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Author Topic: Theory---Largest..or Smallest?  (Read 95315 times)
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griffinben

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« Reply #20 on: Jul 14, 2006, 01:49PM »

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2. The vast majority of trombone mouthpiece manufacturing done in the 20th century was by companies run by trumpet players ( Bach, etc. etc. ) who needed a line of mouthpieces to flog with their horns and throw into the case as a freebie with every horn sold.


OK, I meant to take issue with this earlier...

OK Well specifically about Bach, the original Bach designs are materpieces.  Most still are judging by teir ubiuity amongst many proffessional players that KNOW what they are doing and aren't caught up in any "Arms race".

The original bach catalogue was mroe limited than it is today and the mouthpieces were often developed for specific playign situation and often specifc players.  You had Allie Clarke with the Clarke L and S which would become the 6 1/2AL and 6 1/2A.  Jack Jenny is believed to be responsible for much of the small bore trombone design, I'm sure he had a hand in the mouthpieces as well.  Not to mention the many first rate trombone players of the day which would work with and try different mouthpieces at the factory at the hands of old man Bach himself.

Hardly a the mentality of one just trying to flog a mouthpiece with their horn.

Good New York and Mt. Vernons are great pieces, moreover the focus of the earlier pieces were ont he smaller sized.  How many Mt. vernon/New York Bach 6 1/2 AL/A's and 5G's are there compared to the 12's, 15's, 11C's?  I've seen more Mt. Vernon 14D's than 6 1/2's in my lifetime.  I defy you to try and find a New York Bach 1G.

In fact most of the mouthpiece manufacturing of the early 20'th century centered around these smaller sizes.  Mouthpieces got larger because the medium changed.  The "ideal" sound and style switched from that of a bandsman to that of the orchestral player, where demands are different.

But it just wasn't the early 20th century...if we look at the "freebie's" thrown in with every horn that got sold, you will see that they focus on the smaller sizes!  Bach 42: 6 1/2AL.  New King 3B: UMI 7C.  New King Jiggs: Jiggs 1A (like an 11C).  Even the Bach 36 comes with a 7C.  These are not large sizes and hardly adding to an arms race.  Olds would generally come with and Olds 3, 7C sized.  I do not have information with what Buescher's martin's or Holton were supllied with when they were independant manufacturers, but most I have run across where definately a smaller size (7 or smaller), and the LeBlanc holton came with a 7 C in the small horns.  Student Yamahas come with a 45-12C.  Large bore Yamaha's, a 48D.  Small bore Conn's got either the Conn2 or 3, niether small, and the Remington with the 88H, hardly a "too-big" piece.

Moreover the H.NWhite company which built (Now Conn Selmer) was Made King by a trombone player, and didn't manufacture a cornet until two years after he made the King trombone.  Horns from King were supllied with a M21, which is basically like a 12 with a  deeper cup, and later a king 11M, barley larger.

If you want to take issue with the CORPORATE mentality that allowed several subpar designs to be included with instruments, i will not argue with you.  But this did not appear until the latter half of the 20th century and often appeared only on combined manufacturers that weren't very mainstream anymore.  The latter-day York, Buescher, Holton, et.al were not good designs, but were hardly the norm and certainly not widespreas amongst developing trombonists.  

Meanwhile even in this period Conn and bach, certainly the manufacturers with the greatest market share of large horns continued to provdide quality mouthpiece designs with their large instruments and bach with their small ones.  So high quality were the designs they are still the most played on instruments of ANY manufacture.

If you want to talk schilke, that's another ball of wax, with a long and varied history and no production of trombone models.

lastly, yes the mouthpieces do provide usually only a .1mm differnce between them, but that's the differnce between a 12C and 11C, a 5GS and a 61/2AL..you tell me those feel the same to your face?  The reason for different sizes were for different facial structures and muscaulature just like the afore mentioned shoes.  The orginal bach designs were for a whole, and made the whole of the mouthpeice work.  

