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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningPractice Room(Moderator: blast) Forget quality, listen to the volume!
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« on: Jun 08, 2017, 02:20AM »

I apologise in advance, this is a bit of a rant..
Coming from a brass band background, I can say that I was never ever able to play loud enough for the trom section in a championship section band I used to be a member of.
Here's an example: For one contest, we chose to play 'On Shoulders Of Giants'. A test piece stitched, together from bits of other famous pieces. It starts with the awesome low brass passage from Bruckner's 8th. It's magnificent. Except it wasn't, and I knew exactly what would happen when we performed it. You see the MD asked for maximum volume. And that's exactly what he got. Forget about balance, tuning, and ensemble. We ripped it. I said right from the start that no way could the second trombone (me), playing a mid-range concert Gb, balance up to the top trombone, at max volume.
And what do you know, the adjudicator's remarks proved me exactly right, because he faulted us on every single point I mentioned - balance, tuning and ensemble. It simply wasn't controlled.

And that's my point really. A lot of trombonists seem obsessed with producing a loud sound. There's no wonder that we're vilified by other sections of the orchestra, because I certainly wouldn't want to be sitting in front of some of the rackets I've heard coming out of certain trombone bells. I personally always strive to produce as beautiful sound as I can. To me that's more important than decibels. If I have to sacrifice volume to get the quality, and precision, I will. Yes the top players can produce a wondrously sounding, and controlled very loud sound, but my experience is that a lot of amateur players sound either raucous, out of tune, and just not very nice.
Plus, I don't get this attitude from some solo trombone players that they must always be heard above everyone else. It's like a bloody competition to see who can play loudest. FFS you're part of a section, and this means it must sound like three trombones in a harmonious, and balanced complete sound.

Sorry, rant over.

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« Reply #1 on: Jun 08, 2017, 02:55AM »

I know the work of the conductor and players in question. Every brass band has its own musical and psychological set-up; plenty of those in the championship section do not work this way.

Which is not to say that it's not a problem when it happens... But that it isn't the universal thing implied.
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« Reply #2 on: Jun 08, 2017, 03:43AM »

Quote from said conductor "Are you playing as loud as you can? If not, why not?"
Well to start with, it sounds ****. How's that for a reason?
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« Reply #3 on: Jun 08, 2017, 03:50AM »

This is a touchy subject. When you make music a competitive sport, it becomes... competitive, with all the plusses and minuses associated with that. We get the same tendency in marching bands in the US.

On the other hand, the volume is handled differently in different areas. When I lived in Rochester NY, even community orchestra trombonists were asked for full volume when it was required by the music. Where I live now, there is a decided reticence against more than half volume trombone in any situation. Even in the local pro orchestra you'd never even know it had a trombone section unless you sat high enough to see it. I've scaled down my equipment to avoid overpowering other players just out of habit. I play in a big band where some members try to preach that the band shouldn't play above mf. It's hard to convey excitement in dance music at mf with acoustic instruments.

Sometimes the music requires a firm hand, and you should be able to deliver within your limits and the bounds of good taste. A big trombone sound can be glorious, and we shouldn't be afraid to embrace that when the time comes. But it shouldn't be raucous, coarse, out of tune or uncontrolled.

I think you have to have command of the entire spectrum and the judgment to know when to use it.
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« Reply #4 on: Jun 08, 2017, 04:16AM »

Ah, the good ol' British brass band! Where a lot of folk think it's how loud you can play not how well. It doesn't help when conductors don't do anything about it!

A couple of months ago I helped out a 3rd section band for a contest. I tipped up at band room all ready to go...right hymn number....and bloody hell I couldn't believe how loud they played it. My ears hurt throughout the whole rehearsal.

Now at the weekend I played in the orchestra for the UK premiere of the opera Das Lied Der Nacht and the collective forte was so different, with no lack of control.

Different beasts completely and I reckon there are a few brass banders out there that couldn't handle an orchestra.

Ross
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« Reply #5 on: Jun 08, 2017, 04:53AM »

Just to clarify, I'm not against loud playing at all. There are times when the music calls for it, and it really adds colour and excitement to the piece. But what I don't like is inappropriate volume, and volume at the expense of balance and control. You know, all those good things which really make a performance outstanding.
And what tends to happen is that the brass band style of big volume carries over into other ensembles. I also play in a wind band, and you can immediately spot the die hard brass banders, because they are giving it full beans, parping out those sustained notes and obliterating the melody line.
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« Reply #6 on: Jun 08, 2017, 05:07AM »

Those adjudicator comments were directed at the Music Director.  Loud is good when it's controlled.  Loud for loud's sake is sounding like a buzz saw.  A property once associated with the small bore tenors used 2 generations ago.

You knew there was a problem but clearly the MD didn't (or didn't care).  I know there is prestige associated with Championship bands, but maybe this one isn't for you.   I hope you can find one that is.

