trouble with the contrabass register

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brtnats
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trouble with the contrabass register

Post by brtnats » Mon May 21, 2018 11:46 am

Hi everyone,

I think I know the answer here, but I'd like some guidance from folks who have worked through the issue.

I've been playing bass trombone for around 11 years (tenor for 20+), but I've only really gotten serious about it in the last 2 years. There is currently a point where my range just completely fizzles out. I have a very strong and centered pedal F, 16vb :bassclef: :line4: , E, and a good Eb. But then pedal D is quiet and fuzzy, and I can barely make the note speak. Db, C, and B are almost non existent. And then I can play a very good double pedal Bb in second position. I can gliss downward from pedal F, but around that pedal D the notes just stop really SPEAKING. Since taking up bass trombone, my range down to pedal E has strengthened and solidified to the point where they're just regular notes for me. Is that going to happen with the D downward with continued practice, or should I be exploring more options than patient long tones?
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BGuttman
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Re: trouble with the contrabass register

Post by BGuttman » Mon May 21, 2018 12:10 pm

Paul Faulisse talks about an embouchure shift down around pedal D. You also can try dropping your jaw just a little.

Incidentally, the Faulisse method has some exercises down there that may help.

Good luck. My pedal D and pedal C are notes that I have to play bass for a while to hit.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
Doug Elliott
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Re: trouble with the contrabass register

Post by Doug Elliott » Mon May 21, 2018 12:21 pm

The answer is a combination of spending a lot of time in that range (the Phil Teele method), being sufficiently warmed up for that range to work, and (mostly) discovering and using the particular mechanical techniques that your embouchures requires, to not only "get the notes" but to have them be a connected extension of the rest of your range so you don't have to shift. That is exactly what I teach privately and by Skype.
brtnats
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Re: trouble with the contrabass register

Post by brtnats » Mon May 21, 2018 12:27 pm

Well, I'm encouraged by the strength and clarity that the F, E, and Eb have gained in the last few months. I'm going to try a few months of solid, targeted practicing in that range and see if I can get it to solidify. The fact that I can get it to sound at all has to be a good place to start, right?!
Basbasun
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Re: trouble with the contrabass register

Post by Basbasun » Mon May 21, 2018 1:50 pm

since you can play the double pedal Bb on second position I am sure you will get the tones D Db C and B, (you do have a BB on first position right?) there is a lot of tubing used when playing pedal D, so there is much resistense. Maybe you blow to fast? Maybe you push the air to much? It usually takes some time to get used to those tones, how much do you play them each day? You can get the tones to sound a little, so just more practise will do. About shifting, what is shifting? Moving the mpc? Lower the bottom jaw? Make more room in the mouth? Moving the lips and mpc up or down?
I have seen all of those done by famous pro players. My tip= do not open the space between your lips to much.
How is your high range? A high D :trebleclef: :line4: does happen in the bass trombone part, not very often but when it happens you do need it. How often do you have to play lower then pedal Eb in your music?
boneagain
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Re: trouble with the contrabass register

Post by boneagain » Mon May 21, 2018 4:44 pm

brtnats wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 12:27 pm
The fact that I can get it to sound at all has to be a good place to start, right?!
Not necessarily. There are several ways to facilitate loud notes in this range. All the ones I know of end up with faulty tone quality and control over articulation, dynamic control, and note duration. I'm not saying Doug's method is THE right way, but I'd bet money that some time spent with him would be well worth your while. He just might help you avoid taking on some bad habits now that could really limit you as you advance in your playing.
baileyman
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Re: trouble with the contrabass register

Post by baileyman » Mon May 21, 2018 7:28 pm

Low seems to require more vibrating mass, more mouth volume, more aperture. If my own experience elsewhere on the horn is any indication, the solution can be both small and surprising.
brtnats
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Re: trouble with the contrabass register

