Band director (and myself) wants a darker sound out of me

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by RB-R37297, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. RB-R37297

    RB-R37297 Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    In band class today we were listening to the recording of the concert that we had a few nights ago and one of the things I got hung up on was my bright, almost nasally sound. It was especially prevalent during high passages (which, just my luck, were all over the place - yay, lead playing!).

    I spoke with my band director and she agreed that maybe my sound could stand to darken up a bit.

    Unfortunately, she's a clarinet player, and only generally knows how to make a trumpet sound darker. My jazz band director, a trumpet player, was out of town for a conference and my private teacher's in New York.

    I need some advice - what's a good way to darken up my sound? The only info I really have to go on is drop my jaw and think "OH" when I'm playing. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can make my sound darker on the "software" side of things?
  2. a marching trumpet

    a marching trumpet Mezzo Piano User

    Feb 11, 2009
    Murfreesboro, TN
    For me it took a long time, but I dropped my jaw and let loose alot of hot air sayin "ah" it took a bit for me to get used to it. Thats what I did anywho. Plus I opened up my lips alot.:play:
  3. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Some people can go dark or bright but my experience is that these people are few and far between. I play with a bright full sound and a RingMute helps darken up my sound a bit. I still sound like me, but with the brightness reduced.
  4. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    Nov 2, 2003
    Sounds like you are not really getting a true trumpet sound and probably have production issues causing the naselness.

    To me a bright sound means lots of overtones, dark sound means more fundamental to the sound. For you it sounds like bright means really on the high side of the pitch.

    One very easy solution I use for my students that are in high school. Pick up a 6th grade band book like essential elements. spend 20 minutes a day buzzing and playing the simple songs in the book along with the DVD that comes with it. You are working on matching pitch, intonation, and sound 100% with that dvd. IT will take a few weeks of doing this, but I am willing to bet if you buzz and hear the center of the pitch better it will help your sound a good bit.

    Also, record yourself at least once a week and list/compare your sound and progress. Nothing helps change your sound like listening to yourself play in a manner that sounds offensive on play back.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2009
  5. RB-R37297

    RB-R37297 Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Perhaps I'm being unclear. Let me clarify:

    I'm not high on the pitch most of the time (I definitely used to be, though) and I don't have any response issues or anything like that.

    My sound is just bright, and it should be darker. The "nasal" quality is a harsh descriptive word and the sound is not constricted, choked or anything like that. I'm just having a hard time coming up with a word that accurately describes the sound.
  6. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    Nov 2, 2003
    No, you were pretty clear, but perhaps I wasn't.
  7. mike ansberry

    mike ansberry Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Clarksville, Tennessee, U
    Play a G (second line) Slowly open your jaw until you completely lose the sound. Then slowly close the jaw until you are completely clenched. Keep repeating this motion going less far open and closed each time. Try to find the point at which you get the most resonant sound. When you find that point, hold the pitch there. The re-articulate on the same note with the same jaw setting. Do this up and down throughout your range. Find the jaw setting that gives you the best sound. Work to learn to use this setting all the time.

    My bet is that your jaw is too closed.
  8. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    I'm a little confused because of your other posts.
    I haven't heard you play and I don't know what your equipment is.

    Judging just by the above statement I would say that your not opening your body enough. Practice taking in a huge amount of air and then play without pushing it out. Just let the lungs deflate.

    It's sounds like you might be choking off a little with out even knowing it. This could cause you to play high on the pitch. Again, not realizing it.
    Big breath in, open your chest, let your body be part of the resignation (sp?).

    On the other hand, you might be playing a really shallow mouthpiece or the taper of the bell on the trumpet is made to produce a bright sound.

    The breathing thing will only help. It can't hurt your playing so, it's something to try until your teacher gets back.
    dizforprez likes this.
  9. RB-R37297

    RB-R37297 Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    I think this is probably spot on. I'm currently working on significantly decreasing the amount of tension I play with in my private lessons with my teacher, and it's affecting my intonation quite well - I play "into" the pitch more, rather than sitting on top of it as I used to thanks to a lot of tension in my upper body.

    My mouthpiece is a Bach 3C and I'm presently on a Getzen 300 Series, but my parents have told me that they're going to finance a pro horn for Christmas for me. (Woo hoo!). Either way, I'm mostly concerned with the "software" of this problem for me.

    My jaw is also fairly closed - there's about a finger's worth of space between my teeth. I'll look at the jaw-dropping mike recommended and see if that helps.

    Thanks to everyone for their advice.
  10. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    You won't change your sound in a day or a week. Listen to trumpet players who have the sound you want. The stuff you mentioned working on with your teacher sounds good. You're playing mainstream equipment, so listening and lyrical playing along with breathing and posture work should get you there eventually. Personally, I wouldn't mess with your jaw. Whatever's natural is probably best...and if you are doing anything odd, the breathing and posture may take care of it over time. Ask your teacher about it before messing with the chops. Any basic setup issues are best directed to him/her.

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