In fact, Bach seems to be (until schilke) the only manufacturer to offer a truly comprehensive list of mouthpieces that catered to specific players needs in a variety of sizes.  This, no doubt, has to do with the number of players working with bach and their numerous requests for different things.  Some sizes that aren't used anymore were dropped fromt he catalogue (14D, 9C, etc.)

Now if you want to take issue with manufacturing flaws, general wearing down of designs, etc. fine.  

But most of the mouthpieces manufactured in the 20th century were small.  And most were of high quality .

The difference you are speaking of has to do with a change in overall tonal philosophy specifically related to the change in "ideal" from bandsman to orchestral player that continues to evolve to this day.  It was market driven, not manufacture.

-Ben
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Dave Tatro
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« Reply #21 on: Jul 14, 2006, 02:06PM »

Quote from: "griffinben"
lastly, yes the mouthpieces do provide usually only a .1mm differnce between them, but that's the differnce between a 12C and 11C, a 5GS and a 61/2AL..you tell me those feel the same to your face?


If you really want an illustration of just how sensitive your face can be to minute changes of rim size, get two sheets of paper. Place the edge of one sheet vertically across both lips about where your rim sits, on one side or the other. Holding that one in place, slide the other sheet in just outside of it, so that they are tightly together. Now pull the first sheet away from your face. I bet that you will be able to feel the difference in placement.

Lips are sensitive!
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« Reply #22 on: Jul 14, 2006, 02:52PM »

These are all excellent thoughtful posts with a commmon thread all pointing in the same direction. Wonderful. So many different ways to say the same thing from so many different people and so many difference experiences.


Lets further refine the "question".

When I started this by saying that Alain Trudel said " Play the smallest mouthpiece possible" I could have added a couple of things. Firstly, for great periods of time Alain does not have to speak english, only french, and he speaks with lots of input from anglophones who add to what he is saying if he is at a loss for a term. So, let me rephrase what alain had to say---- he meant to say----

" Play a mouthpiece that is only as large as necessary to do the job.".

As large as necessary to hit 100% of the notes with 100% accuracy and a perfect sound FOR THE JOB AT HAND. He plays lots of solos, admittedly--- but he also plays a lot of principal bone in a large orchestra work as well. And lots of gigs with an accordianist as well.


So far, most of the personal examples of the folk responding to this thread are centering on example of the Bach 6 1/2AL size. Thats pretty normal. So far nobody has said--- "I'm sitting 11th out of 17 bones in my All-State Grade 10 All Star Band for the summer and the guy next to me plays a 2G on his tenor so I bought a 1G"....that was my biggest fear.


Now, back to the old examples of the horrid acoustics in New York. Perhaps they've always been that way. Perhaps they always are in 4,000 seat halls. I caught lectures with Ostrander and studied with Van Haney. They BOTH said that the toughest thing about playing in the NY Phil in the glory days under Bernstein was the volume necessary. They had to play incredibly loud, so loud that subs were tough to find who could do it , or WOULD play that loud. The orchestra left Carnegie Hall. And at the first  rehearsal in the new hall they found that they could get the same sound and impact with about 40% of the effort and 40% of the previous volume.


Carnegie Hall had lousy acoustics for trombonists sitting in the back row.

And what did Van Haney and Ostrander use for mouthpieces? A handmade thing about the size of a shallowed cup 5G that eventually became the Remington mouthpiece, and a Bach 2G.

As for the "flogging" of Bach mouthpieces.....a bit hasty on my part...but it flushed out the thoughful responses. Thanks for the right answers.

 Lets look at the Bach BASS trombone mouthpiece design post- 1 1/2G.
Double in-line valves came along and everybody cried about the stuffiness....enter the 1 1/4G. Enter the GM larger throat. Everybody still cried......enter the 1G. Any designing done on the 1G?? Any thought go into it? Not a whit. A Bach 1G is just the stock TENOR trombone blank with as much metal removed as possible. And it is still only as large as a Schilke 59.

