Why Eb? Why F?

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Leisesturm
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Why Eb? Why F?

Post by Leisesturm » Mon Sep 17, 2018 4:33 pm

Thanks to the incredible brain trust of knowledge and experience I've found in just a few days here on TC I am getting closer to my goal of an all purpose do everything I need horn. Clearly it does not appear that I really need a double rotor Bass horn. Everything I want to do can be covered between Cello Low C and French Horn High C (concert G). And the .547/8.5" 'Tenor' horn is probably going to be a better sound for duets with French Horn, I am thinking. Someone mentioned a King 3BF as the F slide can be pulled to E (for an easier low C?). I've seen horns that make this more reliable with a 'stop' that allows a quick pull to E without worrying about going too far. I've also seen another post mention a modified single rotor that played full time in Eb. That's the one that inspires this latest post. Why Eb? Why F, for that matter?

It would seem that for the price of some of the single rotor stencil horns, the cost of a modification to an F attachment to live full time in E or Eb might be a better investment than a double rotor instrument which I cannot seem to find in any other size than .562/9" - 9.5" Bass. So why F? What is it about the key of F that makes it the go to choice of just about all manufacturers ... 'F' Attachments? Would there be any problem getting an attachment that lived full time in some other key to link up smoothly with the Bb main horn? I've seen that most dual rotor horns are in Bb/F/Gb and D. But today I saw two in Bb/F/Eb and 'Gb'. Clearly there is something useful about that Eb tuning, and if I can eliminate the middleman, so to speak, so much the better. It can't be worth carrying around two sets of attachments just one whole step apart can it? Thoughts?
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by JohnL » Mon Sep 17, 2018 4:42 pm

Leisesturm wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 4:33 pm
Why Eb? Why F, for that matter?
"Why Eb?" is easy. It's the longest attachment you can have without creating a gap in the range. One can play down to E below the staff on the open horn, then from Eb on down to almost Bb with the valve engaged.

But why F? I'll leave that to the musicologists.
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Matt K
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by Matt K » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:17 pm

It was a progression. F is useful because it gives you C and B natural and most of the notes down to the pedal range. After that, a second rotor was added so that one could reach B natural. This started out as either Bb/F/E or Bb/F/Eb because it was intended to just add that note. Then people realized, oh well, I suppose if it was Bb/F/D then it makes the B natural easier to play and lets you play other notes closer to the 3rd/4th position. Then independents came along and a lot of people stuck with Bb/F/Gb/D because that had a good fluency in the lower registers.

There are a minority of people who play with Bb/F/G/Eb and some other tunings too. I'm actually having one build right now that is in Bb/F/G/Eb but I'm having a second tuning slide for the F attachment hopefully made in Eb, so it should be Bb/Eb/G/~Db roughly.

The reason F attachments stuck on tenor and you really don't see much in the way of anything else is the utility it provides in giving access to the low range. you start to lose more notes if you go higher and then the most useful notes, C and B, become further out. With an F attachment, you only need 5 positions. Of course, with a G or Gb attachment you'd also need only 5 positions but it shifts things further away. A lot of people seem to find it has the best set of tradeoffs but I've seen plenty of other tunings... Ab, G, Gb, and Eb mostly.

There's also the Yamaha 350C which is actually pitched in C, but has a Bb attachment. The mechanism is engaged by default so that when you press the trigger, it actually puts you up into C rather than down into Bb. In other words, its a few inches shorter than a Bb trombone and they make up for the distance by making a small loop in the bell section. Its intended for students with shorter arms but there are some who really like theirs as travel horns (like Doug Yeo!)
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LeTromboniste
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by LeTromboniste » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:49 pm

Why F? Because that's how it's been since the start of trombone attachments. There have been F attachments for almost 175 years.

Historical reasons aside, it just works and has very few tradeoffs compared to other tunings. It's closely related enough to Bb while offering nice alternative positions in the range where they are useful. Also, a fourth down is the furthest you can go while retaining 6 positions (barely).

Eb would have one fewer position. It would also have 2 common partials with Bb in the mid to low range, which reduces the number of partials where the Eb side is actually of any use (F has one common partial in that range, the next common partial is up in the range where the valve is not quite as useful).

