Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

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MrHCinDE
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Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

Post by MrHCinDE » Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:12 pm

The background is I‘ve signed up to play Beethoven‘s 9th symphony in October on the alto part. I‘ve got limited time for practice, music’s a hobby, work is very busy at the moment. I’m deciding should I invest my time in solidifying my upper register on tenor or (re-)learning alto. Access to an alto trombone is no problem.

Which factors should I consider?

I‘m thinking most important are intonation and balance. At the moment I‘m tending towards focussing my efforts on tenor as I‘d be much more familiar with the instrument, intonation would almost certainly be better than on alto and balance can be quite easily adjusted. I reckon I‘ve got time for about 20 practice hours before the first rehearsal.
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BGuttman
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Re: Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

Post by BGuttman » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:59 pm

When we did it our 1st player rented an alto. But this was 30 years ago and altos weren't as popular or common as they are now. He had been planning to use his King 3B but it got stolen (boo!).

I know the 1st part can be played by a good tenor player on tenor.

Issue is when the 1st trombone is doubling the altos. That's when a real alto trombone can be a godsend. You can support rather than bury them.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

Post by AndrewMeronek » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:38 pm

I'd make the alto work, but if there isn't enough time, I'd go with a small bore tenor. Remember that the German writing from this period assumed 3 different timbres from the trombone section, and this was an intended tool for blending between trombones and other sections.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
RustBeltBass
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Re: Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

Post by RustBeltBass » Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:27 pm

There are certain pieces in which an argument could be made for both instruments, (Brahms, Schumann).
Beethoven 9 is not one of those, go with Alto.
GBP
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Re: Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

Post by GBP » Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:21 pm

Go with the instrument you can play in tune and with your best sound. Alto can be tricky if you haven’t spent time working things out. I like Andrew’s suggestion. It is a very good compromise.
MrHCinDE
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Re: Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

Post by MrHCinDE » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:08 am

Update:

After further consideration I‘ve ended up focussing on playing the part on tenor.

Specifically I‘ve been practicing on my 6h and 8h. Individually I prefer the sound I make on the 8h, however, I can well believe the blend with the section and choir may be better with the 6h. Although the (Elkhart) 8h is larger, I find it quite flexible in terms of tone colour, actually more so than the (Non-Elkhart) 6h. We‘ve got a sectional with the M.D. for an hour before the first rehearsal so I‘ll figure out then which instrument to play, in consultation with him.

On another note, the M.D. has requested the trombones to write in the choir text to our parts, the idea being to be aware of the choral articulation. I don‘t have much experience of playing with choirs, is this common practice? It seems a good idea to me.
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LeTromboniste
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Re: Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

Post by LeTromboniste » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:23 am

It's definitely a good idea to write the text and try to articulate like a singer and not an orchestral trombone player. Keep in mind that trombone players were very used to doubling choirs back then and in many cases probably didn't have dedicated trombone parts but actually read from a (texted) vocal part.
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