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Thread: Substituting for Bassoon

  1. #1

    Substituting for Bassoon

    Hello,

    So we will be having a concert soon and we are lacking a Bassoon player, so our director was considering getting one of the Euph (there's many of us, hence the consideration) to play the bassoon part.

    My question is specifically referring to Grainger's 1st Movement for Lincolnshire Posy - Sailor's Song. The passage at the beginning requires French Horn and Trumpet with mute while the Bassoon (for obvious reasons) play it open. Should the Euph play it open or should I use a mute? I only have a Wick travel mute and another Euph probably has a practice mute. The mute definitely doesn't seem ideal, considering the intonation and what not. What are your opinions on playing that bassoon part with the Euph?


    What are your general thoughts on having a Euph substituting for bassoon in cases where there's no bassoon players and there are some important passages that only has the bassoon playing it?

    I've noticed that the bassoon tends to soar in the 6th partial and suddenly will drop to pedal range in the next bar. It really threw me off and I have yet to adapt to that.
    "Never over complicate things. Accept "bad" days. Always enjoy yourself when playing, love the sound we can make on our instruments (because that's why we all started playing the Euph)"

    Euph: Yamaha 642II Neo - 千歌音
    Mouthpiece: K&G 4D, Denis Wick 5AL

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  2. #2
    This would be one of those rare times which having a 4 valve compensating baritone would come in handy. I would play it open otherwise.

    I played my share of bassoon parts on euphonium in university. Most of the time, it works other then in thinner voicing situations where the euphonium can very easily overpower the clarinets in their lower register if one isn't careful. Continue to work on flexibility exercises (eg. page 138 area of the Arbans book in the Alassi, Bowman edition).

  3. #3
    I spent the most active part of my musical life playing Bass Clarinet. In Lincolnshire Posy all parts are essential. If there IS a bass clarinet in an ensemble with no bassoon, that’s a typical trade off, but obviously most bass clarinet players won’t want to be responsible for reading/transposing in

    It sounds as though your conductor has decided that the texture of the sound has to become secondary to the actual musical line. As you are fully aware, the two instruments don’t sound like each other at all, but “cues” are usually distributed through voices that are in roughly the same pitch ranges. SO-

    What is expected of you as the filler is simply the conductor’s call. . A muted euphonium doesn’t sound any more or less like a bassoon than an open one. In sections that are easy on bassoon and inappropriate on euphonium, do what you can and take the recommendations of the conductor. If you have access to contact media, ask what he/she prefers you to do before your next rehearsal.

    It can be fun to be “called to duty” as you have been, and at the very least it usually feels GREAT to get back to your own part!

  4. I have been always to play entire concerts on bassoon parts in absence of bassoon performer. Typically I have used my English baritone with a regular mute, particularly for exposed parts. The reason is not to match the bassoons sound, but to play soft enough and to blend in with the other voices. Particularly on the Lincolnshire Posy, if one has a baritone, this works nicely along with the baritone solo parts. In absence of a baritone, I have also used my Best Brass travel mute on my euphonium (put in quite loosely).
    Sterling Virtuoso 1052HS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
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  5. #5
    I can't tell you how many times in band that I have either played the bassoon ques or the entire bassoon part on euphonium. I never play it with a mute, in fact, I don't think a mute should ever go on/in a euphonium (I know, that's just me, many will disagree with that, I am sure). Right now, in fact, we have a piece called "Celtic Wedding" by Jeremy Bell, and there is a great bassoon part, and I play the whole thing (we don't have a bassoon player in the band). I think the saxes had bassoon ques, but they couldn't quite play the part up to speed with a bunch of grace notes, so I got it.

    I find playing bassoon ques with reeds and playing softly to be a nice challenge in blending and soft playing. I also sometimes play the cello part in a string ensemble of about 6 stings (a couple violins, a couple violas, me on cello/euphonium actually, and a double bass). Playing at regular band levels, I would blow this group away, so this is a very nice group to play with and work on balance and blending in. No mute, just soft, controlled playing. Funny thing about that type of playing where you are really exposed, playing almost every beat (no rests) and playing really soft, I get "winded". It's almost like I have all this air saved up inside me, and I can't get it out because I have to play soft, and that makes me winded, go figure. So I am playing along, and I let some of the air escape out the corners of my mouth. Try doing that sometime, interesting to say the least.

    But back to bassoon, I find the euphonium to be a great instrument to cover the bassoon parts in the absence of a bassoon player.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
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    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
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  6. #6
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    "Funny thing about that type of playing where you are really exposed, playing almost every beat (no rests) and playing really soft, I get "winded". It's almost like I have all this air saved up inside me, and I can't get it out because I have to play soft, and that makes me winded, go figure."

    A little off topic but I know what you mean John. I think it's our body that needs the air and NOT the horn when playing real soft. We don't move enough air to be able to 'recharge' when we need a breath. It's like the oboe player who has breath marks – a breath mark for out (backwards apostrophe) and one for in. They have so much back pressure they can't move the air.
    Rick Floyd
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  7. #7
    Thank you all!

    So it seems like it's not out of the ordinary for euph to sub for bassoons (sometimes even the whole bassoon score instead of just cues). And it's not really about matching the bassoon's tone colour but to be able to play soft enough to blend in like a bassoon would.

    Interesting. I guess I will only know if it will work during rehearsal itself! The beginning of The Sailor's Song where there are French horns and trumpets with mute and the middle part where clarinets play at a lower range (euph has a cue here).

    I have to admit it is rather fascinating and like ann reid said, it's fun being "called to duty". The bassoon parts may not always been as exciting or as fun as the euph, but there's something nice about nailing the pedal ranges and bass line in the bassoon scoring.
    "Never over complicate things. Accept "bad" days. Always enjoy yourself when playing, love the sound we can make on our instruments (because that's why we all started playing the Euph)"

    Euph: Yamaha 642II Neo - 千歌音
    Mouthpiece: K&G 4D, Denis Wick 5AL

    https://soundcloud.com/ashsparkle_chika
    https://www.youtube.com/user/AshTSparkle/

  8. #8
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    In terms of sound, I think that a muted bass trombone provides a much closer match to a bassoon (and the intended sound in most passages) than a euphonium with or without mute -- and this is particularly true for notes of short duration. I think that with regard to a euphonium, it's just not going to sound much like a bassoon whether or not you use a mute, and so I'd give up on the idea of that and just play it muteless. But I think that the bass trombone playing it muted would sound better. This is not similarly true for filling in for a bass or contra-whatever clarinet where I think the (unmuted) euphonium is a reasonable choice.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
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  9. #9
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    In the community band I play in, we have had several bassoon players come and go. During those times, someone in the euphonium section has to play the cues.

    I think it is better to play the bassoon cues on the Grainger with a straight mute, especially if you horn has a larger bell. Euphonium is more bassoon-like sounding with a mute to my ears.
    Miraphone 5050 Ambassador
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    John,
    I am with you all the way on this. I have played bassoon ques on the euphonium many time. Balance, blend, and listen. It can really sound great.

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