Why do Euphonium players use so much dang vibrato?

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Post by djwesp »

I don't know, but I bet the french are involved somehow.


They are the root of a lot of things. :P
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Post by Captain Sousie »

I think it gives them world class sound. But only if they play marching baritones.

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Post by LoyalTubist »

I always thought the clarinets were the violins of the band. When a band has a concertmaster/concertmistress, he/she is usually a clarinetist. To answer your question, it's historical. Most of the euphonium solos I have accompanied and I listen to are those old "air and variation" things from about 100 years ago. They don't work if you play them straight. Even when I played them on tuba (I played one for each of my scholastic recitals as an undergraduate and one for one of my graduate recitals), I tried to exaggerate the vibrato (using the "Bill Bell" method with the jaw).

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Post by sc_curtis »

LoyalTubist wrote:I always thought the clarinets were the violins of the band. When a band has a concertmaster/concertmistress, he/she is usually a clarinetist.
I follow your logic, but its dead wrong. Woodwinds are automatically disqualified, just because they're woodwinds. Clarinets are not brass instruments, therefore must be classified as "other."

Trumpets are the violins (well, at least the ego fits), horns are the violas (intonation, duh!), and so on.
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Post by ZNC Dandy »

I'm not sure how troll-like this post is :roll: ...but it is a topic I have a slight interest in. I personally do not like the sound of the euphonium, especially a compensating euphonium. I much prefer a tenor tuba or German Style Oval baritone. I find them to be much more clear and resonant.
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Post by The Impaler »

Lately I think my euphonium would sound best when thrown from the top of a building.....

I wonder if the wind resistance created while in flight would create a vibrato-like sound? I hope not, that way at least it would sound good once on the way to its demise.....

Euphonium players use vibrato. That's what we do. Get used to it. It's called "having another tool in the tool box." You can never have enough expressive tools to make music with. Try it, you might like it.
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Post by Rick Denney »

The Impaler wrote:Euphonium players use vibrato. That's what we do. Get used to it. It's called "having another tool in the tool box." You can never have enough expressive tools to make music with. Try it, you might like it.
Hmmm. In section playing?

I go down to the garage, and see that it is filled with tools. That air hamer over there is wondrously useful--about once a year. When I need it, nothing else will do. I'm glad I have it. But I can surely do some destruction with it.

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Post by Chuck(G) »

Many wind instruments face this issue.

My flutist wife knows not to pile on vibrato in anything other than a solo passage. If you've ever heard a flute choir with all members using vibrato, you are well acquainted with the feeling of seasickness.

Even the British brass banders aren't using nearly as much vibrato as they used 30 years ago--and it's a good thing, even if they do have to pay closer attention to their tuning now.

Maybe what is more unnerving in flutists is the exaggerated body movement (sway and dip with the rhythm) some employ. Jimmy Galway of all people, laid into one of the prima donnas at the last masterclass for swooshing and swaying while she played.

Thank heavens euphonium players don't do that (much).

:P
Last edited by Chuck(G) on Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by The Impaler »

Rick Denney wrote:
The Impaler wrote:Euphonium players use vibrato. That's what we do. Get used to it. It's called "having another tool in the tool box." You can never have enough expressive tools to make music with. Try it, you might like it.
Hmmm. In section playing?
Short answer, no. As with most things, moderation is usually most appropriate. There have been, however, occasions where I have used vibrato in the section. Not often, but sometimes.....

Since adding a tuba to my stable four years ago, I have really begun to appreciate the use of vibrato on euphonium. Judiciously (sp?), of course.

I'm having a flashback right now to an old LP that I once heard of the Boston Symphony playing Weber's Overture to Oberon where the principal hornist used an overly-ample portion of vibrato on the opening solo, and on an instrument which has now all but completely dropped it from its arsenal. I guess Koussevitsky liked it......

As far as that air hammer goes, you're right, it can do a lot of destruction when used. But, listening to the great euphoniumists who are doing so much playing and recording nowadays, I think the standard for vibrato usage (most especially in the solo avenue) is pretty well set. And I think it's a good example to follow.....
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Re: Why do Euphonium players use so much dang vibrato?

