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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby hrender » Fri Jun 07, 2019 12:16 pm

I have never had a bad time when in the company of other tuba players. YMMV
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby michaelrmurrin » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:15 pm

Watchman wrote:When I said "laughably easy" I meant when compared to OTHER instruments. Tuba isn't even the hardest brass instrument to play. Ask any horn player you know.

Anyway, if the notion were true that "most" tuba players have good time, Die Meistersinger would no longer be asked at auditions. It would be too easy. A "C Major" scale? Half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes? Anybody can do it. Instead, it's the first thing asked. That right there is my "evidence" that the field struggles to play in time. (Let alone in tune, which I'm not even bringing up right now)

I still strongly disagree that tuba is "laughably easy" compared to other instruments.

Many people consider the horn to be the hardest instrument in the orchestra. So saying "the tuba isn't as hard as the horn" is a weak argument. Slurred playing and legato playing are much more difficult on the tuba than on any other brass or wind instrument (aside from horn and legato-tongue trombone playing). Playing fast scales (or any fast notes) on the CC tuba in the low range is very difficult because of the extreme amount of air required. The tuba is a pretty difficult instrument. It is not laughably easy compared to other instruments.

Making the claim "the field of tuba players has bad time because Die Meistersinger is asked at auditions" is a bit of a stretch. Even if only 5% of auditioners had bad time on Die Meistersinger, that would still be a useful way to filter people out and would still be worth including on the audition as a way to filter people out. So just because they include Die Meistersinger doesn't mean that the majority of tuba players have bad time.

As indicated in my first response, I do understand that tuba players tend to have a reputation of having bad time. It was just the way you put it, "tuba players have easy excerpts and the instrument is laughably easy compared to other instruments, but they still can't even play those easy excerpts on an easy instrument" really just comes off like you're just talking trash about all tuba players. That was what rubbed me the wrong way and why I'm even still arguing about this. You made it sound like tuba players just really suck and they can't play easy excerpts on an easy instrument.
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby iiipopes » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:54 pm

Yeah, I'm late to the party. From my experience, playing in "time," especially with analysis of the inertia of the instrument and the lag between articulation and tone, is a necessary fundamental that does not seem to be as emphasized as playing in "tune" or with other technical aspects. Also, unfortunately, I have had the displeasure of playing beside many tuba players in all varieties of concert bands and related ensembles that play by their ears instead of watching the stick, so by definition they are late even before the first note is played.

At least in a concert band setting, where Ideally you are sitting in the middle back beside or just in front of a bass drummer who also understands playing on the stick instead of to the sound of the rest of the band: unless both of you lock with the director and each other, the band sounds like ****. Period.
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby Mark » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:02 pm

Watchman wrote:A friend of mine, who plays viola


Why can't viola players play in tune?
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby bloke » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:19 pm

I studied (until the geography made it impossible) with someone (someone who I would not label as a "natural", but as a "very hard worker" and "very analytical" who has risen to the top of the profession) who used (uses?) a drum machine to practice (let's face it: boring) excerpts to "burn" the timing of the excerpts into their brain...

...all sorts of crazy beats: even calypso...most anything you can imagine...but all of those different crazy drum beat patterns revealed different tiny fractions of beats (in relation to what was being played in the boring excerpts).

bloke "not an instructor, but an observer/listener...and - occasionally - a repeater online of things that seem to make sense...and yeah, the body of tuba players that views itself as 'professional' garners more respect - imo - than it deserves, and - when those who have mastered other instruments hear a body of tuba players stab at audition material - those assigned to audition committees are (typically believed to be the definition of) 'professional' enough to not publicly berate tuba players as a group of instrumentalists"
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby Stryk » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:41 pm

Watchman wrote: I said it was actually laughably easy compared to some other instruments out there,


There is NOTHING about playing a tuba that is "laughably easy".
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby TubaKen » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:43 pm

When I said "laughably easy" I meant when compared to OTHER instruments.

