THE HEROICA BRASS INSTRUMENTS
The Trumpet, Flugelhorn and Piccolo
Playing Trumpet means daily practice routine of several hours, not only to master it technically but also to train lips, mouth muscles and respiration for endurance. The Piccolo Trumpet has a shorter tube length then the Trumpet and this makes playing the high tones (high register) more easy. It is the highest sounding of all the brass instruments. An other of the Trumpet-family-instruments is the Flugelhorn, a little bit wider then the Trumpet, the Flugelhorn has a slightly softer tone and is easyer to play in the low register. The Trumpet is shurely the best known of all the brass instruments and is not so hard to be found in Colombia, but for the Piccolo Trumpet or the Bugle one has to search in US or Europe.
It's main characteristic is its possiblity to slur tones without interruption. It's sound lies somehow between the Tuba and the French Horn. It reaches a little bit deeper then the French Horn but less high. The Trombone was one of the first brass instruments, regularly used in Venecian renaissance music. Gabrieli for example composed much of his pieces for Sackbuts (the Sackbut was the predecessor of the Trombone). Like every brass instrument the Trombone needs hours of daily practice not only to technically mastering the instrument but also the body itself, the lips, the mouth's muscels and the whole respiration system have to be trained for endurance and control. The Trombone is not that easy to be found in Colombia like the Trumpet, but there are ways to get one.
The French Horn
The French Horn is the less "brassy" sounding of the brass instruments (visit the horn recording page of our horn player), it has a tone characteristic between Woodwind and Brasswind, therefore it often serves as a connection between the two. It is one of the most difficult instruments because of the wide range from deep to high tones, the short proximity of natural "harmonic" tones and its flexibility in tone characteristic. The player uses his hand in the bell to correct intonation and change the tone characteristic. No one is selling French Horns in Colombia (and seriously selling means having at least 3-5 different instruments in stock for trying). Professional teachers can be found only in two or three of the biggest cities. So it is no surprise that most people in Colombia do not even know what a French Horn is – but at least in Cartagena the people should know it because they sing about the horn (trompa) in the first phrase of the city's hymn.
The contrabass BBb Tuba is the deepest sounding of the brass instruments. It sounds so deep that it even can replace a chirch's organ. This is also an instrument that is not beeing sold in Colombia as there are very few people using it. School orchestras and bands instead use the Sousaphone, an instrument that is built mainly for marching music and that can be found more easely. The Sousaphone has its bell directed to the front, the main tubes winded around the players body and its sound is somehow more rude, while the Tuba stands vertical and it's bell is directed to the upside with a sounding characteristic that has much more flexibility and warmth so it even fits into a chamber-music group.
Heroica Brass is proud to present the only 4/4 size contrabass BBb Tuba in the whole city of Cartagena.
This was a really economic tuba, therefore we were a bit sceptical about if it really would be good enough for us. But used Tubas in this price range often have too much damage and we could not risk paying expensiv shipping for something that may be inoperable, so we took the smaller risk buying a new BBb Tuba from TubaMM Fort Lauderdale USA.
Getting this Tuba to Cartagena was a story of its own. We had a big problem with the shipper. Somehow this task got to BAX Global and they failed completely. They did not inform us correctly about the status of the transport, letting us beliefe the Tuba stays in Bogota already and letting us do paperwork that they should have done, only to tell us after 3 weeks that the instrument is still in the USA. After loosing a lot of time searching an other shipper, we contacted Avianca Express - Deprisa Boxin Miami and they brought the cargo in 5 days from Miami to our door, without any paperwork and for the half price of what BAX Global was billing (ATTENTION: Deprisa Box since its called Flybox in 2008 its service has become problematic, we have lost things and everything goes very slow now). In this whole process our contact person Michael Bassichis from Tuba M&M was very patient and helpful. He may be too very short writing in his mails, but he is reliable and gave us a great service. Thank you Michael.
As for the M&M 2A BBb Tuba, it revealed itself as an acceptable deal. It has a wonderful sound and the intonation is very good. We can not say yet about how long lasting the crafting quality is, and of course we can not await the same quality as from a 6000$-Tuba. So far already after some days the levers did change colours so we placed some adhesive film on them. 6 months later it is clearly shown that the laquer is of bad quality or simply not even sprayed, already after 2 months it showed dark spots of oxydation, how much of the problem comes from our environment of ~30° and high humidity is not shure, but we have other instruments here, from custom made to cheap chinese horns and none of them has that problem. We then began to store it in a specially dry place, but the oxydation continues and will eventually make it necessary to relaquer the instrument within 2 years or so. The valves are heavy, either the levers go strong or if we loosen the springs for more easy lever action the valves tend to stuck. As M&M informed us, their instruments are made in China upon their specifications, copies from German built instruments. Anyway all that's important is it sounds good, and for that price it is an acceptable buy. Additionally it comes in a very nice case and has a standard mouthpiece included as also an instrument stand, gloves and straps. But I beliefe today I would probably decide to spend an additional 1000$ and buy a Cerveny tuba from Dillonmusic.
An important part of renaissance music is related to the popular music of that time, when the simple folk melodies were taken into chambermusic that was played at court. To make this more a dance music, percussion was added. Mostly they used only a tambourin or completed it with a drum. The drum we use is more flexible then a standard drum. It is a mix between the orchestra timpani and a drum, called Rototom. The Rototom is a tonal instrument that can change its tone very easely by simply rotate its outer frame. It plays more timpani-like with a feltstick, and more like a drum with the usual wood drumstick.