# 2 4 Is Same As 2 X 4 In Math Euphonium Valves – Three, Four, and Compensating Set Ups and Making Sense of Them All!

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## Euphonium Valves – Three, Four, and Compensating Set Ups and Making Sense of Them All!

Brass instruments, in their simplest form, are simply pipes. At one end, a musician buzzes his lips to create sound, which leaves the instrument at the opposite end. Any tube (even garden tubes as demonstrated on YouTube) can produce wide ranges. These intervals are dictated by the harmonic series, commonly called the partial series by brass musicians. To make the notes sound between the partial series, the player must have a way to change the length of the instrument’s tube. Some instruments, such as the trombone, have a movable slide, while others, such as euphoniums, baritones, trumpets, and French horns, have valves to change the amount of tubes through which air flows.

A valve is a device in many instruments that redirects airflow to a separate section of tubing before returning to the main tubing. While depressed, this “extra” tube is in use, thereby increasing the length of the working tube and lowering the tone. On almost all modern horns, the valves work the same way: the 2nd valve lowers the pitch by a half step, the 1st valve lowers the pitch by a whole step (two half steps), and the 3rd valve lowers the pitch by a step steps and a half (three half steps). If there is a fourth valve, it will lower the pitch by two and a half steps (5 half steps).

However, there is a small flaw with the valves. The 2-3 valve combination will be slightly sharp, the 1-3 combination will always be quite sharp, and the 1-2-3 combination will always be very, very sharp. Let’s explore why this phenomenon happens.

Now you’re probably wondering how instrument makers know how many tubes to add to get the tone down a half step. And if you’re not, I’ll still tell you! Due to acoustic theory, to lower the pitch by a half step, the working length of the instrument must increase by approximately 1/15, or 6.67% of the working length. For the purpose of explanation, I will use an instrument that is 100 inches long (which is actually about the length of a euphonium). This means that the second valve must be 100/15 or 6.67″ long in order to lower the pitch a half step. Now to lower it a half step further, add 106.67/15 or 7 .11″ so the first valve should be 6.67″+7.11″ or 13.77″ long. Now let me explain that last statement, as it may have discouraged some of you. The reason the first valve would not simply be 2 (6.67″) is that to lower the pitch by a whole step, there must be enough tube to lower the pitch a half step (6.67″) and then enough tube to lower it. throw a half step (7.11″). This same theory applies to the third valve and produces a length of 21.36 inches.

The formula for the theoretical tube length, TL, required to reduce a given number of half steps, x, for an instrument of length, L, is TL = L (16/15) ^ x. Example: 100″ instrument going down 3 half steps: TL = 100(16/15)^3. TL = 21.36.

Thus, instruments with valves are configured so that each valve, individually, is in tune. Problems arise when players have to use combinations of valves to adjust the pitch by more than three half steps. As can be seen from the calculations above, each time another half step is added, the working length must increase more than the previous increase. Using the example of a 100″ instrument, the third valve increases the length to 121.36″ to produce a pitched note three half steps below the original pitch. To lower the tone a half step beyond that note requires 8.09″ of tubing. However, since the length of the second valve is only 6.67″, this combination will be slightly sharp. This problem only compounds and in the 1-3 and 1-2-3 combinations, the shortfall between the actual length and the “tuned” length is 2.94″ and 5.04″ respectively. As you can see this creates quite a problem, in fact the 1-2-3 combination is about a sharp fourth step!

The 4th valve solves some problems and adds others. The fourth valve adds 38.08 inches of tubing in the case of our 100″ instrument. This is a replacement for the 1-3 combination as the fourth valve has the correct amount of tubing to fit. Of the same way, the 4-2 combo produces a sharper tone than the 1-2-3 since it’s only about 2.54″ of tube short of the theoretical length. That’s great, now we have the seven common combos relatively tuned, right ?This is true, however, this 4th valve allows access to a range that three valve instruments cannot reach. When combinations with the 4th valve are used, euphoniums can reach notes such as D below the staff, note which is not possible with three valves. the curse of the 4th valve. When the 4th valve is used in combination with other valves to reach those low notes, the problem described above is further compounded. To lower the tone a whole step after pressing the 4th valve should make 19.02″ added to m is the length of the 4th valve. Normally the first valve would lower the pitch a whole step, but do you remember the tube length of the first valve? 13.77 inches. Again, this problem gets worse as more valves are depressed. Using the 1-2-3-4 combination, which using the half-step definitions of the valves, should provide a B natural half-step above the Bb pedal. However, the tube length for a low natural B is 203.38 inches! The combined length of the four valves is only 173.22 inches… Just enough for a slightly sharp C! That’s right, this means that B natural is not possible (without the player’s lips) on a non-compensating 4-valve euphonium.

