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Thread: Brass band players playing an 11 bell

  1. #1

    Brass band players playing an 11 bell

    Ok, Im admittedly bored. I was reading through some older threads talking about bell size, and Im wondering who in the brass band world plays an 11 bell.

    It strikes me that the additional core and punch might be an advantage in the solo euph chair, possibly.

    The only player I know for certain playing an 11 bell is Amy Schumaker Bliss, formerly of the Atlantic brass band.

    Anyone else?
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Yorktown, Virginia
    Posts
    149
    Blessed and proudly playing a 1971 Besson New Standard with an 11” bell!
    David Shinn
    Peninsula Concert Band
    Yorktown, Virginia



    1971 Besson New Standard 181 Euphonium (4 valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC3M
    1960 Besson New Standard 180 Euphonium (4 valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC3M
    1962 Besson New Standard 176 Euphonium (3 valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC3M
    1979 Besson 'New Standard' 168 Baritone (3 valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC5S

  3. #3
    At the higher echelons of British bands, the only players I am aware of are Morgan Griffiths, who no longer plays full time, but used a Besson 966 his whole career, and Toni Durrant at Carlton Main Band. There are no doubt others but as British bands value volume over dynamic contrast the small bell pea shooters are never going to be popular. I used to play a 966 and they're lovely euphoniums - ironically the bands that would most benefit from the combination of more focused sound and greater projection, are the bands that eschew them - the really good bands.
    Adams E2 0.80 Yellow Brass, Satin Lacquer, Blue Abalone Buttons
    AR Resonance M Top / L Backbore Gold Plated Phosphor Bronze

  4. #4
    Interesting take. That said, I dont feel like Im capable of being LESS loud on an 11 bell. Just a different timbre.

    Quote Originally Posted by Magikarp View Post
    At the higher echelons of British bands, the only players I am aware of are Morgan Griffiths, who no longer plays full time, but used a Besson 966 his whole career, and Toni Durrant at Carlton Main Band. There are no doubt others but as British bands value volume over dynamic contrast the small bell pea shooters are never going to be popular. I used to play a 966 and they're lovely euphoniums - ironically the bands that would most benefit from the combination of more focused sound and greater projection, are the bands that eschew them - the really good bands.
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Hidden Valley, AZ
    Posts
    884
    If volume was the only necessary thing with the euph nowadays, Nathan AirChime should make new ones.

    We're gonna need bigger lungs...

    https://hornblasters.com/collections...ntent=AirChime

    Dennis
    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original
    2019 Wessex Tornister

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by miketeachesclass View Post
    Interesting take. That said, I dont feel like Im capable of being LESS loud on an 11 bell. Just a different timbre.
    I quite agree. Brass bands have always been loud, but in the last twenty or thirty years the requirement for almost deafening volumes seems to have grown, and composers seem to love writing it. When you see fff written for low grade bands, something is deeply wrong, somewhere. The euphonium is the instrument most affected by this, followed closely by tenor horns. As it's easier to play loud than it is quietly, bands just up dynamics - so even in my time what would have been a decent forte twenty years ago is now only a mezzo forte, or even mezzo piano. Yorkshire Building Society Band were the last band to treat the quiet dynamics with the proper reverence, if you will. Which is where Morgan Griffiths played.

    The simplest solution is to have bigger instruments.

    Part of the problem is the repertoire - bands think their audience only like blockbusters, so therefore everything has to be high, loud, and difficult. It isn't remotely true but it's such an entrenched attitude. Part of it is mouthpiece willy-waving "I play on Bach 1G" and the old adage, play on the biggest mouthpiece you can. You hear soloists (some big names too) making really ugly noises because they're having to play so loud all the time.

    I like the sound of a 966 or New Standard, but it ain't enough in front of 2 Conn 88Hs and a Bach 50 giving it bell-tink. I have only played in a wind band a few times but was always amazed at how little volume there is (that's not disparaging - I found it refreshing not to be blowing my lungs out just to be heard)

    If I was in charge of a brass band (and I hope it never happens) I would be very concerned with developing a more pure, lower dynamic than rattling out fff at every opportunity.
    Adams E2 0.80 Yellow Brass, Satin Lacquer, Blue Abalone Buttons
    AR Resonance M Top / L Backbore Gold Plated Phosphor Bronze

  7. #7
    I appreciate your insight - as an American, I have had very few opportunities to hear a proper UK band in person, and American bands don't always adhere to the same sound concept or approach as UK bands.

    Even then, I saw Lee Harrelson playing a restored new standard at the US open before COVID, and I had zero complaints about their upper dynamics, and certainly not his sound.

    Amy Bliss plays a 2051, and sat principal at Atlantic BB until she moved to columbus, where I can only assume she will sit principal in whichever band she plays in.

    Even in my band, who is a first section band in the US, we had a principal playing a new standard until this year. I personally own a german 2052, english 2051, and a new standard, and I'm not 100% certain what I'll settle on for the content season.

    I guess the real question is "is it REALLY necessary to play a 12" bell in modern brass band settings, or is it just a product of the "bigger is better" thing that we have seen for the last couple decades, and it'll swing back the other way?
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Farmington Hills, MI
    Posts
    375
    A 12 bell gives the option to play at a huge volume. Its up the the MD to determine when they want that sound.

  9. #9
    Absolutely right, but if the top bands are furiously over blowing, it becomes the norm. The top bands can do it, it's the rest of that can't! The old adage "never louder than lovely, never quieter than supported" is long forgotten by most it seems.
    Adams E2 0.80 Yellow Brass, Satin Lacquer, Blue Abalone Buttons
    AR Resonance M Top / L Backbore Gold Plated Phosphor Bronze

  10. #10
    It's only my opinion, but the small bell modern euphs - 968 and whatever the Prestige version is (2051?)- don't seem as free blowing as their larger cousins, even though it is only the bell flare that is different. The 966 was an entirely different beast and very lovely for it. If you get a chance to try one, do it because to me there are the perfect combination of Boosey Imperial and Besson Sovereign.

    Other factors to consider is our retailers being inherently conservative and only taking orders for what is popular rather than selling what is good. I'm sure if Besson made a 13" bell euphonium everyone would buy it.

    What is interesting is that the mouthpiece war seems to have run its course and people are reverting to 4AL size mouthpieces rather than the 2/3 that were popular. It seems that the players of forty years ago may just have been treated to the best instruments and found the most serendipitous combination of euphonium and mouthpiece. I have recently changed from a Randelfalk R3 to an Alliance DC3 which slightly smaller and I love the slightly more projected sound (plugged into a round stamp, obviously)

    If we ever get back playing, I will be trying to develop my quiet playing again.
    Adams E2 0.80 Yellow Brass, Satin Lacquer, Blue Abalone Buttons
    AR Resonance M Top / L Backbore Gold Plated Phosphor Bronze

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