The bass trombone is perhaps among the most misunderstood of all the brass instruments, and yet it is by far the loudest when blasted with and can produce a mellow tone that most tenor players would die for. In an attempt to perhaps persuade a few people that would never consider migrating to the bass side into having second thoughts, and to share some tips I've learnt, I've assembled a quick guide below.
WARNING, BRITISH BRASS BANDING TERMS AHEAD!
What is it?
The bass trombone is always a large bore instrument, with one or two valves, one pitched in the standard F, and the other in a verity of pitches (My Holton's second trigger is a D with an extra optional piece of tubing for Db). The bell of the bass trombone is usually much larger than that of a tenor (I believe my one is 11 inches across, but I could be wrong) allowing a much more mellow, room-filling sound, lacking some of the edge of the pure tenor (unless you give it a good blast)
The original bass from was pitched in G strangely and therefore had an extra long slide with a handle to allow for the extra length.
What is its role?
The role of the bass trombone is usually to provide a bridge between the 2nd Trom and the basses (Tubas), although this can vary. The bass troms large bore means that you need good lungs to blow the thing, but if you can manage it will produce an incredibly loud sound! In brass banding circles, the bass trom usually sits just behind the baritone horns, and there has been many a time they have left rehearsal which their ears ringing because of me The bass trom gets to play a mix of the meaty bass-lines that make up the piece and also takes part in filling out the chords the 1st and 2nd troms play. It is a common misconception that bass trombonists are just the people that don't like high notes, or aren't good enough for tenor, the BT is an important part of the brass band, and also orchestral music (the famous theme from Ride of the Valkeries is a famous example of the bass from getting noticed)
Tips I've picked up
Most of these tips are also applicable to tenor, but I list them regardless.
Getting familiar with the pedal notes is always a useful skill for bass bonists, down octaving the last note in a piece (especially if its a different note to the tubas) can really help fill out the bass. Knowing alternate slide positions is use-full also, for sneaking in glissandos and for easy movement in fast pieces. One tip my band master always tells me is to decrescendo slightly when playing notes downwards, because higher notes always sound louder then low notes, even if you think you're playing them the same.
I hope I could have been some use, If you have any more tips please put them below, and any questions about BT, Im sure either myself or someone else could help you!
Re: Xenol`s Guide to the Bass Bone 14:35 on Saturday, January 04, 2014