I watched 3 weekends of Brass Band championships (Australia, New Zealand, and European) on computer and note that your complaint is common.  My only hope is that the adjudicators prize musicianship over volume.

Btw, how do you play a Euphonium loud?  I don't think it's possible.
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« Reply #7 on: Jun 08, 2017, 05:41AM »

Btw, how do you play a Euphonium loud?  I don't think it's possible.

I subbed in a local university band a bit ago; sat next to the euph player.  Holy moly can he play loud, but his tone and intonation went right in the toilet at anything over mf, which he did frequently.

It was excruciating to sit next to.  First time I ever went to the MD with some constructive criticism about anyone.

Sorry to derail the thread.
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« Reply #8 on: Jun 08, 2017, 05:56AM »

I believe I understand both where your musical director and you are coming from.  The frustrating part is that it is not a scale where on one extreme you have blend or beauty and on the other side you have volume.  You can have both or neither as well.  The most beautiful thing I've heard in person was the finale to the symphony your piece had some portion derived from, Bruckner 8th.  The beginning brings me to tears every time. It is so unbelievably beautiful. But its also loud.  And the orchestra that I saw doing it was no exception.

With young musicians in particular, you can end up with a timid low brass section at times where it sounds neither beautiful nor loud.  The MD may be thinking about long term.  Sure it sounds like a buzz saw now.  But maybe if they practice at that dynamic their tone quality will improve because they're at least supporting their sound. Then for the next x number of seasons, I'll have a good sounding low brass section. Having an ensemble where the fundamental pitch sounds good may be worth risking it.  The section may may not have responded in a way that the MD could perceive prior to the 'full-volume' remark.  And what do you do when your perception is that your requests are not being met?  Ask for more! 

I'm not suggesting it is the best way to manage a band, but I think its worth considering understanding the MD's perspective.  Afterall, I'd bet that at the end of the day, everyone in that ensemble would agree they would rather sound good than not. The approach to get there is what is really whats different.
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« Reply #9 on: Jun 08, 2017, 05:58AM »

Those adjudicator comments were directed at the Music Director.  Loud is good when it's controlled.  Loud for loud's sake is sounding like a buzz saw.  A property once associated with the small bore tenors used 2 generations ago.

The adjudicator was himself a professional trombonist, and teacher. I was dismayed that his comments were said in a mocking tone about our performance. So it's hard not to take it personally, and particularly disheartening on the day, because the MD hadn't listened to my early comments about balance and control. Idiot.
I'm pretty sure that our poor performance resulted in us being placed 2nd, and not 1st. Shame, because had we taken about 10% off the volume, I think it would have transformed it.

That buzz saw effect you mention is commonly used by the bass trombone in a brass band. I don't particularly care for that sound, but it seems to be required that the bass trom belts out such a ridiculous level of volume.


Quote
You knew there was a problem but clearly the MD didn't (or didn't care).  I know there is prestige associated with Championship bands, but maybe this one isn't for you.   I hope you can find one that is.

No I think I'm pretty much done with brass bands. I did it for 30 years and got fed up with the contesting scene. Anyway, these days I enjoy other stuff like big band. Now if I could just find a quality quartet to play in, life would be perfect.

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« Reply #10 on: Jun 08, 2017, 06:56AM »

Hi :)

I think the volume of ANY instrument should be adjusted to match what the music requires. This is what a great musician should be always able to do.

Speaking of trombone now...

We play an instrument that suffers a lot from various stigmatisations. Among others, it's well known for its ability to play loud - and that is where most of the people make the mistake. If the instrument itself can play loud as ****, that may not be the case of the guy behind the mouthpiece. Some band leaders enroll trombones and expect them to play loud, which can be necessary for the music being played, OR which can also reveal a old-minded and stigmatised conception of music. This is a maturity thing...  :/

Let's make comparison with food ?! Ask a French and a German what they think good food is. The French will answer that good food is some tasty recipies, well coocked and in just right quantity. The German  will only care about the quantity that lays in his plate. He'll qualify a restaurant as "good" if this restaurant serves so much food you can't even finish your plate. Whatever the quality of it.

==> I've played in a brass band where the other trombone players could play louder as me. They were better.
Then we've been jamming in a club, and these guys couldn't phrase a line out of their instruments and just played loud as ****. That was horrible. I could play a nice solo, with ideas, phrasing and together with the rythm section. Then that was my turn to be better than them...  Yeah, RIGHT.

When i play salsa gigs, it's required to play loud with sizzling sound. I do it. And it's fun !!  Pant
When i play a jazz gig, i have to blend with the other guys, and i do it. And it's so much fun too !!  Pant Pant

Some people consider that the only "right" way to play trombone is loud. Well i think that's quite shallow minded. Music is only about having fun, and playing together with the other musicians to create something happening in common. This is the only way everybody on stage AND audience can be satisfied. But well, that's a matter of personnality after all... Some people enjoy to drive really fast and not care about the trafic at all. Some others prefer to drive more aware in the trafic to help keep it as fluid and enjoyable as possible.

