Re: Re: Microtonality and tubas

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Posted by Klaus on September 24, 2001 at 21:43:57:

In Reply to: Re: Microtonality and tubas posted by js on September 24, 2001 at 20:34:20:

As have a number of very enthusiastic amateur tuba players!

On a more serious note on could start out a dedicated search for microtonal potentials in tubas by using some of the pitch shortcomings inherent in most tubas.

1st finger 5th partials are notes I have to pay some attention to keep up in the proper pitch. By just letting this note "go" one might have found ones first true quarternote..

By using 1+3 and 1+2+3 without any slide pulling one might find quaternotes on the sharp side of regular notes. This method can be used in almost all ranges.

And then there is the general approach of embouchure control. I have worked with microtonalities in the pursuit of exactly one goal: to avoid them.

My B&H Imperial Brit style baritone is a wonderful instrument, when it comes to sound and dynamic spanwith, but proper pitch is not one of its natural gifts. There is a great difference between the outcome of using either 1+2 or 3 on the same notes. So I have done a lot of practising to match sound and pitch of these fingerings. The control gained could be applied in microtonality.

When playing 1st bone (out of 5) in a not too good big band, I could drive my sidemen crazy by moving the slide a bit without changing pitch on long notes. Or by making very slow slide movements in legato ballads without letting glisses occur. Call it sabotage or a way of overcoming boredom. It develops the coordination of ear, lip, and sense of length of tube. Abilities that could be helpful in playing microtonalities as well.

And then there of course is the wide highway of pulling slides. Something I do not use much on large conical brasses, so I will let others expand on that point.

My greatest reservation against training dedicatedly towards the control of a balanced full 24 quarternotes/octave scale over the whole range of ones tuba is the extreme drain of brainpower, that such a goal will cause.

As I have understood the Arabian use of quarter notes, the main scales still are some, that more or less can be interpreted within an extension of our major and, especially, minor tonal system. And then they flatten or sharpen some of these notes. (My understanding very well could reveal, that I have understood absolutely nothing!)

If I were to work with microtonalities on tubas, my approach would be first of all to learn to avoid them. And then to strive for a controlled application of the techniques outlined in the previous paragraphs, so that I would have a general concept of how to bend and change the pitches of all "proper" notes.

Before the postings calling my considerations pure nonsens start to pour in, I will say out loudly: I know! The great jazzers just did and do have an amazing control of pitches.

I will end with a true anecdote: On a summer jazz camp my small groups teacher told that Miles Davis was a bad trumpet player because he could not control his intonation on the recording of Cindy Lauperís "Time after time". As I found, that MD told exactly the story, that he wanted to tell, I went mad and left the class without returning for the rest of the camp.

Another master of microtonalities was Johnny Hodges, "Rabbit", of the Ellington band. He often started notes out of tune, but one could always hear, where he would end.

I am not as great a fan of jazzers just playing and singing flat all the time. No names mentioned.


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