All things being equal, what gives each trumpet player his/her unique sound

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by coolerdave, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    okay .. if a trumpet gets it's sound from activating a standing wave and getting the horn to resonate and certain models horn are made the same .... then the two trumpets should actually sound the same ( same mp as well is used). In reality I sound basically the same on different horns.
    So how does this work?
    Is it when a player plays really relaxed and lets the horn do the work the trumpet will lose it's distinction between players?
    Is the inefficiency of the player what actually makes a horn sound unique to them?
    Is it the physical characteristics of a player that make each of us sound unique? Is the sound actually resonating in my lungs and causing an effect on the sound of the horn.

    As I practice being in tune with the trumpet and getting it to resonate I wonder if I am screwing with my tone. It really does nag me when I practice. So I do have a reason for putting this out to the group.

    JNINWI Piano User

    Apr 26, 2011
    Good thread Coolerdave ! :thumbsup:

    I knew I wasn’t the only one that has thought about this. I believe that it is all in the persons make-up, lungs, neck size, oral cavity, teeth and chops all have a specific resonance that is amplified through the horn, and no matter what horn you play you will still sound like….well…you. I have noticed that when I don’t feel good, like playing on a sore throat, I don’t sound the same. If you think about it when you have an infection in your throat for example, it will swell somewhat from the infection and this may change your resonance, hence you sound different, probably not enough for anyone else to notice but you will. I've also noticed that HOW I hold my tongue can change my sound. Just my opinion…
  3. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    I think it's a great question too.

    When we sing, everyone has a very unique sounding voice ..... Of course that has a lot to do with the differences in vocal chords. A person's voice is NEVER SET though, and can be changed. I've done this, with 2 years of expensive singing lessons from a great teacher. When we started the lessons, I had a bad to nonexistent singing voice, with a certain set of characteristics. Through a group of exercises, we were able to change many aspects of my singing voice, including how forward (or back) in the mouth I sing from and a certain "buzz" or "texture" to my singing. These things were hard at first but then got gradually easier, and finally they settled into my voice and have become "permanent". All of the mechanics to do this are centered around muscles in the mouth and what you do with them. Change those things (for singer or trumpet player, and you change your tone). Add the lips vibrating and lung power and voila!

    That's my take on it. Higly valuable observations, they are worth AT LEAST what you paid for them.:lol:

    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  4. Dave Mickley

    Dave Mickley Forte User

    Nov 11, 2005
    I know from experience that your oral cavity has an effect on your sound. my sound has always leaned towards the bright side and even changing equipment would only alter my sound for a short time and then my sound would return. about 6-7 years ago I lost a crown out of my brige and had to get a partial plate in the lower left side of my jaw. all of a sudden I had a fuller tone, no other changes to my equipment or approach to playing. I still have a bright tone but it is fuller now and am now getting more positive comments to my sound. I will add that I get more of a different sound with different equipment now that I never got before, go figure.
  5. Satchmo Brecker

    Satchmo Brecker Piano User

    Jul 19, 2010
    Good question, but to be honest I don't think there's that much tonal (not talking about stylistic differences!) variation for trumpet, or any brass for that matter. Obviously there's some, but it's pretty subtle compared to sax for example. For example, the difference between Paul Desmond and John Coltrane is 100%. They almost sound like two different instruments. Same with say Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon compared to Michael Brecker and Phil Woods. In the saxes case there really is a huge difference in the physical possibilities, like reed strength, metal vs reson/plastic mp, horn, neck, etc. That's not to say anything negative about trumpet at all, 'cause I'm learning it and loving it. I think it's just the nature of the beast.
  6. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    It has as much if not more to do with your brain than it has to with your equipment or physical specs. We get a concept of what we want to sound like and almost always revert back to that sound.So an a equipment change might give you a little darker or brighter tone,but you will still sound like you. Your tone or sound is your trumpet finger print. A lot of times I can identify a player after hearing only one or two notes.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  7. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    Gee, I think there's a lot of tonal variation among trumpets/players. A friend tried out my Getzen Severinsen, playing something from Arban's, and it sounded like a baroque instrument (playing Bach). Later, the same day, I had a lesson and my teacher, who plays a Mt. Vernon Bach, sounded like half a classical horn section, with a huge, rich and considerably darker sound. And later, yet, that day, I managed to make my trumpet sound like a duck with a head cold. :lol:

    That's a lot of tonal landscape.

  8. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    I forgot to ask if getting the trumpet to sound was like wetting your finger in water and rubbing it around the rim of a wine glass,
    " a duck with a head cold" .. now that's a description I hadn't thought of
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  9. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

    May 14, 2011
    Hawaian homey
    OK, because of its esoteric vs. scientific basis, some likely aren't going to like this answer, more perhaps will not respect it, but I truly believe that the body follows the mind. In this context, the sound follows the inner mind/soul. Somehow, the sound you have in your inner ear - if it is absolutely real to you - will guide whatever physiology responds to form your sound.
  10. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    Tone is personal and unique like a fingerprint. It is formed partially through the natural way you learned and blow, part through your inherent physical characteristics and partially through your life experience outside of music, ie your DUES paid.

    It took me forty years to realize I had a sound specific to myself. I generally only hear from recorded tone or monitors played back on stage. Or when playing a new trumpet. this is because I'm so used to sounding like "Local" that I can't hear my personal sound.

    One kid I know has a very special personalized tone. I tell him he's lucky except that he's stupid too. Home boy doesn't practice enough to develop his gift.

Share This Page