'Xeno' Sop?

Brucey D

New Member
I'm sure most of the sound/tone comes from the mouthpiece and the person who's playing it. Someone with a good sound can get a nice tone out of a Eb trumpet, but it would be hard to cut through the band with an instrument as mellow as a Bb cornet. I think Eb trumpets are so much nicer to play than sops - especially tuning wise. Only wish I could afford a shilke.
 

GJG

Well-Known Member
Brucey D said:
... but it would be hard to cut through the band with an instrument as mellow as a Bb cornet.

But why do you want to "cut through the band"? Surely Brass Band playing is all about blending and homogeny of sound. Of course it's desirable for the soprano to have a slightly brighter sound than that of the Bb's, but not a "cutting" sound? This is why we don't want "modified" trumpets. (the obscenity filter seemed to have a problem with my earlier description, even though it was perfectly correct english ... )
 

brassybabe

Member
Ian Twiss, our sop has been playing on one for the last week and i have to say he is sounding amazing. He will be playing it this weekend in Blackpool if u want to hear it, and the rest of the band of course. :D
 

Bass Trumpet

Active Member
Brucey D said:
I'm sure most of the sound/tone comes from the mouthpiece and the person who's playing it. Someone with a good sound can get a nice tone out of a Eb trumpet, but it would be hard to cut through the band with an instrument as mellow as a Bb cornet. I think Eb trumpets are so much nicer to play than sops - especially tuning wise. Only wish I could afford a shilke.

I have to agree, here. I don't know much about sops, but I know when something sounds nice and it's in tune! There is a thread active at the mo about instrument modification and somebody mentioned that there is generally more research into orchestral instruments than more specialist brass band instruments, so it stands to reason that an Eb trumpet may well be better in tune and easier to blow. There are a great many players who can alter their sound to match whatever music they are playing. Martin Hurrell, trumpet player at the BBC has a beautiful sound and, when playing lyrically, can sound just like one of the banding world's top cornet players.

I sincerely hope that the Xeno sop is as good as people say it is. So many good players have had to struggle against the sopranos of the past and it hasn't done them a lot of justice. I was talking to Gary Fountain a few weeks ago and he had tried a Kanstul soprano which he was quite impressed with. Might be worth looking into if the Xenos are too expensive/difficult to obtain.
 

GJG

Well-Known Member
Bass Trumpet said:
... there is generally more research into orchestral instruments than more specialist brass band instruments, so it stands to reason that an Eb trumpet may well be better in tune and easier to blow.

I'm not disputing that this may be the case in reality at present, I am just suggesting that in an ideal world we would not be simply accepting it as inevitable, and that the Brass Band sop player needs something more than a reshaped trumpet.
 

Fendall

Member
It's a personal thing, but an E flat trumpet with Denis Wick soprano mouthpiece is the perfect combination for me, but I readily admit this may not work for others.

I just think it's funny that as soon as a soprano cornet is designed on the basis of an E flat trumpet (which are, incidentally 2/3rds conical, as per the definition of a cornet) rather than a soprano cornet, everyone goes:
"Wow, this Shilke is the most amazing soprano cornet ever made!"
Yet some of the same people would also say "An E flat trumpet doesn't work and has no place in the traditional brass band sound".

I believe the traditional brass band sound comes from the player first, and secondly the mouthpiece. I've heard people play a trumpet (B flat) to sound like a cornet, and similarly, you can make a cornet sound like a trumpet.

So, that is why I'm hoping the Xeno is the same as my Yamaha trumpet, but bent into the cornet shape, with little effect, so that I can carry on playing essentially the same instrument without offending the "traditionalists".
 

GJG

Well-Known Member
Fendall said:
... a soprano cornet is designed on the basis of an E flat trumpet (which are, incidentally 2/3rds conical, as per the definition of a cornet) rather than a soprano cornet, everyone goes:
"Wow, this Shilke is the most amazing soprano cornet ever made!"
.

