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

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

  1. NickD

    NickD Forte User

    Howard Levy had ultrasound videos shot while he was playing harmonica put on his DVD. They're great.

    Just a thought...

  2. Sabutin

    Sabutin Pianissimo User

    Aug 7, 2009
    New York City
    Fair enough.

    I too have had my share of "breakthroughs" of the kind that you mention above. Many of them during 40 years of professional playing.

    This one is different.

    It is more of a revolution than a simple breakthrough.

    Perhaps rather than calling it a "breakthrough" I ought to compare it to finally finding the right term to solve a difficult mathematical equation or the right piece to finish a very complicated puzzle.

    You say that "there is never just one breakthough that matters, it's the cumulative effect of all of the them over time, and not one of them will make you a better musician." Six weeks or so ago I would have agreed with you on the evidence of my own gradual and steady growth as a player, but then a totally unplanned and unexpected conceptual apple dropped on my head and I had a Newtonian "Eureka" experience. Call it what you will, it assembled all of my previous practice into a newly usable and substantially better whole, and I did not post anything about it until:

    1-I was quite sure that its effects were not temporary. Its physical effects.


    2-I had communicated it to several fine players who are friends and colleagues of mine...trombone and trumpet players...and gotten some strongly positive feedback from them as well.

    So there we are.

    i am convinced. Now it is my job to convince others.

    Am I very good at that kind of job?

    I dunno.

    I do keep trying, that's for sure.

    Lots of people have benefitted from my teaching over the past 7 years or so. Maybe if I was a different kind of person many more would have heard what I have to say. Or...maybe if I was a different kind of person no one would have paid me the slightest mind. That is of course a moot point because I am who I am just as you are who you are. I am laying something down here that in my considered opinion promises to be of great value to any number of brass players. Pick up on it if you wish to do so, hold back and wait for more information or do not pick up on it if it appears to you to be worthless. Any way you cut it, it's all OK with me. We will each do our destined job here and the world will continue to turn no matter what any of us do.

    Good luck no matter how you choose to continue.


  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    We do not need to argue with Sabutin, he isn't interested in criticism anyway. I would like to know what cavity he opened up. The volume of the oral cavity does not change with tongue position.
    We do not know what he was doing wrong all of those years that such "magic" could happen with a seasoned player.
  4. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    In my opinion your statement above pretty much sums up this thread. I'm sure you're a very smart guy and obviously a gifted musician, but at least from a written standpoint your communications skills are severely lacking. You insult and attack those who don't understand your "breakthrough" or those who don't immediately see the light.

    Look back at this thread and you'll see that it's mostly clogged with quotes, rants, quips, digs, and witty tag lines from you. It's essentially an extended monolouge with you trying to convince the forum at a frantic pace that they should line up behind you to witness something that's been eluding brass players for centuries.

    I think you'd be better served by creating a website/blog of your own and simply tell people who are interested to go there for information. You don't seem to communicate well in forums like this...
  5. Sabutin

    Sabutin Pianissimo User

    Aug 7, 2009
    New York City
    Audacity is one of my strong suits. Thank you for noticing.

    From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

    Without the "audacity" to risk trying new things, nothing would ever change.

    I disagree. I play all the lower brass from tuba on up to small bore tenor trombone on a professional NYC level and I studied for many years with Carmine Caruso, whose concepts applied equally well to all brass instruments and to all levels and styles of players of those instruments as well.

    I also totally believe in the Sufi concept of "As above, so below". The same laws that pertain to the formation of galaxies work on sub-atomic levels so small that "modern science", anyway...have not yet even discovered them, and they work everywhere in between as well. I named my most recent book Time, Balance & Connections: A Universal Theory of Brass Relativity because of this belief, and with the exception of valve technique concepts replacing slide technique ones and changed octaves, the next editions for valved instruments in treble and bass clef will be identical to the original trombone edition.

    Pick up on what i am saying here if you wish to do so or do not pick up on it. It's up to you.

    This is one of the reasons that I am posting on trumpet websites, gzent. I want feedback from you people. So far I have found that:

    1-I myself...a real bass/baritone although without much vocal training......can sing full voice through about F above middle C and using falsetto I can comfortably reach Bb a perfect 4th above that note. I can also isolate overtones quite effectively using both of those two voices.

    2-On tenor trombones of all sizes, bass trombone, euphonium and tuba (I play fine a Besson compensating EEb tuba with an orchestral-sized m'pce) the best results have been coming from singing the proper overtones in the 3rd and 4th partials and then coupling that with playing the horn. I also have been experiencing good results from doing similar things in the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th partials. The 3rd and 4th partials of a Bb trumpet are easily within the vocal range of most players, and higher ranges should be available to those with high volces, especially women.

