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Thread: Volume limits of the compensating EEb?

  1. Volume limits of the compensating EEb?

    I've wondered about the solos of John Fletcher. No doubt he has absolutely incredible technical proficiency, but it seems to me that he's not playing particularly loudly or 'powerfully.' I'm saying this having no idea what a tuba sound is supposed to be like. (I am mainly a euph player)

    For example:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK58EE5b4qc

    I'm not doubting his skill at all, I'm just wondering if it's a result of the possible stuffiness caused by the compensating system? Is that high range for an EEb tuba? Is it possible to play as 'powerfully' (loudly?) on a compensating EEb as on this: CC? (tuba ignorant ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-CV3aNW5IM

  2. #2
    I think the difference you hear between those two recordings is not due to the tubas used. Two different players, two different concepts of how to present the song. (Also, the "concept" of playing Czardas on euphonium or tuba has changed in recent years, partly because so many people are doing it.)

    But there is no doubt in my mind that a big, non-compensated CC is going to more easily make more sound for really loud stuff. Fletcher himself used a CC for a lot of the big German orchestral works, but he still used his EEb for other orchestral pieces.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  3. #3
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    I think Dave definitely has this right. In addition, I think what we may be seeing here is partly a matter of the "British sound" as opposed to, say, a more "German sound". You definitely will get a different tone quality on one of those big compensating Eb horns than on a non-compensating German or American style horn.

    But it's not a consequence of the compensating system -- at least in this case. The range in that piece is pretty much solidly in the middle range of the Eb tuba. In that range, the compensating system should be having no (or no discernible) effect on sound. It's not in play. It's not being used. If you look at what he's doing as you're listening, he's fundamentally playing a 3-valve horn. I think there may be a few times when he uses the fourth valve when he dips into the stuff below the staff, but his hand is hidden there. Otherwise, I can't see him using the fourth valve at all.

    Also, this recording was made ... what? ... over 25 years ago. You need to wonder about the fidelity of the recording. And those horns have 19" bells on them and pretty pronounced bugle taper. They can pitch a lot of sound if desired. (That's one reason I'm planning on replacing my BBb with one .)

    Anybody notice what I regard as a weird technique with the third finger? He uses two fingers on the second valve except for when he needs the third one. I suppose I can imagine some advantage to this, but there seems to be a cost in continually moving the third finger back and forth from the third valve -- kind of like the habit many trombonists have of checking (particularly third) position by touching the bell with a finger of the slide hand. Do a lot of people do this?
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  4. #4
    As a further data point,
    ?ystein Baadsvik plays this on a non-compensating (German-stye) Eb (I believe he uses a Miraphone now, but I have a CD of his on which he's using a Hirsbrunner).

  5. #5
    Oystein uses a Miraphone now. You can see it in the YouTube clip I posted of the duet we played:

    Dave Werden and Oystein Baadsvik - Euphonium-Tuba Duet

    His horn is customized with a double-screw-bell. There are two removable pieces to help him pack it compactly.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  6. There is a very nice Besson (pre-lotto) EEb Sov right now. Looks nice.

    edit: nevermind its one of those fake listings...
    Last edited by coolguy684; 04-11-2013 at 12:02 PM.

  7. just listened to the Czardas performance by John Fletcher again, this time using proper headphones wit decent bass. I can hear him much better now.

  8. #8
    I was going to suggest headphones myself. Also, british recording techniques/volume levels tend to be different.

    Secondly, I have played a wide range of EEb horns...if anything the compensating horns have more bite and edge to their sound and should come through more.
    Dan

    York 3082 - Silver 3+1
    Giddings & Webster Bayamo Heavyweight

    Practice by itself is not fun but it sure makes performing an absolute blast!