I don't intend to openly dispute this, since I have no clear evidence to the contrary, however, do you have any source material to support this assertion?
 

Fendall

Member
I had some measurements and comparisons made in 1996 against commercially available soprano cornets and researched definitions. For a full account, see spitvalve.com.au , forum 'Anything Goes' , "weblog: a true brass band story" thread.

but I will say that, considering the standard of soprano cornets available, it doesn't surprise me that:
1. there are not enough people wanting to play soprano cornet
2. all soprano cornet players seem to "upgrade" their instruments every 3-5 years
3. all soprano players salivate madly (usually in false hope) that the next big thing in sopranos will be 'the answer' that will do unheard of things like:
a)play in tune
b) play freely
c) actually mould with a cornet section, rather than cutting through like a buzzsaw (I agree that a trumpet, with a trumpet mouthpiece, played by a less than excellent player, would do the same)
d) be played to the 'non-banding' public in a solo situation without having to cringe slightly (of course, excellent soprano players can get by, but most others struggle)
e) encourage composers and arrangers to highlight them more
f) attract players to the instrument

Thanks Gareth for keeping me honest about my 'sources', it makes for good discussion, a discussion I think the banding world should be having.
 

GJG

Well-Known Member
'9
Fendall said:
I had some measurements and comparisons made in 1996 against commercially available soprano cornets and researched definitions. For a full account, see spitvalve.com.au , forum 'Anything Goes' , "weblog: a true brass band story" thread.

Very interesting thread, took some time to plough through it (!)

Everything you say about the Yamaha Eb trumpet may well be true; I am in no position to challenge anything you say, and I haven't ever played a Yamaha Eb trumpet anyway; I have played the Yamaha 6610 sop cornet, found it very hard work, with the 1st space 'F' natural being virtually unuseable due to extreme flatness, with no viable alternative fingering(albeit playing on a yamaha '9' cornet mouthpiece, which may not have been the ideal choice).

However, unless I've missed something, I don't see anything to support your suggestion that the Schilke sop cornet is nothing more than a "re-bent" trumpet. I have played both the E3L Eb Trumpet and the Eb Sop Cornet, in fact playing both with a Schilke 12B4 cup mouthpiece with the appropriate cornet and trumpet shanks, and I can assert with conviction that they are not the same instrument. Quite apart from the physical differences in construction already mentioned (bear in mind that the Schilke picc trumpet leadpipe is designed to match a cornet as opposed to trumpet mouthpiece backbore in any case), I found the response, timbre, and intonation characteristics to be different in both instruments. The aforementioned 1st space 'F' natural is still a problem on the sop cornet, although for me more easily 'lip-bent' than on the Yamaha; On the E3L trumpet the same note is more or less 'in-tune'. Many people have mentioned the 'flat' 2nd-line G# on the Schilke sop; I haven't ever found this to be a problem on mine, but this may be just another example of the unpredictability of the interface between any instrument and the varying physiology (sinal/nasal/oral cavity, etc.) of the player. When I play a 3rd space 'C' natural on my sop, it is frequently sharp, (even compared to the average solo cornet players notorious 5th line 'F' (!)), such that I often elect to play it on 2/3; not so on the E3L. I could go on, although given the point already made concerning each player's unique physiological characteristics, it would be pointless, since every player's experience of any given instrument/mouthpiece combination will be different.

The most important thing, however, is that using a Schilke sop (with 12B4 mouthpiece), I can make a reasonable job of blending with a traditional Brass Band cornet section (My opinion obviously; those sitting on the 'wrong' side of the bell may care to differ!); with an Eb trumpet, using the same cup (12B4) I wouldn't even try.
 

Fendall

Member
Gareth,

thank you for your considered response, I think we can "agree to agree"!