    3-Further, when I have been practicing by starting in the ranges above where I can comfortably sing it has been becoming clear to me that by singing a note that is either an octave down from my desired starting note or even by singing a note below my starting pitch that is somewhere strongly in the harmonic series of the horn on the note that I initially wish to attack (A very interesting development, as far as I am concerned.) I get great results as I go up.

    We are not talking about "choral settings" jhere, gzent. We are simply talking about isolating particular overtones above the voice...any voice...and then coupling that approach to playing a brass instrument.

    I should hope so.

    I have dealt with that problem as well as i can above. So far. At least until i do some extensive face-to-face ecxperimentation with a few open-minded trumpet players...and I know a boatload of people who fit that bill in's up to you guys to look into it in greater depth as far as the trumpet is concerned. At one time I actually used to take gigs on trumpet...lower parts in big bands, mostly...but over many years of playing lower brass my chop has simply gotten too big to function on a trumpet m'pce. I tried about a year ago and it just didn't work.

    Your turn. If of course you care to deal with this.

    If assured that someone else will.

    Well there y'are then, aren't you. Do you think that I am singing up into the ranges above the 8th partial on a tenor trombone in order to get good results up there? Hell no. My natural speaking voice sounds more like that of Chaliapin, Johnny Cash or Barry White than it does one of the munchkins.

    As you yourself have already found, "In lower registers you certainly can match the oral shape of a sung tone with the tone played on the trumpet and it does seem to help reinforce the stability of the note." Now bring that newly stable setting on up into other registers. That is exactly what I have been doing on trombone. My best results have come from setting up this way in the easily accessed middle Bb area...your low C on Bb trumpet...and then connecting to the upper ranges (and lower ranges as well) by playing simple harmonics exercises, Carmine Caruso-style intervals, moderately slow scales, melodic studies and other connecting exercises of a similar sort.

    Having trouble with attacks in the higher partials? (The 7th and 8th partials are traditionally a tricky area for most trombonists, but trumpet players don't use the 7th partial much.) Sing a note an octave down from there (or even further), couple with the horn, slur (or gliss) up an octave (almost as if you were using the original note as the pedal of a new harmonic series) and go on about your business.

    And had I been given this information without any preparation I would have assumed the same thing about myself and other brass players of all types.

    But I would have been wrong.

    I am not deaiing with "constriction of the throat" or "unnatural" tongue manipulations here. (I will leave aside for now the question of just how "natural" any of the actions may be that we must take to produce notes on a brass instrument.) I am only speaking of producing an internal set of positions that is in tune with the instrument by singing notes that essentially sound like the instrument...notes that to some degree emphasize the same formants as does the instrument about to be played...and then coupling that setting with the way you normally play the horn.

    Again, Greg...until I experienced this thing in the flesh I would have made the same set of assumptions as have you.

    And I would have been dead wrong.

    It remains to be seen how effective this idea will be for trumpet players and french hornists. I myself believe that it will prove to be very effective, but only time will tell on that account. Closed-minded responses to it, however, will tell us nothing. Try it. It certainly won't hurt you if you are a well-schooled and strong player.

    Try it and then tell me where it takes you.

    That is all that I ask.

    Good luck with it.



    P.P.S. And as I have gained more proficiency on my instruments I have found that this is simply not true. The power is no more (or less) important than the embouchure that it is powering. The system is a gestalt. (Merriam Webster again. "A structure, configuration, or pattern of physical, biological, or psychological phenomena so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts.)

    it is the balance among its various elements that is the most important determining factor in its efficiency, and the soft machine...the hidden machine, the one that we cannot see very well, the one that operates on an almost totally unconscious level 24/7 from the day that we take our first breath until the day that we take our last by far the least understood (and hardest to accurately control or manipulate) part of that system. This idea that I am presenting deals directly with that part of the playing system on a much more quantifiable, much less subjective and imprecise way than I have ever discovered. You are either singing the overtones at which you are aiming or you are not. No "vowel sounds", no metaphors about pears or apples or peaches, no "sound like me" ideas... peaches be damned. Sing the right overtones to match the formants of your instrument somewhere as close to the range in which you are practicing as you can get and then play. Rinse, lather and repeat until you mostly do not any longer need to sing those overtones in order to find said internally correct balance.

    You say that you already have that balance?


