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PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby Tuba Shorty » Thu May 31, 2018 12:30 am

So as the title says, I have a few questions about how to play loud while still maintaining good tone. I'm the only tuba player in my summer band camp and the band only plays loud, even on the spots marked piano... :roll: . So since the band tends to play loud they need a strong tuba section to support them, problem is that there's not a section- it's just me, and I do not play at the volume they need with good tone yet. In my school's concert band there were 3 tubas and we all pitched in so none of us really had to strain like I'm currently having to. Since I am used to playing around a mf or f for my school's band, I can do it with great tone. How should I go about playing fortissimo to support the band? Is there anything I should do embouchure-wise that will help with the tone issue? How can I play with a loud volume without sounding blatty or explosive? Should I focus on blending in with the band or should I lean more towards sticking out a bit?

Thanks in advance! :) :tuba:
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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby fourbass » Thu May 31, 2018 12:43 am

According to Arnold Jacobs:

Easy air flow
Natural Body Function - Breathing/Blowing
Flow lots of air

Use thesed concepts, try to play only 2-5% louder each. Trying to do more may result in diminishing returns.

A great example of very loud tuba is the San Francisco Symphony recording of Matis der Maler by Hindemith.

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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby Ace » Thu May 31, 2018 1:25 am

Here are brief excerpts of the San Francisco Symphony. The tubist probably would have been Floyd Cooley.

https://youtu.be/YKYbPSDc2Xs?t=358" target="_blank

https://youtu.be/YKYbPSDc2Xs?t=471

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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby ren » Thu May 31, 2018 3:53 am

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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby bloke » Thu May 31, 2018 9:24 am

Are you familiar with the (psychologically-speaking) stages of death?
...denial...anger...bargaining...depression...acceptance...??

There are actually "stages" of "playing loud". :shock:

The first stage, obviously, is "not being able to".
One of the other stages is "being able to do so... badly".
Yet another stage is "having learned/figured-out how to play really loud with a pretty good sound, but doing it far too often".
A towards-the-end stage (somewhat analogous to "acceptance" in the death-stages, above) is the realization that a really focused and "fairly-loud" sound will never drown out the trombones, but will always be clearly-heard (through all of the percussion and trombone white noise) and well-accepted by the most critical ears...and sure, "being able to play well much louder than is needed" will insure that "playing as loud as needed" will always be controlled.

I'm not going to try to imagine/list all the in-between stages here, but (whether-or-not anyone reading this has made it to the "acceptance" stage) I suspect - from reading this analogy - there might be some additional understanding of the "stages"...

...and no, I'm not denying the occasional need/benefit of "special effects" extra-extra loud playing that adds called-for excitement to patrons' musical experiences, a recent example (in my own playing) having been the downbeat to measure 161 in movement 1 of Tchaik VI... :shock:

...and sure, yet another set of examples is those "sousaphone section contests" that most of us have seen on youtube. 8)
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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby Donn » Thu May 31, 2018 9:33 am

What I like to hear, is a way of playing that comes through loud and clear, but doesn't try to drown out the trombones etc. It sounds better, and it also makes sense - when you try to drown them out, they have to play louder, and then you have to play louder, and then ... we all get tired and play even worse. As best as I can make out, that's accomplished mostly with a distinct tone color, nice round hearty bass end with a colorful but not too loud edge. Like other likeable bass/contrabass instruments. And of course remember that tone color in turn is all about the attack, the attack is very important. The thing I like about this theory is that it means it's less work to play better, very appealing to a terribly lazy person like myself.

Hm, I see that while composing this little observation, bloke jumped in and also said something about a focused sound that won't drown out the trombones. I find this a little troubling, since I know bloke hates lazy people, but I guess that only goes to show, practically anyone can find something to like in this concept.
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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby Bnich93 » Thu May 31, 2018 9:38 am

Rule number one: more air support.

Rule number two: do long tones.

Rule number three: repeat the first two rules to yourself over and over.