I appreciate the Shilke is a 'hybrid' trumpet/cornet design, and that soprano cornets have tuning difficulties, and trumpets can be lethal in the hands of those not suited to them. I made some initial comments worded to generate discussion.(true in my opinion, but weren't qualified properly)

I just stand by my initial thoughts - I hope for my own selfish personal sake that the new Xeno soprano cornet is based more on the Yamaha E flat trumpet so I can play it without persecution, and those like myself can discover the joys of playing an instrument that blends better with a cornet section, in tune, and not feeling like you're playing a "bag of sand", so that more people are encouraged to take up soprano, and the overall standard is increased (the ultimate aim)

We'll leave it to the adjudicators and public to decide if it "sounds wrong".

Thanks again Gareth, I hope we have the chance to meet someday,
 

Offbeats

Member
I haven't got much of a clue about the sops, but I was priveleged recently to get to try out a few Xeno Bb's, and was lucky enough to have Fitzy have a blow on them to see what they were like (thanks for your help Fitzy)..I ended up buying one! I reckon they are swell...

I hope the sop is just as good...Anyone had any lucky trying to get a hold of one yet?
 

Hot Lips

Member
Well I think the xeno is going to have to go some way to matching up to my beloved schilke. I play on a Bach 7E mouthpiece and have not really had any noticable tuning problems, none that a good ear can't sort out.
The Xeno is going to be cheaper that the Schile though, the book price on mine was £2030 which is really expensive. I'm sure the Xeno will provide a viable alternative to the Courtois and previous Yamaha models which I have not played extensively but I found a bit too 'heavy' and difficult to produce a number of different tone colours with.
 

Fendall

Member
Bach 7E is a brilliant mouthpiece isn't it ? I use it in my piccolo trumpet, and my E flat trumpet when I want to sound more like a trumpet (usually use Denis Wick 'S' - soprano cornet mouthpiece)
 

kadsop1

New Member
Have The Prototype Xeno Sop In Question And It Is The Dogs A Very Well Thought Out And Engineered Cornet And Will Give Schilke A Ride For The Money.
 
Fendall said:
I just stand by my initial thoughts - I hope for my own selfish personal sake that the new Xeno soprano cornet is based more on the Yamaha E flat trumpet so I can play it without persecution, and those like myself can discover the joys of playing an instrument that blends better with a cornet section, in tune, and not feeling like you're playing a "bag of sand", so that more people are encouraged to take up soprano, and the overall standard is increased (the ultimate aim)

Out of interest, how many players that you know have tried this trumpet configuration that you use and got on with it? Have you considered the possibility that you have played it for so long that you have got used to working around its deficiencies? Your reasoning appears to take for granted the view that Eb trumpets play really well in tune and sound good throughout the range, which I don't think is necessarily true.

I've always been of the (probably uninformed) view that any Eb trumpet or cornet available will have a strong tendency to be out of tune on some notes, but can be reined in with a good choice of instrument to suit the player and judicious use of alternate fingerings, which are soon worked out.

This is a property not only of the basic physical laws that these instruments have to work around but also low production volume and under-investment in R&D, on trumpets as well as cornets.
 

fitzy

Active Member
I have played many different Eb trumpets and I have found them to be easily more in tune and nicer to play than soprano cornets.

I am really looking forward to getting my hands on a new Xeno Sop to give it a go. I have to say that I don't really like playing Shilke sop's so I hope the Xeno will be much better.
 

Fendall

Member
Starperformer, thank you for your post. My point (which was in italics) is that I am speaking about me personally. As an 18 year old, the trumpet/cornet mouthpiece configuration gave such a HUGE advantage in tone and tuning against soprano cornet models back in 1983 (I played the latest Sovereign for 6 months prior). There was no comparison, and very little need for alternative fingering. I am practising for the Australian Open B flat cornet championship at present, and ON THAT I have to use a heap more alternative fingering for tuning than I do on the E flat trumpet. I have been doing studio recordings of my playing in the last year, and after listening critically, heard tuning deficiencies that were, except for my middle 'D', due to lapses in concentration, breathing, or general tuning from just not being able to hear the accompaniment through the cans - rather than genuine issues with instrument tuning.