Eb would give you a low B and an easier low C, at the detriment of losing your very useful F and E in 1st and 2nd. Taking into account that you can have an F attachment with an E pull which takes care of the low C anyway, you're essentially trading your F in 1 and E in 2 plus a bunch of super useful alternate positions (for C, B, Bb and A in the low range) only for getting a low B and gaining alternate positions for :bassclef: :space4: and F#, and an extra alternate position for :bassclef: :line4: , which already has two available positions.

I'd much rather have those alternate positions in 1 and 2 for low range notes that are otherwise far out than more or less useful alternates for notes that are in 3, 4 and 5 higher in the range. And how often do you really need a solid low B in a tenor trombone part? Plus you can learn to play very good low Bs with false tones.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by harrisonreed » Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:02 pm

Lol. "I NEED that B nattie" ですよ.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by harrisonreed » Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:54 pm

Or spend a ridiculous amount of money for a Bartok valve german tenor.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by robcat2075 » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:48 pm

Why F?

In 40 years of semi-conscientious bass tromboning, playing standard repertoire music, the usefulness of having a C :bassclef: :space2: in 1st and B :line2: in 2nd far outweighed the need for a low B.

If faced with the choice of a single valve F or a single valve Eb, the F would be hugely more practical.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by sirisobhakya » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:57 pm

harrisonreed wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:54 pm
Or spend a ridiculous amount of money for a Bartok valve german tenor.
I would like to have one if I had the money. As a mechanical engineer I like linkages and complicated things...
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by harrisonreed » Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:06 pm

sirisobhakya wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:57 pm
harrisonreed wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:54 pm
Or spend a ridiculous amount of money for a Bartok valve german tenor.
I would like to have one if I had the money. As a mechanical engineer I like linkages and complicated things...
それよりschagerlの「zoltan Kissbone」は見たありますか? なんかバートークみたいなトロンボーンです
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by BGuttman » Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:23 pm

I should point out that King F-attachments (at least 3B, 3B+, 4B, 5B) have two tuning slides. The slide on the longer loop is marked for an E-pull. The idea is that you tune the attachment with the short slide and use the long slide for E-pull. Very convenient.

Why Bb/F? More historical than anything else. At one point around the turn of the 20th Century there were trombones with E attachments. This moves low C a little in and with a long slide design you can get low B natural. Since we all play them nowadays they must have worked really well (not).

We have a couple of threads on Bass Trombones in C and Db (and even Eb). The jury is out on whether they are better than what we have now.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by doctortrombone » Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:37 am

"Why F" seems pretty simple to me, and it has nothing to do with slide trombones. Think about valved brass instruments. The progression in valved instrument starts with a half-step (2nd valve). From that point, first valve is 2nd valve x2, third valve is first valve plus second valve, and fourth valve (what you have on an F attachment) is first valve plus third valve. There's a logical progression, with the addition of each valve allowing for the addition of another, lower octave. Using the fourth valve on a valved brass instrument allows the octave below the staff to use the same fingerings on valves 1,2 and 3 for each note, as long as the fourth valve is depressed. I would imagine that when slide trombones added the F-att, they simply modeled the system used in valved brass instruments.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by Vegastokc » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:33 pm

No, no, no.
You guys are all missing it:
It cause chicks did the triggers, man!
Its always about the ladies. :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by mrpillow » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:45 pm

1830s in Saxony

Tenorbassposaune = Bb
Bassposaune = F

Stick em together and what do you get?
Organologique et plus!
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by BrassedOn » Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:22 am

mrpillow wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:45 pm
1830s in Saxony

Tenorbassposaune = Bb
Bassposaune = F

Stick em together and what do you get?
Bibbidi bobbidi boo?

I would not bother with any mech for an E pull. Just put a scratch on the slide to mark the E or Eb setting. for the rare instance it's needed. Occasionally, I'll be doing a recording session or touring show on my Bach 42BO and there are some bass trombone notes. Usually brief passage, and need about 4 beats to set the slide for a trigger B or return to the regular F.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by marccromme » Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:21 am

It's all about convenience and re-inforcing habits, I think.

In old days (since Pretorious) the tenor was in Bb and the bass in F. Making a Bb/F puts the valve positions in the well-know Bass F places.

Nowadays many (maybe most?) bass trombonists play Bb/F/Gb/D independent. I started using my Gb more than my F side, since it gives such nice fluent slide movements - you are already on the way out for Bb-C-D -and similar combinations, and you have a very nice and usable Db/Csharp and Gb&Fshart in 1. position, which makes fast passages in many flats or sharps very fluent.