So, the double valve in-line horns were still stuffy and played badly. Schilke steps up to the plate and starts carving THEIR blanks out to capture market and come up with the Schilke 59 and the Schilke 60.

Thats a problem with lousy horn design, not with the mouthpieces.

Play on, gentlemen. So far its a civil intelligent discussion, and hasn't been hijacked by the Grade 9 crowd.
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« Reply #23 on: Jul 14, 2006, 03:07PM »

Quote from: "Kevin Marsh"

Lets look at the Bach BASS trombone mouthpiece design post- 1 1/2G.
Double in-line valves came along and everybody cried about the stuffiness....enter the 1 1/4G. Enter the GM larger throat. Everybody still cried......enter the 1G. Any designing done on the 1G?? Any thought go into it? Not a whit. A Bach 1G is just the stock TENOR trombone blank with as much metal removed as possible. And it is still only as large as a Schilke 59.

So, the double valve in-line horns were still stuffy and played badly. Schilke steps up to the plate and starts carving THEIR blanks out to capture market and come up with the Schilke 59 and the Schilke 60.

Thats a problem with lousy horn design, not with the mouthpieces.


Somewhere on his website, Gary Greenhoe rants about all the things that have been done to horns and mouthpieces in an attempt to make up for the shortcomings of what he considers to be bad valve designs. He then offers his own philosophy of what the ideal situation should be in terms of sound concept, etc. He goes on to say that changes in other areas of trombone design, including mouthpiece design, would be necessary before his valves can really show their full advantage over other designs. I've always wondered exactly what he meant regarding m'piece design.
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« Reply #24 on: Jul 14, 2006, 03:46PM »

Quote from: "griffinben"
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The other approach is to try the biggest mouthpiece that works for you, and develop that philosophy.


While I have heard the philosophy of playign the smallest equipment you can I have never. ever heard of a philoso[phy of playing the biggest.  


From the bach mouthpiece catalog:
"Professional musicians and advanced students prefer the musical results of large mouthpieces"
and
"the larger mouthpiece produces a clearer, purer tone.  The large cup diameter also allows a greater portion of the lip to vibrate, producing a larger colume of tone, and keeps a player from forcing high tones by encouraging the correct functioning of the lip muscles."

That's all directly from the 'Selecting a Mouthpiece" a section.

Now, from the 'The Cup: Diameter' sections:
"We recommend that all brass instrumentalists - professional artists, beginners or advanced students; symphony, concert or jazz band - use as large a cup diameter as they can endure and a fairly deep cup."
and
"A larger-sized mouthpiece will also offer greater comfort, making it possible to secure a good tone quality even when the lips are swollen from too much playing"
and (more interestingly):
"A small cup diameter does not permit the lips to vibrate sufficiently, preventing the player from producing a righ, full tone.  The lack of tone volume tempts a player to exert more lip pressure and to force more air through the instrument that the small mouthpiece is capable of handling, creating a shrill tone."

They make it sound like you NEED a big rim or you will sound crap.  No wonder so many people think they need a big mouthpiece.
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« Reply #25 on: Jul 14, 2006, 04:06PM »

Ben.... you've never heard of the 'play on the biggest mouthpiece you can cope with' school ??????
I remember hearing a lot of that back in the 1970's. Perhaps a reaction to 100 years of small equipment here in the UK.
Nobody think like that in the US ?? :shuffle:
Nothing to be shy about... it was (and probably is) a valid approach to equipment choice.
It's important to be clear here... by saying smallest, it's not always going to be small in the generally accepted sense, and by saying biggest, it's not always going to be big in the generally accepted sense. It's about how you work within your range of mouthpiece adaptability.
If there is no range, you are drawn to one mouthpiece.
If you are able to work very well through several sizes, a choice must be made.
I think that the changes in bass trombone mouthpiece size in the last 40 years really deserve a different topic all of their own... it's a one way street that is more extreme than is found on any other brass instrument. Why is a good question, but it's not this question.
Chris Stearn.
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« Reply #26 on: Jul 14, 2006, 04:09PM »

I think this is right on the money, as long as larger and smaller are thought of as relative terms. What is small and limiting to one player may be vastly over-large to another. But for any given player, within a given playing situation, and a given reasonable range of mouthpiece sizes, this will probably hold true.