The only thing i could say in final is that nobody has the right to tell you how you should play your instrument. If you don't feel like playing loud, don't do it. Quit the band, and let other loud players sub for you. Everybody will be satisfied. You, them, and the band leader.  Hi

Just find the band that matches the way you like to play, in which you'll have fun and be blooming. 





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« Reply #11 on: Jun 08, 2017, 07:00AM »

Hi :)

I think the volume of ANY instrument should be adjusted to match what the music requires.

And the acoustics of the location.

Well, that's part of what the music requires, but it's a part that many miss.  In a very live echoey room, like the rooms two of the bands I play have for rehearsal, it is not necessary to blast.  Except that it is if you want to hear yourself at all, because everybody else is too loud. 
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« Reply #12 on: Jun 08, 2017, 07:17AM »

NO ONE under ANY circumstance should play louder than their tone quality dictates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Bad dog.  No Biscuits.

...Geezer
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« Reply #13 on: Jun 08, 2017, 07:35AM »

Let's make comparison with food ?! Ask a French and a German what they think good food is. The French will answer that good food is some tasty recipies, well coocked and in just right quantity. The German  will only care about the quantity that lays in his plate. He'll qualify a restaurant as "good" if this restaurant serves so much food you can't even finish your plate. Whatever the quality of it.

So you want to say the French play better and the Germans louder ?    ;-)
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« Reply #14 on: Jun 08, 2017, 07:59AM »

I don't think it's fair or right to stereotype. That's an extremely slippery slope. Perhaps the analogy is better if one compares a given individual from anywhere who prefers quality over quantity or vice versa and let it go at that.

Otherwise we will come off like a band of Gypsies doing a Chinese fire drill.  Evil

...Geezer
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« Reply #15 on: Jun 08, 2017, 08:16AM »

Exactly yes  Pant
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« Reply #16 on: Jun 08, 2017, 09:01AM »

NO ONE under ANY circumstance should play louder than their tone quality dictates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Bad dog.  No Biscuits.

...Geezer

Some of us shouldn't play at all then.   :/
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« Reply #17 on: Jun 08, 2017, 12:57PM »

Some of us shouldn't play at all then.   :/

Of course we all should play!! Its all about music and have fun. Loud, soft, high, low, etc....There is lot of things we should do, lot of things we should not do. Sometimes we should nearly forget that. The important thing is music, feel its fun to play music both with others and alone. The more we listen, the more we play, the more fun or enjoyable it will be.

Leif
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« Reply #18 on: Jun 08, 2017, 01:39PM »

Ok I'm out of topic now but listen what Bud Herseth tell in this video about 4:41

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZcgV0FLVYA

"its my favourite passage in all music"

Its only three notes! Brahms 1st symphony. But sure three notes can say a lot!

That means we have most fun when we try to do our part to fit in. What others do might be wrong in our eyes but its best if we try our best to do our part of the job, try to fit in, enjoy and not worry so much if the another players are not doing what we want. After all there isn't much that is right or wrong in music. The clue is to play together, and music is obvious a better language for that then words...

Leif
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« Reply #19 on: Jun 08, 2017, 05:17PM »

I've thought a lot about your posts, for the past 15 or 20 years.

I had opportunity to hear lots of brass bands and one experience really stuck out. The bones were seated in the center of the band facing forward. It was explosive. It opened my mind. The lessons I gleaned:

1. Trombones in brass band, cylindrical alone of the horns, should contrast, not compliment.
You want more trombone? Make them of a smaller bore, and use projection, not volume, to carry the day.

2. Stan Kenton summed it up best, as posted by Mike Suter: You want your loud to be twice as loud ?, then play soft twice as soft!

Use any horn smaller than .547, and play pppp to ff, not mf to ffffff.
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« Reply #20 on: Jun 08, 2017, 07:05PM »

NO ONE under ANY circumstance should play louder than their tone quality dictates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Bad dog.  No Biscuits.

...Geezer

Except in practice, which is how you expand your dynamic range.

As to the OP,

As always, playing the highest dynamic should be a choice. If the choice is to play it all the time without question, then the choice is probably wrong. Some moments should be loud, some should be louder, some should be loudest (same goes for lower dynamics, too).

Audiences (and judges) will quickly tire of anything that stays in the same zone for too long, and that goes doubly for loud upon loud.
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« Reply #21 on: Jun 08, 2017, 08:13PM »

Except in practice, which is how you expand your dynamic range.

As to the OP,

As always, playing the highest dynamic should be a choice. If the choice is to play it all the time without question, then the choice is probably wrong. Some moments should be loud, some should be louder, some should be loudest (same goes for lower dynamics, too).

Audiences (and judges) will quickly tire of anything that stays in the same zone for too long, and that goes doubly for loud upon loud.