I have an issue where now that my only contrabass tuba is a swiss copy of a copy of a one off 6/4 personal nuclear device made in Indiana, every time I play a 4/4 horn for one reason or another and try to play loud it comes out at 140db and sounds like im waving around a pitched thunder sheet. The moral of the story is strike a balance between amount of air and support and stability of the air stream itself. Only doing more air just makes the signature "BRAAAAAP" sound.
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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby bort » Thu May 31, 2018 9:46 am

Ace wrote:Here are brief excerpts of the San Francisco Symphony. The tubist probably would have been Floyd Cooley.

https://youtu.be/YKYbPSDc2Xs?t=358" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

https://youtu.be/YKYbPSDc2Xs?t=471" target="_blank" target="_blank

Ace


Thanks Ace, I think that made my morning. My 10 month old son also stopped and took notice. :)
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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby bloke » Thu May 31, 2018 9:47 am

Oboe players can play loud, and good oboe players can produce very beautiful sounds throughout their dynamic range.

Oboe players spend a great deal of time dialing the vibrating tips of their reeds in to as close to a perfectly resonating pair of surfaces as they can manage.

You also don't see oboe players fooling around with a bunch of plastic breathing gadgetry, and yes - oboe players have "breathing issues" as well (though different from tuba players').

air...of course, but don't discount the value of developing really efficient vibrating surfaces (lips) which can consistently produce pleasing sounds.

many type of activities: If something is "really hard to do", there may (??) be an easier and more efficient way to get it done.


I believe I'm completely agreeing with this...(??)
Bnich93 wrote:strike a balance between amount of air and support and stability of the air stream itself. Only doing more air just makes the signature "BRAAAAAP" sound.
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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby windshieldbug » Thu May 31, 2018 10:16 am

To put all this from another point of view,
don't try to make a "big" sound.
I try to make a "focused" sound.
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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby bloke » Thu May 31, 2018 10:38 am

Donn wrote:...I know bloke hates lazy people...


see there...??
yet another classic example of someone confusing their own cognitive dissonance with someone's else emotions. :idea: :P :lol: :wink:

Someone, please, underwrite a scholarship for Donn to attend blokeplace for a couple of summer semesters, so that he can get his mind right. :tuba:

This guy is putting on his boxers, but it's OK, because he's behind the camera:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv3M6Sz4nZg

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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby Three Valves » Thu May 31, 2018 11:55 am

bloke wrote:Someone, please, underwrite a scholarship for Donn to attend blokeplace for a couple of summer semesters, so that he can get his mind right. :tuba:



Give him a night in the box!! 8)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvwqK2gn3S0
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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby happyroman » Fri Jun 01, 2018 1:01 pm

fourbass wrote:According to Arnold Jacobs:

Easy air flow
Natural Body Function - Breathing/Blowing
Flow lots of air

Use thesed concepts, try to play only 2-5% louder each. Trying to do more may result in diminishing returns.

A great example of very loud tuba is the San Francisco Symphony recording of Matis der Maler by Hindemith.

Good Luck


A critical aspect that Mr. Jacobs stressed was that you must have a very musical concept when playing extremely loud. Here is a quote from Mr. Jacobs on the subject.

"It’s the same concept of the ball riding on top of a water fountain. When playing loud, you simply use a bigger fountain. In fact, when I get very loud I don’t get very physical, but I get very musical. If you get physical without getting musical, you might push against resistance. As a result, you increase the resistance and then you have to increase the push and pretty soon, they’ll cancel each other out."

---Arnold Jacobs #jakeped

What he told me in my lessons had two parts. First, when playing loudly, blow the air fast, but do not blow the air hard (against the lips). Think of a string player moving the bow very fast across the strings, but not pressing them hard against the strings in a grinding fashion. The lips have a tremendous ability to resist the air, and can actually cut the air flow off completely. So you want to use a very large volume of air which is under very low pressure. A thick column of air moving very fast which is under very little pressure (i.e., very little resistance from the lips).

