Sound! Euphonium – Episode 11

The drama comes to a close, but is the resolution the one best for the band?


– Kaori sounding a little rough in practice. She sounds like she feels a little down both on the instrument and her tone of voice.

– The band is sounding much better in rehearsal though. A long distance ahead of where they were at the start of the season.

– Taki-sensei is doing normal rehearsal procedure here. First calling out a section he thinks is either doing poorly or has a part that the rest of the ensemble needs to pay attention to, then singling out either the weak link or best performer to exemplify the point you’re trying to get across. The look on Shuuichi’s face before he started playing tells me this is going to be a public execution.

– FYI Taki-sensei mentioned second-trombones here. For those that don’t know what this means… Most sections of instruments in ensembles have tiers of performers. 1st is usually for strongest players, 2nd, 3rd, and so on. The most i’ve ever seen was for 12 horns, but that was an orchestra piece. In a wind band at middle/high school levels, in a same instrument family the performers will have different parts. 1st trombones might have the melody while 2nd trombones may have an accompaniment part. Or (french) horn players double 1st and 3rd horns, and 2nd and 4th horns partially because their sound is projected backwards. Every section is different and has different standards they conform to.

– This is basically at the whim of what a composer wants to do with their music. You could have a section with three trombones that each play three different parts at all times. Or with clarinets double the 2nds and 3rds for countermelody, but have the 1sts be a all melodic parts. Everyone in a section has a responsibility, and is one of the main reasons why section leaders are even a thing. A section leader isn’t in charge of just one part, but multiple parts that have to work together in a single instrument family. So when a clarinet or flute section gathers to practice, they aren’t all necessarily playing the same thing. Their sound unit needs to be good and positively contributing their part to the music being made.

– And it’s way clear in the audio that his playing definitely does not sound good. It’s flaccid at best.

– Taki-sensei is calling him out on his performance. Yeah! Then the cut to Shuuichi and his shame. You can see it in his face, in the way he clutches his trombone, and his body language. He knows he got caught. You think, “Oh yeah, I can totally get away with not practicing this part.” and then this moment comes up in rehearsal and it feels bad. We’ve all been there at one point in time, and when they call you out to play for everyone, the feeling of dread knowing that you got caught feels sooooo bad.

– Kumiko likes the best weather temperatures confirmed.

– Yuuko, at this moment, knows it over. It only took one listen to Reina’s practice and she knew. The way she imposed on Kumiko seemed almost out of desperation. Then Kumiko follows up by doing the thing she always tries not to do, which is basically mind-dumping on the spot. “How could a first-year sound like that? It isn’t fair.” Reina is a force to be reckoned with. In this scene her playing sure does sound confident.

– Reina already knows she won.

– What’s cool with how this scene ends is that she changes up her practice method. You’ll notice that where the notes of the solo were connected before, they now sound more detached and you can hear the start/tonguing of each note. It’s a common practice technique that performers use to make sure that the lack of tonguing isn’t compromising the clarity of the passage. Usually slurs (a passage of flowing/connected notes that are played with a single breath with no interruption in air output) are an excuse for more amateur players to gloss over fingerings, even-ness of rhythm, and clarity of the presentation of each note. By detaching them and giving attention to each note, you eliminate your crutch and can hear your flaws way better.

– Asuka is clearly lying though. You can tell she doesn’t give a damn because it’s not her problem. She’s good at her part, and knows she is. Kaori, seeing through this asks the better question, and it’s clear Asuka knows the answer already. Watching her absolve herself seems a little cruel though, when her friend wants an answer. Though, Kaori seems to already know the answer.

– More drama of the past I see. How Natsuki snaps Yuuko out of this was funny when she hit the lockers. It’s engaging how the pressure and drama of this whole situation is being presented. Everybody is affected by it in some capacity, and watching the different people interact and how their personal agendas come into play because of this situation is well-done. This is band drama done in an engaging manner, and highly realistic in both presentation and scenario. I say this as someone who lived through a lot of this stuff! Auditions are a big deal, but solos make people get more crazy!

– The reserve band thing is pretty cool, and having them still practicing something is good! Hazuki buzzing without a mouthpiece is pretty good for someone who hasn’t been practicing too long. If she could control the pitch of the vibrations of her lips without a mouthpiece (to practice a song using your lips only) that’d be pretty advanced!

– Shuuichi is practicing! You get ’em! Could seeing his determination give rise to some more determination in Kumiko?

– This short intro to the scene where Kumiko is singing her part is actually using proper tonguing consonants for vocalizing your part. These consonants refer the way a performer uses their air and tongue to create sounds.

– Ta-ka is used for double-tongued passages (go to a metronome website and try evenly saying ta-ka, ta-ka, ta-ka at 120 bpm), while ta-ka-ta is used mostly for triple-tongued passages or compound time-signature pieces ta (go to a metronome website and try evenly saying ta-ka-ta, ta-ka-ta, ta-ka-ta, with each loud click/beep at 120 bpm). Other sounds are used of course, but usually the simplest ones are the most used, which are the ones i’ve listed above. Using the example above, you’d either being tonguing two times a beat, or three times a beat. While most pieces don’t have you tonguing that slowly, it should give you a good idea of what your mouth does when you perform. Some people can double-tongue really fast, some people can’t triple tongue, and some people can’t double-tongue very well. It depends on your body/physiology, and to some extent, a lot of practice and tongue/lip muscle building.

