Explaining Intonation

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by RoccoNut16v, Nov 20, 2005.

  1. RoccoNut16v

    RoccoNut16v New Friend

    Oct 11, 2005
    I have a friend who is having huge problems with his intonation. No this isn't one of those "I have a friend, but it's really me" cases. :lol: Last night we practiced for about three hours and I managed to get him to listen to my intonation, then his, over and over until he finally even realized he had a problem.

    He's putting a sort of puff of air inbetween the distinct tounge sound and the tone. I've NEVER heard this kind of problem, and he's been doing it for years because nobody ever sat down with him to work it out. He's relying on the air to start vibrating his lips right? Emphasis on relying of course. I've heard people who simply didn't tounge to start the note, and they have a sort of air sound right before their lips finally start vibrating from the passing air. Is this sort of the same case?

    He's using the wrong part of his tounge to attack notes as well, using the middle all of the time, instead of exclusivly in hard and heavy sections. Could that be part of it? Maybe he's not getting the tounge out of the way fast enough? The tounge noise is VERY distinct.

    If you could tell me where this problem is coming from, or tell me a different way to explain the problem, it would be great.

    I'm just a high school senior, but I've recently taken on a crusade, encouraged by my band director, to whip our trumpet section into shape, because frankly we're in sad shape. So thanks in advance for any advice you can ship me.
  2. trumpet blower88

    trumpet blower88 Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 15, 2005
    Flagstaff, AZ
    One problem may be the direction his tongue moves when tounging. He might be thinking of moveing his toung forward in his mouth each time he articulates. This could be one reason he's useing the middle of his toung. Tell him to thing of tounging as a backwards motion, attack with the tip of his toung and then bring it back and down to a regular/comfortable position.

    Just a thought...
  3. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    tongueing and attacks

    In brasswind playing the tongue is used as a gate valve for the exiting air which then makes the lips vibrate. For common single attack tongueing the tongue seals the flow of air at the back of the lips. For double or triple tongueing the tongue uses the back of the upper gum in the mouth for a sealing surface.

    Have your student say the word 'THE' with his lips closed, much as if he were trying to spit some small item from between his lips. Remember the old smokers who were constantly spitting flakes of tobacco from their lips when smoking non filtered cigaettes.Now, then advance to saying the word 'too'. This moves the sealing surface of the tongue for double or triple tongueing.
  4. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    Firstly, this is an issue of articulation, rather than intonation.

    Try this:
    1. Try having your freind say "how too".
    2. Then, inhale how and say "too".
    3. Replace the word "too" with blowing air, as when we play, against the back of the hand.
    4. Repeat steps 1-3 until "too" is well established.
    5. Try this in the horn, no buzzing.
    6. Repeat again, until "too" is consistently coming out of the horn.
    6. Add a buzz, so he/she is articulating a middle (2nd line) G at a comfortable dynamic.
    7. Take thhe horn off the embouchre and repeat until it sounds clear.

    The syncopation melodies and eighth sixteenth combination melodies in the Arban book will be good practice to help him/her practice articulating consistently. Have him/her play them slowly; no faster than quarter=72.
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I'm a bit confused - you started the post as an intonation issue, then went on to talk about articulation. :?: At what point does the intonation become a problem? One issue doesn't necessarily dictate the other.

    And I think we also need to be a bit careful when we try to classify matters of technique as either "right" or "wrong". If it's "wrong" but it works, is it really wrong? I have seen guys who are seemingly doing things correctly regarding their articulation, yet are still unable to produce a clean, clear, crisp attack, and other guys who to look at them, you wonder how in the world they can play, yet they sound great.

    An excercise that I have always used to both clean up and maintain basic single tonguing, is actually fairly simple, but one that I would also suggest to your friend because of its simplicity. Simply start on a G in the staff and tonguing 8 beats worth of 16th notes, making sure to accent the first of each beat just slightly move chromatically up to C, pausing to take breaths as necessary, and stopping for a momentary rest at C. Then, starting at tuning C, do the same thing and work your way down chromatically to low F#. Again, pause, and then starting on low F#, work your way back up to G and stop.

    There are a couple of notes regarding this exercise that I would like to point out. One, the idea is not to simply bludgeon your way through the exercise, nor is tempo or time necessarily important. What is important is consistency and repetition. The point of using 8 beats worth of 16th notes per pitch of the excercise is to fine tune where your tongue should be hitting and to get the air moving properly. It gives you 32 chances per pitch to fine tune and correct. Often times I won't really even start the exercise until the first note, the G, starts becoming crisp and sometimes that doesn't happen within 8 beats initially. Again, the point is not necessarily to stick to the exact pattern, tempo or time.

    The point is to build cleanliness and consistency in the articulation. To that end, I think that the repetition is key - eventually, if you do something enough times, often times the body will naturally try to find a more efficient way to do it, thus naturally working toward better efficiency, the end result of which is cleaner articulation, better sound, better focus, etc.

    It's a basic exercise, but it can go a long way to clean up articulation if simply worked into a warmup routine, which is how I usually use it.
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Something else I thought I would toss out is that I don't try to think about the mechanics too much when doing articulation exercises. Chances are if you can get the articulation to clean up through a series of natural exercises, the mechanics have probably corrected themselves without any conscious thought on the matter.
  7. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    Nov 2, 2003
    I would approach this from a different perspective. When teaching students I have found that a sound model is worth more than you could ever explain. I think getting a book like Essential Elements book 1 and having him play along with the CD trying to match it 100% would go a lot farther in fixing his problems than any explanation could.

    As for whipping your section in to shape that could be hard because the ability of your section has been set over the course of 4 to 7 years by how your director teaches. Work hard on improving yourself and I bet that if the others love to play they will jump on board and start wanting to make improvements right along with you.

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