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Thread: How to Approach a Very Soft Passage???

  1. #1

    How to Approach a Very Soft Passage???

    I'm looking at this from the Sparke book of hymns. The opening is very open and soft in the piano (mostly right hand). That sounds nice with the recorded clarinet example I heard, but the euphonium is too much sound for the first half of the piece. I'd love to get your opinions on the 3 "takes" below. In the first, I'm playing as written and doing the best I can with underplaying dynamics. In the 2nd I try my mute. The 3rd take has the full piece, and for the first half I moved and pointed my bell differently. Which do you like? (The sound is not great - it is just the standard iPhone video sound.) Thanks

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4Do6vSyQHU

    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
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  2. #2
    The third take would be my preference of the three. I don't like mutes inside of euphoniums on any day of the year ever, even though the muted version was probably better dynamically if you were trying to not overpower the piano. Are you able to try this with an organ? I love playing hymns and other hymn like music in church on euphonium with organ accompaniment, "O Holy Night" being my favorite in that configuration.

    That is a nice piece. Even if you overpower the piano. Think of it as an acapella rendition of the piece, that would be nice in its own right, but here you also get a little piano in the background.
    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
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  3. #3
    Thanks for the feedback, John. I'm not going to announce my own preference until other opinions had a chance to come in.

    My overall feeling about a mute is similar to yours, although I like it in the middle movement of the Thom Ritter George Sonata:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDXY5nBW2QM

    I expect to play this with piano, not organ. An organ could surely make the right-hand notes come out better against my sustained tones; maybe someday I'll give that a try.

    Your acapella mindset is a good idea!
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  4. #4
    I recently looked at this. I performed a few years ago using the cd track. I don't think I recorded myself though, hmm... post covid idea. The 3rd take seems to work the best for the effect. The other option I guess is play it on baritone which would be somewhat closer to the 2nd option. Its one of those rare cases one has to think of their themselves as part of the piano not as an euphonium.

    Something that I do a bit differently is on measures 8 to 11 is to leave to have a very small break between the dotted half note and the quarter note. I like to think of it as using the piano pedal with the quarter note as pressing the pedal down a bit. I do something similar to that with Love Divine in measures 12 to 30.

  5. #5
    I agree with the others. Mute seems like the worst option. Aimed away sounded really good. But like euphlight said...if you're still not satisfied, use less horn.
    Hobbyist. Collector. Oval rotary guy. Unpaid shill for Josef Klier mouthpieces.

  6. #6
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    I like the third take as well, although the muted take sounded better than I expected. My one concern would be what the audience take would be on facing away from them.
    Rick Floyd
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    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
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  7. #7
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    As far as audience perception of a performer facing away goes, just make sure that you tell them what you are going to do. Then I think that they will receive it well. Just don't leave them guessing about what is going on.
    - Sara
    Baritone - 3 Valve, Compensating, JinBao JBBR1240

  8. #8
    I appreciate all the comments! Overall I agree that the 3rd option is best sounding. Playing softer in the beginning might be possible for a recording session, where I have some control over the flow, but in a worship service I might have to sit for a half hour before playing, and in that case I could not could on playing dependably at a very soft level.

    The point about "facing away" is a good one, and I DO consider such things when I'm in front of people. Again, for a recording, I might play with camera angles to make it OK. Is the church you see in the video (which is Sara's church) I might be able to turn 45 degrees toward the back with the bell, and they could still see my face. I would need to move during the piano interlude, either fully as I did in the video, or just by rotating 90 degrees to point the bell more toward the congregation.

    I really wanted to hear the mute in such a setting, and it was still a bit too nasal for my taste. Some day I may work with a mute maker to see if we can get a soft sound without sacrificing SO much tone!
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    ...I really wanted to hear the mute in such a setting, and it was still a bit too nasal for my taste. Some day I may work with a mute maker to see if we can get a soft sound without sacrificing SO much tone!
    If you are able to get a mute to sound nice in a euphonium (which I think is an absolute impossibility), I hope you do it before I croak!! I might then "possibly" revisit my aversion to using a mute in any euphonium, on any day, for any reason, ever. Whenever I hear a muted euphonium, I think of a giant kazoo. That is not what endeared me to the euphonium. That is my take. I know many others totally disagree.
    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
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  10. The best-sounding mute I've ever used has been a Balu mute a friend lent me for a performance. Not sure if they are still being made and I think it was pretty expensive. For me it seemed to preserve the euphonium sound better than any other mute.

    Edit: I found that performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJun...el=JaceVickers

    I used an aluminum Wick at 4:40 and the wooden Balu at 8:40. IIRC I was looking to approximate the sound of a Harmon mute with the Wick and a cup mute with the Balu.
    Last edited by JVickers; 11-01-2020 at 10:02 AM.

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