Of course what they fail to mention in terms of clarity or purity of tone is that one reaches a point of diminishing returns when they get to a certain size point, because the sound loses focus. For instance, I can play pretty good tenor on a 1.5G but the sound is not as tight and brilliant as I would like. I tend to suspect that in this instance, when they say large, or larger mouthpieces, they are probably talking about a 6 1/2 AL or maybe a 5G at the most.

Just my impressions....

[EDIT] -AAAK! this is the third post today that was intended to go right under somebody else's with no quote, and somebody else beat me to it!This is in response to MonsterAar's post about the Bach catalog.......
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« Reply #27 on: Jul 14, 2006, 04:18PM »

Quote from: "MonsterAar"
Quote from: "griffinben"
Quote
The other approach is to try the biggest mouthpiece that works for you, and develop that philosophy.


While I have heard the philosophy of playign the smallest equipment you can I have never. ever heard of a philoso[phy of playing the biggest.  


From the bach mouthpiece catalog:
"Professional musicians and advanced students prefer the musical results of large mouthpieces"
and
"the larger mouthpiece produces a clearer, purer tone.  The large cup diameter also allows a greater portion of the lip to vibrate, producing a larger colume of tone, and keeps a player from forcing high tones by encouraging the correct functioning of the lip muscles."

That's all directly from the 'Selecting a Mouthpiece" a section.

Now, from the 'The Cup: Diameter' sections:
"We recommend that all brass instrumentalists - professional artists, beginners or advanced students; symphony, concert or jazz band - use as large a cup diameter as they can endure and a fairly deep cup."
and
"A larger-sized mouthpiece will also offer greater comfort, making it possible to secure a good tone quality even when the lips are swollen from too much playing"
and (more interestingly):
"A small cup diameter does not permit the lips to vibrate sufficiently, preventing the player from producing a righ, full tone.  The lack of tone volume tempts a player to exert more lip pressure and to force more air through the instrument that the small mouthpiece is capable of handling, creating a shrill tone."

They make it sound like you NEED a big rim or you will sound crap.  No wonder so many people think they need a big mouthpiece.



Most of the Bach mouthpiece manual text was penned by Bach before WW2 when many players in local bands played on very, very small mouthpieces.
I think a lot of it was primarily aimed at trumpet players... but the words now drive players to look at the end of each line of mouthpieces, for that wonder-monster that will solve all their problems. I think if Bach were alive now, he might well change a lot of his comments.
You should read some of the stuff in the early manuals....
Chris Stearn
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« Reply #28 on: Jul 14, 2006, 04:28PM »

Chris, you are undoubtedly right here. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if V. Bach was actually intending his comments to sway players to move from a 15c to a 12c size mouthpiece, or something like that.
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griffinben

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« Reply #29 on: Jul 14, 2006, 05:16PM »

Not only that, but the change overall instrument size was beginning to shift dramaticly from the band instruments of the day to orchestral instruments, while many people (but not to many, if the recent thread in instruments is any judge) .525 is way too small for orchestral playing, it was one of THE instruments, both 36 and more commonly the .522 78H, was a huge leap over .458 and .485 bore insturments.

A larger mouthpiece was neccessary to capitalize on the larger bore size's advantages in orchestral situations.

I agree that there have been bastardizations of particular designs over time.  The bass trombone world is a wonderful exapmle, the bach 1G and schilke 60 made on medium large size blanks with cookie cutter rims, ill-balanced and made to overcome the in-efficiencies of instruments.  But, if dual dependant valves were required to get the job done, i guess a mouthpiece to fully expand upon this new but not fully developed technology was inevitable.  