So I decided to alter my Besson Sovereigh Hagman tenor from Bb/F to Bb/Gb. Work in progress. Others do appreciate a Bb/G tenor horn, but knowing th Gb side already, it's the natural choice. I rather loose the too-sharp bottom C, and gain fluency in slide movements in a Bb/Gb combo

Same argument goes for German style contrabass trombones in F/D/BBb/~AAb : as a modern bass trombonist you already know the F and D positions, and the BBb positions are at the same spots than the tenor Bb positions, except that you jump every second tenor position over ( because the BBb side is one octave below a tenor Bb)

So. I think the Bb/F combo is historically about F bass slide positions on a Bb horn
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by Leisesturm » Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:20 am

marccromme wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:21 am
It's all about convenience and re-inforcing habits, I think.

Nowadays many (maybe most?) bass trombonists play Bb/F/Gb/D independent. I started using my Gb more than my F side, since it gives such nice fluent slide movements - you are already on the way out for Bb-C-D -and similar combinations, and you have a very nice and usable Db/Csharp and Gb&Fshart in 1. position, which makes fast passages in many flats or sharps very fluent.
I don't have any habits to re-inforce which is what inspired this thread. IF an F attachment that lived full time in E or Eb would work as well or better than an f attachment that needed four beats to be pulled to E or Eb (and which one and why?) for low C (don't anticipate notes lower than that) I would embrace it.

I got both a call and email from Wessex yesterday in response to an earlier inquiry I had mailed to them before joining Trombone Chat. Their trombone guy is advising me away from the SuperTenor .547/.562 and suggesting the closed wrap .547 as a better instrument for someone without F attachment experience. I don't know ... given what these instruments cost it seems wasteful to step through instruments like a child going from 1/2 to 3/4 to full size violins.

There must be people who start right out on double rotor .562 basses even without undue hardship? I mean ... the smallest Tuba has got to have a bore that is larger? People play those without prior brass experience. TBH, trombone wasn't even on my radar! Euphonium was what I wanted to play, did play, I had a .571 JinBao that I played well enough until I lost it in a flood. Come to think of it I also had a Miraphone 186 Tuba that must have been much larger than .571 and played that too, but I did not have it for long, and only played Euphonium notes on it. I really hate going against the advice of well meant sales personnel, but I think I want to just get the Wessex .547/562, mainly because the F section is open wrap. I 'think' I can 'grow into' the instrument through judicious mouthpiece choices vs trading up through larger bore horns.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by Matt K » Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:09 am

I don't have any habits to re-inforce which is what inspired this thread. IF an F attachment that lived full time in E or Eb would work as well or better than an f attachment that needed four beats to be pulled to E or Eb (and which one and why?) for low C (don't anticipate notes lower than that) I would embrace it.

I got both a call and email from Wessex yesterday in response to an earlier inquiry I had mailed to them before joining Trombone Chat. Their trombone guy is advising me away from the SuperTenor .547/.562 and suggesting the closed wrap .547 as a better instrument for someone without F attachment experience. I don't know ... given what these instruments cost it seems wasteful to step through instruments like a child going from 1/2 to 3/4 to full size violins.

There must be people who start right out on double rotor .562 basses even without undue hardship? I mean ... the smallest Tuba has got to have a bore that is larger? People play those without prior brass experience. TBH, trombone wasn't even on my radar! Euphonium was what I wanted to play, did play, I had a .571 JinBao that I played well enough until I lost it in a flood. Come to think of it I also had a Miraphone 186 Tuba that must have been much larger than .571 and played that too, but I did not have it for long, and only played Euphonium notes on it. I really hate going against the advice of well meant sales personnel, but I think I want to just get the Wessex .547/562, mainly because the F section is open wrap. I 'think' I can 'grow into' the instrument through judicious mouthpiece choices vs trading up through larger bore horns.
I believe you could take the "re-" out in your context. The F attachment is a common set of compromises that many players find to be optimal. YOu should check to see if the SuperTenor is pullable to E. In a lot of cases, closed wraps can't be pulled to anything useful, though there are cases where they can be. Closed wrap horns can often be pulled much further than you'd expect because sometimes multiple loops can be pulled.