So, it's hard on it's own, but laughable easy compared to every OTHER instrument? I'd have to disagree. I think you need to distinguish between learning how to play an instrument, and mastering said instrument. Learning to play any instrument to an elementary level is roughly equally easy/difficult. Sure, some are quirkier than others, but overall, the effort needed is about the same. When it comes to mastering an instrument, I think a good argument could be made that the horn is the most difficult. Listen to any professional orchestra live, even the best of the best, and you're going to hear the horns clam. On the flipside, if the tuba was laughably easy, you have high-schoolers going straight into major orchestras all the time (not that that has never happened.)
They (tuba excerpts) are just whole notes, and half notes, and quarter notes

Somewhat true, but that allows the audition committee to zero in on tone, timing, articulation, dynamic range, etc. Possibly to a greater extent than would be payed attention to (except for tone) in a string audition.
The instrument (CC/BBb tuba) is 16-18 feet long, and therefore the air needs to travel 16-18 feet before the sound actually comes out of the bell

Really? It takes sound 20 milliseconds to travel 18 feet. You could argue that the distance to the conductor is more important, but even if you assume he/she is 100 feet away, that is around a tenth of a second. The real source of bad timing / being late is not listening to the rest of the group. IMHO
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby Mark » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:57 pm

bloke wrote:I studied (until the geography made it impossible) with someone (someone who I would not label as a "natural", but as a "very hard worker" and "very analytical" who has risen to the top of the profession) who used (uses?) a drum machine to practice (let's face it: boring) excerpts to "burn" the timing of the excerpts into their brain...


I've been thinking about that, moved to another thread: http://forums.chisham.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=92661#p683506
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby iiipopes » Fri Jun 07, 2019 3:06 pm

TubaKen wrote:Really? It takes sound 20 milliseconds to travel 18 feet. You could argue that the distance to the conductor is more important, but even if you assume he/she is 100 feet away, that is around a tenth of a second. The real source of bad timing / being late is not listening to the rest of the group. IMHO

Yes, really. Check out this technical video demonstrating the audibility of lag time. By the time 15 milliseconds is reached, lag is definitely noticeable:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zZRy-UArXM
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby TubaKen » Fri Jun 07, 2019 3:51 pm

iiipopes said
Yes, really. Check out this technical video demonstrating the audibility of lag time. By the time 15 milliseconds is reached, lag is definitely noticeable

I didn't say that 20 milliseconds is inaudible (though I question whether a conductor would hear a 20 millisecond-late tuba player, referenced to, say, the concertmaster.)
But i still say it's ridiculous to blame the length of the horn for being late. Being a tenth of a second late (assuming, probably unrealistically, a 100' distance to the podium) would be a much more likely cause for a delay (but still not a good excuse!)
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby toobagrowl » Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:08 pm

bloke wrote:The question is obviously this:

Lacquered time or silver time?


I like both, but do prefer the easier maintenance of lacquered time. If my lacquered time gets bad, I can 'touch it up' by spot-lacquering :mrgreen:


michaelrmurrin wrote:

Many people consider the horn to be the hardest instrument in the orchestra. So saying "the tuba isn't as hard as the horn" is a weak argument. Slurred playing and legato playing are much more difficult on the tuba than on any other brass or wind instrument (aside from horn and legato-tongue trombone playing). Playing fast scales (or any fast notes) on the CC tuba in the low range is very difficult because of the extreme amount of air required. The tuba is a pretty difficult instrument. It is not laughably easy compared to other instruments.


^ This. Tuba music is generally much easier than other instruments. But to play the tuba at a high level is something completely different. I'd say the tuba is the second hardest brass instrument to play well, at a high level, after the F horn. Tuba has the largest mpc, largest bore, the most tubing to blow through than all other brass horns.
People are impressed when they hear tuba played very well, with precision, clarity and musically with a great sound because it is harder to do that on tuba than most instruments :!:
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby bloke » Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:09 pm

"Tuba solos" are a genre in the same way that "band pieces" are a genre. They are very easy to identify and - in many ways - very similar to each other...and just about equally fascinating to patrons. :roll:

Some of the few tuba solo pieces that are not "tuba solos" but are actually "music solos" are disliked by many tuba players, due to their extreme difficulty in technical/musical/mood execution/communication.

