Posted by Rick Denney on October 01, 2001 at 11:49:47:
In Reply to: Re: Re: BBb vs. CC (C) - not the usual debate posted by Steve H. on September 30, 2001 at 22:58:12:
It's hard to compare Eb and F tubas. With a few exceptions, they are dramatically different instruments. The Willson Eb and F tubas are more similar, and to my ears and lips play similarly, though I'm always more comfortable on F. Jay Bertolet, who plays the Willson Eb, feels that the Eb provides a more contrabass-like sound than an F, but I wonder if he tried a comparison between his Willson Eb and a Willson F.
You can't really compare a Besson 983 with a Yamaha 621F, or a 983 with a B&S Symphonie F. They are just too different. You also can't compare an old Monster Eb Bass with a modern rotary F, and so on. But there are few rotary Eb's made to the same standards as F tubas, and few F tubas made like Besson 983's or the old American Eb basses.
This isn't so with the BBb and CC tubas, where pairs are widely available that are very similar in execution. Is there a difference between a Miraphone 186 BBb and a 186 CC? I've played both, and yes there are differences. But those differences were smaller than the differences between one 186 and another, both in the same key, so I can't attribute the differences to the key.
If you want a Chicago York-style BAT, then there are few modern choices in BBb. But that is the predominant instrument style among ochestra pros at present. If you want a rotary Kaiser tuba, then you have more choices between BBb and CC. This sort of instrument isn't as much in favor here as in Germany, or in as much favor as it once was. But in Germany, where they usually use a Kaiser-bass rotary tuba instead of an American BAT, the BBb would be preferred. This is probably traditional as much as anything, but who, listening to those great orchestras, can make the case that they are giving something up by taking that approach?
I play BBb and F, because that's what I learned on and I don't think I'd gain much from learning it all over again. My tubas are just fine, and more than I deserve.
But Dale Phelps switched from BBb to CC. Why? Not because the instruments were necessarily better, as I recall his account. It was more because he needed to force himself back to the fundamentals, and changing to CC gave him a challenging way to start over with scales and revisit some of the fundamentals that he had lost. (Correct me, Dale, if I missed the point.) I must admit that this effect is appealing to me, but I'm neither as good nor as ambitious as Dale.
Rick "liking Lance Armstrong's book title: 'It's Not About the Bike'" Denney