I believe the salesperson was suggesting the 547 because smaller tends to lead slightly easier high ranges. In other words, you want to play quite on the higher end of the instrument. If you've been playing large horns for quit some time... okay you might be able to make it work and maybe it is optimal. But it probalby isn't. It isn't like in Violin where the reason you play something smaller is because you have physiologically smaller hands. You play smaller equipment to better suit your needs; you aren't suggesting playing that range on the tuba, for example, even though people start out on the tuba! You want something smaller, pretty reasonably so. Well so too with the smaller overall trombone.

If you really want to spend your money on it it's obviously your money! I'm just thinking that it almost sounds like you kind of want a trombone that has the sound and flexibility of a bass in the low register and the ease of high range of an alto but you're going for something that is closer to a bass in that regard. If you aren't averse to learning new positions, maybe you should consider an alto + bass trombone. Former for doing the high range stuff you want and a bass for the cello suites. Or a small bore tenor. That way, if you do realize the tenor is neither "fish nor fowl" so to speak, you don't end up with three horns like your violin example, but merely two that do the things that you want.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by harrisonreed » Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:14 am

I thought the super tenor was .555 single bore
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Matt K
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by Matt K » Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:38 am

harrisonreed wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:14 am
I thought the super tenor was .555 single bore
Model is PBF555, which is probably why you were thinking that.

https://wessex-tubas.com/products/super ... ier-pbf555
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by JohnL » Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:20 pm

harrisonreed wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:14 am
I thought the super tenor was .555 single bore
I dug though the Wayback Machine and it's listed at .547"/.562" back March 12, 2018.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by Leisesturm » Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:28 pm

Matt K wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:09 am
I believe you could take the "re-" out in your context. The F attachment is a common set of compromises that many players find to be optimal. YOu should check to see if the SuperTenor is pullable to E. In a lot of cases, closed wraps can't be pulled to anything useful, though there are cases where they can be. Closed wrap horns can often be pulled much further than you'd expect because sometimes multiple loops can be pulled.

I believe the salesperson was suggesting the 547 because smaller tends to lead slightly easier high ranges. In other words, you want to play quite on the higher end of the instrument. If you've been playing large horns for quit some time... okay you might be able to make it work and maybe it is optimal. But it probalby isn't. It isn't like in Violin where the reason you play something smaller is because you have physiologically smaller hands. You play smaller equipment to better suit your needs; you aren't suggesting playing that range on the tuba, for example, even though people start out on the tuba! You want something smaller, pretty reasonably so. Well so too with the smaller overall trombone.
Thanks. In the email Wessex said specifically that the closed wrap .547 can be pulled to E and can play Low C and even B natural. They did not say anything about where the F side can be pulled on the Super Tenor. Seems ironic, the S.T. is the horn I would think would have an extra long tuning slide for the F attachment. Anyway, what I know is I don't seem to have trouble with the high ranges on brass instruments. As a beginner Hornist I could play right to the top of the F horn. I tried one but It wasn't even worth it getting a double Horn with a Bb side. I can go higher than Top C now, but usually don't. On the straight tenor .500 with the 6-1/2AL, after a week I can play nice sounding notes where 1st position plays almost a diatonic scale. I haven't checked with a tuner to see exactly what those notes are. I have been down to low E several times and can get the Bb pedal out and I mention it only because I can't play any of the lowest octave of the French Horn and certainly no pedals. I'm definitely biased towards a Trombone that will allow for good low note production, if not facility, and then I will work on getting its high range, whatever that turns out to be. Wessex is apparently opening a Chicago, IL showroom. Too bad I'm on the West Coast. They did remind me that I can not only exchange, but return a horn I don't like. That does make it easier to at least take under advisement the closed wrap .547. Thank you all for your patience with me.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by Matt K » Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:43 pm

Thanks. In the email Wessex said specifically that the closed wrap .547 can be pulled to E and can play Low C and even B natural. They did not say anything about where the F side can be pulled on the Super Tenor. Seems ironic, the S.T. is the horn I would think would have an extra long tuning slide for the F attachment.
Yeah there are a lot of horns like that. The general reason is that with open wrap, you have to be able to pull out to an absurd length to get anything usable out of it. If you have the inner slides setup so that you can fully insert it, it has to be short enough to get a slightly sharp F because of the way most people tune it. That limits the total length and if there is a curve in there to bring it back, it further reduces the length.