We (as a body of players...averaging in the shining stars with everyone else) do lag behind other instrumentalists in technical/musical/mood-communication prowess. Much of what we do is "good...FOR A TUBA PLAYER" :roll: ...and (like it or not) much of the applause for our solo efforts is offered to us with that mentality.

Let me offer up a challenge:

Rather than the "tuba solo" that you (the anonymous TubeNet patron "you") have decided to tackle, stick that back in the drawer, find the Poulenc oboe sonata online... :arrow: https://imslp.org/wiki/Oboe_Sonata,_FP_185_(Poulenc,_Francis), download it, and print it. (The oboe range and the F tuba range - a low Bb up to a quite-high F or G over a 2-1/2 octave span - are nearly identical, other than being two octaves apart.) Listen to this recording of a fine oboist performing it (the Sonata is a actually a tribute/elegy to Prokofiev, so what more appropriate for a tuba player to transcribe and perform?...and you will hear that all of the phrases in this work not only lend themselves to the tuba, but are gorgeous) :arrow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2XweLZcuPw
OK. Undergraduate oboists perform this on their junior recitals...and oboists - technically - are not expected to be violinists or flautists, yes?...so it should be a cinch, yes? Now that you've heard how it goes, play through it at tempo, and record your first play-though. Take a listen: notes/pitch/accuracy/phrasing/moods/etc. :|

now...Go back to your band/orchestra rehearsal and make some more snide remarks to your section mates about the oboists. :|

:idea: ...so my contention is this:
IF you can play this piece as well as you heard it played in the youtube video (just two octaves lower - with equal technical control, musicality, and mood communication), you can easily (whether 10 applicants or 1000 applicants) be picked out of a herd of tuba players to be offered a position by an behind-a-screen audition committee...and whether you're black, white, young, old, obese, fit, fancy-schooled, or never-schooled. I've heard good tuba players, but I've very rarely heard tuba playing as controlled, as musical and as emotional as the music in the linked video of the "college level" oboe sonata.
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby Three Valves » Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:34 pm

All I know is, oboe, bassoon and bass clarinet were a one way ticket to All State Band where I come from... it didn’t have to be laughably easy, they just had to show up!! :tuba:
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby Reptilian » Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:39 am

"College level"

Links to Katherine Needleman :lol: :roll:

(yes, I understand that this might be standard rep. for your average undergrad oboe, but just because my [allstate] high school student is working on the Barat doesn't mean anyone will mistake her recording for Bobissimo)
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby paulver » Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:29 am

Interesting topic and discussion.
When I was in college, taking methods classes, we were taught that some instruments...... by their very "nature/construction" were not considered "agile" instruments. As soon as that was said by the instructor, recordings of some of those instruments were played for the class that shot that theory right in the butt!!!

Just like any other instrument, the tuba/tuba music, has gone through years of "evolution" that challenges original thought, intention, and purpose. Depending on what the job is at hand........ solo work, or providing the bottom sound, just to complete a chord in a small or large ensemble, the tubaist must compensate for any difficulty of rhythm, timing, intonation, sound delay from the ensemble, sound production delay of the tuba, location within the ensemble, etc., to fit that particular task. Sometimes it's simple whole notes or half notes, played at a slow tempo. At other times, rhythms, key signatures, and speed will obviously create more difficulty. This is all true for any instrument. However, the "agility" factor naturally built into the instrument determines how much "effort" the player needs to inject into his/her performance of a piece. Many times, the tuba part is intended to imitate a string bass part or an electric bass line. Those two instruments are what I'd call "fairly agile" instruments.

Sometimes, as has been discussed before on this site, the tuba part might be more easily played on a more fitting tuba...... i.e.... Eb or F, rather than a BBb or CC. Translation........ wrong instrument for the job!!