  9. I knew John quite well back in the 70s and 80s and I heard him live on dozens of occasions. That which impressed me so much about his playing and sound was the range of his dynamics. In the Philip Jones ensemble he was awesome and added so much spark to the group, not just by his incredible interpretation of a simple line, but he could open up on his Besson EEb and it would still be the most incredible sound. Not just loud but - well just right. Other well known players I thought always fell short in that regard. John was telling me that the LSO was having problems with Solti as he wanted them to sound like the CSO. They got the impression that Solti just wanted loud and the orchestra was not comfortable with him. They eventually terminated him. British orchestras were known for softer softs than the Americans, and that gave an impression that they were louder as well - just a good contrast. But John could play enormously loud on his CC Holton BAT. I heard him in pieces like Pictures, Miraculous Mandarin, Walton Symphony No 1, and Shostakovich Baba Yar Symphony with tons of exposed parts. We were in Vienna at a rehearsal with Abbado and the LSO. John asked me about balance. He mentioned he really could not hear much at all as his own sound totally filled his head when it was at that level. It was exciting. Abbado could get them to open up and play out, they loved him, and had enormous respect for him. But many european orchestras felt pressure from the Chicago Symphony in the 1970s particularly in the wake of the Solti/Mahler recordings and the re-release of the Reiner RCA recordings of the Strauss tone poems. But when I studied with Jacobs in Chicago in the 70s, he asked me why I kept trying to play so loud. Well, I told him I hoped to sound like him. His reply was we really don't play all that loud. It was the presence of the sound, the unity of phrasing and articulation and that each player had a concept of projection that sent the sound to the far reaches of orchestra hall. Younger players can always learn a bit from that. But egos tend to run the show, and somehow brass players often go back to believing that playing LOUD is what it is all about.
    BMB F tuba 445s
    BMB CC (BAT) 865s
    Mack Euphonium 1150s
    Wessex F Cimbasso

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Location
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    This is particularly true of (at least younger) tuba players, and is illustrated by two trends.

    The first trend seems to come out of a "marching" demographic -- either in the context of marching bands or drum and bugle corps. The tuba/sousaphone/contra players in many/most of these appear to feel that they need to/must produce a very loud and penetrating sound. And they feel that this is in fact the mark of a "good" tuba player. You can see a number of threads about this on TubeNet.

    In 2011, when I played in the Greensboro Tuba Christmas (alas, the last one held there -- that's me at 4:45 playing the red brass Cerveny BBb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZ0e7uZHHFY), there were 120 players and this included a number of high school/college sousaphone and tuba players who in rehearsal had to constantly be told to throttle it back and stop blatting (which they sincerely believed was the "right" tuba sound). And keep in mind that these are people who have had some kind of lessons from somebody. There is no concern for a musical sound or for tone quality or intonation.

    The second trend is the felt need of so many tuba players (again, particularly young ones) to find the largest mouthpiece they can possibly play with, and to use that because (1) a real tuba player uses a big mouthpiece in order to get the "right" sound, and (2) you need a big mouthpiece in order to get the required volume and projection. Thus the PT-88 has a huge following even though it is too big for many people to use effectively. And I've seen Oystein Baadsvik, in a master class, deliver a mini-lecture on using mouthpieces that are too large for the player and detrimental to his/her sound and development.

    For my part, I have a particular sound (or set of sounds) I want to come out of the instrument -- and to control over a broad pitch and dynamic range. The ability to play loud (while in tune and with good tone quality) is only part of that. I chose the Wick 2XL (among many others I bought or trial-tested for lengthy periods) in part because it played extremely well in tune across the entire range of my EEb compensating horn and provided for great volume and resonance in the low (including compensating) register. But it was a close call with other mouthpieces. and just this past week I find myself going back to my all-time favorite (Schilke 66) because it gives me a bit better rendering of the sound I want, makes articulation in some places easier (and playing pizzicato when required to pretend that you're a string bass), and is even "adequate" in that contra-bass register. Since I'm now one of three tubas in the band and don't (usually) have to support the entire band alone, I may switch back to the 66 and resort to the 2XL when I'm the only one and having to play a lot in the contra-bass region. Even then, it's not really a matter of volume, but more "fullness" of the sound.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

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