With the closed wrap, you just need two bends and suddenly you can utilize nearly the entire length of that tube. The Yamaha semi-closed wraps are ridiculous with how long you can pull it out. I have a 646 I should test. I bet I could get a flat E easily out of it.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by BGuttman » Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:58 pm

I have the Yammie 682 and pulling both slides on the F-attachment as far as possible I couldn't reach flat E (or even E). I toyed with the idea of having an E crook made for the short slide, but I have a bass trombone that works nicely when I need to play a low B natural. I don't need low B natural on a tenor trombone (even emulating a cello).
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by LeTromboniste » Sat Sep 22, 2018 4:24 am

marccromme wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:21 am
In old days (since Pretorious) the tenor was in Bb and the bass in F. Making a Bb/F puts the valve positions in the well-know Bass F places.
That's actually incorrect, in the time of Praetorius, tenors were in A (crookable to G) and basses were in a variety of pitches, including G and F, but "true" basses were most commonly in D and sometimes E. The pitch shift to Bb-Eb-F happened gradually in the 18th century (in Vienna from the first decade, in smaller towns up to 100 years later). Even when the valve was first applied, ans it's true that bass was often in F, it was just as common if not more common to find Eb basses.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by marccromme » Sat Sep 22, 2018 6:27 pm

Hmm. LeTrombonist. I miiiight stand corrected, buuuut if in doubt I believe the speech from the old master himself.

My Faksimile print of Prarorius states on page 31 ."Gemeine rechte Posaune, daruff man natürlich oben bis ins f und unten ins E kommen" (plain trombone, plays up to f and down to E) which makes it an instrument pitched i Bb with 7 positions. (4 diatonic as Praetoris calls them). And "Quart Posaun, deren etliche eine Quarte, und etliche aber eine Quinte tiefer sind" (Quarttrombone, of these many one forth deeper, but others a fitth deeper) would place the bass commonly in F and other times in Eb.

But I never claimed that Praetoris used a modern pitch of 440 Hz.

Studiyng Trevor Herberts good book on Trombone history, Appendix1 Surviving instruments from before 1800, places all tenor trombones up to 1619 (and almost all later) in Bb, most basses in F and Eb, a few i G.

The first tenor not in Bb in this list is a 1677 Paul Heinlein in C. (!!!) Although there are quite a few where the actual pitch is not determined, I see no evidence for an instrument in A or D. Other than our modern pitch of 440 is a quite recent thing, and pitch in 1619 probably was not normed is it is today.

But you are correct insofar as basses in F and Eb where almost equally common in Pretorius time.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by BGuttman » Sat Sep 22, 2018 7:43 pm

Before the universal acceptance of A as 440 Hz (something started in Mendelssohn's time and only completed 100 years later) pitch standards ranged from around A-415 to A-465. A High Pitch trombone (A-about 450) sounds like a trombone in B played at A-440. It's tough (and expensive) to change the pitch of a brass instrument, so a trombone in A at 465 (common middle European pitch standard) would be Bb at A-440, and C at A-415. My guess is that they changed the pitch definition of the trombone relative to the pitch center of the country. This problem went away as we all gravitated to A-440.

I don't think anybody went through the exercise of trying every possible pitch of trombone (like they did with Horns) to see which worked best. Would a Db trombone be better? Who knows. But to a large extent it really doesn't matter. Music has been composed expecting a Bb trombone since at least 1750 and using something else may not work as well.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by LeTromboniste » Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:53 am

marccromme wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 6:27 pm
Studiyng Trevor Herberts good book on Trombone history, Appendix1 Surviving instruments from before 1800, places all tenor trombones up to 1619 (and almost all later) in Bb, most basses in F and Eb, a few i G.

The first tenor not in Bb in this list is a 1677 Paul Heinlein in C. (!!!) Although there are quite a few where the actual pitch is not determined, I see no evidence for an instrument in A or D. Other than our modern pitch of 440 is a quite recent thing, and pitch in 1619 probably was not normed is it is today.

