Galloping Gertie and the buzzing mouthpiece

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Alrocks, Feb 22, 2015.

  1. Alrocks

    Alrocks New Friend

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    Is there any need to be able to buzz the mouth piece when not attached to the trumpet? OK new boy here, returning to trumpet after a 34 year break, but I did remain a musician and became a studio sound engineer too. I ask the question because I know a little bit about frequencies having worked in the sound business. A dam site more than I know about playing trumpet to be honest. So my mind took me on a frequency filled trip through the inside of my trumpet tonight, which taught me a lot of good stuff that I hadn't really thought about before, but left me with the odd question too.


    Reading another thread got me thinking about the whole mechanics of the trumpet, in terms of frequencies and what I know on that subject. I am sure many of you already know this stuff, and will correct my lack of trumpet knowledge if wrong, and give some good, correct guidance and help answer my fundamental question. Perhaps for anyone who doesn't know too much about frequencies, understanding what is going on inside the trumpet could really help to understand how to play better or fix issues and improve technique.

    In a thread I read someone said that the standing wave causes back pressure. (klaxon sound) The standing wave does not create back pressure! A standing wave is where a wave, in this case a sound wave, is met by it's own reflection bouncing back and exactly matching the original wave's peaks and troughs. This doubles it's power and creates an amplified resonance. This is what powers the trumpet! If you think about all the energy a professional trumpeter efficiently puts into his instrument, then double it, that is why a trumpet can be so flipping loud! Every object (including you) has a natural resonance or frequency. A Bb trumpet is manufactured to have a natural frequency that equals Bb. If you blow into the MP and generate an oscillation that matches the trumpet's natural frequency (or a multiple of it - harmonic), it will create a standing wave. If you halve the wave length you will get another, higher frequency standing wave and so on, and that's what gives us the harmonic range on the trumpet. If the standing wave isn't quite perfect enough, we loose our tone, and if the standing wave drifts out of resonance all together, we loose everything!

    The back pressure is caused by the restriction of the air movement through the instrument, and this is to our benefit as sound waves travel more efficiently through thicker, compressed air, further helping our standing wave. Now bung a bell on the end and we have a horn speaker that amplifies all of that even more! What a wonderfully refined instrument a trumpet is!

    OK all good so far. So looking at this mechanically, all we need to do with our lips in order to ignite a standing wave, is generate an air stream that has the same natural frequency as the standing wave we want to produce. It's exactly that effect that caused the Galloping Gertie incident - the wind blew at the same frequency as the bridge's natural frequency, which caused the bridge to resonate and setup a standing wave within it's structure that doubled the amplitude of all the energy, resulting in a slight problem. So in order to get a Galloping Gertie going inside our trumpet we shouldn't need to buzz, as the lips will respond to the standing wave and start to resonate in sympathy with it.

    As a newbie I am still struggling with trying to get a consistent embouchure, but when I do get it right, I know because it just feels so easy and right and sounds good too. So that's the standing wave igniting, and it feels easy and right because it's doing half the work for me by doubling the amplitude of the frequency and setting my lips in motion which keeps the whole thing driving on. It sounds good because the original wave and the standing wave are matched up precisely and this kicks the volume up too, which means I can reduce my effort and hold a note for longer. Oh man I love that feeling and can't wait for the day when I can ignite that standing wave every time I choose!

    So if I have a good standing wave going, and a lovely tone coming out of the trumpet and I pull the mouthpiece out while it's still going, all I have is just the hiss of the air stream, no buzz, and then when I slip the MP back in, the standing wave ignites again in the lead pipe. If I buzz into the MP while it's in the trumpet I don't get that great sound. I can buzz, but not fantastically, and I remember all the buzzing stuff from when I played as a kid (when I actually could buzz - and play!), but thinking about all of this stuff tonight has got me to thinking, what is all this crazy buzzing stuff about? What is the benefit of buzzing the mouthpiece when it's not in the trumpet? I have heard pro trumpeters on youtube talk about buzzers and non buzzers, so is it optional? Can buzzing your lips before the standing wave gets them buzzing, ignite the standing wave faster so increase attack? Is it just a chop building exercise? What's it all about?

    Here's to getting a Galloping Gertie going in your trumpet! :roll:
     
  2. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    Step back one hundredth of a second and ask yourself what is happening between the time you initiate the note, and the standing wave is set up. The time it takes for a sound wave to travel from your embouchure to the bell and back. (Very approximately)

    Perhaps you're just blowing with an open aperture and no buzz waiting for the return wave to push your aperture shut again. If you're embouchure is in about the right place, it'll work after a fashion. When I was young this was called a "lousy attack" fit only for French horns and the like.