Nope. Not even in practice. I don't want to train my chops to think it's okay to sound bad. So I practice loud up to the point where the tone starts to break up and quickly back off and stay just under the break point. It's never satisfactory to allow the chops to maintain a bad sound for any length of time.

If you started long tones and immediately experienced a double-buzz on a certain note, would you continue with that long tone like it was a great-sounding note? I wouldn't. I would either back way down on dynamic to the point where the double-buzz stopped or stop the note altogether immediately so the chops wouldn't train that it's okay to double-buzz. I would then re-set and try the note again with a different shape to my chops and see if that worked.

...Geezer
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« Reply #22 on: Jun 10, 2017, 02:18AM »

Nope. Not even in practice. I don't want to train my chops to think it's okay to sound bad. So I practice loud up to the point where the tone starts to break up and quickly back off and stay just under the break point. It's never satisfactory to allow the chops to maintain a bad sound for any length of time.

If you started long tones and immediately experienced a double-buzz on a certain note, would you continue with that long tone like it was a great-sounding note? I wouldn't. I would either back way down on dynamic to the point where the double-buzz stopped or stop the note altogether immediately so the chops wouldn't train that it's okay to double-buzz. I would then re-set and try the note again with a different shape to my chops and see if that worked.

...Geezer


Ummmmm..... you HAVE to sound bad at various points in the practice room..... the first time you tried playing a trombone did you immediately stop because it didn't sound like Alessi? When you first began practice high register did you only ever play up to notes that you thought sounded "good"? How about when you first practiced double tongueing? Did you give up because it was a mess? Of course not. (I assume!  :D )
I believe if you only ever sound good in the practice room you are doing it wrong. You have to experiment, push the boundries, figure out how to make bad sounds turn into good sounds. The way to improve on a bad sound is not by ignoring it. I think Burgerbob is totally correct, push the limits of your volume in the practice room. Work at making the top levels sound nice.
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« Reply #23 on: Jun 10, 2017, 02:46AM »

Lips don't think.
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« Reply #24 on: Jun 10, 2017, 04:34AM »

Pushing the boundaries momentarily and sustaining bad stuff are two different things.

Depends on your definition of "think".

...Geezer
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« Reply #25 on: Jun 10, 2017, 04:49AM »


Ummmmm..... you HAVE to sound bad at various points in the practice room..... the first time you tried playing a trombone did you immediately stop because it didn't sound like Alessi? When you first began practice high register did you only ever play up to notes that you thought sounded "good"? How about when you first practiced double tongueing? Did you give up because it was a mess? Of course not. (I assume!  :D )
I believe if you only ever sound good in the practice room you are doing it wrong. You have to experiment, push the boundries, figure out how to make bad sounds turn into good sounds. The way to improve on a bad sound is not by ignoring it. I think Burgerbob is totally correct, push the limits of your volume in the practice room. Work at making the top levels sound nice.

I completely agree.  I tell my students that in the practice room you must be working on things that do not sound good so you can improve them.  1/2 of practice time should be devoted to working on growth and the other 1/2 to fine tuning.  With beginners, I always warn them that they will sound awful -- and that's okay.  And it's going to take practice and effort to go from awful to bad, and then from bad to mediocre, etc.  So, just understand that and work on improving every time you play the horn.

--Andy in OKC
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« Reply #26 on: Jun 10, 2017, 05:03AM »

Lips don't think.


You know..... I think you might be right! Actually neither do feet!
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« Reply #27 on: Jun 10, 2017, 05:03AM »

Heard at a short lecture recently:

Quote
If you sound good, you're not practicing.  You're showing off.
 
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« Reply #28 on: Jun 10, 2017, 05:06AM »

Sorry, but not when it comes to things like a double-buzz or cracked tone from over-blowing. Sustaining those bad sounds only makes them harder to part with. I might otherwise agree with learning how not to sound bad by working through sounding bad in the process in the areas of intonation, articulation, musicality, etc.

Still, we should strive to "show off" all the time. Every note should be the prettiest note we can make.

But hey, whatever works for you guys & yours...

...Geezer
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« Reply #29 on: Jun 10, 2017, 05:08AM »


Ummmmm..... you HAVE to sound bad at various points in the practice room..... the first time you tried playing a trombone did you immediately stop because it didn't sound like Alessi? When you first began practice high register did you only ever play up to notes that you thought sounded "good"? How about when you first practiced double tongueing? Did you give up because it was a mess? Of course not. (I assume!  :D )
I believe if you only ever sound good in the practice room you are doing it wrong. You have to experiment, push the boundries, figure out how to make bad sounds turn into good sounds. The way to improve on a bad sound is not by ignoring it. I think Burgerbob is totally correct, push the limits of your volume in the practice room. Work at making the top levels sound nice.

