Sound! Euphonium – Episode 12

Try, try again. I believe in you Kumiko!

– Kind of a fun way to open with showing the passage of time. Rehearsal during the summer from morning to evening. Damn if that isn’t a lot of hard work for an ensemble, especially full of high-schoolers. Depending on where you study in high-school and the types of ensembles, the most groups I’ve been in have usually gone is about six hours at most! Wind players have their chops (lips, mouth muscles, etc) and endurance to worry about!

– Now this is cool. Taki-sensei recognizes a hole in the sound in what seems to be an important part. This could be because the rest of the ensemble is too loud, maybe the composer wrote the dynamics out of balance and Taki-sensei’s intuition as a conductor tells him to emphasize that part, or perhaps even that the contrabassist is not playing loud enough or her part could’ve had amplification indicated but they just don’t have the equipment.

– A contrabass in a wind ensemble is a common occurrence with more advanced music, but to compensate for lesser-funded schools, their parts are almost always doubled in something like the tubas by the composer. Sometimes a composer will also make recommendation for voice-doublings if they anticipate an instrument may not be available in an ensemble. If an ensemble has a contrabass, 99% of the time there will only ever be one.

– Kumiko can play her part because it’s written in the same concert pitch, and the contrabass parts are written an octave higher than they sound because it’s significantly easier to read the music when 95% of it is on the staff-lines proper. So Kumiko will double the contrabass part an octave higher. This kind of voice-leading allows the lower sound to travel more. A smart decision by Taki-sensei.

– The contrabass part seems easy enough for a string instrument because it’s a scalar ascending pattern. I wonder whether Kumiko will end up playing the passage at 158 tongued or slurred. Certainly, since the passage basically lives in tenor-clef range, she would likely slur, however that’s not the original intention of the composer in this section. I guess it would have to be the latter to maintain a uniform sound.

Click to see the finer details full size.

– I love the markings on the sheet music on these cuts. The key of the piece is B-flat Major, you can see the tempo marking at Rehearsal J, custom dynamics written in like the decrescendo at 157, the emphasis on circling dynamics (forte at 155), each measure after the left-most indication is numbered to facilitate faster rehearsal (“Hey start at 160, 167.” You don’t don’t have to wait for people to count or anything or for them to find the spot because it’s marked; a common practice), the 1/2″ G is in reference to using the G-string at 160 (the 1/2″ referes to the size of the string), and the dynamics (purple)/articulations (red)/measure numbers (green) are all color-coded.

– Gotou mentions the part too! So the lack of presence is the reasoning.

– … And Asuka is sight-reading that… and it’s tongued ( each note is detached versus being connected). RIP Kumiko.

– As Kumiko practices through the line, you can hear her lack of confidence. Weak air support (no diaphragm breathing), spitty-sounding tonguing, sloppy fingerings where the speed is making her fingers fumble over the valves trying to keep up with a tempo she clearly cannot play yet, missed notes, that weak ending… I don’t think Asuka will be mad, but I think she’ll expect it to be perfect the next time she hears it.

– I want that Tuba-kun polishing cloth.

– At least you can hear an improvement! Reina even says as much. It’s funny how Reina responds to Kumiko saying she wants to be as good as her though.

– I appreciate that the sound design reflects the space Kumiko is in. Being in a tall, cornered area while being outside really makes the sound travel in an odd way, and you can tell from the audio mixing that it’s a different space than the rehearsal room or the practice classroom.

– RIP Kumiko. It’s cool to see to what extent her determination has been changing all this time. Now everyone else is starting to see it too! I can totally relate to her feelings. When you see someone give it their best and improve, it really helps move you to want to accomplish that same thing too, especially in music! That following scene by the river was pretty nice.

– Taki-sensei for the win indeed. Aoi-chan is pretty honest, though you can hear a twinge of regret.

– Kumiko, haha. Taking it out.

– Sounds like it’s starting to come together finally! They’re almost there, so I hope they can do it!

– Taki-sensei is testing her resolve. It’s good to see Kumiko didn’t back down after being challenged so directly. I think she’ll do it. In the next scene it’s good that she mentions she can visualize and hear exactly what needs to be done. Getting over that mental hump is one of the bigger obstacles when overcoming a difficult section. The growth demonstrated in this scene shows how serious she is and how much she’s changed from the initial episodes. She sure sounds much better too.

– Reina is cool in this scene, having her part memorized! And her apology in the next scene was nice too. You can tell Kumiko had an effect on her. Natsuki’s teasing was funny too.

– Midori is taping her fingers because it’ll make it easier for her to play. Depending on the size of your fingers, the amount of calluses on your fingers, the speed of the piece, or your general level of comfort, taping is a common practice done by contrabass players.

– The horns are always the most impressive part of any piece, Taki-sensei (*insert smug face here*).

– I love the level of detail on the sheet music on every performer’s stand. Some have markings, some don’t, each section has different parts from the other sections while same instruments have the same parts. It’s a very minute detail, but significant in terms of being authentic.

– And remember when I said earlier that writing in the measure numbers facilitates faster rehearsal (making a much more effective use of limited time)? Check out speed in which Taki-sensei calls out a measure number, tells them to ready their instruments, and starts conducting. You think with the variability in parts, rests, and people that you could start that fast without everyone having that written in? Think again. You can tell he’s serious because he’s wasting no time, and expects the same out of the ensemble.

– Check out that detail in how he does his count-off with hand-conducting. Nice attention to detail in the contour and movement of his hands. Even before he starts conducting he signals their instruments to be at the ready with his right hand (while calling out a measure number with his hand open), while telling them to not yet play by keeping his left-hand low. Good awareness of conductor mannerisms and body language are on display.

– Even the xylophone animation is on the money. As a percussionist should, she starts the pattern with her right hand. The movement between notes is also accurate. From the long distance shot they even have minor details like this absolutely spot-on, which is impressive. The behind-the-back shot has her ending with the correct hands at the right time too!

– Shots. Fired. I hope Kumiko doesn’t back down. The severity of such a situation has at least dawned on Kumiko, and i’m glad she didn’t seem discouraged. She was shocked, understandably.

– Holy cow what an amazing scene, where she’s running. The frustration, disappointment, and release of inner-turmoil at working so hard just to be shut down for not being good enough… So good! The emotions in her voice and her body language are so damn good in this scene. Amazing. This whole scene is so cool! And the realization at the end is the icing on the cake.

– Band director getting yelled at sounds about par for the course when it comes from people who don’t understand how much hard work it is to run an ensemble! Taki-sensei is awesome.


– And when he tells Kumiko to keep practicing the part… It’s so hard not to get emotional when he drops that information on her. It almost made me teary-eyed!

Man, what an inspiring episode. It went far to show the struggle of what it’s like to not be good enough and how to overcome a challenge you aren’t immediately good enough to defeat. The mental states, the sheer amount of time and practice someone puts in, and the emotions from still not being good enough were so fantastically executed. This episode really built up and showed the development of Kumiko and her resolve over the series thus far, and to see the emotions that come with situations like the ones in the episode be so accurately portrayed and well-delivered was outstanding. It really hit close to home and felt extremely genuine that I found myself getting really emotional being all too familiar with similar feelings and experiences. I’ll probably cry next episode after their performance, haha.

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