BREAKTHROUGH!!! (I have finally broken the embouchure code. I think.)

Discussion in 'Trumpet Pedagogy' started by Sabutin, Aug 7, 2009.

  1. Graham

    Graham Pianissimo User

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    Jun 8, 2008
    Melbourne, Australia
    Ok.

    Watched the videos and read what I could. I found the idea about applying the vocal overtone principles to trumpet playing very interesting. Forgive me if I'm misguided here, but in doing this application, and from what you demonstrated in your video, i get the understanding that one can emphasize various partials in a tone that one is playing by manipulating the oral cavity.

    As far as tone production goes, and with the extreme ranges (as I heard in the clips) of brass playing, how can I apply the principle to playing those extreme notes? When I try these ideas, it tends to just colour the sound.

    Is this approach to this particular aspect of brass playing an exercise in colouring one's tone, or tone (as in "note") production at the extremes?

    I understand what you're getting at with the overtone singing (I've been singing for a living since I was 8) and have had a fair amount of practise in it, I just can't seem to get any overtones as such out of my horns. I can get a little partial emphasis in the resonance of my trumpet sound, and nothing at all on my trombone, short of singing into the damn things LOL!

    Should I be able to get the notes to pop out with time?


    _________________________
    *OFF TOPIC ALERT*

    Just on the off-topic stuff, to everyone INCLUDING Sabutin, it would be greatly appreciated if arguing could be put in a separate thread. I really don't see how Sabutin talking about Einstein's string-playing is applicable to the topic, nor Rowuk talking about living in Germany and attending masterclasses a lot are of ANY VALUE to the topic at hand.

    I do NOT wish to see 12 more pages of people reacting to this post with MORE GARBAGE, but it would be nice if we could keep posts RELEVANT. (Perhaps a mod can trim the off-topic posts?)
     
  2. Sabutin

    Sabutin Pianissimo User

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    New York City
    That is certainly a part of the idea, Graham, but really, we all do that in an almost totally unconscious manner and it works quite well that way. In a sense, that is what the Arnold Jacobs "Song and Wind" approach is all about. Hear the music "musically", put some good air behind your playing and the whole system will almost automatically produce the "right" sounds. I mean...billions of human beings in uncountable languages and dialects make a near-infinity of sounds come out of their resonance systems every second of every day without a single thought as to "how" they are doing it, don't they? And we brass players are by and large no different in our brass playing. We hear Bud Herseth's "musical", Miles Davis's "musical", Maynard Fergusons's "musical", etc. and (with a little help from our own natural physical setup and a little more from choosing certain equipment) out comes a particular timbral palette.

    Eventually...if we are lucky...we begin to hear our own "musical" and then there we jolly well are, aren't we. Playing like ourselves.

    What i am doing is a little different than that. I am...in the practice room...trying to find a way to tune up that resonance system so that it is more in tune with any given set of equipment. When that happens, everything works better. Range, sound, endurance, flexibility, attacks, articulations...the works. And when that tuning-up becomes habitual, when it has been internalized...then on the bandstand or in the concert hall? Watch out!!!

    Like I said...when you become more in tune with your equipment, extreme things happen.

    The main title of my most recent book is Time, Balance And Connections. If you can get in better balance with your equipment then your connections with it become better, and I use Carmine Caruso's idea of good, internal time as the linchpin of all physical learning as the way to best master anything and everything that you wish to learn on the horn.

    Any horn. Any instrument, actually.

    Now this overtone thing is not part of that book. I wrote the book last year and I ran into the overtone idea less than two months ago. But the approach can be applied to any way that any individual practices. Are you an Arban's practicer? Great. Tune yourself up with the instrument and then go attack the Characteristic Studies. A Colin flexibilities guy? Thibaud? Stamp? Maggio? Got your own approach? Great. Tune yourself up to the horn and watch what happens. Everything seems to get more efficient. Almost immediately.

    Both. And more. Much more.

    Well...maybe you're not listening in the right way. Or in the right places. Or maybe the room in which you are playing is very dead. Because the overtones are most definitely there, and so are the formants...the more emphasized overtones...that define the sound of your instrument. I have had people tell me this before..."I just don't hear any 'overtones', Sam!!!"...right after they have sat in front of me in a lesson and played some long tones over which overtones were plainly (and quite loudly) sounding. (I had been using and teaching long tone/overtone studies for many years before I found this vocal coupling idea.) And I must admit, I have had limited success in getting people who cannot hear them to be able to do so. I really do not know if it is a lack of ability to hear high...I doubt it, because some of them could play very well in the upper registers...or (more likely) simply an inability to change their listening habits.