With respect, I have to disagree. With a good concept of sound, even young players can produce a fine sound. Youngsters hear other youngsters sounding harsh or uncontrolled and expect to produce a similar result. If they are in an environment where good sounds predominate, they too will produce good sounds. Bad sounds are not a road to good sounds.

You push your best loud sound not a lesser version of it. 'Good' is of course, a subjective term.

British Brass bands 50 years ago, when I first played in them, were not generally as loud as in more recent times.... the world changes.... better or worse ? You decide.

Some orchestras have gone the same way in their brass sections in decibel terms, though professional brass players usually produce controlled and impressive results.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #30 on: Jun 10, 2017, 05:39AM »

With respect, I have to disagree. With a good concept of sound, even young players can produce a fine sound. Youngsters hear other youngsters sounding harsh or uncontrolled and expect to produce a similar result. If they are in an environment where good sounds predominate, they too will produce good sounds. Bad sounds are not a road to good sounds.

You push your best loud sound not a lesser version of it. 'Good' is of course, a subjective term.

British Brass bands 50 years ago, when I first played in them, were not generally as loud as in more recent times.... the world changes.... better or worse ? You decide.

Some orchestras have gone the same way in their brass sections in decibel terms, though professional brass players usually produce controlled and impressive results.

Chris Stearn

 I am not saying that getting a bad sound in the practice room is the goal. And I am not only talking about loud playing. If you are practicing, really your main focus should be on things you are bad at because of course, you want to improve on your weaknesses. If you sound amazing in the practice room, you are probably not working at things you have issues on. If you have trouble with something, it will sound bad! But that way, you identify what the problem is by listening and then working out how you will fix it. Eventually it will sound good. And at that point you will sound good doing it in the practice room. Then its time to put the majority of your focus on another weak area.

For something like playing loud, if you are bad at it thats fine. The way I would practice it is to find where I am at, so play loudly, record myself etc.... listen to what the problem is. It shouldn't be hard to identify if the sound is uneven, agressive, forced. Once you identify the problem then try the exercise again, but add a new concept, physical motion etc. Just something different that you believe will give a positive result. Go from there.

If you dont sound bad at the start of that though, it would be hard to identify what the actual issues are.

Of course if young players only ever hear bad sounds around them they will probably find a way to produce what they hear, but never attempting to fix your problems for fear of sounding bad in the practice room just makes things worse.

I think you should always aim to make the best sound you are capable of at every point in your playing, but if the best sound you are capable of playing in a particular area of technique (like loud playing) doesn't sound good, it wont improve if you ignore it.
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« Reply #31 on: Jun 10, 2017, 05:55AM »

I am not saying that getting a bad sound in the practice room is the goal. And I am not only talking about loud playing. If you are practicing, really your main focus should be on things you are bad at because of course, you want to improve on your weaknesses. If you sound amazing in the practice room, you are probably not working at things you have issues on. If you have trouble with something, it will sound bad! But that way, you identify what the problem is by listening and then working out how you will fix it. Eventually it will sound good. And at that point you will sound good doing it in the practice room. Then its time to put the majority of your focus on another weak area.

For something like playing loud, if you are bad at it thats fine. The way I would practice it is to find where I am at, so play loudly, record myself etc.... listen to what the problem is. It shouldn't be hard to identify if the sound is uneven, agressive, forced. Once you identify the problem then try the exercise again, but add a new concept, physical motion etc. Just something different that you believe will give a positive result. Go from there.

If you dont sound bad at the start of that though, it would be hard to identify what the actual issues are.

Of course if young players only ever hear bad sounds around them they will probably find a way to produce what they hear, but never attempting to fix your problems for fear of sounding bad in the practice room just makes things worse.

I think you should always aim to make the best sound you are capable of at every point in your playing, but if the best sound you are capable of playing in a particular area of technique (like loud playing) doesn't sound good, it wont improve if you ignore it.


Agreed! But in my head, that doesn't mean working backwards from sustaining sounding bad to eventually sounding good. It means pushing the good till it bumps up against the bad and then backing off, striving to push it a bit further towards good each day. That is as far as sound concept is concerned.

As far as musicality items are concerned, I don't know how we can avoid sounding bad until we sound good - as in learning to improv or multiple-tongue. There are some experimental things I will not do until wife is out of the house. Lol

...Geezer
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« Reply #32 on: Jun 10, 2017, 06:14AM »

I am not saying that getting a bad sound in the practice room is the goal. And I am not only talking about loud playing. If you are practicing, really your main focus should be on things you are bad at because of course, you want to improve on your weaknesses. If you sound amazing in the practice room, you are probably not working at things you have issues on. If you have trouble with something, it will sound bad! But that way, you identify what the problem is by listening and then working out how you will fix it. Eventually it will sound good. And at that point you will sound good doing it in the practice room. Then its time to put the majority of your focus on another weak area.