    Another type of "lousy attack" is buzzing the note off-pitch and then having a wrestling match with your instrument to stabilise it at some sort of pitch/volume. This is where I'm at.

    Now imagine that you got the embouchure vibrating immediately in phase and at the right frequency ready to greet the return wave. I imagine that it would take a great deal of work and no little inspiration.

    For inspiration I listen to this:



    It's the sound of Maurice Murphy centring his attacks.

    Wish I could do it! :-)
     
  3. Alrocks

    Alrocks New Friend

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    Sethoflagos, so it is about increasing attack? It kind of makes sense that you can ignite the note faster. Kind of like having better spark plugs in a petrel engine :-)
    From what I can deduce, the standing wave is only set up in the lead pipe, and the rest of the pipework to the bell is there to tune it and amplify it. Removing the tuning slide seems to confirm that. So if the lead pipe was say, a foot long, and you blew an A at 440Hz, which is 440 vibrations per second - wait. I'm rubbish at maths! But I presume it would take 1/440th of a second to start the standing wave with a perfect air stream. I suspect though that the walls of the lead pipe are what set up the standing wave. So width rather than length. So the time factor is probably minuscule any way, but the time it takes to get the air flow set up from the embouchure would be the delaying factor. Perhaps if you trained your self to hit the air flow at exactly the right frequency, it would have the same attack as buzzing, but by buzzing you can train it by actually hearing the frequency you are making. Would that make sense? Or is the buzz even more fundamental than that?
     
  4. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    The standing wave is based on the acoustic length of the complete instrument. You are not achieving resonant behaviour by buzzing a mouthpiece or even a leadpipe (unless you have superhuman strengths).

    It is best to ditch any thoughts whatsoever of amplification. There is no external source of energy so your acoustic output cannot exceed the internal energy of the airstream coming out of your lungs. In fact. the process is so thermodynamically inefficient, you'll barely realise a fraction of that potential.

    By the same reasoning, the stored energy within the instrument is also of no relevance to the acoustic output: you cannot create energy out of nowhere. It is however vital to maintaining feedback to your embouchure and note stability.

    Also forget the leadpipe wall thing. If you could drill out a trumpet shaped channel in a concrete block and stuck a mouthpiece in the little end, it would still sound pretty much like a trumpet. All of the pitch and most of the tone quality is determined by the shape of the air column.
     
  5. Ed Kennedy

    Ed Kennedy Forte User

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  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    This is all documented in the thread "how a trumpet works" at the top of this section of the forum.

    There is an AC (standing wave) and a DC component (exhale) to the trumpet. The perceived back pressure is not that at all. It is the ability to hear yourself! Need proof? Play the trumpet in a nice large room like a church hall. Then play the same horn outdoors where there are no buildings on a cold day (keep the horn and mouthpiece warm for the test however). Outdoors it is stuffy as hell, and indoors it is wonderful. No difference in bracing, bore, gap, mouthpiece or your physical condition. You don't hear yourself outdoors! That is the difference. That is also why many feel that playing with a practice mute is stuffy. If you have a silent brass with the amplifier, try playing with and without the amp. Acoustically identical - without the amp - stuffy as hell. Play with the volume control until you find the sweet spot. You can then practice almost double as long!

    Actually, it is not the frequency of the buzz that ignites a specific pitch, it is the air pressure behind the buzz. Only small differences are required when the lips are free to resonate sympathetically with the horn. You can hit the mouthpiece across the cup with the palm of your hand and the pop out of the bell is a Bb on that pitch horn. Just proof that the tone is there without the buzz........... A pop with the hand simply can't sustain the tone like air moving through the lips can.
     
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    From what I've read, it takes a few round trips to really set up the standing wave, at which point the standing wave buzzes the lips.
     
  8. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    Absolutely! One stable state has to be broken down, to be replaced by another. And if a good trumpeter can double-tongue at say 20 notes per second, that's only 5 round trips per note. Does that mean that maybe most of each note is produced without resonance support?
     
  9. Alrocks

    Alrocks New Friend

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    Thank you for the replies, corrections and enlightenment! I know it's maybe a bit nerdy, but I like to understand how things work, and I think it's an important factor in learning to play better.
     
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    THAT is what we are here for. Great questions get the best answers that we can offer, questionable questions get...........frustrating!

    I don't think that knowing how the trumpet works helps one bit and what we "know" can really get in the way - especially if our knowledge is trying to replace real habit building stuff.


    Seth, double tonguing does not "destroy" the resonance. There is no complete stop of lip motion - just as the build up to resonance follows laws, the decay also simply takes its time. Very fast tonguing can still be resonant - otherwise the tone would change appreciably!

     

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