‘German’ trombone sound concept

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ttf_anonymous
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_anonymous » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:35 pm

Hiya,

I play in an amateur symphony orchestra in Germany and recently became aware of the ‘German’ trombone sound. After a certain amount of hand waving it was clear the conductor was looking for a different type of sound to what I’ve been used to in my home country, the UK. I spoke to the 2nd and 3rd trombonists at the break and one (but only one interestingly, the other knew nothing of it) educated me about the traditional ‘German’ trombone sound. After a bit of reading up and contemplation I came to the conclusion that buying a new instrument is not the answer, I already have too many instruments to find time to get the best out of each!

Does anyone have a suggestion how I can make my playing more ‘German’? I think the main characteristic I’m looking for is a rich sound with constant timbre across all dynamics. At least, that seems to be what the conductor’s asking for. Perhaps categorising this into a ‘German’ sound question is too simple, it could apply more generally as well.

I’ll be playing on a Conn 88ht with Rath L5 mouthpiece or a 6H with a 6.5 VB Megatone. I don’t really want to make this a gear question, I’d rather focus on getting the best from what I have.

Any ideas?

Thanks.


ttf_Dombat
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_Dombat » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:23 am

Great that you have decided it isn't an instrument issue. You may decide with a change of sound concept that you do want to change your equipment later but there are plenty of great players around using off the shelf Conns.
The biggest issue with a traditional German sound is that it doesn't exist. There are still 118 full time orchestras and each of them play differently, have different traditions and different sound concepts. Depending where you are in Germany, this could affect what thr conductor is expecting or asking for.
For me, one of the major changes moving from Australia to Germany was balance. I always looked for a section or orchestral sound that was bottom heavy. The bass trombone/tuba and low end of the orchestra created a solid bass which the upper lines just sat on top of. In Germany I find the sound to be generally top heavy, melody, and lead players tend to play a little louder and orchestras tend to focus on upper strings.
Depending where you are playing abd what you are used to, their may be an issue of stability of sound at a higher pitch. We push the high end of a443 in our orchestra and on a set up that is based to centre of a440, players can tend to push the horn a little bright. Get used to how your horn sits at 443. It may need cutting but probably not (I play a Greenhoe 42 and our 2nd an Edwards 350 with no intonation issues). Make sure your jaw position is as low as possible to allow for maximum airflow and don't force the sound. Keep the tuner on the stand for a few weeks and don't turn it off. Get used to where the horn slots at 443 (or 442/444) and notice the differences in the sound with where your slide is. You may find a note can be in tune with the slide in one position but rings and opens up in sound if you move it a millimeter or two up or down.
In the end just have fun playing and make your best sound possible. Ask around the local region for lessons. Many of the guys in orchestras are happy to give advice or weekly lessons and can really work on refinement with you.
ttf_Le.Tromboniste
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_Le.Tromboniste » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:35 am

Quote from: MrHCinDE on Jan 28, 2018, 11:35PMHiya,

I play in an amateur symphony orchestra in Germany and recently became aware of the ‘German’ trombone sound. After a certain amount of hand waving it was clear the conductor was looking for a different type of sound to what I’ve been used to in my home country, the UK. I spoke to the 2nd and 3rd trombonists at the break and one (but only one interestingly, the other knew nothing of it) educated me about the traditional ‘German’ trombone sound. After a bit of reading up and contemplation I came to the conclusion that buying a new instrument is not the answer, I already have too many instruments to find time to get the best out of each!

Does anyone have a suggestion how I can make my playing more ‘German’? I think the main characteristic I’m looking for is a rich sound with constant timbre across all dynamics. At least, that seems to be what the conductor’s asking for. Perhaps categorising this into a ‘German’ sound question is too simple, it could apply more generally as well.

I’ll be playing on a Conn 88ht with Rath L5 mouthpiece or a 6H with a 6.5 VB Megatone. I don’t really want to make this a gear question, I’d rather focus on getting the best from what I have.

Any ideas?

Thanks.



