I am in the process of orchestrating my score for a musical theater production. I want to use a Euphonium in my brass section (2 trumptes, Euphonim doubling on tenor trombone, and bass trombone). It's the right sound for the period (mid to late 19th century) and at some points I need the orchestration to sound a little like a marching band. At other times I need it to sound very majestic (hence the bass and tenor trombones). I have a couple of questions about Euphonium scoring.
- Every orchestration book that I own says that the lowest note in the Euphonium's range is two Es below Middle C. I am currently using Dan Dean's solo Euphonium library (imported and converted into Kontakt) the lowest note available is also two Es below Middle C. But according to Wikipedia, professional Euphoniums have a forth (compensating) valve that allows reaching the lower fundamentals. It would help me a lot to be able to go down to the second C or B flat below Middle C in some numbers. I could get a little more variety by taking the Euphonium significantly lower than the bass trombone -- maybe even have the bass trombone double on the tenor trombone, if necessary. (I'd probably have to use a tuba patch as a substitute for the Euphonium, for the time being). I'm just wondering if I shouldn't be using a tuba for my score instead. My gut tells me no. Most of the time, I want the Euphonium part between the Bass Trombone and the second trumpet. It has to a couple of steps into treble staff occassionally, too. But I don't want to write for a Euphonium with a compensating valve if virtually no one plays such an instrument. From time to time, in my career as an actor, I meet musicians who play in Broadway pits. A lot of the trombonsists double on the Euphonium for various shows. I never knew enough to ask how many valves their instruments have.
- My orchestration books all say that the Euphonium is used primarily as a solo instrument. But, in Broadway shows, where it is used this does not seem to be the case. In my score it replaces a part originally scored for the French Horn. I noticed that the horn part was very often confined to its lower range and that -- at least in the virtual instruments that I have been using -- it sounded a bit sluggish and muddy. At some point I realized that I had actually written a Euphonium part. It blends a little better when all the brass is playing (in 4 part harmony), it stands out well enough for the solo passages, and it is a little more solid on the attacks for the latter (which in my piece is a good thing). So I'm wondering how is the Euphonium normally scored in such an ensemble: a Broadway pit with only 3 other brass instruments, 4 woodwinds, and very small string and rhythm sections. Do you ordinarily try to make it blend with the brass, or keep it doing something different (i.e. counter point, answering phrases, etc.)? Do you ever want it to overlap the second trumpet and the trombone, as you sometimes do with a French Horn? Do you use it as a replacement for the French Horn as the bass or tenor voice in a woodwind tutti?
I'll do whatever I need to do to make the numbers sound right to me. But there are a lot of places where I am not sure exactly what I want or what will work best. I'd like to have some idea of what the normal practice is, so I can use that as a starting point.