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1088709 Posts in 71954 Topics- by 19317 Members - Latest Member: Whitewolf07
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4841  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / What Bass Trb for a young high school student? on: Oct 19, 2004, 03:21PM
I read Mike's reply to my post about two valves and alternate positions and had to go away for a few hours to think about what he said.
I'm back, but still thinking.
First off... everybody needs to know that Mike Suter has a low register command that is second to none...no bull...simple fact...I've heard it live.
That's after health problems that would have had most of us putting it in the case for good. So, at the very least we need to consider his words carefully.
How I learnt, how I was taught, how I play...Mike has just made me think about those things- he heard me play very little, after I'd taken a few funny waters, but he observed well. I'm an instinctive player, not a mechcanical one, and yes, when I'm playing music I never think about valves and positions. I didn't start on bass trombone. Started on trumpet at age 12 , after three months went to tenor and at 13 I was on Bb/F bass, getting my first double at 14. Taught by a trumpet player up to college. Two tenor players at college, and walked out after two years.
After that, I had four lessons with bass trombone players. That's it.
I suppose this means that most of the bass trombone stuff I worked out for myself, which means trial and error. My first approach to the independent setup was all error- the slide was used less and less and the valves more and more, and if I am honest, not in a very systematic way.
I just jumped into all these new positions like the kid in the candy store and lived tuba studies till poor old Denis Wick was sick of it.
As I said, my subconcious reactions became confused, and the automatic responses that had served me so well broke down.
The independent was sold and I rebuilt my stability on a stuffy old dependent, where you only used the second valve if you really had to.
After that I've swapped between singles, dependents and independents more than I care to remember, but I've never again let choices work against me- I've learnt to control them.
As to planning ahead with positions, this happens when preparing solo material with students at college. To get the best out of the music we often have to do some funny things with the slide and the valves, and I often find myself trying several different ways around a phrase to see which works best- I have to try it on the instrument as the logical answer often seems to give a less than ideal result.
The other thought-out use of alternatives usually happens several shows into a long run of an opera, where a little lateral thinking in the slide position department can breathe new life into a passage and get a smile from the other members of the section.
Still a lot here that I haven't touched on, but for now I'll stop.
Chris Stearn.
4842  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Rath Bass Trombone on: Oct 18, 2004, 02:35PM
Hi Noah,
Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. The alloy combinations on Rath work a little differently to say, Edwards. I find a good symphony setup to be yellow bell, yellow tuning slide and the bronze hand-slide. This will give you more weight and clarity- enough for any material. If you want even more clarity and weight try the nickel-silver bell- I've used an all nickel silver instrument at an outdoor symphony concert and been able to sail a line out over the orchestra and a Scots pipe band....and get an approving grin from the conductor. Not so flexible generally though !
Red brass really warms the Rath up, but also makes it blend more and actually reduces the weight of sound. What you choose depends on your approach- do you want one all-round combo, or do you want a collection of parts that can be ideal in each setting ?
The natural sound of the player, and their mouthpiece have to be considered too.
Chris Stearn.
4843  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / What Bass Trb for a young high school student? on: Oct 18, 2004, 01:43PM
Well Byron, the problem I had, all of thirty years ago, was that I spent hours and hours learning all the possible ways to play notes on both valves and each valve, and eventually learnt then so well that I no longer automatically went for one position, but would just grind to a halt, unable to decide which place to play a given note.
I use alternative positions all the time, but they must be less automatic than my basic position choices, to enable me to sight-read to a good standard- that's where the danger lies with greater choice.
Chris Stearn.
4844  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Shires, Edwards, Rath on: Oct 17, 2004, 09:55AM
Yes Gabe, I can see that Bach then Edwards has been the major choice in the US for the last thirty years, and it is through this period that the sound of the bass trombone in the US has, in general terms, changed.
I was thinking of the instruments and sounds of the '40's and '50's when I look at the classic American period. That said, it's the mouthpieces that have changed more in the US bass trombone scene through that period.
Perhaps what leads to the different reaction to Rath from some people, is that it (the R9) was developed with players using smaller mouthpieces, and in many setups, works best with 1 1/2G, 1 1/4G sort of sizes, though Frosty has an R9 setup that sounds great with the biggest mouthpieces available.
All this is but a detail compared to the sound in the player's head, which of course is the real source of sound.
Chris Stearn.