Post by brtnats » Mon May 21, 2018 7:50 pm

Basbasun wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 1:50 pm
since you can play the double pedal Bb on second position I am sure you will get the tones D Db C and B, (you do have a BB on first position right?) there is a lot of tubing used when playing pedal D, so there is much resistense. Maybe you blow to fast? Maybe you push the air to much? It usually takes some time to get used to those tones, how much do you play them each day? You can get the tones to sound a little, so just more practise will do. About shifting, what is shifting? Moving the mpc? Lower the bottom jaw? Make more room in the mouth? Moving the lips and mpc up or down?
I have seen all of those done by famous pro players. My tip= do not open the space between your lips to much.
How is your high range? A high D :trebleclef: :line4: does happen in the bass trombone part, not very often but when it happens you do need it. How often do you have to play lower then pedal Eb in your music?
My high range is fine. I’ve played tenor for over 20 years, and am solid on bass to Eb :trebleclef: :space4: . I just haven’t hit a range wall like this since I was in high school, and wondered if others have had that experience. I’m willing to bet it’s got something to do with the tubing length and the air speed; as a tenor player I have a very difficult time lowering the “amperage” in the low and contra registers unless I consciously do so.
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Burgerbob
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Re: trouble with the contrabass register

Post by Burgerbob » Mon May 21, 2018 8:07 pm

I find that those notes are really about slowing down the airstream, but not to the point that the attack suffers.

And you know this, but if the attack is missed, then the note never starts!

Maybe try playing through the false tones below pedal Bb (in first position or whatever) to make that seem more comfortable, before moving to the real positions.
Bass Trombone
DL Band
SLO Symphony
Basbasun
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Re: trouble with the contrabass register

Post by Basbasun » Tue May 22, 2018 3:34 am

Well, as said earlier, you do have a good low range, actually as good as many pro players. You wrote " I have a very strong and centered pedal F, 16vb :bassclef: :line4: , E, and a good Eb." You also wrote "And then I can play a very good double pedal Bb in second position." The best position for double pedal Bb is second position, so I believe you do play it with good chops. Try moving upwards from that. Your low range is not at all bad, I do believe you can work the super low range work to. The Phil Teele could be a help, it is a question of just playing the tones many times . There is no walkaround.
brtnats
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Re: trouble with the contrabass register

Post by brtnats » Tue May 22, 2018 6:57 am

I suppose I should clarify too: Becoming comfortable in this range is all about me overcoming an obstacle to my playing, and not for some kind of immediate necessity. I don't play anything that actually goes that low. The ensembles I play with usually bottom out at pedal F. I'm strictly into this to overcome the problem and build strength. I went to grad school with a guy who went on to study with Pete Norton and Charlie Vernon who had a pedal D that could blow open a door. I'd settle for half that!
Basbasun
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Re: trouble with the contrabass register

Post by Basbasun » Tue May 22, 2018 9:11 am

I know who Pete Norton is, I never met him. I did meet Charlie Vernon, listened to him play and hade a chat, he did demostrate his playing and breathing. He is kind of member of the "Chicago school" whatever that is, Arnold Jacobs and Adolph Herseth are the founders, and Jay Freedman is also in the same "school". If you have a chanse to meet Charlie Vernon and take some lesson it will be worth alot. Look him up on Youtube to see some of his ideas. Well there is only one Charlie Vernon.....
brtnats
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Re: trouble with the contrabass register

Post by brtnats » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:03 am

I thought I'd post an update on this after seeing a similar post about bass lower register practice:

My pedal D is coming along. It’s airy unless I really focus on control. I like the feel of it more with 2 valves than one, as I think the resistance helps me down there. However, in playing though this range and spending more time connecting the double trigger ranges with the pedal ranges, I’ve noticed an interesting habit. As I descend towards my shift around pedal F#, I seem to prefer getting more top lip and less bottom lip into the mouthpiece. At pedal F, I’m almost removing my bottom lip from the cup and placing it flat against the lower rim. When I accentuate that movement, pedal D and Db become significantly stronger. I only do it for pedal F and lower, but there’s a consistent urge to do it for any note lower than pedal F. I watched James Markey talking about low register playing, and he mentions something similar about flattening out your lower lip and moving the mouthpiece up for that contra range, and it looks like that’s what I stumbled into.

Matt
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