The mouthpiece had to be unbalanced in order to overcome and unbalanced instrument.  But similar to the oversize crook at the bottom of a Bach 42 to overcome the stuffiness of their valve, some of these larger unblanced design have actually been dealt with and now are considered the standard or norm.  Some people have discovered that a schilke 60 rim is for them!  (even if the cup is waaay big.)  Fortunately, now that instruments', and specifically valve technology, have progressed, we see new lines of bass trombone mouthpieces that are far better balanced and equipped to deal with today's better balanced valves, incorporating different design elements of these unbalanced mouthpieces in a far more balanced package.

Chris, I honestly really haven't heard an "as big a mouthpiece you can play" school of thought.  certainly i have heard the reccommendation of going larger, but not as large as you can play.

The wonderful thing here is that everyone is pretty much agreeing is that one should play the most efficient mouthpiece for their given sound concept/playing situation, which actually lines up with the very post that kicked all this off.  

Kevin said that in his playing situation that his "small" mouthpiece gave him everything he needed.  Excellent.  So does someone else's Allessi 1.5 and another's 6.5 and another's 22cs.  It all depends ont he individual, their chops,  and their situation.

Lastly (for this post) even though the current bach literature may be doing a disservice to those who only look at that, there are several manuals out there published by other manufacturers which are certainly more informative.  i hope that anyone contemplating a change will consult their teacher or someone knowledgable in the subject.  Go Check out Storks take on Mpces, its great.

-Ben
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« Reply #30 on: Jul 14, 2006, 09:40PM »

Quote from: "blast"
Ben.... you've never heard of the 'play on the biggest mouthpiece you can cope with' school ??????
I remember hearing a lot of that back in the 1970's. Perhaps a reaction to 100 years of small equipment here in the UK.
Nobody think like that in the US ?? :shuffle:

Yes there are plenty. And if not "biggest" then "big enough" in the adherent's mind at least. A friend of mine got his PhD in performance and took lessons from a certain principal in a top 5 US orchestra who told him to play a 3G with his Conn 8H and that he might not "be man enough" to do so. I've heard plenty of "helpers" telling young players to get off their 12C ASAP and into a 7C or 6 1/2 A.L.. Conversely, one of my college student friends playing a Bcah 36 cannot use a 6 1/2 A.L. under teacher's orders but must use a 7C.

In titling this topic, I should have said "smallest and comfortable" or "biggest and yet comfortable," but I thought this was understood?
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« Reply #31 on: Jul 16, 2006, 06:25AM »

Quote from: "Kevin Marsh"
Like several other trombonists, Ray Premru etc. etc, the theory behind his mouthpiece is that it is best to play a mouthpiece AS SMALL as possible.


This was from the previous thread that led to this one, but this seemed like the right place to address it...

I studied with Ray for 4 years, and that was NOT his theory by any means.

He played his modified 2G because it was what he knew and was most comfortable on. I think he experimented a little bit with Doug Elliott's pieces, but mostly he got Doug's range of options to offer to his students. The only change he made late in his career was a Greg Black copy of his 2G.

Ray had a very pronounced underbite, which I think contributed greatly to his large warm sound. My understanding of physical variations and how they affect sound and playing facility is rudimentary, but I do know that the players I have met with underbites tend to have big sounds and pretty easy facility in the low register. What I'm saying is, I think Ray's particular facial structure made it easier for him to make the sound he did on a 2G than it would be for me, or others with a more typical jaw angle.

When I started studying with Ray, I was playing a Schilke 60 made for me by Scott Laskey when he was working there. It was quite a bit better balanced than the stock 60. Ray never asked me to change it, but it was really too much for me at the time, so I switched to a 59, and then to a Doug Elliott that was very much like a 59 (112, K). Whenever I tried other mouthpieces, including some smaller but none bigger, Ray would urge me back towards the Elliott.

Also, he often urged (gently but firmly...anyone who knew him will understand) the tenor players in the studio with bright sounds to switch to larger mouthpieces - usually from 5G to 4G. If the sound and facility were what he wanted to hear, he never messed with it, whether it was a 6 1/2 AL or a 3G.

