Sound! Euphonium – Episode 04

Training arc go!

– The whole part-lead/part-meet thing is usually irrelevant to western ensembles. For wind ensemble/concert band it’s usually just the typical section leader thing. For orchestra it’s typically a meeting of the desks, with the concertmaster being the most important person because they are basically in charge of delegating the conductor’s wishes to the ensembles in both rehearsal and practice. A far different arrangement than how bands work.

– 60 is a solid number for the band. Especially in high school. It’s quite large.

– Reina practicing outside is always nice.

– I love that their music room has the chalkboards with the permanent staff lines written in. In most schools you have to use the janky tool where you hook five markers or pieces of chalk up to it and draw. It sucks, haha.

– I love Taki-sensei asserting himself. He’s such a good band director.

– When they did the jogging outside it reminded me of when I used to do drum corps. We’d get woken up at about 6 AM and do laps for about 45 mins or so. It was so tiring but really helped keep us all in shape, and get the blood flowing.

– Seeing them out of breath trying to play was funny. The sound design for them struggling after being out of breath in this part was on the money, they played the low alto concert b-flat, which is the tuning pitch wind bands use.

– Poor french horns. Not since they were just valveless instruments that you changed pitches with your hand and bell opening have they really had to march. This style was commonly referred to as natural horn, and most people don’t know this technique in modern times. For me in undergrad it was my primary area of instrument study for two years, resulting in a masterclass with Dale Clevenger on an original Richard Seraphinoff made for Jeff Nelsen! Most ensembles opt to use the Mellophone for horn players as they come in a much more easy to use form factor and produces nearly the same timbre at like 80% less struggle. The hard part for them is the shape, and the fact that most younger players tend to rest the instrument on their thighs for support (which is a major no no in professional ensembles).

– This breath exercise is totally a real thing I have done, as have many others. The main purpose is to help exercise the lungs, teach a focus of breath, extend duration of breath, and to relax the performer. It also teaches better breathing posture.

– Cutest french horn section. I want to be there. Even their cases are drawn correctly. Attention to detail is amazing.

– Sectionals with trombones was great. All the details were there. The audio reflected how they didn’t have any of their entrances lined up, and the slide positions were correct. This was ALSO reflected in the visuals. The difference in breath and slide positions were all there. Notice how each of the performers moves to slide position 3 (middle-c) at a slightly different time. If they showed more of the lower harmony players I could give more info on that too, however the framing cut their slide positions off.

– I find it funny that they have trombones with the rotor b-flat/f switch but aren’t using them.

– The repetition and metronome drilling is a common practice, especially in director run sectionals.

– Trumpets tuning to C (concert b-flat) is accurate in sound here. Correct C was used (the one above middle-c) and the fingerings were correct. I love the detail in their hand positions too! Each of them put thir ring finger in the third valve slide, while not all of them are using the right hand pinky-hook. The two players on the left are using it (which indicates that they use it to create pressure between lips and mouthpiece; a terrible habit and one that’s tough to break), while the player on the right it not, indicating that she’s got a much better embouchure.

– The tuning with the sharp girl was also spot on. “Listen for the waves and smooth them out till there’s no more”.

– One thing I was taught is that most EU countries have different tuning standards and tend to be more sharp than other parts of the world, typically tuning 3-10 hz higher. The trumpets here are more at the 466.16 hz standard commonly used. The girl who is sharp comes in super sharp (like maybe 10-13 cents). Taki-sensei was being nice when he said it was just a bit, haha.

– Most depressing tuba long notes ever lol. Long notes are the standard for how beginners learn because before they can even add dexterity, they need to learn how to make consistent sound and airflow with the instruments.

– Kumiko’s dissatisfaction with her playing and needing to fix things is great. It really shows how much she cares.

– Other people talking about how band is hardcore is also something i’m familiar with. Watching Taki-sensei crap on her was great. It’s not uncommon to hear band directors talk like that, especially with really bad performers. The way he holds them to the standards they want is just fantastic, and he is such a realist with delivering on those expectations.

– The tuba/euphonium tuning was hilarious. Just watching her struggle to match Kumiko was great!