    You are a better, more gifted player than am I and more power to you.

    Or...just are fooling yourself.

    There is of course only one way to find out...:-):-):-(:-(:-o:-o:-o

    Have fun.

    I am.
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Only my girlfriends know what happens inside my mouth--from the outside it doesn't look like much!
  7. Sabutin

    Sabutin Pianissimo User

    Aug 7, 2009
    New York City
    Some people get what I have to say and others don't.

    So it goes.

    Actually my "communications skills" are pretty good. Those who can understand what I am saying usually get it instantly. You don't hear much from them because they are too busy looking into the matter rather than trying to prove it wrong.

    No, I am simply defending my idea. On whatever level that it is opposed.

    A polite opposition is met with polite disagreement. And so on down the usual long and slippery website slope.

    I have answered all in kind, gbdeamer. Yourself included.

    Do a search on these websites for the name "sabutin".

    My own discussion site, The Open Horn.

    And The Trombone Forum. 6000+ posts in total.

    Go to my website, Another 7 extensive articles about brass playing.

    Go to the remnants of the old Online Trombone Journal. Another 11 articles, 2 of which I have found the time to move to my own website.

    Go to my book page. 4 excerpts totalling about 35 pages from my newest book.

    I am already on it, gbdeamer.

    Thanks for the suggestion, though.

    Here is what I am getting from this kind of opposition.

    Are you familiar with the great early 20th Century cornet virtuoso Herbert L. Clarke? He played very well, beyond a shadow of a doubt. However, he was also amazingly resistant to change. The following is a lovely missive that he sent to the brass maker Elden Benge when Mr. Benge was a student in the early '20s.


    Mr. Benge went on to make some pretty good trumpets, I believe. Trumpets that were and still are being played by some great "jaz" musicians.


    Mr. Clarke missed the boat.

    It happens.

    Today just the same as the 1920s.

    Bet on it.


  8. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    You really have an irritating literary tone that borders on insulting and makes it hard to have a dialogue.

    I am far from close minded when it comes to trying new things on the trumpet and I find your constant characterization of those that disagree with you as being close-minded to be a real turn off to anything useful you might have to add to this forum.

    You might be the greatest trombone and tuba player in the world, but to say those pro trumpet players who don't value your theories must be wrong, well, that isn't going to get you any traction around here.

    You also seem to be overly defensive. I never stated my playing ability relative to yours or anyone else's, yet you make snide comments intimating such.

    I thought you may be on to something when I first started trying the exercises you described, but now I find your postings protracted and overbearing.


    PS - If you really are interested in helping other brass players improve take a look at Nick Drozdoff's video's
    on YouTube and learn how to communicate with people without being so abrasive.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2009
  9. Sabutin

    Sabutin Pianissimo User

    Aug 7, 2009
    New York City

    Now it's my syntax? My grammar? My vocabulary? My spelling? Something else? What?

    "An irritating literary tone", eh?

    Who have you been reading?

    I am a James Joyce. William Burroughs, William Faulkner, Jimmy Breslin, Joseph Mitchell, Joe Bageant, Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln and William Shakespeare man, myself.

    Who have you been reading?

    I read very widely and I use correct grammar whenever I am not writing in some sort of dialect for effect.

    My apologies.

    When people say something that is based on a sincere effort to understand what I am saying, I respond in kind. When they set their heels like mules and refuse to look at what I am saying from an experiential view, then in my opinion that is just what they are.


    You mean that I should pussyfoot and politic around, cozying up to people who are making little or no sense?

    Sorry, bro'. Homey don't play that game.

    Please show me where you think that I intimated that about you. I cannot find it.

    So it goes, Greg. I thought that you might hear what I was saying, but I guess i was wrong.

    So that goes as well.

    Good luck...


    P.P.S. I just did.

    He seems like a very nice man.

    Lots of people find me to be a very nice man, too.

    The main difference?

    He is presenting mainstream ideas and I am presenting radically new material. New stuff gets attacked. That's the way it works. I can deal with it. My way. I learned from Dizzy Gillespie, Carmine Caruso, Lee Konitz, Charles Mingus, Thad Jones, Gil Evans, Jimmy Knepper and a number of others how to deal with the inevitable resistance to the new. Up close and personal. Thanks for your concern, but I'll be just fine.

    The first rule? Simply keep putting it out there until people get it.

    The second rule? Be yourself.

    I'm there.

    Bet on it.
  10. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN

    Nothing I would articulate can make you look like more of a boor than your last response.

    Thanks for saving me the effort.


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