Four valve compensation system

So how do we explain all this lack of tubes when more and more valves are depressed? The answer is compensatory euphony. Compensating euphoniums pass air through a “double loop” when the fourth valve is depressed. This means that when the air leaves the fourth slide valve, it actually goes back into the valve block. In this second pass, there are smaller compensating loops that the air passes through, if the 1st, 2nd or 3rd valve is depressed in combination with the 4th valve.

The beauty of this system is that since the compensating loops rely on the fourth valve being depressed, the first 5 fingerings (2, 1, 3, 2-3, 4) remain unchanged, as their intonation is satisfactory However, as you go further down (2-4, 1-4, 3-4, 2-3-4, 1-3-4, 1-2-3-4) an additional compensating loop is added to each valve . This reduces the pitch of these fingerings to satisfactory levels.

The compensation system also has another added benefit: when playing below the staff, players can use conventional fingerings in addition to the 4th valve. For example, on a non-compensating euphonium, a player should play a D below the staff with 2-3-4 fingering. However, AD in the middle register is played with 3. With the addition of compensating loops, a compensating euphonium player plays a D below the staff by simply adding the fourth valve to 3.

Why does this seem so confusing?

At this point, your brain is probably spinning. This is fine because as a performer you don’t need to know why the compensation system works. You don’t need to know the math and acoustic theory behind what happens when you push the 1st, 3rd and 4th valves. A compensating euphonium does all the work for you. Solves intonation problems created by valves. To get compensating euphony, you don’t need to change from conventional fingerings when playing below the staff.

Look at a professional tuba, for example. These tubes can have five, six, even seven valves to play a low chromatic range! don’t you believe me Find a video of Mnozil Brass on YouTube and pause it on a close-up of the tubist. There are seven valves in his instrument! The fact is that compensating euphoniums provide a chromatic range with only four valves, while non-compensating instruments could accomplish this feat with just one or two additional valves.

Placement of the fourth valve

Check out a Yamaha YEP-321S and then a YEP-842. Besides the 842’s gold accents, the most obvious difference is the placement of the fourth valve. The 321S has its fourth valve next to the third valve; this arrangement is called online arrangement. On the other hand, the 842 has its fourth valve on the right side, at about the midpoint; this arrangement is called a 3+1 arrangement. In the case of in-line valves, the fourth valve is actuated with the right little finger. For instruments using a 3+1 arrangement, the fourth valve is actuated by the left index or middle finger. Using the fourth valve with the right pinky can be problematic when adding combinations like 2-4 due to the lack of strength in your pinky. Therefore, from a physiological point of view, a 3+1 system tends to be easier to operate, especially in fast passages.

All compensating euphonies are 3+1 (however, not all 3+1 euphonies are compensating), which provides an additional benefit. Euphoniums are tapered bore instruments, meaning the hole gets larger each time until it reaches the end of the bell. The exception is on valve slides (1-2-3 on all horns and 1-2-3-4 on non-compensating four-valve instruments) where the bore remains constant. By moving the fourth valve further down the horn, the bore can expand as it approaches the fourth valve. This additional expansion allows for a more general taper design and provides a more distinctive euphonium sound.

So, which euphonium is right for me?

Most students will start with a standard three-valve system. This makes the horn light, blows freely and doesn’t overcomplicate the horn. For beginners, the three-valve euphonium is the best choice, but as the player develops it should be upgraded. Most high schools will purchase four non-compensating valve “in-line” euphoniums for their students. A compensating euphonium costs much more and makes no difference in anything except intonation in the low register. When you buy a personal euphonium, if you know you’ll never need the offset register, you don’t need to pay the extra money. However, I would suggest getting a compensating horn if for no other reason than that it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. As for valve placement, I’ve found that most people prefer the 3+1 in-line arrangement. The 3+1 layout is simply much easier and more comfortable to operate.

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