Air Speed.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by dbacon, Dec 6, 2003.

  1. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    When playing the trumpet many players actually use too little air. It is
    necessary to strike a balance among air volume, air speed, sound volume,
    tone, and range. This is done by controlling the amount of air you supply
    at the lip aperture and by controlling the size of the aperture. Playing
    low requires a more relaxed aperture with a relatively large volume of slow
    air. As you go higher you need to increase the air speed, reduce the
    aperture (to reduce the vibrating area of the lips), and increase the speed
    or the air. I think many players simply close down the aperture which
    reduces the volume of air flowing.

    I believe that, in order to make playing the higher notes easier, you must
    increase both the volume and speed of the air in order to support the
    embouchure properly. If the embouchure is not supported properly, you will
    start to make accodations in your playing to be able to play the notes.
    Then, the embouchure is not in control. Playing higher should give a
    feeling of control similar to that felt in the mid register (in the staff).
    For example, I think many people (myself included sometimes) have a tendency
    to close off the throat when not providing the proper support. If you start
    using more air, your embouchure does not have to be as small which means
    that you don't have to use quite as much air pressure (which can give you
    those head rushes when you play high). Air speed is controlled by the
    volume of air being pushed through the aperture and the aperture size. The
    smaller the aperture, the higher the air speed. So, use more air and in
    order for it all to get through the opening, it has to go faster.

    Analogy with a garden hose works for me. If you turn on the water just a
    little it will almost fall out of the end of the hose. If you then increase
    the volume of water coming out (open the valve more), it will squirt out
    farther. In other words it has more energy. If you close down the aperture
    with a small flow, it will squirt out a little ways. If you close it down
    with a larger flow, it will squirt out much father. For the same opening
    size, the water has to move faster to get through the opening if the volume
    is high. Without sufficient air volume, the aperture has to be small to
    obtain sufficient air velocity. This leads to a weak sound since less of
    the lips are vibrating.

    I like to start at about the top of the staff increasing the volume of air.
    When you do this, you can use a slightly larger aperture for each
    increasingly higher note than you would use if using less air. Opening the
    aperture keeps the tone and volume down (doesn't let the tone go to the next
    partial while playing softer). Increase the air even more as you go up.
    Now, instead of reaching a very small aperture size at lower notes, you get
    to that size at higher notes. The upshot is that you still have adjustment
    room in your embouchure for the higher notes. If you don't provide enough
    air, you will reach a point where it is very difficult to get higher notes
    because you have already got your aperture very tight before you get there.
    The result can be either a buildup of too much air pressure (Head Rush
    time), use of mpc pressure, and/or closing off of the throat in an attempt
    to play the high notes. Closing off the throat is (I think) an attempt to
    increase the air speed by trying to make the throat smaller than the
    embouchure. I don't think this is possible and for me, the result is a very
    weak tone lots of pressure.

    This whole concept of using your tongue level to change air speed is very
    cumbersome for me. I don't see how it is possible to increase air speed
    when the aperture at the lips is a smaller aperture. The air speed is
    controlled by the smallest aperture in the system which is the lips in this
    case. If you increase air speed and then send it into a chamber (the rest
    of the oral cavity) that is larger, the speed decreases. Then at the lips,
    it increases again. I think the tongue level thing has more to do with
    resonance and the resistance that we feel when we are off resonance. (Just
  2. camelbrass

    camelbrass Mezzo Forte User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Dubai, UAE

    This is a great forum and your contributions are absolutely magic. I must admit the whole tongue arch thing really confuses my playing, so I've decided to ignore it and keep my tongue where it feels natural (which means I pretty much ignore it when playing above the staff, except when sluring).

    I've had much more success concentrating on apeture size, increasing air speed and keeping the embouchure relaxed. The apeture control point is pretty much whats Pops McLaghlin talks about with his lip set point (he suggests G on top of the staff), so that anything below and the apeture is actually relaxing.

    Air support is the key..if you can't breath well you're gonna struggle. Again I'm no expert but it all seems to be coming together nicely.


  3. Horn of Praise

    Horn of Praise Pianissimo User

    Nov 1, 2003
    United States
    I agree with Trevor (camelbrass). I'm waiting for the day when someone asks me "When you play, where is your tongue"?

    My answer will be "In my mouth". :lol:

    I would never consciously "manipulate" my tongue in such a way as to hinder air flow. I made a "little leap forward" this week with my breathing. Like I said in another thread...air works.

    Be well.
  4. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    Nothing else works, if the air isn't!
  5. Gnostic

    Gnostic New Friend

    Oct 24, 2003
  6. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    An exceptional post, David. Thank you.
  7. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    > supposed to happen here. If you push a larger volume of air though, then
    > aren't you speeding up the air flow?

    Not necessarily. You shouldn't confuse air volume with speed. You can
    push more air through your horn but not have it go any faster simply by
    increasing the aperture size. By contrast, you can push the air through
    faster without necessarily increasing the amount (volume) of air. The best
    example I can give is a reverse example. We've all played with a water
    hose at some point in time in our lives. When you really wanted to squirt
    someone you'd put your thumb over the opening and really get some distance
    on it, right? And all without having to go back to the spigot and turn the
    water on even more. The same principle holds true here. If you push the
    same amount of air through your horn but decrease the size of your aperture,
    you're increasing the speed of the air flow but not the volume. The end
    result is being able to play a higher pitched note.

    If you keep the aperture the same size but increase the amount of air
    (volume) you get the same end result, a faster air stream resulting in a
    higher note.

    If you increase the amount of air (volume) and increase the aperture
    (thereby reducing resistance) you get a louder sound of the same note. If
    you decrease the amount of air (volume) but keep the aperture the same you
    drop in pitch.
  8. keigoh

    keigoh Pianissimo User

    Oct 24, 2012
    nice post! very helpful.

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