D,E-flat,E contradiction?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Haste2, Jun 19, 2010.

  1. Haste2

    Haste2 Piano User

    Jun 16, 2010
    I've heard that playing those notes (above the tuning C) with alternate fingers: 13, 23, and 12 have lower sound quality than playing them as 1, 2, and open. I agree with that from what I can tell. Yet, you're supposed to play in the center of your instrument to play it! If you play the "regular" fingering, you have to lip up a bunch and thus paying above the center of the sound. So, you would think the alternate fingerings would sound better.

    How can this be? Is it because perhaps the more valves you use, the more your sound deteriorates (if that's the case... do you think playing high A-flat with your first valve and lipping up might actually improve your sound?). Either that or trumpet designers have just figured out the best way to make them?

    I'm just fine with lipping those notes up (years ago I did struggle with that), but I just found it interesting.

    I haven't had lessons for 4 years, including 2 with almost no playing. I started out by practicing tonguing a whole bunch. Now I'm working on perfecting my Clarke exercises, and working on lip slurs.

    Speaking of lip slurs, any tips on exactly how this is to be done. I've gotten the impression that you're supposed to be able to play them incredible soft, relaxed, and accurately? It's very, very tough for me to do those three things all at once. If I try to play soft and relaxed on the lip slurs, the air ends up stopping and by the time I go to the next note (whether moving up OR down) half there's a big break in the sound/air. Are my objectives correct? Any tips to get better at those lip slurs? More practice? I haven't practiced them very much yet. I can do high trills, like F-G or G-A at the top of the staff, despite not having very good range/endurance, but it seems like the issue is with the WIDER lip slurs (3rds or greater; for instance, a lip slur between tuning C to E).

    I went for like 2 years with almost no playing until a couple months ago. I can't wait to see Nick of the Utah Symphony again for some lessons. I have to wait until July, though... I'm getting impatient!
  2. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Hi, Haste2. Welcome to Trumpetmaster. We have an active "comeback players club" here but with only 2 years off, you barely qualify since some concerts have more rest measures than that. Many of our members have been off for 30, 40 or even 50+ years so be happy that you didn't wait that long. As far as the question about fingering, I have found that there is not universal answer. It depends on your instrument and your embouchure style. As you can see, I have a "few" trumpets and some are better one way while others are better the other. I have found very few where the fingering significantly affects the sound. Intonation is usually the biggest factor with ease of transition during fast passages being the second.

    You are correct about the lip slurs. You should be able to do all three at once. It just takes practice - a LOT of practice. There are some good videos on YouTube about this plus if you are going to take lessons, you will receive more pointers.

    Say Hi to Nick (he doesn't know me but I played in the Utah Youth Symphony waaaay back when Maurice Abravanel directed the Utah Symphony and the youth symphony as well. It was a real challenge but I learned a lot.)
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The issue here is that the sound is not consistent (not good or bad) and that is easily explained:
    what comes out of the bell is not an amplified buzz from the mouthpiece. The sound we hear is the resonance set up in the trumpet. This resonance is divided into the notes that we can play with a specific fingering. When using no valves the pedal tone C represents 1 wavelength in the horn, low C is 2, G is 3 wavelengths, C is 4, E is 5, G is 6, Bb above the staff is 7 and high C 8. We call these divisions "partials" not overtones.

    As we pack more wavelengths into the horn, they are more affected by inconsistencies and design compromises. Depending on the taper of the leadpipe or flare of the bell, the physical length can change too. All of these things change the harmonic structure of the tone and therefore place additional demands on the player. As these "partials" or number of wavelengths represent a mathematical relationship (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8...), we are not completely free to design a perfectly in tune horn. There are methods of "cheating the system" with leadpipe design, bell shape, mouthpiece design to get pretty close. Any of these things change the sound and in the 80's Schilke had the best in tune instruments, but a sound that did not universally appeal.
    Lipping the notes does also change the sound quality, but generally less than alternate fingerings. The problem here is accuracy. If you have to nail a high C that is normally sharp on your horn, you will inevitably crack it. An alternate fingering would provide more security. Another route is reducing the efficiency of the horn/mouthpiece which will soften the "slots" and make it easier to play in tune. This is what players do when they drill open the throat of the mouthpiece. I am often amused by players that pimp their horn with weights (often makes the slots sharper - accents any intonation issues on the horn) and then drill out the mouthpiece.

    Yes, we need to be able to play very softly. Very seldom are the trumpets too soft.....

    The reason that you are having a hard time is because you have your routine completely backwards. You need to have the basic material (sound and flexibility) down before you work on chopping it up into articulated pieces! Working on tonguing first is the absolute WORST case there is for weak chops. The attack of tonguing in this case replaces proper breath support and the lips only respond with a hammer blow from the tonguing. This makes the tonguing MUCH more brutal and slower than it should be.

    You need a steady diet of breathing exercizes, very soft long tones and slurs and easy tunes to get your face back into shape. Once the chops are a bit more mature, then we ADD articulation to the SOLID base.
  4. Haste2

    Haste2 Piano User

    Jun 16, 2010
    Abravenel conducted the Utah YOUTH symphony?! Lucky you. Man, I bet the spots in the orchestra at THAT time was really competitive!

    Thanks for the help, guys. I'll keep these things in mind. I guess I'll lay off tonguing exercises for a while (actually, I haven't done them much for a couple weeks; now I wish I didn't start with them) and work on lip slurs and breathing. I'll continue to do Clarke exercises for the (I presume) long, soft longtones. I don't know much how to do breathing exercises, though. I'll try to look into that, but if you guys any basic tips for that, you can post a message.

    On a side note, one rather big change in my playing lately was, in trying to aim to be more in the center of the horn (resonate), I've lipped up more (it always felt like I was lipped "down" too much). I've been doing this for 1.5 months now. I didn't make any change in my embouchre (I would never change it unless I had to and knew EXACTLY what I was doing) Now when I play in tune, my slide is out closer to 1/2 inch, like most good players, rather than 1/4 of an inch. My only concern, despite the fact that my playing feels a bit better overall (and maybe even sounds better already...my ear could be playing tricks), is the fact that I use a B2 Monette. Aren't you supposed to play those flatter for optimal sound? Keep in mind I've been doing mouthpiece buzzing more seriously lately, and syncing that same buzzing with my trumpet suggests that I pull out my slide 1/2 an inch like I'm doing.

    There's a heck of a lot more I can say on that subject, but that's another topic for another day. I can't wait to do lessons again... I just hope my teacher can help me with my questions.
  5. 43Bach

    43Bach New Friend

    Jun 21, 2010
    Dont worry about where your slide is...it only works for the 1 note you play on it...get that in tune ,keep your ears open and react...esp in section work, and long notes...if your playing fast no one will notice if you 4th line d is flat....as for alternate fingerings i use them a lot....you don't want to miss that Hi C or C#......or A above is so god awful sharp...esp if its humid.....They lock those notes in much more then the REAL fingerings....do they sound different...to us whom play trumpet yes to most people I doubt it.......

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