But you are correct insofar as basses in F and Eb where almost equally common in Pretorius time.
The museum instruments you mention are listed as Bb, F and Eb because their tuning is given for the modern pitch of A=440, which is obviously not the pitch they were playing at. The pitch in the 17th century and before was typically higher, in the 450's, 460's, 470's and even 480's, as can be seen from historical organs. Trombones are another proof of that since all the early sources say they are in A (tenor) and D or E (alto and bass) while the instruments from that time that survived are mostly in modern Bb/Eb/F. Later on the sources do talk about Bb and Eb and F trombones, and those instruments are roughly the same length as before, meaning ita not the instruments that changed but the reference pitch. It's consistent with what we know about the evolution of pitch, with a transition from having two tunings simultaneously, usually a whole step apart at ~400-420 and ~455-480 to having one unified pitch halfway in between at ~430-450, which means the high instruments suddenly shift a half step down, and a trombone in A is now thought of as in Bb.

There is a very complete and interesting book about pitch standards - A History of Performing Pitch : The Story of A, by Bruce Haynes, Scarecrow Press.
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Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by LeTromboniste » Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:41 am

Please let me apologize in advance for this off-topic excursion, but since this is being brought up.....

marccromme wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 6:27 pm
Hmm. LeTrombonist. I miiiight stand corrected, buuuut if in doubt I believe the speech from the old master himself.

My Faksimile print of Prarorius states on page 31 ."Gemeine rechte Posaune, daruff man natürlich oben bis ins f und unten ins E kommen" (plain trombone, plays up to f and down to E) which makes it an instrument pitched i Bb with 7 positions. (4 diatonic as Praetoris calls them). And "Quart Posaun, deren etliche eine Quarte, und etliche aber eine Quinte tiefer sind" (Quarttrombone, of these many one forth deeper, but others a fitth deeper) would place the bass commonly in F and other times in Eb.
The thing with Prætorius in this excerpt is he says very little, and he certainly doesn't state what key the instrument is in. He is vague and also inconsistent about the ranges of the instrument both in that paragraph and in the table where he lists the lowest and highest notes for each instrument. You need to interpret what he writes quite a lot to arrive to an answer, which is always dangerous as a modern mindset will always influence our interpretation. For instance here, your interpretation assumes (and requires) that a trombone has 7 positions, and that when he gives the lowest note, he means the note in 7th position. But one needs to leave behind their modern trombonist perspective when reading old texts, and put those texts in their historical context. As you noted, Prætorius and his contemporaries don't consider a trombone to have 7 positions, they consider it has 4 diatonic positions. Since enharmonics are not equivalent in the meantone temperament of the time (in fact, they are nearly a quartertone apart), it would simply not have occured to them to consider 7 chromatic positions. So for them, there are simply 4 positions, and altered notes require altering those 4 positions. Those 4 positions are modern 1, 3, 5 and 6. Interestingly on a trombone in A, those positions in the first octave correspond to the white notes of a keyboard.

So when Prætorius gives E as the lowest note, he means the lowest note on the lowest "real" position, which is E in 4th or modern 6th position. That corresponds to a trombone in A, not Bb. Note that in the table, he actually gives further lower notes (D, C) to be played in falset tones, and pedal A (they are written in black indicating the extended range of advanced players).

But don't take my word for it, look at other sources from the time. Here are two major examples. Virgiliano (earlier than Prætorius) gives a clear slide position chart for the whole range of the instrument from low E to high A, as well as position charts for all possible transpositions of a scale. His alto, tenor and bass trombones are all in A. Speer (later than Prætorius) explains where the positions are, shows what the harmonic series is for each position - it is clear from those that for him too the tenor trombone at least is in A. One table in particular shows that as I explained above, for him Bb is in the same position as B and E (4th position, roughly modern 6th position), but played "a bit lower" (still 4th position for Speer, but modern high 7th). He gives the positions for the alto and quintposaune and they clearly show instruments in D.

Virgiliano
Image


Speer
Image
Maximilien Brisson
marccromme
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Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:03 am

Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by marccromme » Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:57 pm

Maximilien - thanks for the detailed explanation. I stand corrected, and did learn a new thing about reading old texts unbiased from modern habits. And I did learn about two more books I need to read, the Speer and Vigiliano.

Seems that the physical length of a tenor trombone stayed almost constant over 400 years, but the perceived fundamental changed from A to Bb because the reference pitch changed.

Which makes much sense, as a man of 170 cm (that's me) can reach the (modern) 7th position of a Bb tenor with a stretch, but not more. And people where often of same or lesser size the last 400 years.

