Getting a "Mature" Tone

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by TrumpetTheKid, May 16, 2011.

  1. TrumpetTheKid

    TrumpetTheKid Pianissimo User

    May 1, 2011
    Sacramento Area
    I've been playing since the 7th grade and will be ending the 9th grade this Friday and while everyone I know (including my band director, a pro trumpet player) likes my tone, I think my tone sounds "immature" in a way. I don't think my tone is bad, its well supported and full and not too bright or too dark, but it doesn't strike me as a pure trumpet sound.

    Sorry, I can't really explain but I'm not looking for a darker or more brilliant tone but instead maturity of tone if that makes sense.
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    It makes a lot of sense - and you are commended for having noticed!

    That sound you talk about is the product of superior breath support, well trained ears and well practiced chops. The easiest way to get there is to play duets with someone much better than you. Emulating is always easier than trying to figure this out alone.
  3. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    +1 rowaks thoughts
    also ... and this isn't necessarily a cause so please don't go playing around with mouthpieces ... but what is your setup?
    also ... when you practice do you use alot of vibrato. I had an instructor who insisted I leave out the vibrato for practicing... it really helped me focus on my tone.
    Practicing long tones softly can help as well. You really have stated yourself well and I can remember having the same issue. Whenever I feel my tone a little off I try to think of a full breath supporting the ah syllable and try to keep my corners from pulling back to much. IF you try it and it seems to help great but don't force this idea ... find yourself a good teacher.
    good luck
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I think that another important aspect, and one that Rowuk touched on, is using your ears, but to add to that, really listening to trumpet players whose sounds you like is also a great idea because that helps to put a sound concept in your head that you'll automatically try to emulate.

    When I was in HS I was all about Wynton Marsalis for classical recordings, and Maurice Andre to a degree as well, depending on the piece. I had two Wynton cassettes that I just about wore out because I listened to them all the time. In fact, I had a good pair of Koss headphones and I'd fall asleep listening to Wyton with those headphones - it put it directly into my head. I'd like to think that this had a positive impact and helped to bring some maturity to my sound and approach to playing. Whether or not it actually did is up for debate. :-)
  5. Haste2

    Haste2 Piano User

    Jun 16, 2010
    I agree with what they said. I cannot stress the importance of listening and emulation enough when it comes to improving your sound. I used to be afraid of mimicry, believing I had to be completely original in everything I did, but that is a very stupid attitude and it hinders progress.

    Do not be afraid of mimicry... everyone needs to do it some to learn most effectively. Once you start sounding very good THEN you'll start to be knowledgeable enough to work on your own unique sound and style.
  6. vialvest

    vialvest New Friend

    Nov 14, 2010
    Maybe you're not in the center of the horn. Try buzz a simple tune on your mouthpiece and see if you really hit the notes at once.
  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I've told this story dozens of times and it was a huge lesson I learned about being a musician from attending a drum clinic, of all things.

    The clinician, a fellow by the name of Jerome Deupree, pulled 5 volunteers from the crowd, and then having them sit behind his drums and playing his sticks, had them all play the same basic rock beat - 8th note closed hats, bass drum on 1 & 3, and the backbeat on 2 & 4. (think "Back in Black" by AC/DC) The end result is that all of the drummers sounded different. After they all played, he sent 3 of them back and kept the two whose approaches had the biggest contrast. Again, same equipment, same groove - totally different.

    (Kind of invalidates the whole, "which horn should I get to sound like..." thing, doesn't it.)

    He went on to talk about the idea of emulation and copying of another player, and his point was that while it's great to take things away from another musician's playing, that we also have to be able to know who we are so that we can apply those concepts to helping to fully create our own sound. We will never sound just like anyone else. I.e., The only person who is ever going to sound like Wynton is Wynton, but that it's good to be able to take some concepts away from what he does in order to help us to develop ourselves. Emulation is good, but only to a point - eventually we have to know who we are so that we can do our own thing because I seriously doubt if Wynton is trying to sound like anyone other than himself.
  8. bagmangood

    bagmangood Forte User

    Something to take away from the "emulation" and listening is that it is YOUR sound.
    When playing, we should be striving to produce the trumpet (or cornet, or picc, or flugel, or...) sound that is in our heads.
    Listening to many good players allows us to hear what we like and what we don't like in trumpet sounds.

    Also I agree completely with everything Rowuk said in his post above :-P, for my reasons above
  9. stevesf

    stevesf Piano User

    Jun 23, 2010
    San Francisco Bay Area
    A "mature" tone will come from....well maturity. You are are on the right path kid. Keep working at it. Things will change a little in the next few years as your body grows. Don't let it frustrate you it is all normal. Once you hit 20 or so things will settle down....not any easier but at least more consistent. A good teacher(s) can make all the difference in the world.
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Actually, the discussion about "our own sounds" is subject to debate. I would venture to say that the spectrum of the trumpet sound - fundemental and overtones for a specific type of playing business are all very close and more determined by the horn/mouthpiece than the player. The STYLE of playing, musical expression, type of attack, musical line, dynamics are the factors that make our playing individual. I think about the legendary Gabreili recording by the brass players from Philadelphia, Chicago and Cleveland. The trumpet tone was VERY similar, but the playing STYLE varied noticably.

    When playing in an ensemble, I would even go so far as to say that the common good - blend of sound AND expression are more important than the individual.

    If the player is really interested in MUSIC, they will find their palette of expression. The fastest way is to play with the best people that you can. There you develop a "feel" for what sounds good.

Share This Page