4845  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Shires, Edwards, Rath on: Oct 16, 2004, 03:49PM
Hey Gabe, there are major classic American trombones with as little bracing as the Rath- Conn 70H, 71H, 60H, 62H, 73H. In fact, many of us would call those THE classic American bass trombones. I've played just about every make professionally, apart from Shires, which came along after I had settled on Rath (at least in the UK)- Bach, Conn, Holton, Reynolds, King, Edwards, and I really would never say that I feel uncomfortable on any of them- I just prefer Rath. What's American anyway ? Bach was German, and in previous topics, it has been shown that many early 20th C. Conn designs were based on German trombones, though Conn also hired craftsmen from the UK and France in the late 19th C.
I agree that Edwards and Shires are very different in almost every way, and that the difference between Rath, Shires and Edwards can only be good in that there is choice at the top end for us all.
As for the bends and bracing on Raths- I think Mick just likes the look of that. He did try out every sort of bend and bracing along the way though.
It's that strange British way of making things that led to Rolls-Royce, Bentley, the Spitfire, Tower Bridge and the mini-skirt.
Just sort of happens, just seems right.
Chris Stearn.
4846  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Accessories / Bass Trombone Cup Mute on: Oct 14, 2004, 03:25PM
The Wallace bass trombone cup will be out in the next few weeks. It will be better than the H&B, or I won't give the maker the go-ahead to start production !
Chris Stearn.
4847  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / What Bass Trb for a young high school student? on: Oct 11, 2004, 02:57PM
I've tried to refrain from joining in but I can't.
The quailty of the basic horn is central. You can get Elkhart Conn 70's, 71's and 72's for small bucks- they were great horns fifty years ago, and a well kept one is even better now. They are easier to fill than present instruments, and would serve a youngster well for two or three years, when they could add a double to their collection.
I worked in London in the 70's, mostly in the commercial area and used a Bb/F for a couple of years- it never lost me a gig. Harder,yes, but possible.
I bought one of the first independent basses available in the 70's (before going back to the single) ,spent ages learning all the alternatives and nearly wrecked my playing with the confusion of it all. To sight-read hard, low charts you need really good reflexes, not a bunch of choices.
My independent Rath is up for sale, as Mick has made me a dependent, that does all I require. Dave Taylor seems to do OK on a dependent and he is not shy of technical challenges.
Sure, if I take a single with me when I am teaching in college, I find it lacking when working at some of the solo rep. BUT college is about the only time bass trombone players have to play that stuff.
If a youngster starts on a real classic (Elkhart Conn single) he will make a much better choice when he chooses his first double, AND he remembers that he is playing, for the most part, a SLIDE trombone.
Chris Stearn.
4848  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / New horn =)! on: Oct 07, 2004, 03:58PM
Quote from: "JohnL"
Quote from: "blast"
Ah Ha ! Finally realised what's wrong with Edwards- they are not Mopar people !
 361, 383, 413 and 440 are much better numbers.
Chris Stearn. Grin  Grin

You left out some of the best ones...
340 and 426 Good!

Good point. I was just thinking B & RB, but Hemi.....gotta be top of the list.
Chris Stearn.
4849  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / What about a tuning-in-slide tenor? on: Oct 07, 2004, 03:23PM
The Rath bell tuning bass trombones have no more bracing than the slide tuning models, in fact all Raths reduce bracing to a minimum. Don't know if that is a big deal as I've never tried a Rath with conventional bell bracing, as they have never made one.
Chris Stearn.
4850  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Sounding like a bass trombone player on: Oct 07, 2004, 02:53PM
Mike's post is on the money. You have to have the idea in the head before it will come out of the horn. ANY decent bass trombone can be made to sound great, so don't worry about the tools. Listen, listen and then listen.
If I was asked to suggest one recorded player to listen to, it would have to be George Roberts- whatever style you want to play in. 'Meet Mr Roberts' and Nelson Riddle's 'The Joy of Living'. Those albums contain all the information you want to know about bass trombone sound.
Chris Stearn.
4851  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / New horn =)! on: Oct 06, 2004, 03:09PM
Ah Ha ! Finally realised what's wrong with Edwards- they are not Mopar people !
 361, 383, 413 and 440 are much better numbers.
Chris Stearn. Grin  Grin
4852  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Bronze slides? on: Oct 02, 2004, 06:06AM
For 95% of the time, I use a bronze slide and yellow bell on my Rath R9. They work well as a combination. The term Bronze covers a wide range of alloys. The Bronze used by Rath is in fact harder than their standard brass when used on slide outers. It tends toward a darker, more compact sound with a more focussed feel- but tends is the key word- it's one part of the package.
