Tuba-Euphonium Tuesday

What makes a good tone?

This is arguably the hardest and most personal question of all. There are some generic, catch-all answers (warm, round, focused sound), but when it comes to varying degrees of brightness/darkness of sound, well, put two euphoniumists in a room and you’ll get three answers.

I play with a darker sound, one more suited for ensemble playing. The challenge that those of us with a darker sound face is keeping the sound focused. When you darken the sound, there’s a certain amount of fuzz that is created in the sound. A nice dark sound still keeps a strong, easily-definable center to the sound. To contrast, my college teacher (the legendary and still amazing Earle Louder) had a comparatively bright sound, better for solo work.* Both viewpoints are valid, to be sure, but I have found that I personally control a darker sound better and have an easier time with intonation and articulation.

Whatever you do in creating your own personal tone, it’s important to develop a good base for the tone. Keep a nice open oral cavity so that you can pump tons of air into the horn. Keep those corners firm but never tense. Get good warm air from the bottom of your lungs. Stay relaxed.

How do you handle issues of tone?

*which is not to say that Doc Louder doesn’t sound good in an ensemble. He does. Oh man, does he ever.

WF

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