– Mouthpiece washing is something EVERYONE should do CONSTANTLY. So much gunk gets in there and negatively impacts sound production and airflow!

– Putting her tuba down by the bell is not the best way to do that for them, however it is not uncommon. Typically they should be laid on their side, though younger players don’t always understand this.

– Solfege for bands is an interesting practice. Most of the time I tend to use numbers where vocalists always use solfege. A common rehearsal technique is to get each section to sing their parts. It’s not only super fun, but it helps get everyone to focus on an ideal better, because you are infinitely more dexterous with your voice than your instruments.

– The C tuning note was also correct. The boy in the group was basically singing a half-step lower, heh. While A is a great pitch, it’s what orchestras tune at, not band!

– Being able to visualize and internalize what you want to hear before you play it is a great teaching technique that helps break mental barriers and gives a better subconscious understanding of the sound you need to produce. The concert b-flat tuning sound is also the correct pitch used, and the correct register used in an overwhelming majority of tuners.

– A sound visualizer is also something many people use. It allows you to see the harmonics and the focus of sound with each harmonic. Each instrument is playing their proper register tuning note. Notice how he mentioned the F when the pitches are together. To my trained ears, that was something easily heard. The mathematical equation and it’s relation to the physics of the construction of brass instruments are fundamentally intertwined, as it’s the basis for all the open valved pitches on brass instruments and their physical construction. It’s a fundamental law of sound and instrument design and sound physics, so to see Taki-sensei mention it here shows that his knowledge is totally there. Just intonation is also relevant to the ratios of pitch to harmonic frequencies, and is much better than equal temperament (e.t. is an outdated tuning system and is rarely used unless you are attending or performing in a period instrument ensemble).

– For a little rundown of the harmonic series, it’s importance, and why it’s relevant to this scene, check out this link, and also this one.

– Watching them talk about the flutes was funny. That information always spreads like wildfire in bands.

– Thinking about it, it was kind of weird that the euphoniums and tubas were in sectionals together. Typically it’s either all sections alone, tubas alone and trombones+euphoniums, or all of the low brass together. That the trombones were singled out shows how bad they were and how much help they needed. To count the euphoniums in the “bass” section was kind of funny to hear, since they are definitely considered a tenor voice in common-practice band orchestration.

– For his first time advising a concert band, Taki-sensei is an outstanding dude. Also Reina speaking freely is just great to hear, as there’s always someone like that in every section! I love how frank and serious she is when it comes to music.

– She’s so fucking right in that she’s awesome, and it’s nice to see someone recognize how effective and appropriate his methods are! She knows he’s fucking great, and won’t let anyone talk crap about him! Reina, you just became my favorite!

– Dat alto card. More correct tuning pitches and instruments here!

– Younger siblings following older siblings is majorly common in bands. It’s not uncommon for them to end up in ensembles together.

– I love the little touch of Kumiko doing the breathing exercises from earlier during the PTC scene too! See, his methods are working!

– That scene with Reina and Kumiko was super cute and felt really genuine. Loved it.

– Those bad lip slurs! It’s hard for newer players to smoothly connect the sounds without any break. Midori with her bass can’t sustain that because of how string instruments are played, so they usually opt for longer bowings to emulate that. Trombones also can’t do this because of their slides, so they play with an extremely legato tongue to mask the fact that they can’t slur pitches not in the same harmonic series or slide position (with or without thumb trigger). A side-note to this; if you’ve ever wondered why they have thumb triggers on the trombones and double french horns, it’s to change their functioning harmonic series and instrument basic pitch. While a french horn is a horn in f, with the trigger down it becomes a horn in b-flat (uses the second set of tubing on a double french horn, look up natural horn and their crooks system to see why this is relevant). Some notes have better tone color on the b-flat side of the horn compared to the f side, and is more commonly used on the higher notes because the b-flat tubing is shorter, which means less air distance traveled for notes to come out, a tighter spot in the harmonic series, which means it’s easier to play higher notes. Trombones use their trigger to play higher notes, switch to an f horn from a b-flat horn as their range is much lower than that of a french horn. The f-side tubing on a trombone is shorter in this case, which allows them easier high notes because of the more compressed harmonic series on that side of the instrument.