Finally, let's not idealize Ray's sound quite so much. Don't get me wrong - I truly loved the man and miss him every day, and I wish I could sound like him most of the time. But the warm expansiveness of his sound came from a very focused center, and the time and place in which he made his awesome career were very different from today - if not so much in the UK, certainly here in the US. Close up, standing next to him, the sound was NOT huge. It was warm, round and beautiful, but not tremendously wide, particularly in the low register.

Again, don't misunderstand me - I'm not saying wider is better - the width, or breadth if you prefer, has to be one element of a beautifully balanced sound, which Ray certainly had. But here in the United States, in the third millenium, the fashion in bass trombone sounds is wider at the source than what Ray was producing. Good? Bad? I don't know...probably a little of both, like most aspects of evolution.  But it just is.

---------------------------------------------

I'm now playing a much larger mouthpiece than I ever thought I would. My Laskey 93D is noticeably larger than a Schilke 60 at the rim, although the backbore/throat is more efficient and I think the cup is a bit shallower. I've gone down this road for essentially two reasons:

1. I am frequently required to play parts that are stupidly low. I play often for a group called the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (pronounced B-MOP). This is one of the very best, most exciting freelance gigs in Boston, and I love it. But sometimes I have to play music that requires a facility in the extreme low register that I simply could not achieve with the smaller mouthpieces I used to play. Believe me - I worked hard at my end of it, and ultimately had to re-examine my tools.

2. Many of the other players I play with, and particularly the principal in the RI Phil, a fantastic player named Darren Acosta, have very large sounds. I could blend with them with my older, smaller, mouthpieces, but it's much easier with the Laskey. Ditto for the tuba players; I'm lucky to play often with Mike Roylance of the Boston Symphony. He makes beautiful sounds - big and broad, but also very centered and colorful. I have a much easier time getting inside his sound with the equipment I'm playing now than what I was playing a couple of years ago. Incidentally, this same line of change is what has led me towards a yellow brass bell, from the red bell I was playing for years before that - more of the mf warmth at louder dynamics, easier blend with tuba and dark tenor sounds.

As big as it is, my Laskey and yellow bell actually help me to sound more like Ray Premru on his 2G and red brass Holton than I did with smaller pieces and a red bell.
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« Reply #32 on: Jul 16, 2006, 08:24AM »

Quote from: "Gabe Langfur"
Quote from: "Kevin Marsh"
Like several other trombonists, Ray Premru etc. etc, the theory behind his mouthpiece is that it is best to play a mouthpiece AS SMALL as possible.


This was from the previous thread that led to this one, but this seemed like the right place to address it...

I studied with Ray for 4 years, and that was NOT his theory by any means.

He played his modified 2G because it was what he knew and was most comfortable on.
...
Ray had a very pronounced underbite, which I think contributed greatly to his large warm sound. My understanding of physical variations and how they affect sound and playing facility is rudimentary, but I do know that the players I have met with underbites tend to have big sounds and pretty easy facility in the low register. What I'm saying is, I think Ray's particular facial structure made it easier for him to make the sound he did on a 2G than it would be for me, or others with a more typical jaw angle.
...


Gabe is absolutely right about bringing this up.  The "pronounced underbite" very often goes along with the embouchure types that require smaller mouthpieces.  And as Gabe said, those embouchures tend to have a huge sound and easy low range without needing big mouthpieces.  Part of the trend toward larger mouthpieces is the result of more people having orthodontic work to "correct" a large overbite, thereby making more people into the jaw configuration and embouchure type that requires larger mouthpieces.  There will always be embouchures in both camps, and they will never understand each other.

I haven't had time to respond to any of this thread, and Luke did a great job of stating my point of view anyway.
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« Reply #33 on: Jul 16, 2006, 09:48AM »

All excellent points, again.