Chris Stearn.
4853  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Red brass valve tuning crook on: Oct 02, 2004, 05:33AM
The whole of the F valve tube on my Rath R8 is in red brass. Looks great, but has little effect on tone quality.
Chris Stearn.
4854  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / RATH on: Sep 21, 2004, 03:18PM
Ed is basically right. I am hoping to arrive at a production version by the end of October, but it depends on how our ideas translate into brass.
It will not be settled until I am sure that it is the best contra I have ever blown. No compromises.
Chris Stearn.
4855  Creation and Performance / Music, Concerts and Recordings / Les Miserables on: Sep 15, 2004, 12:46PM
I'll second what Gabe said. The 'school version' is a real heavy blow bass trombone part. Silly really, as many schools will not have a bass trombone player. For that production to work, the school really needs professional quality amplification for the singers. There are lots of mistakes in the parts, and it takes days to program the keyboards.
Still, it's fun when it works !!
Chris Stearn.
4856  Teaching & Learning / Pedagogy / Broad Question Restated on: Aug 23, 2004, 03:12PM
Hey, BFW, you mentioned me there. Interestingly enough, both my sons have had math lessons with a brilliant, mad, totally engaging teacher, who has made the subject a big part of their lives. The older one is just about to start at St Andrews University, studying astophysics.
You can't be taught to be a great teacher- I think that it's as big a gift as being a great player, perhaps even greater.
If you love music and people, it's a start, but there's no formula and the great teachers that i've come across are all totally different.
Chris Stearn.
4857  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Revised Mouthpiece Chart on: Aug 17, 2004, 03:21PM
I mean no disrespect here, but the Bass mouthpiece chart will be very unhelpful to players wanting to know which mouthpieces are of a similar size/feel. The Bach stuff against Schilke is just wrong. A lot of black sizes are missing, Marcinkiewicz comparisons are also way off. Elliotts also seem at odds with other sizes. I take my hat off to anyone providing free information like this, but the only way to produce a real chart, is for one person to measure all the pieces in the same way.
Sorry to be negative, BUT such a thing is only of worth if it is accurate.
Chris Stearn.
4858  Teaching & Learning / Pedagogy / Subdivision, does it work? on: Aug 17, 2004, 12:51PM
If you really want to know about Wagner's Ride, the story goes like this:
First you learn the rhythm very accurately, using subdivision.
Then you work at it so the paying customers can hear every note (you have to give a little more on the short ones).
Then you have to remember that the listener should always feel where the first beat of the bar is.
Then, if you are real luckey, you'll find that you are playing it on bass, after playing most of the preceding opera on contrabass.
Then you'll find that every conductor has his own ideas as to how it should go.
Subdidision is a small but essential part of your musical skillbase, but a heck of a lot goes on as well.
You don't get the Ride 'right'
You play it in the way required, and in such a way as to make musical sense of that particular performance in that particular place.
If it works once, it works once.
Same with most things.
Chris Stearn.
4859  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Blind test methodology (does bell material matter?) on: Aug 15, 2004, 03:10PM
It's a strange limbo- the search for a sort of technical perfection in recorded music. I just bought my younger son an album of solo guitar music- 'one quiet night' by Pat Metheny. Basically recorded at home, over an evening and put out the way it happened, with tuning errors and all sorts of 'playing' sounds. What a joy to sit and listen to a great musician, playing as if he were just in the room with you. OK, I know a certain amont of editing and production is bound to have happened, but what a joy to just feel the real thing is for the most part there.
I can quite understand why Bernstein only recorded live performances in his latter years.
That said, one of the least understood arts is that of the recording producer- the guy in the box with the ears of a bat !!  These people LISTEN harder than anybody I know, and often have skills that scare the poor jobbing musician. They are very valuable as probably the most refined dedicated listeners we have available to us.
Kevin- did you ever come across Dave Reckless ? He was a fixture at Abbey Road for years, a fine bass trombone player, and respected friend of all the London orchestra sections.
Chris Stearn.
4860  Teaching & Learning / Pedagogy / Subdivision, does it work? on: Aug 15, 2004, 02:16PM
TOTALLY agree with Mike's post. A gem from on high- read it ten times and remember.
Chris Stearn.
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