– Kumiko sings as so: da da dadaaa da-ga da da-ga da daaa da-ga daaa. Another example of consonants to use for tonguing, though more legato in nature.

– Yuuko surely wouldn’t ask her to throw this audition would she?

– *laughs*

– Reina knows that all she has to do is be better. That being said, I get why Yuuko was so passionate about this now. I get why Kaori was so affected by this. But if Yuuko were to have her way, the same injustice that Kaori was dealt would happen again, with different circumstances of course. I feel a little bad for her, but for the best performance, Cold-as-Ice Reina has the right attitude for people who take the art of making music seriously.

– Look at that nice hall. It’s funny how in the audio mixing they added reverb to their voices to further emphasize the space that they’re now in. It’s more wet in mix and reverberant compared to the dry, small band rehearsal room.

– Ah, setting up chairs for rehearsal. The least fun part of band, haha.

– Asuka is kind of a jerk. At the same time I totally get it. She’s pretty insightful and pretty blunt.

– But damn, Yuuko… It’s sad.

– Kaori’s determination is pretty inspiring here too.

– I’m glad Kumiko is honest here. Reina seemed a little shaken on what to do, knowing she’s in full control of this situation. The way Kumiko ends her outburst was hilarious because of how shy she got at the end of it. Them being real with each other and calling back to a previous episode was nice.

– Now it’s time. This is an interesting way to do a re-audition. Not a blind audition, and voted on by applause. I’m curious as to how the biases will come into play, or if any of the people in the audience will be able to tell the difference.

– The lightning in the shots between audience and stage are cool. When they pan up Kaori’s back, you can feel the intensity of the stage lights on her back, the difference in temperature between the stifling heat of the stage and the calm coolness of the audience. Those stage lights can make stage spaces get pretty hot!

– Before the first note, it was cool that they made the sound of her pressing the valves down. Trumpet players do this before they play their first note to ensure that their valves aren’t sticking (which is a normal occurence that is very annoying). To avoid sticky, non-moving valves you lube them up with the shockingly complex-named compound called… valve oil. It’s the only thing they can use on their valves because of the way the metal is (Horns use rotor oils because they have rotors, though I preferred the viscosity of sewing machine oil for my instrument!). Some players will also just do it as a nervous habit; think of when you’re about to do something you aren’t sure of, and you decide to double-check everything just because it calms your nerves. It’s that kind of tell.

– And before the first note, there’s the gulp and her lips are quivering. She’s nervous.

– Not a bad solo performance by Kaori. Some weak note beginnings and the harmonic series transition going from the high-G to the high-C (concert pitches F and B-flat), but not terrible. High-C is definitely up there in register for trumpet players, especially high-school students. Good job!

– Reina’s demeanor is totally different. Pure confidence, she doesn’t take a second to compose herself because she’s already composed. Based on approach and confidence levels, I feel like she’s probably going to win this.

– Holy. Crap. I legit got chills just from the opening phrase. The legato tongue that made the sound appear without a harsh beginning, the the way the first note is slightly accented then pulled back in volume, the purity of the sound, the timing of the use of vibrato, the less harsh timbre, the power of her timbre, the consistency of her air production, the strength of her tone, the smooth tonguing without loss of clarity… Based on even the first five seconds, hell, even the first note, i’d easily declare Reina the winner when comparing her rendition to Kaori’s. The differences are quite noticeable. Seems the audience noticed immediately too. It’s a whole different color of sound.

– Every note just sings so beautifully. Beautiful passage-work, slurs, and dynamics. It’s a starkly different performance compared to Kaori’s. Though Reina had the same issue Kaori did going from the G to C (tough harmonic series transition for trumpets), her rendition was much less obvious and much more controlled. Kaori simply played the part while Reina embodied it and brought it to life.

– Yuuko and Haruka voted for Kaori, though I figured Haruka would’ve been more partial to the better performance being the president. I get why she clapped. It’s her friend!

– The murmurs when Reina’s name comes up… Everyone knows it was the better performance. But they don’t seem intent on voicing their opinions. I’m glad Kumiko is clapping at least! All these people not picking sides… You can see it’s pretty rough when their brains know one thing but their hearts want another.

– And Kaori won based on applause from her peers. Reina seems sad by the outcome. I can’t believe so many of them didn’t vote!

-Kaori taking the high-ground here is super mature. Like wow. She knew which one was better, and that was huge of her to not be selfish even though she had the chance. The resolution of this showed a lot of character from everyone, and got me emotional with how it resolved. What great use of tension and release, and a great resolution to the whole situation.

– The way Reina’s eyes quiver as if she’s holding back tears when she says, “Yes.” really got me. You can really feel the emotion from this scene and how it resolved. Even I got misty!

– I really appreciated seeing how everyone’s personal character and motivations came out in a situation like this. It gave me a much better idea of the depth of a lot of these characters, and showed great insight into how the group dynamics of this ensemble is. It’s a good cast and they really show how complex a band microcosm.

Really really realllllllly good episode that had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. It felt real enough to get me very engaged with the episode that I could remember a lot of my own experiences and emotions with situations like these. In particular, the increasing dread in the pit of my stomach would not go away until the situation finally resolved at the very end. So good.

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