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Topic: Adding Weight To Trombones ~ Previous 'How To' Post.

  1. #1

    Adding Weight To Trombones ~ Previous 'How To' Post.

    I hope I get a quick reply to this, my score is open ready and scorching a hole in the score (virtually of course).

    Anyway, I digress. A while back I recall reading a post on how to achieve that classic bass trombone weight and depth of sound, that characteristic 'growl', especially on pedal notes but I can't find the post.

    I think it might have been one of Randy's tips but I'm not too sure.

    Can anyone help me find that post please.

    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

  2. #2

    Re: Adding Weight To Trombones ~ Previous 'How To' Post.

    Sorry Michael, I don't remember that thread and I too would be interested in learning about that too. Good Luck, I hope Randy is able to respond with some ideas.
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong


  3. #3

    Re: Adding Weight To Trombones ~ Previous 'How To' Post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_uk View Post
    ...A while back I recall reading a post on how to achieve that classic bass trombone weight and depth of sound, that characteristic 'growl', especially on pedal notes but I can't find the post...
    Hmmm, I can't think of what thread that may have been, Michael.

    I did do a post about using the Overlay effect for the brass instruments that have that available (trumpets, horn, trombones, tuba), but there isn't an Overlay for the bass trombone. That post was showing that the Overlay sound needs to have its CC volume control recorded, swooping in when needed, and used sparingly, rather than just having it on full bore throughout a piece.

    Maybe you were thinking of that? Otherwise, I can't think of any special tricks about using the bass trombone - Be sure to audition the Sam bass trombone 2 AG - that sure has the aggressive growl you're talking about. And remember that the relative "weight" of any instrument is perceived in direct proportion to the way you have balances in your mix. If all the instruments are high in volume, the bass trombone or any other instrument won't have a chance to through its weight around because there's no room left in the volume ceiling!


  4. #4
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Suburban NYC

    Re: Adding Weight To Trombones ~ Previous 'How To' Post.

    Hi Michael,

    Besides the layering technique, as well as it's relative volume in the mix, there's a couple of other ways to coax the B-TB' 'fatness'.

    1.- I pan my B-TB hard-left ... since most of my other instruments fall within a 80%L-to-80%R spectrum, this gives the B-TB some 'pan-space' to be heard. I also pan my lo-reed guy hard-right for the same reason.

    2.- Keep a nice interval between the B-TB and the next highest instrument; let the rest of the ensemble 'float' above the anchor.

    3.- Using cc1, I often start with a strong attack, then quickly drop the volume down, then slowly bring it back (and even a little higher if headroom permits) within the span of the notes duration (obviously not for less than 1/2 notes). This lets it rise in a voicing.

    Here's an 8-bar example (then another 8 with the sax section) from an original composition and arrangement of mine. It's scored for three tenor trombones, a bass trombone (hard-left), and a baritone sax (hard-right) doubling the lead TB 8vb. Then, five saxes (S-A-T-T-B).

    It may be jazz, but the technique applies to any style. Note the very first note and the cadence notes where the B-TB drops down an octave (Item 2 above).

    "MADDY'S ADVICE" - (Excerpt) - JaBB Trombone Soli + JaBB Sax Soli

    It's a subtle example, but the depth of 'fatness' is up to you ... Hope this helps!


  5. #5

    Re: Adding Weight To Trombones ~ Previous 'How To' Post.

    According to the ESSENTIAL DICTIONARY OF ORCHESTRATION, a nice little book by David Black and Tom Gerou, the bass trombone is loudest in its upper range and gets progressively softer as you go lower in pitch. The book doesn't address the dynamics of the pedal tones (which I suspect will be louder, rather than softer than the lowest regular notes, but I wouldn't mind some clarification on this point).

    I agree with all that has been said about bringing the BT out of the mix and have used all those techniques myself. But you have to be careful about this because its volume is "supposed" to be relatively softer than its upper range and tampering with it might sound unnatural. (To me, it just sounds muddy or gets lost altogether. It appears that as the notes become lower the sound becomes more powerful without necessarily being louder. Not as diffuse as a French Horn, but not as punchy as you might expect.)

    I think the sound you are after is more typically the function of a bari or bass sax (on its own, or in unison with the BT) or with a contrabass trombone or tuba. If you don't have those instruments, you can double the BT with the string bass (at the unison or octave). You can also give it more relative weight by using low BT notes sparingly, especially playing a low note immediately after a much higher note or section. And short low notes seem to stand out more than sustained ones. (I use all these techniques quite a bit in my score because I have a very small brass section and no saxes or tuba.)

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