From my limited experience playing German trombones and from what I hear and read, I would say playing with constant timbre in all dynamics is not really it. Traditional German trombones typically play very rich and mellow with tons of overtones in softer dynamics but deaden up if you try to push them with air alone. When playing them they usually required of me to brighten up quite a bit when playing loud. But it's not the slightly edgy "wall of sound" bright we're used to produce when playing American instruments, it's more a shining through bright, using vowel shapes to keep the air moving ("eeee"  to play brighter in louder dynamics - if I tried a very open "aaaaa" when playing loud, the horn would just suck the air out of me like crazy, sound barely louder and very unstable in intonation and response). Whenever I hear German orchestras the brass are shining through the orchestra without drowning everyone. It's brighter and cuts through while being less loud in terms of sheer volume of sound. It's hard to replicate exactly on an American instrument but you can at least aim for that sound.
ttf_hyperbolica
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_hyperbolica » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:48 am

I know you don't want to make this about hardware, but isn't it essentially about hardware? The German sound follows from the German design. Aren't the instruments that are billed as "traditional German" style set up with a relatively large bell with relatively small bore? Extra weight with a kranz and snakes at the bows? Maybe it depends on how far back you go to define "traditional".
In any case Jay Friedman had a few things to say about German trombones and the style.

http://www.jayfriedman.net/articles/the_german_trombone
http://www.jayfriedman.net/thein_kruspe
ttf_timothy42b
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_timothy42b » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:14 am

I don't know about German orchestral, but at one time I listened to quite a bit of German folk music with trombone.

It was always mellow.  They never pushed it to bright. 

Years back I borrowed a "German style" small bore, that Yamaha that was sold for a while.  It played mellow fine, but was very hard to push bright.  It seemed to just get dull, loud but never edgy. 
ttf_MrHCinDE
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_MrHCinDE » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:16 am

Thanks for the replies, it's given me some things to ponder. Keeping things mellow and not getting edgy seems to fit well and is something I can work on without changing equipment.

I get the point about a 'German' sound, if someone asked what a typical British brass band sound is I wouldn't be able to generalise it.

Quote from: Dombat on Jan 29, 2018, 12:23AMFor me, one of the major changes moving from Australia to Germany was balance. I always looked for a section or orchestral sound that was bottom heavy. The bass trombone/tuba and low end of the orchestra created a solid bass which the upper lines just sat on top of. In Germany I find the sound to be generally top heavy, melody, and lead players tend to play a little louder and orchestras tend to focus on upper strings.
Balance could well have been a factor, we were playing our first concert as a new section. A couple of sectionals should help with that.

Quote from: Dombat on Jan 29, 2018, 12:23AMDepending where you are playing abd what you are used to, their may be an issue of stability of sound at a higher pitch. We push the high end of a443 in our orchestra and on a set up that is based to centre of a440, players can tend to push the horn a little bright. Get used to how your horn sits at 443. It may need cutting but probably not (I play a Greenhoe 42 and our 2nd an Edwards 350 with no intonation issues). Make sure your jaw position is as low as possible to allow for maximum airflow and don't force the sound. Keep the tuner on the stand for a few weeks and don't turn it off. Get used to where the horn slots at 443 (or 442/444) and notice the differences in the sound with where your slide is. You may find a note can be in tune with the slide in one position but rings and opens up in sound if you move it a millimeter or two up or down.
Very useful tip, the orchestra tunes to 442Hz which is higher than I was previously used to in symphony orchestras and brass bands back home. I didn't notice any big problems with intonation but it could well be I've been lipping things up. I started on euph and even after years of playing the trombone I probably still tend to fine-tune the pitch with my lips rather than the slide - crazy right? I'm playing in Ludwigsburg btw. close to Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg.


ttf_Dombat
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_Dombat » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:48 am

Quote from: MrHCinDE on Jan 29, 2018, 09:16AMI'm playing in Ludwigsburg btw. close to Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg.



Your in a great place. Go and listen to SWR, Stuttgart Phil and Stuttgsrt Opera as much as possible - amazing orchestras.
If you ever make it down to Ulm (about a 90min drive) let me know, I can organise opera or ballet tickets for you.
ttf_kbiggs
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_kbiggs » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:00 am

I found an article some years ago by Heinrich Thein describing the characteristics of the “German Trombone Sound.”

http://tromboneforum.org/index.php?acti ... tach=15264

There’s been a few other posts here on TTF about the German sound, approach, etc. My belief: no, it’s not all about equipment, but more appropriate equipment (more German like) can certainly help. It’s more about the approach of air (as stated above), how to articulate, blend, balance, attention to the role in the music, etc.

A horn player friend who played for a brief time in and around Switzerland said something like this: the German sound allows the horns and trombones to “cut through” the orchestra or “sail over the top” without overpowering and wiping out the rest of the orchestra.