My fear, probably based in reality from dealing even in a peripheral sense with the local university players is this: That they will read Gabe's post and miss the point.

Gabe made some excellent points: He studied with Ray for 4 years. Undoubtedly he busted his a** 22 hours a day on the horn while he was doing so and achieved some incredible results and given more time and more strength would have practiced even more, knowing how incredibly rare the opportunity to have access to Ray was.

He THEN went on to practice more and get more professional experience, until he ran into an ensemble that performs repertoire requiring stupid extremes of range.

So, in his case he is following common sense: Gabe is playing a mouthpiece just large enough to get the job done. In a professional setting. With fellow professional trombonists in the ensembles doing the same thing.

Gabe, your reputation and common sense stand in good stead here. We all enjoy your posts and you opinions.

I'm more concerned with the other 4,999 of the 5000 OTJ members who do not have decades of experience under their belts, or under their chops as it were, and don't have access to the best teachers.

They're out there. And they DO have access to computers and cash, and the future of the horn depends on them making some informed rational decisions regarding gear.

So, let the debate/ discussion continue.
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« Reply #34 on: Jul 16, 2006, 10:22AM »

Quote from: "evan51"

... one of my college student friends playing a Bach 36 cannot use a 6 1/2 A.L. under teacher's orders but must use a 7C.


A couple of things should be noted here, which may not have been communicated well to Evan, 1st off that the teacher was not opposed to the 6.5 AL but was opposed to switching between a 7c for jazz with a King 3b and a 6.5 AL with the 36 for classical. Secondly that the teacher is suspected of being a little fickle because another student in the same studio playing a 36 was switching between a 6.5 AL with the 36 for classical and a smaller 'piece with a Conn 100H for jazz, and the teacher had him play a 6.5 AL for both.

-G.L.
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I can't... I have to practice.
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« Reply #35 on: Jul 16, 2006, 10:31AM »

I hear what you're saying Kevin, and I can't completely disagree.

But I don't think it's wise to oversimplify a message just so that it is less easily misunderstood. It's an oversimplifaction to say I play a mouthpiece just big enough to get the job done. I did most of the jobs I do now on smaller mouthpieces for years, but I'm happier with the result now than I ever have been before. That's a testament to how and what I practice just as much as my equipment choices. And my equipment choice to a certain extent dictates the kind of practicing I need to do. I could decide to play something smaller (and I've considered it), but I would then need to practice differently. What I'm playing now seems to fit my practice habits and playing demands pretty well. It's a lifelong journey of discovery.

I can name other players who can do what I do at least as well, and often better, on smaller equipment. George Flynn comes to mind as just one exmple - he plays the absurdly low Lion King book on Broadway on a 1 1/2 G and essentially stock Elkhart Conn 62H. I can't even conceive how he does it.

Ultimately, the equipment matters much less than the thought behind it. Equipment is just a set of tools - you can give me as many sophisticated carpentry tools as you want; I still won't be able to make anything more complex than a simple bookshelf. Give a world-class craftsman world-class tools however, and there's no end to what he can do.

If a player gets the concepts together, then equipment choices become pretty clear. Both in my teaching and in my job at Shires, I advise students to play something pretty middle-of-the-road that seems to fit well, and use that to develop the right concepts and skills. Tweaks can be made later to further refine and fit the equipment to the player and his or her needs.

As I said, I don't think we're disagreeing...but I don't like rules or absolute statements, so I always look for a more nuanced expression of any idea.

So here's one. This is from a sheet Norman Bolter gave me recently, that he hands out to students these days:

Quote
WORKSHEET: Practice Fundamentals
(Things to listen for, to be sure they're always there)
Norman Bolter

RHYTHM
PITCH
TIMBRE

Evenness
Articulation
Dynamics
Phrasing
Style
Ease


This is copyrighted, and probably printed in one of his books. I hope he doesn't mind that I posted it here.