I have actually wondered (as one friend suggested after playing it) whether my instrument (Yamaha YTR6610S)is a FREAK, one out-of-the box - I have to admit, I have not tried other models, or even another of the same model.

I took a break from full time banding between 1989 and 2006, but trialling some soprano cornets again in 2003 made me realise that, except for the Shilke, there has been no improvement in the quality of the other commercially available soprano cornets I have trialled since my old circa 1980 Sovereign. By some miracle, I coaxed a Besson to 2nd place behind Fitzy in the 2004 nationals (using a piccolo trumpet mouthpiece), and first in the 2005, despite having to play A flats with the third valve only, and the third slide fully out, and alternative fingerings all over the place - Why do soprano players put up with that??? Challenge the manufacturers, ask for your money back - it is NOT NORMAL OR ACCEPTABLE for a $4000 instrument

It troubles me that, in NZ anyway, we can't attract people to the instrument and that bands have to import soprano players from Australia and Britain every national contest. I'm not trying to say the E flat trumpet is the answer - it is for me, and I'm frustrated that it is not promoted as a viable option because of some "traditionalist" attitudes, backed up by supposedly bad experiences with E flat trumpets (whereas we have ALL experienced bad soprano cornet playing). If orchestras had the same attitude, they would still all be playing sakbuts and wooden cornets - and they are still adapting to things that give a superior result.

The strange thing is, I can play like a 'traditional' soprano cornet as well, but outside of Britain, the general public doesn't know what that is.
 
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Hi Fendall.

I have just got a new Courtois soprano in laquer finish. Used it at the norwegian nationals in february and must say that the tuning is no problem at all. Compared to the Schilkes I have tried (3-4) the tuning is much better at the Courtois.

If the yamahasop is that much better I will be very surprised, but good luck to them trying to do so.

I am using a Bach 3C mouthpiece on this instrument (as I have been using since I started on sop in Eikanger back in 1990) amd I must say I am very satisfied with this instrument.

Sound is a personal thing but tuning is an important constant that has to be good on any instrument that one is playing on.

And, as I told you before, your sound is very good on the recording you sent. A bigger problem than what instrument sop-players are using today is the way they (or maybe we) play it. To much vibrato and it sounds bad whatever the brand of instrument one are using.

This maybe be offtopic since I have not tried the xeno but still, this is my views.

regards,

Frode
Sop Eikanger
 

Fendall

Member
Frode, I have never tried the Courtois. I agree with your vibrato comments, since returning to banding, I've had to consciously "turn it back on". But I do believe the 'full on' vibrato sound probably originated from a combination of the need to disguise bad tuning and lack of confidence in one's tone, similar to vocalists I know (but there must be a vibrato thread to discuss this - I must look). Anyway, it will take a while before we see a Xeno soprano here I imagine, but some of the latest Yamaha trumpets are very impressive (even the cheapest models).
 
Fendall said:
Starperformer, thank you for your post. My point (which was in italics) is that I am speaking about me personally. As an 18 year old, the trumpet/cornet mouthpiece configuration gave such a HUGE advantage in tone and tuning against soprano cornet models back in 1983 (I played the latest Sovereign for 6 months prior).

I'm sure you are generally right - but you must bear in mind that when you say 'better' you actually mean "more suited to me". Maybe you should start a research project, force some of your mates/the wider banding world to give these things a go, see what results you get?

A classic example is the Courtois sop that someone just mentioned, I picked one up earlier this year and blew a few notes, the first two of them (bottom E and D? can't remember) were so out of tune that I didn't feel there was any need to carry on trying it out. This doesn't mean it's not a great instrument for other, better players, but that particular one didn't work for me.
 

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