This is a gross generalization: the “American sound” has been misconstrued to mean huge amounts of air and volume that wipe out the rest of orchestra, whereas other regional styles (German, French, British, Russian) attempt, in their own ways and aesthetic, to be heard alongside the rest of the orchestra.
ttf_Edward_Solomon
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_Edward_Solomon » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:03 am

German trombone design remained pretty much constant from the 1840s until well after World War II. (More recent designs have adopted American design elements.) Traditional Konzertposaune design elements include the use of very thin metal reinforced by a bell garland, which may be as thin as a couple of centimetres right up to a whole hand breadth or more in width. This element is something people tend to think consistent with traditional Konzertposaune design, even though it is actually native to Saxony. Makers of vintage instruments would often offer the same instrument with or without the garland as an option. Equally important to the design is the snake decoration (Schlangenverzierung), which is supposed to help protect the bell and slide bows, though also contributes to strengthening the sound in high dynamics. Another important factor is the leadpipe, which can be very long (over 2 feet), as well as the use of dual bore slides. Typically the Konzertposaune has a fairly small bore slide coupled with a bell section expanding rapidly to a wide flare; I have tenors with 9" and 10" bells. Finally, the mouthpiece is usually rather small to help brighten the rather dull sound that these instruments naturally produce.

The most noticeable factor affecting the timbre is its ability to remain consistently warm at all dynamics. This makes a tremendous difference in the music of the core Romantic composers. It greatly affects how we perform Bruckner and Mahler, for example, who frequently use strong articulation markings to indicate a heavy front to the note (e.g. ^ and >) because the natural tendency is to make a dull attack without using a lot of tongue. If you want to emulate the sound of these instruments with a Conn (I do so with a vintage Conn 62H), you need to remember to mentally mark down the articulations and soften the attack constantly because the American trombone will always brighten at higher dynamics and needs tempering. Dynamics can be a particular problem and need great care and attention. I found listening to the Dresden Staatskapelle quite helpful in establishing the right sound concept, as it is one of the very few orchestras still using the Konzertposaune.
ttf_Bcschipper
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_Bcschipper » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:41 pm

Here are some examples for German trombone playing:

R. Strauss "Die Frau ohne Schatten" Symphonic Fantasy, Dresdner Staatskapelle (probably Manfred Zeumer oder Gerhard Essbach) https://youtu.be/CnePcliodSo?t=9m12s

R. Wagner / L. Maazel Ring ohne Worte, Berliner Philharmonie, nice solo by Christhard Goessling https://youtu.be/czDDZnWKbsc?t=10m54s

David Konzertino, Juergen Heinl mit der Berliner Staatskapelle
1. Satz https://youtu.be/CBMFZFUCfEs
2. Satz https://youtu.be/n-TkgfAAzx0
3. Satz https://youtu.be/Br21ViPAFAk

Excellent performance.


To clarify some misconceptions:
1. German trombones are not more heavy because of the "Kranz" or "Sakes". My Kruspe Weschke with f attachment is  lighter than a Conn Alto trombone (with attachment)!
2. My observation is that German trombones mainly sound dead with players not used to play them. (Yet, some f-attachments in German trombones sound stuffy. According to my experience these are ones where the valve is relatively close to the bell instead the joint. This can be easily avoided by playing a Kruspe or Horst/Helmut Voigt although both of them are quite different German trombones.)
3. I don't find balance and timbre being an issue when playing with American style trombones in a section. I believe the timbre in German trombones is more variable than in American trombones but this could be my problem as I am not really used to playing American trombones.
ttf_Pre59
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_Pre59 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:19 am

Quote from: timothy42b on Jan 29, 2018, 07:14AMI don't know about German orchestral, but at one time I listened to quite a bit of German folk music with trombone.

It was always mellow.  They never pushed it to bright. 

Years back I borrowed a "German style" small bore, that Yamaha that was sold for a while.  It played mellow fine, but was very hard to push bright.  It seemed to just get dull, loud but never edgy. 

Wasn't the shift to large bore Trombones about not wanting the "bright"sound of the small bore horns? "Loud but not edgy" sounds ideal to me.
ttf_paulyg
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_paulyg » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:46 am

Quote from: Bcschipper on Jan 30, 2018, 11:41PMHere are some examples for German trombone playing:

R. Strauss "Die Frau ohne Schatten" Symphonic Fantasy, Dresdner Staatskapelle (probably Manfred Zeumer oder Gerhard Essbach) https://youtu.be/CnePcliodSo?t=9m12s

R. Wagner / L. Maazel Ring ohne Worte, Berliner Philharmonie, nice solo by Christhard Goessling https://youtu.be/czDDZnWKbsc?t=10m54s

David Konzertino, Juergen Heinl mit der Berliner Staatskapelle
1. Satz https://youtu.be/CBMFZFUCfEs
2. Satz https://youtu.be/n-TkgfAAzx0
3. Satz https://youtu.be/Br21ViPAFAk

Excellent performance.