Thanks for your educational posting - an apologies to the OP for hijacking the thread.
Fafner
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:18 pm

Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by Fafner » Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:44 pm

LeTromboniste wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:41 am
Please let me apologize in advance for this off-topic excursion, but since this is being brought up.....

marccromme wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 6:27 pm
Hmm. LeTrombonist. I miiiight stand corrected, buuuut if in doubt I believe the speech from the old master himself.

My Faksimile print of Prarorius states on page 31 ."Gemeine rechte Posaune, daruff man natürlich oben bis ins f und unten ins E kommen" (plain trombone, plays up to f and down to E) which makes it an instrument pitched i Bb with 7 positions. (4 diatonic as Praetoris calls them). And "Quart Posaun, deren etliche eine Quarte, und etliche aber eine Quinte tiefer sind" (Quarttrombone, of these many one forth deeper, but others a fitth deeper) would place the bass commonly in F and other times in Eb.
The thing with Prætorius in this excerpt is he says very little, and he certainly doesn't state what key the instrument is in. He is vague and also inconsistent about the ranges of the instrument both in that paragraph and in the table where he lists the lowest and highest notes for each instrument. You need to interpret what he writes quite a lot to arrive to an answer, which is always dangerous as a modern mindset will always influence our interpretation. For instance here, your interpretation assumes (and requires) that a trombone has 7 positions, and that when he gives the lowest note, he means the note in 7th position. But one needs to leave behind their modern trombonist perspective when reading old texts, and put those texts in their historical context. As you noted, Prætorius and his contemporaries don't consider a trombone to have 7 positions, they consider it has 4 diatonic positions. Since enharmonics are not equivalent in the meantone temperament of the time (in fact, they are nearly a quartertone apart), it would simply not have occured to them to consider 7 chromatic positions. So for them, there are simply 4 positions, and altered notes require altering those 4 positions. Those 4 positions are modern 1, 3, 5 and 6. Interestingly on a trombone in A, those positions in the first octave correspond to the white notes of a keyboard.

So when Prætorius gives E as the lowest note, he means the lowest note on the lowest "real" position, which is E in 4th or modern 6th position. That corresponds to a trombone in A, not Bb. Note that in the table, he actually gives further lower notes (D, C) to be played in falset tones, and pedal A (they are written in black indicating the extended range of advanced players).

But don't take my word for it, look at other sources from the time. Here are two major examples. Virgiliano (earlier than Prætorius) gives a clear slide position chart for the whole range of the instrument from low E to high A, as well as position charts for all possible transpositions of a scale. His alto, tenor and bass trombones are all in A. Speer (later than Prætorius) explains where the positions are, shows what the harmonic series is for each position - it is clear from those that for him too the tenor trombone at least is in A. One table in particular shows that as I explained above, for him Bb is in the same position as B and E (4th position, roughly modern 6th position), but played "a bit lower" (still 4th position for Speer, but modern high 7th). He gives the positions for the alto and quintposaune and they clearly show instruments in D.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I learned something!
Fafner
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:18 pm

Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by Fafner » Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:21 pm

Leisesturm wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 4:33 pm
I've seen horns that make this more reliable with a 'stop' that allows a quick pull to E without worrying about going too far. I've also seen another post mention a modified single rotor that played full time in Eb. That's the one that inspires this latest post. Why Eb? Why F, for that matter?
What you are describing makes a lot of sense. The "German" tuning for contrabass is F/Eb/BBb in an independent setup. So the second valve moves the entire horn down a fifth which would be the equivalent of a Eb valve on a Bb modern bass. It's a valve dedicated to playing several low notes really, really well. The Eb valve is entirely for facility.

That contrabass tuning makes sense and it works. It's also why I believe when the first independent bass trombones were being experimented with in the 60s, 70s, and 80s you would see lot's of massive Eb or lower valves--those players were looking at old German contrabass trombones and applying the valve tunings concepts to modern American horns. I describe the concept as one valve for low notes, one valve for facility.

This is actually why on my Bb bass I choose a dependent setup not only for the small gains in resonance, articulation, and sound, but also because I dedicate one valve entirely to playing D, Db, C, and B below the staff as beautifully and open as possible. This involves removing some braces to open up the second valve.

So I think your reasoning is right-on. As it has been already stated, the short answer is: tradition.
sctroy
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:03 pm

Re: Why Eb? Why F?

Post by sctroy » Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:09 pm

Edwards makes a nifty Eb valve slide that gives you the choice to go either way. I haven't used mine much, but it has been useful om occasion.
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