For something like playing loud, if you are bad at it thats fine. The way I would practice it is to find where I am at, so play loudly, record myself etc.... listen to what the problem is. It shouldn't be hard to identify if the sound is uneven, agressive, forced. Once you identify the problem then try the exercise again, but add a new concept, physical motion etc. Just something different that you believe will give a positive result. Go from there.

If you dont sound bad at the start of that though, it would be hard to identify what the actual issues are.

Of course if young players only ever hear bad sounds around them they will probably find a way to produce what they hear, but never attempting to fix your problems for fear of sounding bad in the practice room just makes things worse.

I think you should always aim to make the best sound you are capable of at every point in your playing, but if the best sound you are capable of playing in a particular area of technique (like loud playing) doesn't sound good, it wont improve if you ignore it.


You cannot identify issues unless you sound bad ??? Really ???

Loud playing can indeed highlight issues of physical incorrectness, but persisting with incorrectness in order to work through to correctness is not a viable pathway and of course, there are many ideas of what is correct.

I have a few physical routines that I use behind a closed door, away from other ears, that help me maintain some physical aspects of playing more easily than simply making music. Time savers.

After more than 40 years of professional playing and more than 25 years of Conservatoire teaching, I can say that most practice time is taken up with musical creation, and finding ways to deliver your concepts... once you know what your concepts are. Far too many players are obsessed with technique for it's own sake.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #33 on: Jun 10, 2017, 09:46AM »

Hmmmmm.... a moderator whose user name is "blast"? What are we to make of THAT? ha hah hahahahahhahahaha
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« Reply #34 on: Jun 10, 2017, 10:01AM »

My high school band director used to always say have presence instead of just being loud. (FWIW he is a tubist and former member of the U.S. Army Field Band)

Plus, I don't get this attitude from some solo trombone players that they must always be heard above everyone else.
The soloist's primary concern is being musical while still considering balance, but it is incumbent upon the ensemble or accompanist to balance to the soloist.
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« Reply #35 on: Jun 10, 2017, 10:08AM »

...they must always be heard above everyone else.

Gee.  I thought that this applied to saxophone players.  When it says "Tenor Saxophone" on the part they interpret that as "Tenor Saxophone Feature". Evil :-P
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« Reply #36 on: Jun 10, 2017, 11:13AM »

Hmmmmm.... a moderator whose user name is "blast"? What are we to make of THAT? ha hah hahahahahhahahaha

 :) :) :) :)
Thought might come up
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« Reply #37 on: Jun 10, 2017, 12:48PM »

Our university orchestra is playing Symphonie Fantastique today. After our sound check, one of the trumpet (not cornet) players complained that in some passages, the trombones were overbalancing them.

All three of us trombones play with proper instrument angles, bells pointed out into the concert hall. For the entire symphony, both trumpets had their bells pointed directing into their stands or at the floor. They were playing so softly that the cornets were louder! Sure, we go for a somewhat boisterous style for this piece, but there's no reason to balance down to improper technique. Bottom line is that we haven't yet gotten the hand, and we'll continue to do what we're doing until the conductor tells us 'SHHHH.'

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« Reply #38 on: Jun 10, 2017, 03:28PM »

You cannot identify issues unless you sound bad ??? Really ???

Loud playing can indeed highlight issues of physical incorrectness, but persisting with incorrectness in order to work through to correctness is not a viable pathway and of course, there are many ideas of what is correct.

I have a few physical routines that I use behind a closed door, away from other ears, that help me maintain some physical aspects of playing more easily than simply making music. Time savers.

After more than 40 years of professional playing and more than 25 years of Conservatoire teaching, I can say that most practice time is taken up with musical creation, and finding ways to deliver your concepts... once you know what your concepts are. Far too many players are obsessed with technique for it's own sake.

Chris Stearn


Well..... kind of, yeah. I mean nothing is really black and white in playing trombone, of course that is not the only way to identify issues, but if something sounds good, how and why would you go about identifying issues? Thats the point of what we do isn't it? To sound good? I would rather spend MORE time practicing things that i am not good at which are easily identifiable because they dont sound good. I am not saying that there is nothing to improve on when something sounds good, but if you only ever practice your strengths behind closed doors you will not get very far.

Yes of course music creation is extremely important, but if you have blindingly obvious flaws in your core technique, you can be as musical as you want and it still wont sound good. You have to be able to be confident actually playing the instrument.... one without the other is pretty useless but to really be able to deliver your concept of sound and music you need to be comfortable and confident that the instrument will respond and behave in a way that you dictate. If you are bad at certain areas of technique then really you are not in complete control of what you are trying to portray on the instrument. If you sound bad when you play loud, suddenly that is a tool not available for you to use in your musical creation. Especially if you never practice it because you struggle to sound good while doing it.
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« Reply #39 on: Jun 12, 2017, 03:43AM »

My high school band director used to always say have presence instead of just being loud. (FWIW he is a tubist and former member of the U.S. Army Field Band)
The soloist's primary concern is being musical while still considering balance, but it is incumbent upon the ensemble or accompanist to balance to the soloist.