I think this set of guidelines for practicing is also an excellent set of things to think about when selecting equipment.
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Gabe Langfur
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« Reply #36 on: Jul 16, 2006, 10:34AM »

Oh no. I've crossed over into "addicted."

I think it's time to go practice  :)

Anybody who finds themselves at the ITF in Birmingham England next week...please do stop by the Shires display to say hello.
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Gabe Langfur
Bass Trombonist
Rhode Island Philharmonic
Vermont Symphony
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evan51
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« Reply #37 on: Jul 16, 2006, 11:08AM »

Quote from: "caltrombonist"
Quote from: "evan51"

... one of my college student friends playing a Bach 36 cannot use a 6 1/2 A.L. under teacher's orders but must use a 7C.


A couple of things should be noted here, which may not have been communicated well to Evan, 1st off that the teacher was not opposed to the 6.5 AL but was opposed to switching between a 7c for jazz with a King 3b and a 6.5 AL with the 36 for classical. Secondly that the teacher is suspected of being a little fickle because another student in the same studio playing a 36 was switching between a 6.5 AL with the 36 for classical and a smaller 'piece with a Conn 100H for jazz, and the teacher had him play a 6.5 AL for both.

-G.L.


Thanks for clearing that up, Gordo.
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« Reply #38 on: Jul 16, 2006, 11:43AM »

Gabe, I'm at a disadvantage as I don't do many silly gigs these days. Nothing that stretches me in the low register. What you say about the modern school having moved on is probably true, but is sad nevertheless.
I often heard Ray play in the Philharmonia, and also Frank Mathieson in the LSO, Harry Spain in the Royal Philharmonic, Noel Abel in the London Philharmonic and Dick Tyack in the BBC Symphony.
The playing of these gentlemen formed my concept of orchestral bass trombone playing, which still holds good to this day.
I have heard nothing in recent years that convinces me that there are now better ways to play in an orchestra.... indeed it is quite the opposite.
I recently had a couple of long chats with Denis Wick about this very thing, and he shared some of my concerns.
All this gravitates, however, toward another topic.... that of modern sounds and styles of bass trombone playing, and what we think of them..... which though very much linked with this topic, is not at the center of this topic (I often wish we could just drift but that causes too many problems) so I must finish this line of thought, in this topic.
Chris Stearn.

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Still cannot think of anything better to do. Back on an old 1 1/2G again !
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« Reply #39 on: Jul 16, 2006, 12:03PM »

Chris,

I don't particularly care about topics drifting...I'm perfectly happy to take a conversation in whatever direction it happens to go.

I can't say for sure, but I think it's possible that the big difference between the current American and British bass trombone styles may have a lot to do with the orchestras and halls we play in. During my semester in London I heard both the Philharmonia and LSO, and I think particularly the Philharmonia sounded quite different from most American orchestras. The hall they play in (Royal Albert?) is smaller than the homes of most major American orchestras, and it seemed to me the general dynamic level of the orchestra was lower. Again, not a good or bad thing in itself, just the reality. And the way the players in those top orchestras play influences strongly the ways that their students play.

The Boston Symphony trombones play smaller mouthpieces and somewhat smaller, lighter trombones with more soft brass (that sound more different at different dynamics) than their colleagues in New York or Chicago, where the halls are not as resonant as Boston's Symphony Hall. The hall is certainly not the only factor, but they certainly make choices based on their preferences and needs, and their preferences, as elsewhere, tend to influence the choices of their students.

All those British bass trombonists (and Ray  Evil ) sure sounded wonderful, but IMO so do many of the American players playing now on much larger equipment: Doug Yeo, Randy Hawes, Randy Campora, Matt Guilford, Don Harwood, John Englekes, Blair Bollinger and of course Charlie Vernon. I mean no disrespect to anyone I may have left out...this is just quickly off the top of my head.

Concept...
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Gabe Langfur
Bass Trombonist
Rhode Island Philharmonic
Vermont Symphony
Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass

Trombone Faculty
Boston University
Kinhaven Music School
Wellesley College

S. E. Shires Artist
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