But the critical part is your concept of sound. You must hear a beautiful sound in your head as you play that happens to be very loud so that you are sending the correct signal to the lips. We never play by simply blowing the air. If we want to sing with the lips, we must also be singing in the head while playing.

Mr. Jacobe always taught that we must develop our finest quality of tone in what he called the "norms." That is, in the middle register at a middle dynamic (mf-f). Then, we transfer that quality to the extremes in terms of dynamics (loud or soft) and range (high and low).

Here is another quote on developing a beautiful sound.

"When you look for a beautiful tone based on lyricism, you are automatically cutting down on the overwork. Overwork won’t be lyrical because it will sound forced and strained. The lovely love song is where you’ll find the ability of producing sound for the least effort."

---Arnold Jacobs #jakeped

And two more.

"Your entire dynamic range has to be under control. You establish the norm somewhere in the middle dynamic and then you move it back to the pianissimo. You have to establish the quality first. At any dynamic, your tone has to be a wonderful product." ---#ArnoldJacobs #jakeped

"The warm up is where you find the finest qualities of tone. That’s the most efficient tone production. That’s when you find the efficiency you are looking for. It shouldn’t be done by looking for ease of playing, but instead you should be looking for the quality of tone. The fact that you are looking for the beautiful tone is what counts."

---Arnold Jacobs #jakeped

Finally, Fritz Kaenzig has a great story about this issue in this video interview. He was playing Wagner Ring Excerpts in Grant Park, and felt he was having trouble keeping up with the contrabass trombone player. In a lesson, he told Mr. Jacobs that he was having a hard time competing with the contrabass trombone, and Mr. Jacobs said "Never compete, always compliment." They then worked on some of the things discussed above, and after the concert, Fritz's students were really excited to tell him that the tuba was coming through like crazy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-9quZqRp40
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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby happyroman » Fri Jun 01, 2018 1:12 pm

Ace wrote:Here are brief excerpts of the San Francisco Symphony. The tubist probably would have been Floyd Cooley.

https://youtu.be/YKYbPSDc2Xs?t=358" target="_blank" target="_blank

https://youtu.be/YKYbPSDc2Xs?t=471" target="_blank

Ace


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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby Leland » Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:40 pm

+1 to what happyroman posted about Jacobs.

When I played at my loudest, I was mentally staying as relaxed as I could, letting the wind do the work for me. Like the analogy of a string player's bow -- you can imagine how hard it would be to make a good string sound when you've tensed up your shoulders, back muscles, and even your legs.

Going down a tangent --

Do you work out? Run, lift, crossfit, yoga, tae bo, etc? Being in shape helps, but being able to mentally focus while breathing hard is the real benefit for playing a wind instrument. My gig often had me playing loud (fortissimo-plus), usually while marching, and the challenge was to be ready physically and mentally. When we cranked it up, there was fire and brimstone coming out the bell, while on my side of the mouthpiece, I was just focusing on taking big, steady breaths, kind of a mix between jogging and vinyasa yoga sequences.
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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby bloke » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:16 pm

I know a set drummer who stays very busy...He's well into his 60's now, but - back when he was in his 20's and 30's - he had a business card on the bulletin board at the Memphis union hall that boasted...

the quietest drummer in Memphis


Of course, he was also the BEST drummer in Memphis, and with the best time and the best style, but...

(maybe someone will get the point that) most people don't hire tuba players to play loud...In particular, they do not hire tuba players to play TOO loud.
OFTEN, tuba players are ONLY hired because there is a tuba PART in the orchestration, and not because those hiring the musicians actually WANT to hire a tuba player. :shock:

Mr. Jacobs...played a large silver-colored tuba...not known (not by me, anyway) for "playing loud". He wasn't fired. :|
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Re: PLAYING FORTISSIMO WITH GOOD TONE?

Postby roweenie » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:22 pm

windshieldbug wrote:To put all this from another point of view,
don't try to make a "big" sound.
I try to make a "focused" sound.


+1

I would only add to this: 1) spot-on intonation, which will help you produce 2) more resonance.

Let the natural harmonics of sound help you.
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