't know who he was/is? Funny that......................the email address in your profile suggests you know him very well!

:rolleyes:
 

persins

Member
Cornishwomble said:
Looking further south, Mark Pye at Woodfalls is absolute class and if he was up North would definately be mentioned in the same breath as Peter Roberst

So much so that even 4br decided he deserved an honourable mention in their retrospecitive of the regionals this year:clap: .

Soprano is a very difficult instrument to master. It is really easy to just go for the projection and laser beam approach and although that has it's place, it's not normally the best option! As always the sound should blend with the rest of the band while still retaining it's own distinctive voice.

A notable exception to this is when the Prinicpal cornet tries to challenge the sop player to a silly note contest. In that case, give it both barrells straight at his head!! hehe, Pinewalk was fun. I don't think I've ever seen James Cooper quite as smug! Isn't that so, Bassbone???!!!!
 

2nd man down

Moderator
Staff member
ScreamingSop said:
"The sign of a good sop player is how much time they spend with the instrument on their knee"

Ours must be fantastic then cos its ALWAYS on his knee!! ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha






a-hem.:roll:
 

Griffin

Active Member
ScreamingSop said:
a great piece of advice that i was given by our conductor, Alan Lawton was

"The sign of a good sop player is how much time they spend with the instrument on their knee"

Basically, one that knows when to play and what to play, There is no point a sop player sat their blasting away middle C's and E's on parts that are covered by all the front row and the rep. A good sop player, knows when to support the front row, when to tone it down, play gracefully, when to dominate and when to be soloistic.

Great advice - something I adhere to.
Knowing when to tonk it out and knowing when to keep it subtle is a skill.. not easy to do.

I greatly admire those Sop players who can totally blow it - I know I can't (yet - still workin on it!). I prefer to go for the subtle approach - It matches my sound better.
 

imthemaddude

Active Member
bennem said:
The issue in the lower sections I feel is that the sop player is usually one of the more technically proficient players in the band. Therefore they feel they need to show this off and play too loud in the hope of covering up some of the "bruised" notes from the rest of the cornet section.

A good principal cornet can do this too.
 

RussQ

Member
Tough hooter to master. The 'few' really great exponents prove that. In my opinion Crockers takes some beating. To play sop at the top level for that length of time takes some doing, and he's getting better!
He took some stick a few years back as far as volume is concerned, which perhaps may have been encouraged by the man in the middle!
His stamina is incredible. I've seen him play in many concerts, and one thing is for sure, he's no shirker! Even the few splits are given the full treatment!
It's no coincidence that every band he's joined has had pretty much immediate success. Long may it continue!
 

imthemaddude

Active Member
A technically poor sop when playing the same as the cornets but louder and badly can also make the cornets sound poor as it leads the ear to the sop with its distinctive sound and the other blending lower.
 
i'n responce to one of stevs earlier comments a subtle sop i birillants but the same player needs to be able to stand out to and very few players can doo that and i agree watch out for Gary Fountain
 

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