I'm not talking about solo passages, where obviously the solo player must be heard above everyone else. But in cases where the objective is to produce a balanced section sound, if I can't physically play as loud as the 1st trombone player, and retain a good quality tone, then they must come down to a volume level which matches. This might only be a small amount, and hardly compromises the dramatic intensity of the music, but it can make a lot of difference to the balance.


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« Reply #40 on: Jun 12, 2017, 07:38AM »

Remember that piece I mentioned right back at the start of this thread, called "On The Shoulders Of Giants"?
Well here we have the Cory band (ranked world number 1), playing the finale of this piece. The interesting thing is that they have 2 players on the second trom part. Is that because they need the extra volume to balance the section?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InN8MTV2t1Y

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« Reply #41 on: Jun 12, 2017, 09:56AM »

I had wondered about that and now I have a theory:

The trombone has more "presence" in the upper register (at least up to high C).  The bass trombone is much bigger than the tenor trombone.  So this puts the poor 2nd Trombone at a disadvantage.  For maximum volume you can double the 2nd trombone part so it balances the 1st and bass when they are at "blastissimo".

Of course if you are only using 3 players it might be a good idea to ask the 1st and Bass to dial it back just a little... :/
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« Reply #42 on: Jun 12, 2017, 12:13PM »

The trombone has more "presence" in the upper register (at least up to high C).  The bass trombone is much bigger than the tenor trombone.  So this puts the poor 2nd Trombone at a disadvantage.
The 2nd trombone could upsize to a King 5B, Holton TR-159, Bach Friedman, or similar extra-large symphony tenor. Of course, if the 1st trombone is already playing on something of that ilk, there's not much room for the 2nd to upsize without going to a small bass trombone.
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« Reply #43 on: Jun 12, 2017, 02:07PM »

I played this piece the OP is talking about with a brass band that I used to be in several years ago. I was quite a bit younger, and I remember needing to play quite a bit louder and broader that I was used to. We had Brett Baker from the black Dyke band on 1st and he really took no prisoners with the volume. I remember doing a lot of practice and breathing exercises to be able to blance up and blend. It was good for me.

We had 2 players on the 2nd part, but from memory that was less to do with volume and more to cover breaths across the whole program of music we were playing. I dont think we did anything weird with breaths in the opening.... anyway I found the recording on youtube in case you are interested, not sure if it sounds a similar volume to your experience or if its less. It definitely felt big at the time!

Extra note, we actually won the Australian A grade contest that year thats not helpful info of course just a good memory for me! :D

https://youtu.be/HZtXWIoDbQE
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« Reply #44 on: Jun 12, 2017, 02:27PM »

I had wondered about that and now I have a theory:

The trombone has more "presence" in the upper register (at least up to high C).  The bass trombone is much bigger than the tenor trombone.  So this puts the poor 2nd Trombone at a disadvantage.  For maximum volume you can double the 2nd trombone part so it balances the 1st and bass when they are at "blastissimo".

Of course if you are only using 3 players it might be a good idea to ask the 1st and Bass to dial it back just a little... :/

Spot on, and exactly my points back then. But nobody actually took any notice of what I was saying. And no, there was no dialing back. Full on bastississimo.



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« Reply #45 on: Jun 12, 2017, 06:21PM »

More than one player on a part--- when played slightly, ever so slightly-- out of tune between the players makes the volume less, not more. It cancels out the volume, not adds to it.

Two players playing the same volume make the sound fuller, but no louder.

Brass bands have two players on a part -- Eb bass, BBb bass, euph, etc. etc-- to cover the divisi and fill the sound out with added harmony and doubling of voices in different octaves, not to double the volume.

If you want to be heard, play brighter, not louder. Not doubled-- brighter. Play with more projection, not louder.

****
The misinterpretation of trombone parts most guilty of this problem: the prevalence of players on bone 3 in a big band insisting on playing a .547 trombone if the upper voices bother to play smaller bore horns. Bone 3 isn't louder on a larger horn-- it is then lost.

****
The other huge place of misinformation in the trombone world: the trombone choir. For example when playing bone quartets with multiple players on the four parts.
1 on lead
2 on second to cover the divisi
12 on 3rd, because they can't play high enough to play lead, or low enough to play bass
2 or 3 on bass

If you want to create a kick-ass bone choir out of 18 players, where 12 are on 3rd bone, for the gig add one better bass trombonist to the 3rds, to hide the failings of the 3rds on tenor bone.
Sad, but true.
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« Reply #46 on: Jun 13, 2017, 05:44AM »


If you want to be heard, play brighter, not louder. Not doubled-- brighter. Play with more projection, not louder.