Different levels of ability, accomplishment, sense of timing, sense of pitch, awareness, etc. on the players' part enter into the discussion, too.
Sometimes the simplest parts are the most difficult to play because they are exposed/showcased in the most delicate spots in the music for a given ensemble and must be exact and precise.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that, obviously, different requirements written into the music, require different levels of ability, agility, adaptation, etc., of the player in order to accomplish the sound/effect that the music/composer is wanting to be produced. If the player isn't able to overcome the "agility factor" built into the tuba..... or any other instrument, then the timing, pitch, and other elements are going to suffer. I don't think that any one statement about level of "ease" or "difficulty" can be used to describe the tuba, tuba parts, or tuba players, without consideration of several other factors. Timing, good or bad, can be tied to any number of things. If I had to pick only one, then I'd go with awareness of what is going on around you in the ensemble. The right note in the wrong place....... is still a mistake!!

Also, when a properly rosined bow is drawn across a string, there is automatically going to be some sort of sound. When air passing through two lips placed on a mouthpiece is being used to produced music........... there is absolutely no guarantee of a sound.... proper or otherwise!!!
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby bloke » Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:55 am

Reptilian wrote:"College level"

Links to Katherine Needleman :lol: :roll:

(yes, I understand that this might be standard rep. for your average undergrad oboe, but just because my [allstate] high school student is working on the Barat doesn't mean anyone will mistake her recording for Bobissimo)


point taken...but my final point - that if anyone shows up at a tuba audition and plays AS WELL AS Katherine Needleman, they will be a shoo-in for any tuba job - is valid...because tuba solos works are (well... :roll: ) not ever heard played with this much musicality, technical clarity, and emotion. It's all still really good "for a tuba player". ...and yeah: The tuba player you mentioned...He's retired. Others can play "fast", but not like he played. :|
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby GC » Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:31 pm

What is it with oboe players so often being geniuses at phrasing? Other than the fact that they can play ludicrously long phrases and still have air left over . . .
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby Three Valves » Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:27 pm

It helps when your “mouthpiece” resembles a McDonalds coffee straw/stirrer.... :roll:
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby Leland » Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:59 pm

nworbekim wrote:if by time you mean keeping the beat? in music school, i was admonished for "dragging" the beat when i was a freshman and taught to anticipate the beat slightly because i sat in the back row and there was so much tubing to push the air through.

This part here ^^^^^

We can only guess as to how we're heard up front. It means the conductor/instructor has to be able to pick out the sound and let us know whether we're late or early.

From the podium, it's pretty hard to hear the bass voices when the full ensemble is playing. In most rehearsal rooms, it's close to impossible, at least until the bass is WAY too late. So the conductor needs to come up with a good way of ensuring that everyone's sound arrives on time.

Over months and years of NOT being told that we're late, then being late becomes the method that we know best.

I wish I could find the video of a very famous conductor -- think Leopold Stokowski-level famous -- rehearsing another famous orchestra for a guest concert. First downbeat he gave, the bass strings were "late", and the sound was a bit shrill (not unlike most orchestras you'd hear). He stopped immediately. Rather than telling the basses they were late, he told the rest of the strings to wait until they heard the basses. He gave the downbeat again, and *bingo* -- now the sound bloomed from the bottom up. Fantastic improvement.
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Re: Why do tuba players have bad time?

Postby bloke » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:41 pm

GC wrote:What is it with oboe players so often being geniuses at phrasing? Other than the fact that they can play ludicrously long phrases and still have air left over . . .


beyond phrasing: (again) emotion

...and with an instrument that offers little more than a 2-1/2 octave range, a very limited dynamic range, and a they-have-to-make-it-themselves mouthpiece that lasts two to three weeks :|

Some chide Marcel Tabuteau's (father of the American school of oboe playing) system for playing musically/emotionally as "mechanical", but many oboists use it...and it works. Most tuba players - I'd wager - aren't even aware of the system.
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