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Thread: Fingering in C or Bb?

  1. Fingering in C or Bb?

    Hello,

    I am an amateur trombone player. I have been playing the trombone for 6 months. It has been 20 years since the last time I played a brass instrument. I learned the CC tuba when I was in high school. Sometimes, I played the euphonium using the CC tuba fingering (Open position = C) and transposing.

    Now, I would like to play again a baritone valve instrument like euphonium, baritone horn or valve trombone. My problem or concern is with transposing. For several reasons, I don't want to transpose. I want to finger C and get concert pitch C out of the instrument.

    My options are

    1. Buy an instrument tuned in C.

    2. Re-learn the fingering in Bb (Open position = Bb)

    What way would you go? Have you had this problem or concern with transposing or re-learning other fingerings? I would like to know your opinion about this issue.

    All the best,
    Sam

  2. #2
    Welcome to the forum!

    Could you tell us why you want open to be C? Is it because you have really good relative pitch or perfect pitch? Or is it a visual thing, where you see a C and want to play open?

    If it is the 2nd reason, then you could learn a euphonium easily if you learned it in treble clef. When a part is in treble clef euphonium, it is transposed so that you see a written C and play it open. But it will still sound as a B-flat. So in treble clef euphonium music, a C scale is fingered just as it was on tuba.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  3. Hi,

    Thank you. It is an honor to be part of this forum. I learned so much reading your posts.

    I have several concerns with transposing. One is kind of ideological. If I am playing C, why does it have to sound Bb? It makes more sense to me that if I play C, it has to sound concert pitch C, like in a CC Tuba.

    The other is more practical.I see the trombone as my main instrument, so I am worry that if I begin playing a Bb euphonium, my pitch in the trombone will suffer.

    Best,
    Sam

  4. #4
    Well, if your main instrument is trombone, you are already dealing with a mis-match. Trombone is a Bb instrument, but it plays concert pitch bass clef. So you see a C and you play a note that sounds as a C. However, the fundamental note of the trombone is Bb, in first position. If that is all comfortable, then you could learn euphonium by relating fingerings to positions, like this:

    1st position = open
    2nd position = 2nd
    3rd position = 1st
    4th position = 1st and 2nd
    5th position = 2nd and 3rd
    6th position = 1st and 3rd
    7th position = all 3 valves
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  5. #5
    I had a similar issue when I took Trumpet method in college. I played Bass Clef, so open was Bb. Instead of trying to learn new 'names' to the fingerings, I thought it was wiser to transpose down a whole step on sight. It worked for 7-8 weeks, but wouldn't have worked if I wanted to actually play.

    If you're stubborn (like me) and can't get "C fingerings" out of your head, Treble Clef may be the best option. The Trombone position trick Dave mentioned is great too, if you can break the mental block.

  6. I don't understand the original poster's issue. If it is that he has to play transposed treble clef parts (in Bb) then as a trombone player, just pretend you are reading tenor clef and add in a couple of flats. I am not an accomplished trombone player, but when I do play, I do the position = fingering thing. I started on concert pitch bass clef so my brain ALWAYS treats a written Bass C, Tenor C, or Treble D as a fingered concert C (1st valve, 1-3, or 4). No matter what, like the OP, I never think of the open concert Bb on the horn as a "C" regardless of clef.
    Sterling Virtuoso 1052HS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HS baritone & Conn 24I/25I euphonium
    New England Brass Band/Metropolitan Wind Symphony
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  7. #7
    I started playing a brass at the age of seven with the Genis (Eb alto horn),so I learned to play it in treble clef; at sixteen I moved to the euphonium keeping the same key and relative positions on the horn. At forty I wanted to learn the trombone: it was my intention to learn it in treble clef, but my teacher insisted that I learn it in bass clef, and so I was. Now when I play the euphonium I read in TC ( third space C, no Keys pressed), while with the trombone the same note is Bb ( first position, BC). I have no difficulty calling the same sound with two different names, simply when play euphonium within in "euphonium mode",the same with trombone. I can safely play the parts in TC with the trombone ( tenor key, reading a tone below + 2 b), well also the alto key(a tone above + 2#), while if I have to treasure from BC with euphonium is more difficult for me (mezzosoprano key).
    Last edited by franz; 02-09-2018 at 09:34 AM.
    Besson Prestige 2052,3D K&G mouthpiece;JP373 baritone,T4C K&G mouthpiece;Bach 42GO trombone,T4C K&G mouthpiece

  8. Hello everybody,

    Thanks for your responses.

    As I said, I transposed before when I played euphonium. So I don't have any difficulty reading Bass Cleff, or Treble Cleff with the euphonium. But being a little bit stubborn, and probably not making a lot of sense to some, I would prefer to play an euphonium tuned in C where a I will finger a C with an open position. Unfortunately, there are not many quality C euphoniums available. There are same C valve trombones, though, but they are very uncomfortable to hold for a long time, in my experience.

    I am going to try the system suggested for Mr. Werden, and see If it works for me and I don't get confuse with the Tuba fingering. I also noticed that Arban (at least, mine) shows you the fingering for baritone horn where Open positon = Bb. That may help.

    Please, keep posting your experiences and opinions. I am still thinking what way to go.

    Thanks again for your help.

    Sam

  9. I don't know of any really good euphoniums that have either good tone, intonation or good pitch as "C" instruments. OTOH, even many "student" model Bb euphoniums have good tone, pitch and intonation. The best thing to do is what I did when I switched back and forth from playing trumpet in concert band and sousaphone in marching band in school: just learn it and do it, as Dave has set forth.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by acronias View Post
    Hello everybody,

    Thanks for your responses.

    As I said, I transposed before when I played euphonium. So I don't have any difficulty reading Bass Cleff, or Treble Cleff with the euphonium. But being a little bit stubborn, and probably not making a lot of sense to some, I would prefer to play an euphonium tuned in C where a I will finger a C with an open position. Unfortunately, there are not many quality C euphoniums available. There are same C valve trombones, though, but they are very uncomfortable to hold for a long time, in my experience.

    I am going to try the system suggested for Mr. Werden, and see If it works for me and I don't get confuse with the Tuba fingering. I also noticed that Arban (at least, mine) shows you the fingering for baritone horn where Open positon = Bb. That may help.

    Please, keep posting your experiences and opinions. I am still thinking what way to go.

    Thanks again for your help.

    Sam
    I have to admit that I am confused but when you refer to open position being Bb, it is just that. It is Bb concert. Play a Bb on a C instrument and it's that written note (Ab concert). Play a Bb concert on a Bb instrument and it's open, no valves down. If you want a written C on a Bb instrument, read it in treble clef.

    As said above, a C pitched euphonium or baritone is a rare bird indeed. We all play Bb horns and read either treble or bass clef. I read both but 99% of the time treble as I play in a brass band where all the parts save the bass trombone are written in treble clef.

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