Yes, and much, much easier to do that in the higher register of the instrument isn't it?
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« Reply #47 on: Jun 13, 2017, 05:24PM »

Yes, easier to do it in the upper register, where playing the top is always brighter. But it can be done on bass bone as well-- just avoid sounding like a euphonium. And that itself is another huge trick, that takes all the time in the world to do, and a lot of study with a master who can lead you into the secrets of bass projection without volume at ffffff....
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« Reply #48 on: Jun 13, 2017, 07:30PM »

I apologise in advance, this is a bit of a rant..
Coming from a brass band background, I can say that I was never ever able to play loud enough for the trom section in a championship section band I used to be a member of.
Here's an example: For one contest, we chose to play 'On Shoulders Of Giants'. A test piece stitched, together from bits of other famous pieces. It starts with the awesome low brass passage from Bruckner's 8th. It's magnificent. Except it wasn't, and I knew exactly what would happen when we performed it. You see the MD asked for maximum volume. And that's exactly what he got. Forget about balance, tuning, and ensemble. We ripped it. I said right from the start that no way could the second trombone (me), playing a mid-range concert Gb, balance up to the top trombone, at max volume.
And what do you know, the adjudicator's remarks proved me exactly right, because he faulted us on every single point I mentioned - balance, tuning and ensemble. It simply wasn't controlled.

And that's my point really. A lot of trombonists seem obsessed with producing a loud sound. There's no wonder that we're vilified by other sections of the orchestra, because I certainly wouldn't want to be sitting in front of some of the rackets I've heard coming out of certain trombone bells. I personally always strive to produce as beautiful sound as I can. To me that's more important than decibels. If I have to sacrifice volume to get the quality, and precision, I will. Yes the top players can produce a wondrously sounding, and controlled very loud sound, but my experience is that a lot of amateur players sound either raucous, out of tune, and just not very nice.
Plus, I don't get this attitude from some solo trombone players that they must always be heard above everyone else. It's like a bloody competition to see who can play loudest. FFS you're part of a section, and this means it must sound like three trombones in a harmonious, and balanced complete sound.

Sorry, rant over.



Im one of those that many times got a complain that I played too loud. When I played in a military band, we was two bass players. The other bass player claimed I always was louder and with his own words ; "you drown my sound"  I even got complain from the hole band, I was too loud. Maybe I was.

I think you should practice to play loud, with a full good sound. In fact, playing very soft and playing very loud is the same technique.

Leif
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« Reply #49 on: Jun 13, 2017, 07:45PM »

When I was younger (High school and college) volume was what I was all about. Time has changed my thoughts.........and my volume became less important and tone quality. I know make the following my motto: We are known by our tone. 
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« Reply #50 on: Jun 14, 2017, 05:30PM »

I had wondered about that and now I have a theory:

The trombone has more "presence" in the upper register (at least up to high C).  The bass trombone is much bigger than the tenor trombone.  So this puts the poor 2nd Trombone at a disadvantage.  For maximum volume you can double the 2nd trombone part so it balances the 1st and bass when they are at "blastissimo".

Of course if you are only using 3 players it might be a good idea to ask the 1st and Bass to dial it back just a little... :/

Good points/observations. In one of the ensembles I play in, we have four trombones. So, we typically double 2nd.
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« Reply #51 on: Jun 26, 2017, 07:51AM »

I did a gig with a local orchestra on Saturday, which included New World Symphony.
Got to say it was a refreshing change to play in a section which didn't go OTT with volume. Sometimes the 1st trom tends to let rip and show what he can do. Not this time. Nice controlled, balanced section sound. Smack in tune. Wonderful stuff, and a pleasure to be part of.
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« Reply #52 on: Jun 26, 2017, 10:50AM »

I did a gig with a local orchestra on Saturday, which included New World Symphony.
Got to say it was a refreshing change to play in a section which didn't go OTT with volume. Sometimes the 1st trom tends to let rip and show what he can do. Not this time. Nice controlled, balanced section sound. Smack in tune. Wonderful stuff, and a pleasure to be part of.


Did they have a tuba there for the 18 notes in the 2nd Movement?  At least half the time we don't use one; other times the Tuba player will play misc. percussion (triangle in 3rd mvt and one cymbal crash in the 4th).
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« Reply #53 on: Jun 27, 2017, 01:59AM »

Did they have a tuba there for the 18 notes in the 2nd Movement? 

Did some enterprising soul write 4 new notes for the tuba?   Evil
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« Reply #54 on: Jun 27, 2017, 07:13AM »

Did they have a tuba there for the 18 notes in the 2nd Movement?  At least half the time we don't use one; other times the Tuba player will play misc. percussion (triangle in 3rd mvt and one cymbal crash in the 4th).

No, and that would have been the icing on the cake. But if there are only a handful of notes for tuba to play, I can fully understand why nobody was there, or they didn't bother asking anyone. But oh my, that extra depth would have made such a sublime sound in the gorgeous acoustics of the church.
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