To clarify some misconceptions:
1. German trombones are not more heavy because of the "Kranz" or "Sakes". My Kruspe Weschke with f attachment is  lighter than a Conn Alto trombone (with attachment)!
2. My observation is that German trombones mainly sound dead with players not used to play them. (Yet, some f-attachments in German trombones sound stuffy. According to my experience these are ones where the valve is relatively close to the bell instead the joint. This can be easily avoided by playing a Kruspe or Horst/Helmut Voigt although both of them are quite different German trombones.)
3. I don't find balance and timbre being an issue when playing with American style trombones in a section. I believe the timbre in German trombones is more variable than in American trombones but this could be my problem as I am not really used to playing American trombones.

The David recording seems to highlight what I find to be the main difference between the German/Czech/Austrian trombone sound and the sound more typified by American, British, Russian, and French players (as well as players educated in these countries).

The timbre is hardly distinguishable from a good "American" player. What is different is the shape of each and every note. The concept of note shape from German-style players seems to mirror that of what rotary trumpets produce. I was always taught (in America) to avoid "football-shaped notes" at all costs, that the front of the note should always present itself like a bell being rung (neglecting crescendi). Rotary trumpets produce notes with a bloom, ranging from slightly-perceptible to readily apparent, in the case of Gabor Tarkovi for example. Matching this note shape is the responsibility of trombonists in groups equipped with properly-played rotary trumpets.
ttf_MrHCinDE
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_MrHCinDE » Thu Feb 01, 2018 3:17 am

Listening is indeed a great place to start. Unfortunately in Germany the David is geo-blocked but I enjoyed "Die Frau ohne Schatten" at least! I wasn't familiar with the Symphonic Fantasy from R.Strauss before and I'll definitely have a play through it now, much more fun than long note practice.

Up next for our orchestra is Haydn's Jahreszeiten. Here's a link to the sort of sound I'm aiming for: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3O2K-LyJ9o. To my ear, the trombones are present and add weight and sound to the ensemble, without ever getting edgy.


ttf_Edward_Solomon
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_Edward_Solomon » Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:03 am

Quote from: MrHCinDE on Feb 01, 2018, 03:17AMUp next for our orchestra is Haydn's Jahreszeiten. Here's a link to the sort of sound I'm aiming for: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3O2K-LyJ9o. To my ear, the trombones are present and add weight and sound to the ensemble, without ever getting edgy.

Excellent example. Really nice sound and unobtrusive.

This, for me, typifies what the German trombone sound should be in heavier music, which requires a much wider dynamic spectrum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMX9tAmiTHU.

It's the Deutsche Grammophon recording of Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, WAB 105 by Anton Bruckner. The orchestra is the Dresden Staatskapelle conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli. The sound of the trombones is present without every being cutting. It is very difficult to emulate this style of trombone sound at high dynamic levels without introducing a lot of edge and brightness into the sound and in Bruckner of all composers that is completely anathema. There is much to enjoy here, particularly in the quiet passages in the first and second movements.
ttf_Edward_Solomon
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‘German’ trombone sound concept

Post by ttf_Edward_Solomon » Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:03 am

Quote from: MrHCinDE on Feb 01, 2018, 03:17AMUp next for our orchestra is Haydn's Jahreszeiten. Here's a link to the sort of sound I'm aiming for: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3O2K-LyJ9o. To my ear, the trombones are present and add weight and sound to the ensemble, without ever getting edgy.

Excellent example. Really nice sound and unobtrusive.

This, for me, typifies what the German trombone sound should be in heavier music, which requires a much wider dynamic spectrum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMX9tAmiTHU.

It's the Deutsche Grammophon recording of Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, WAB 105 by Anton Bruckner. The orchestra is the Dresden Staatskapelle conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli. The sound of the trombones is present without every being cutting. It is very difficult to emulate this style of trombone sound at high dynamic levels without introducing a lot of edge and brightness into the sound and in Bruckner of all composers that is completely anathema. There is much to enjoy here, particularly in the quiet passages in the first and second movements.
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