Do I tongue too much?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by frankmike, Nov 26, 2009.

  1. frankmike

    frankmike Piano User

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    .Do I tongue too much?

    Hi I play a piece that have a big leaps in melody more than one parital I always tend to tongue the higher note, expecialy when I play soft and quiet. If I do not tongue than my playing requires extra pressure (thing I am trying to avoid at all costs)

    Am I doing it right or should I reduce the tongue and apply a bit more pressure.
     
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Only your teacher can say for sure.

    Your goal should be to slur slurs and tongue unslurred passages.

    No-Pressure mania is not necessary or sensible. Unless a teacher is guiding you, you should attempt to gradually improve. Drastic measures just bring frustration. The human body simply does not work that way.

    My students with too much pressure get breathing exercizes first, then longtones and lipslurs. Most of the time, their playing adjusts itself with no dramatic changes.
     
  3. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

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    Rowuk's right -- play the slurs as indicated and tongue only where there are no slurs indicated. So to answer your question, yes you are tonguing too much.

    Whenever you reach a slur which you can't do as a slur, stop practicing the music and spend a few minutes working on that slur until you can do it as a smooth slur. Music is so much more than simply getting the pitch and the rhythm correct, and articulations are a major aspect of making the music "come alive" and sound as the composer intended.

    I use the image of chicken soup with my students -- in order to make chicken soup, you need two main ingredients: Chicken and Water. But if that's all you have, it'll taste really horrible and bland. So you add spices. Articulations and dynamics and tempo are like the spices and noodles and vegetables which get added to the chicken soup. If you tongue everything, it's like adding only one spice to the soup, which is just as boring as the original chicken and water. And the thing which makes music so rich is that no two "cooks" are going to add exactly the same amount of spices and noodles and vegetables to the soup, so no two people end up making exactly the same identical tasting chicken soup.

    But it does all come down to making sure that you do have the chicken and the water, which are the pitch and the rhythm. Make sure you have those correct, but then concentrate on getting the other aspects of the music correct, the things which turn bland sound into true art.

    And never worry about the technical side of playing the trumpet when you're actually working on the music for performance (even if only performing it for your teacher at the next lesson). Worry about the technical side of playing (pressure issues, tongue arch, breathing properly) when you're working on exercises aimed at those issues. Just as when you learn language, you learn about punctuation and grammar and spelling, but you don't (or at least you shouldn't) obsess about those things when speaking to someone. The language is absorbed so it becomes simply a tool to express your ideas. The same is true of playing any instrument (including the human voice) -- you work on the technical side of things a lot but then when you are expressing musical ideas (i.e. playing a composition) you don't worry about the mouthpiece pressure issue -- you worry about the music which is coming out of your horn.
     
  4. frankmike

    frankmike Piano User

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    thing is I find that applying tongue more often makes me play with more ease, and it sounds good.
     
  5. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

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    Ahhh -- that brings up a good question. At the point of performance, whose ideas are more important -- the composer's or the performer's?

    Also it raises the question -- are we there to serve the music, or is the music there to serve us?

    I point out to my students there are millions of ways to make a piece of music sound good, but there is only one way to make it sound correct. Then I explain all the nuances of performance from one "correct" interpretation to another, so there really isn't just one correct way to play a piece, but they do get my meaning and start paying a lot more attention to what's printed on the page.

    Whether or not you think tonguing everything sounds good, if you're going to ignore the composer's written instructions then you should write your own music and write it so that every note is tongued.

    But if you're going to play music written by someone else, you owe that composer a responsibility to come as close as possible to playing the music as it was written. The composer is depending on you to bring that music to life, to imbue it with your own personality as it shows forth in your playing, but the composer is most definitely NOT expecting you to second-guess his/her decisions concerning important aspects of the music such as articulations.
     
  6. frankmike

    frankmike Piano User

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    I forgot to mention that I play mostly (90% of the time ) jazz, so I wouldnt know what the term "correct" means in musical sense :dontknow:
     
  7. mikeh113

    mikeh113 New Friend

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    I think this raises some iteresting questions. In my opinion (not probably worth a whole load but you are welcome anyway) you should practice to play articualtions exactly as written. However, come the performance, if a gentle tongue makes anawkward slur more secure - I do it. There is not a discrete line between slur and tongued notes. I can tongue very gently so it is indistinguishable to anyone but the most careful listener.

    There is also the question of when is a slur a phrase-mark and vice-versa. There are many instances where I slur passages under phrase marks that have repeated notes (which articulate) such as the second movement of the Flor Peeters Sonata.

    Slurs on different instrument mean different things but generally leading to similar effects - using a continuous bowing action on strings, hammer-on/pull-off on guitar - and can only be approximated on the keyboard.

    I do encourage my students to play marked articulations when practicing, and to work on those awkward slurs when necessary, but when performing I sometimes put the performance before the technicalities.

    Surely I'm not alone?

    Mike
     
  8. mikeh113

    mikeh113 New Friend

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    I should add that in modern Big Band Jazz I would honour articulations (almost) all the time. Some of the old transcriptions of Ellington, Basie etc though are seriously flawed in this respect, and slurs and phrase marks are used pretty randomly in places.
     
  9. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

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    That makes for a whole different discussion, and would have been nice if you had mentioned it at the start. In that case, do whatever feels good to you, unless, of course, you are playing written out big-band arrangements, in which case what I've already said goes.

    But if you're the only one playing the melody, then do it however you wish.

    Which makes me ask, then, why did you even bring it up, since none of us can hear you play and therefore can't really express an opinion on whether or not you're tonguing too much?

    Jazz is quite different from "classical" music and in jazz personal interpretation is everything and quite likely when the composers wrote the original melodies they didn't put any slurs in to begin with.
     
  10. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    You're kidding, right?
    If you think you are then probably you are.
    Record yourself and get answer.
     

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