– Haha, “are you giving birth?” The way Asuka corrects this is indeed a proper pedagogical technique. A lot of practice off the horn and mouthpiece only (a brass only technique) is effective in teaching because it allows the player to focus on the correct lip tension, vibrations, and airflow to get the correct pitches out, without the distraction of having to press the vales first. It’s basically like the intermediary step between singing your notes and playing them on the instrument, and really helps nail down efficiency.

– Taki-sensei’s teaching methods worked. To hear Kumiko talk about how it became a unifying method for them shows that he got inside their heads and got them to do exactly what he wanted. This is further shown in the next scene!

– Yeah, him not using a baton is weird, especially for a concert band. Some directors only use them for performances, but only choral directors usually use their hands to conduct exclusively. The ictus that they mention is the point at which you indicate a beat of the meter and change to the next one in time. Google “conducting ictus” for some examples of conducting patterns for certain meters. As someone who took conducting classes for a year, I can definitely say that it is much harder than it looks, especially when you begin to do independent actions with each hand. To focus on the ensemble, guide them, conduct them, facilitate all the details in the score, and keep them in-tempo is a really tough job, regardless of how easy it may look. Being a good conductor is a hard fucking job.

– That clarinet cleaning rag is back. Wooo! You have no idea how happy I am to see that.

– This is beautiful. That short puff of air into the trombone you saw/heard while he tiled down and forward? That was him emptying out his spit using his spit valve. Same goes for Kumiko.

– Yet again, staring with the clarinet tuning, moving down in register from flute to bass clarinet, then to brass from trumpets down to tuba, then to the string bass is some really great attention to detail in the sound design.

– Well-done band! And they’re much better in tune this time too!

– Ahhhhhhh, they sound so much better and DAT INSTRUMENT PLAYING SAKUGA HHHNNNNNGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. The way the valves are pressed and released, the way they breathe, the bass hand positions, the vibration of the strings after she plucks (this is a march after all), the cymbals girl (using correct march technique), the bass drum girl, the instrument playing positions (all are slightly different and show the slight differences between how players hold themselves, the flute fingerings and embouchure, the french horn hand positions and bell holding shot (holding on the inside as they likely would at this stage!), the eye positions and focus, the body posture in the chairs coupled with body movement while performing, the trombone slide positions, the conducting… SO GOOD KYOANI ARE SOME GODS HERE.

– The french horn girl grabbing her mouthpiece ready to throw it was funny.

– You’ll also notice all of their music is correct to each part too! Someone went in and designed all the accurate sheet music for each part. You can see this on their stands that each instrument part is unique. The tempo and part names are all there too, as well as equal spacing for all of the systems, even in these panned out shots where it’s tougher to see. Woah.

– I love how Taki-sensei held his hand at the end of the piece, to indicate they should stay silent and keep their instruments at the ready. They all follow suit and remain as they should given his direction.

– You can see on Reina’s face that she knew they did it right. That sigh of relief.

– I love the way Taki-sensei sweats them out after too, just to see if they realize if they know what they just did.

– They’re all scared and he knows it! The way he says it’s acceptable while still saying there’s much work to be done is perfect for getting them to keep improving. I almost wish he played them a recording of their last reading so they could be ashamed of what they were doing.

– Also that practice schedule is great. Yes, rehearsals and the time dedication needed really is that intense almost all the time.

– Taki-sensei’s encouraging words are just great. This dude is a fucking great teacher.

– I’m pretty sure that I would pay good money for some of the keyframes of the instruments they drew. The detail in the lighting and reflections of the instruments, coupled with how they’re all accurately drawn is a dammed miracle. I’d love to see the instructions for lighting and the keyframes for this stuff badly.

Another really great episode again, chock-full of so much goodness! Easily the best show Kyoani has put out, this is a massive labor of love with an unparalleled attention to detail. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so well put together as this show, getting all the minuscule details so right all the time. I know not a lot of people can notice all these small details, but for someone like me I find it ridiculously impressive that so much research went into getting everything so accurate down to the smallest details in both visuals and sound design. I don’t think i’ll see another detail oriented work on this level of quality again in my entire life. Simply amazing.

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