    We are all taught to hear "notes" at a very young age. "Play this note." Sing this melody," etc. But no sound is simply a note. I had an epiphany regarding this many years ago, sitting on the front stoop of a Lower East Side NYC building one early afternoon. The usual sounds of the city were going on, and I wasn't paying much attention to anything...just sitting there, taking a break from practicing. Suddenly I heard something almost perfectly reproducing the sound of a garbage truck that had just finishing compacting some garbage down the street. I looked around...there were a few people walking by...and then I heard a reproduction of the clang of an aluminum garbage can lid being roughly slammed onto a garbage can, followed by another of a car horn, then one of a far-way siren...

    There was a school for mentally and emotionally disturbed children on this street, and what I was hearing was coming from one of its less injured students walking along as he headed back to school after lunch break. Do you remember the cartoon character Gerald McBoing-Boing? (You could look it up.) A little boy who speaks only through sound effects instead of spoken words? Like that, only in the flesh. Some sort of idiot savant, this kid had no filters going on whatsoever in his aural system. He heard what was really sounding, overtones and all, and then effortlessly reproduced it with his voice. He had paid one hell of a price for this talent, but there it was.

    This experience forever changed how I hear sound. This and another one that happened soon after. I was given a massive old upright piano that seriously needed tuning, but I was Lower East Side-broke at the time. So I decided that to learn how to tune it myself. I got a book and a tuning hammer and proceeded to give it a try. Now...long story short, you have to know that ear-tuning a piano consists of essentially detuning its notes into the well-tempered system that we use in Western European-influenced music, and that the tuning/detuning process is achieved by playing two notes a perfect fifth apart and then ever so slightly adjusting their pitch so that their common overtone...the third partial of the lower note and the second partial of the upper one, say a C an octave and a fifth above a sounded F and an octave above a C played a perfect fifth above that F...produces a certain number of beats per second.

    Sounds fairly simple, right?

    Only...number one you need to have some good tuning hammer technique and number two it helps if the tuning pins of the piano are in good shape, which these were not.

    Result?

    I got it done (to some degree)...but it took two days of hard and constant work to do it, two days where I did not do much else, including leave my apartment. When I did finally go out, I swear, I walked into a brand new sonic world. I had been consciously isolating the overtones on that piano for so long that the act had become habitual, and the sounds on the street had a completely different structure as a result. Of course...the sounds hadn't changed, but I had. I was a half a step closer to the way that the Gerald McBoing-Boing kid must have been hearing.

    The end result as it applies to you?

    You have to learn how to hear those overtones. That’s why I wrote “...maybe you're not listening in the right way. Or in the right places.

    You know where the overtones should be, right? Second partial an octave above the sounded note, third partial an octave and a perfect fifth above, fourth partial two octaves above, etc? Look/listen for them. Play fairly low notes on the horn...but only ones that you consider reliably good sounding...and try to hear above them. Play the notes that should be there on a piano to get them in your ear. If you have a good-sounding acoustic piano, make sure that you are in tune with it, depress the hold pedal, play a note at a good volume and then stop playing it and listen to what notes are resonating in sympathy tones to the note that you just played. Those are the stronger overtones above that note as you played it.

    Like I said...these prescriptions have been hit-and-miss as far as getting people who are having trouble hearing the overtones of their sound to be able to do so, but they are all I’ve got. Anybody reading this who has any other ideas that work in this general direction, please feel free to chime in.


    I am not sure that I understand this question. Sorry. Do you mean just keep trying until it happens? I dunno. That’s one approach, I guess.

    I must disagree here, Graham. It is very hard to define what is off-topic and what is on-topic in a discussion of this sort. Sometimes it is the very things that seem “off-topic” that lead us to new understandings. I could very happily do without the garbage, but I do not want to throw out the baby with the unwanted bathwater. I structured my own site as sort of free-fire zone, with only a couple of exceptions. No nasty, porn/drug/financial scam-type spamming, no attempts to hurt another’s life or career by false statements. That’s about it. And...really egregious, continuing stupidity or viciousness can get a poster moved to an area that I call “The Alley” where if he wants to do so he can indulge in verbal fistfights to his heart’s content with whomever else wants to go out back and join him. This approach has worked quite well there for 6 years. Moderators “trimming topics” often end up trimming the real interest as well as some useless talk, and bits and bytes are relatively cheap. Wasting a few in the pursuit of real knowledge always seems to me to be a pretty good trade-off.

