Why do the Trumpets sit where they sit?

Discussion in 'Orchestra / Solo / Chamber Music' started by jcmacman, Feb 3, 2005.

  1. jcmacman

    jcmacman Pianissimo User

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    Dec 10, 2003
    SoCal
    Hi Manny.
    Just a little question of curiosity.

    I play in 2 concert bands and I was wondering why in concert bands, the trumpets are on the conductors left, but in the few Orchestra's I recall, they are seated on the conductors right? It was also like this when I was in High school and College bands.
    Is it because the Violins have more pull to make the trumpets sit away from them?
    Thanks
    John
     
  2. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Great question...

    I think it's because there's more of a natural void behind the violas and celli than behind the fiddles.

    There's a real opportunity for a mammoth zinger after a set up like that but I'll let it go.


    ML
     
  3. Mikey

    Mikey Forte User

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    Oct 24, 2003
    I believe the "natural void" you speak of occurs not behind the violas and cellos, but between them...............

    Between their ears, I mean...........


    :bleah:
     
  4. trpguyy

    trpguyy Piano User

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    Nov 26, 2003
    I think it all depends on the conductor's preference. I play in two different orchestras; in one, we sit in the back, dead center. In the other, we're more towards the violins (to the left of the conductor).
     
  5. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Speaking of which...

    Have any of you had the pleasure of playing Ein Heldenleben with the "Good Guys vs. Bad Guys" set up? I first did that with Slatkin shortly after I got into the orchestra. The Bbs were on the fiddle side and the Ebs were on the opposite side along with the tuba and euphonium. For me, this is the only way to do it! I think I may have only done it this way once since then and it was probably with Yoel Levy who conducted the SLOWEST battle scene I've ever played!

    As far as set up in general, it's true. Ultimately, the MD puts you wherever. I've sat in virtually every conceivable set up you can come up with. There are pluses and minuses in all set ups.

    ML
     
  6. jcmacman

    jcmacman Pianissimo User

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    Dec 10, 2003
    SoCal
    Interesting

    Thanks guys.

    john
     
  7. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    Why do trumpets generally sit back row, conductor left? Because conductors of bands are smart. They have figured out that the trumpets will always play correctly and so don't need the "personal attention" often given to the woodwinds. The added bonus from the conductor's point of view? With their bells pointed towards the floor, clarinets aren't a threat to the conductor's hearing and the mass of bodies provide a nice sound buffer between the conductor and the trumpets.

    The original question does, however, raise another point I've been meaning to ask. Within a trumpet section, how are the parts positioned? Single row or double row? 1/2/3/? ... 2/1/3/? ... 3/2/1? We used to be 1/2/3 but for the last year or so are now 2/1/3. The 1sts claim that they can better feel the balance of the section AND the rest of the band with that seating.

    We had one stage setting I can recall where the 1sts had to sit immediately behind 2nd and 3rd. Since I play 2nd I had the "pleasure" of getting an earful of what the poor clarinets have to deal with... having something between high C and double C at fff drilled through your head is not pleasant at all! Totally eliminates any chances of your own intonation being correct since you can't hear yourself!
     
  8. Mikey

    Mikey Forte User

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    Plexiglass shields................. :dontknow:
     
  9. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Toots,

    It should be 1-2-3.

    In a stage band you're not a section leader that is listening for what's going on 40 feet away from you. You're listening and leading from an epicenter of sorts. If the principal player of an orchestra, however, is in the middle of the section he'll be able to lead the trumpet section and little else unless the first trombone is directly behind.

    The principal trumpet, horn, and trombone are a brass trinity that needs to communicate based on what they hear in other parts of the orchestra. It's too difficult to do that from the stage band position. Surely, you're not suggesting we watch the conductor?!

    The horror... the horror.

    ML
     
  10. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    Most certainly NOT! We all know that the conductor has no idea of what the tempo should actually be; it is his job to simply wave the stick in time to the music that the trumpets are leading ... and maybe to provide a focal point for the audience ... which is why he gets to wear a jacket of a different color!

    :roll:
     

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