Post by windshieldbug »

TubaIsAwesome wrote:Why is it that Euphonium players use so much vibrato?
Because they can.

They don't if playing the tenor tuba part in an orchestra. Why do singers use so much vibrato? Why did OJ Simpson write "If I Did It"? :shock:
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Re: Why do Euphonium players use so much dang vibrato?

Post by Wyvern »

TubaIsAwesome wrote:Why is it that Euphonium players use so much vibrato.
Tradition! That has become the accepted and expected sound.

Now did I not hear somewhere that Holst marked the part in the Planets "Tenor Tuba", rather than "Euphonium" because he did not want the normal vibrato?
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Post by Dennis K. »

I happen to march drum corp (the blue coats), and none of our Euphs use any vibrato on the field, and it sounds amazing!!! I think many of the "professional" Euphonium players could learn a lot from watching some DCI.
When I think "professional Euphonium," I think Brian Bowman, Angie Hunter, The Presdent's own, numerous solists from numerous Army Band Tuba/Euph conferences. In short, The best in the world.

When I think Drum corps, I think of playing long-tones, while doing windsprints, with an overweight, underbalanced piece of chrome bolted to my face with as much pressure as possible, short of bleeding. And, really great music rearranged to be playable by limited instruments and players that are great at drum corps playing. And, truly wonderful percussion parts that I am sure the orignal composers would just love.

Ah, such an improvement over the original compsers.


You are right, Tubaisawesome, the real pros should all join senior corps this summer and learn something from you, who obviously knows everything.

I'm sure all that pressure and a perfectly straight tone will get them much farther in their careers. Perhaps they will learn proper breath support in corps, too, as they apparently don't have it, according to you. OooooHHHH! Maybe they'll put down their compensating Wilsons and switch to a G Baritone Chrome-plated bugle!!!! Such a superior instrument!!!

Hey Tubaisawesome, why don't you put together a list of senior corps for all the pro's on this list, so we can learn something?
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Post by GC »

Maybe it's for the same reason that vocalists and cellists do it: to warm an otherwise bland sound. Or maybe it's to hide an inability to zero in on correct pitch --- like vocalists and cellists.
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Post by Dennis K. »

I really don't think so. A person with poor pitch will not suddenly be in tune with the addition of vibrato.

It is simply a tool, a color, an effect. Some players use it very tastefully. Some go overboard.

Vibrato on a brass intsrument is not like vibrato with strings or vocalists. With stings, a straight sound does not carry effectively. With voices, a straight sound is frequently the result of unneccesary tension in the neck and shoulder. Effective vibrato with brass instruments requires both control an aesthetic judgement. It is not as necessary from a technical perspective as say, a violin. As with any musical effect, it can be overused or applied in a less than tasteful way. However, the greats know their tools, as well as when and how to use them.

My point is, the great players use it to great effect. And, when some kid suggests the pro's should learn something, it screams brazen ignorance and lack of meaningful experience.
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Post by Rick Denney »

Dennis K. wrote:My point is, the great players use it to great effect. And, when some kid suggests the pro's should learn something, it screams brazen ignorance and lack of meaningful experience.
Or malicious giggling.

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Post by Dennis K. »

Fair enough, elephant!

BTW - I marched Garfield '88, Zingali/Sylvester Drill, Copland's Third Symphony.

One summer took about 10 years to recover from playing with too much pressure, which was a direct result of marching 4 to 5, at 160bpm for 14.5 minutes 7 days/week for 2.5 months. Garfield flat-out MOVES. I was not physically able to play the entire show until about 2 weeks prior to the finals in Kansas City. And I never want to see Tuna Pasta salad or bulk cheerios served from a food truck AGAIN!

Sure, there is some value in what corps teaches. For example, I never really understood precise cutoffs prior to marching. The breathing exercises were certainly helpful. I also appreciate how important being in good physical shape is to playing.

I know the military guys march regularly. Also, in general, I am not opposed to marching or drum corps.

