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Big? Small? Audible?

Postby timayer » Thu Oct 05, 2017 3:43 pm

There is one thread in particular right now, and several in the past several months/year discussing going back to smaller horns, or at least discussing the benefits of smaller horns. The discussions seem to reduce down to a general consensus that smaller horns work in many situations, but some specific orchestral situations require the 6/4 York copies.

I'll say right now: I am not questioning anyone's conclusion on this. The conclusions seem to come from people from whom I should be learning, not lecturing. Everyone finds their right answer for their situation.

My question is a variation on one that rears its head occasionally, and it is based on the fact that I am, quite simply, too young to know the answer. Great players in the past didn't play 6/4 York copies (Arnold Jacobs playing the actual Yorks notwithstanding). They played other horns, almost universally smaller and almost universally of a size that modern players deem unworkable in certain situations. So the question is:

How was their presence in live situations?

Were they great players who you couldn't hear live because of the limitation of equipment? Or were they audible because the rest of the brass (especially low brass) was also playing smaller instruments?

This isn't intended to bring about any judgment. Just honest curiosity, since I wasn't around to hear Bell, Bobo, Novotny, Torchinsky,
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Re: Big? Small? Audible?

Postby bloke » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:55 pm

It is difficult for me to get the sound color that I like (in ff passages, using many of the models of 6/4 tubas) without there being too many decibels. A few exceptions in the orchestral literature are out there (an ex: sky's-the-limit Tchaik 4...or - perhaps - an orchestra with thirty-or-more very competent / very strong / very aggressive violinists - and ...let's say...combined with a music hall that isn't particularly tuba-friendly - as far as how well the sound makes it out into the hall from upstage left), but otherwise, I'll stick to my statement. I don't make a "bad" sound when amping up to "the type of sound ~I~ like to hear coming out of my bell when playing ff passages using many of the 6/4-size tubas", but it's often too much sound. :|
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Re: Big? Small? Audible?

Postby Ken Crawford » Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:42 pm

Bigger does not equal louder, or "more sound." Smaller does not equal quieter or "less sound."

Big and small tubas make different sounds. Roger Bobo vs Floyd Cooley....

Nobody NEEDS a 6/4 Yorkaphone to play anything.
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Re: Big? Small? Audible?

Postby barry grrr-ero » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:32 pm

All I can tell you is that I wish I had started on a 5/4 or 6/4 much earlier in life (I'm in my '60s). I really like playing a big horn. Then again, I'm the only tuba player in two community wind ensembles. I'm also not a big fan of brass quintets, nor do I have any illusions about being a great soloist. I like putting a solid bottom on a band and doing it well. The rotary Neptune is a good match for where my head and heart is these days.

I played ALL of the Mahler symphonies with community orchestras in the S.F. bay area (except no. eight), and did all of that on a prototype 188 (Miraphone) and/or a Besson 3+1 compensating Eb. Looking back, I wish I had had the Neptune for those concerts. Not so much because it's bigger and louder, but because I can really lay on the low register without the sound becoming edgy or ugly. I feel like I can hear myself better as well - especially in loud tuttis. I don't know . . . I just like it. It's probably not for everybody. If I could afford it, I would even like to dabble with the Miraphone Siegfried.
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