    Just sayin’...every site has its own rules, and I either try to abide by them or one way or another I end up taking my act elsewhere, and so it goes. If I must contend with a hostile poster or two or three in order to make my points...well, that’s part of the game. I believe in what I am doing and during slow work times...like this time, before the fall really begins...I practice for a while, write for a while, etc. Eventually stuff gets written, and I post it.

    Good luck with finding the overtones. Trust me...they are in there somewhere. Thanks for participating and feel free to get back to me if you have any more questions.

    Later...

    Sam
     
  3. wiseone2

    wiseone2 Artitst in Residence Staff Member

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    Nov 19, 2003
    Brooklyn,NY
    Thank you, Sam!
    I think that Sam can answer any further questions about his "Breakthrough" at his site. Why don't we take our questions to him there?
    Wilmer
     
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  4. Sabutin

    Sabutin Pianissimo User

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    New York City
    Thank you, Wilmer.

    I would be quite happy to concentrate all of this down to one place, and any and all are welcome there. I really welcome all comments and approaches to this idea. It's almost as new to me as it is to you folks, and I can use all the help with it that I can get.

    The thread is here...BREAKTHROUGH!!! (I have finally broken the embouchure code, I think.)...and registering is a cinch. If anyone does have a problem with registration, just email me at [email protected] and I will make sure that you get on myself.

    Later...

    Sam
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  5. Graham

    Graham Pianissimo User

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    Jun 8, 2008
    Melbourne, Australia
    So what you're getting at is eventually using these practises to kind of "lock in" to the resonance of the instrument, thus making the playing and sound more efficient and, generally speaking, better?
     
  6. Sabutin

    Sabutin Pianissimo User

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    Yes.

    That is precisely what seems to be happening.

    S.
     
  7. Sabutin

    Sabutin Pianissimo User

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    Aug 7, 2009
    New York City
    Hello all...

    I recently received an inquiry from someone on my own site (The Open Horn) about how to produce overtones using the voice, and I realized that I had not sufficiently covered that idea in my other posts.

    I answered him, and now I am including that answer on my other "Breakthrough" threads.

    Here it is.

    Sing it in good health.

    S.

    =================================================================

    I have not yet written about overtone singing in a book...too busy editing my newest book into treble clef and bass clef valved instruments editions...but it's really very simple. There are a number of videos on YouTube that describe the basics quite well. Look for "overtone singing tutorial" and "overtone singing lesson".

    I use the lip positions less than most of the people on YouTube, because I do it with an embouchure setting. However the basic idea is the same...isolating overtones by changing vowel sounds.

    Are you familiar with the "Aum" idea in Indian yogic work? The meditator sits and sings "Aum" (sometimes written as "Om") in quite long notes? Well,the basis of that idea...not often taught by popularizers because they usually simply don't know what they are doing...is that the sound "Aum" goes from the most open vowel sounds through the most closed ones and ends up with a closed system. The "M" sound. "Aum" is an overtone-producing technique at its root.

    I was taught by David Hykes to do this backwards. (He leads an amazing vocal group called The Harmonic Choir. Worth hearing.) Start closed and move slowly to open. I guess that you could call it "Muoaei" instead of "Aum". Here is the best breakdown that I have ever seen of the various physical ways that this can be done. Music of Mongolia 7/7 :Six methods of the khoomii

    You take it from there.

    As I said above...it's really quite easy.

    The hard part is learning to hear your brass sound as a chord instead of a note. Making it a habit, at least during large parts of your practice. It's a game-changer once you succeed in doing it. Yes it is.

    Good luck and...stay in touch.

    Sam
     
  8. frankmike

    frankmike Piano User

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    Dec 5, 2008
    you know what Sabutin!?

    you just used Louis Maggio method and explained it in twisted way, but that is it

    nothing but a Louis Maggio method, and nothing new, and revolutionary

    bah, I guess you were on your 5 minutes of glory hunt. were you?
     
  9. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

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    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    And you are....??
     
  10. frankmike

    frankmike Piano User

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    Dec 5, 2008
    nobody of importance, I am just telling like it is
     

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