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Thread: Pedal Tone Questions

  1. Pedal Tone Questions

    OK, I'm the new guy, just getting started on the euphonium a little over a month ago. So...for the past couple of days, I've been working on producing pedal tones. It took me some time to manage to produce a pedal Bb, but now I get it, and the notes are getting stable and producable at will.

    But...I have a question. There appears to be a usable Eb between the normal Bb on the second line of the Bass Clef, and the pedal Bb an octave lower. Indeed, from that Eb, I can finger additional notes up or down the scale.

    I got my tuner out, and that Eb is even in tune, and I can produce a good range of dynamics for it. Similar tones exist for all the fingerings, it seems, since I can produce them at will...in fact, a lot easier than the pedal Bb.

    Are these false pedal tones or what, and are they something I should be working on or are they generally verboten for use? This is confusing to a poor soul with no private teacher, so I'm counting on you folks.

    Note: this is a three-valve, non-compensating Czech euphonium from the 1920s.

  2. #2

    Pedal Tone Questions

    Those notes exist as false tones to a greater or lesser extent on euphoniums. I once witnessed jazz trombonist Bill Watrous play down a scale from high Bb to pedal Eb on a non-valve trombone. He was using those false tones very well.

    The tones can be most easily found by starting on pedal Bb and trying to push up the pitch. Depending on the horn, it will go up to a D or an Eb fairly well. It is very good exercise to learn to use them, but it's also difficult to get the tone to sound just right. I would say go ahead and work on them.

    But the false notes are easier to get on some horns than others. Comparing trumpet to cornet to flugelhorn there is a distinct difference. It is hard to get an in tune pedal Bb (written C) on trumpet, a bit easier on cornet, and fairly easy on flugel.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
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    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  3. Pedal Tone Questions

    Thanks, Dave. I did some looking around on the web after posting and found some information. There seems to be some confusion about the physics of those tones, since they don't fit into the harmonic series.

    It occurs to me that they may be related, in some way, to the way a clarinet overblows, not to the octave, but to (if I remember correctly) the 12th. That's a function of the cylindrical bore of the instrument.

    Since most brass instruments, including my euphonium, have a cylindrical portion of the tubing (through the valves) that might explain it in part...in some way I don't quite understand, not being a physics guy.

    As for finding the tone on the open bugle, it was a snap. It found me, as I was trying to produce the pedal Bb. Try as I might, out came an Eb. I've found the pedal now, but in experimenting with that false tone, I find that I can make it a pretty good-sounding note. I can see that it, and the related tones with other fingerings, might be useful, even though little or no music is written for the euph in that range.

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