But, does DCI allow for the subtlety required by the pro's? Not usually. Also, I'm sure that great players who do both have ample skill enough to not allow one to affect the other. Yeah it is a lot of fun. It keeps people playing through what could be a slow gig season. I'm not convinced it would be the best thing for most accomplished pro's. Obviously, it does work for some, such as yourself. For me, No Way, Dude.

Now, if TIA's post was troll-ish (as it may be, since he hasn't responded), then, yeah, I came out, guns afire.

No offense to the real players intended.

Cheers!
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Post by Dennis K. »

Best Euph lesson I ever had was with Norman Bolter, 2nd tbn with the BSO.
The BSO was playing Mahler 7. Norman took me on to the stage of Symphony Hall. The stage was dark, but fully set for a Mahler-sized orchestra. He played the Euph solo from the opening movement - just blew right down the middle of the pipe, man-handled that instrument like Conan the Barbarian when he slugged that camel...
His vibrato was sparse, but used to convey all the anguish and agony Mahler could dream up. When he finished, the percussion on the other side of the stage was ringing. I had never heard Euph played that way, and in just a few seconds, he completely changed how I thought about Euph's, and I have never played the same way since.

Then there was my own personal Euphonium agony - A few years ago, I played a concert w/ the Texas Wind Symphony, with guest conductor Lt. Col. John Bourgeois. Slavyanskayawill use and abuse any Euph player at the marked tempos. The good Colonel goes faster than that, though. Then he had this march medley - the Euph part was something like 13 pages of every finger-flinging march excerpt you could name. He took those faster than "march tempo," too.
That concert was as technically demanding as any recital I have ever done. Totally kicked my butt, and gave me some mega-respect for the Marine Band guys.

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Post by Dylan King »

Someone I know that we all hold in high regard is the late, great Tommy Johnson.

I studied with Tommy for six years and considered him a good friend. For a tubist, I must say that he played with more vibrato than most. Maybe even more than any pro I've ever heard, but his sound consitantly sung like Ella Fitzgerald even on a bad day.

If one can play with vibrato and sound musical, why not do it? Tommy certainly played with a vibrato that may never be matched among tubists, but if he could do it on a huge CC tuba, then I can certainly see how a euphonium is fit for that sort of thing. After all, it is a solo instrument for the most part.

I'm not saying that Tommy Johnson used vibrato all the time in his playing. He just naturally knew when and when not to use it, and got great results in his recordings and the amount of calls he received from Hollywood composers and contractors. Just listen to the tuba parts in the Flintstone cartoons and you'll hear what I'm talking about.

Playing the tuba, or any instrument, is about making music first. I hope that we as a group of instrumentalists never forget that, and always strive to put every bit of our hearts and souls into the notes we play. Vibrato is inappropriate in many orchestral situations, and a must in so many solo situations. I personally like to hear it if played well, and can't help playing with it myself if the Spirit calls for it.

Much love and song,

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Post by tbn.al »

TubaIsAwesome wrote:For Dennis, your first post was incredibly insulting.
Maybe Dennis wasn't trying to insult as much as inform. Your subject title itself could be considered insulting to a lot Euph players. And BTW I don't like a lot vibrato either. You might want to learn the definiition of a troll as used in this forum so you won't look like one unintentionally.
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Post by lgb&dtuba »

I think the issue of vibrato is one of context. There are places where it is appropriate and places where it is not. What is an appropriate style of playing in DCI does not make it universally appropriate. And the same applies elsewhere. What is appropriate in an orchestra setting isn't universal either.

For example, I play in a German style band. When playing euph on a particularly schmaltzy waltz I'll use a fair amount of vibrato when I have the melody. In a heavy march I won't use vibrato at all. In some pieces I may use a little vibrato at the end of a phrase if it's an exposed solo and needs the dramatic effect. If I'm playing a counter melody with the trumpets and they are using vibrato I'll use it in the same places they are and only if they are. In a swing piece, hardly ever. It's all about the particular piece and its style. Context.

So without a context, saying vibrato is good or bad is pretty meaningless.
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