Glossary of Obscure Trumpet Terms and Slang

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Sethoflagos, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    Now and then around the threads, I'll come across the odd word and immediately think "I haven't got a clue what you're talking about". Few and far between fortunately, but often the search function or standard dictionaries are of no help, and I'm sure others share this experience.

    I thought a thread that would pop up on a search for a fair number of these terms would help particularly newbies, and those for whom English is not their first language.

    I'll kick things off with

    Air-ball = failure to create lip vibration when striking a note, resulting in air flow with no sound.
    Aperture = 'tunnel' of variable length and diameter formed by embouchure for exhalation and pertinent vibrations.
    Armstrong = high range technique based primarily on contraction of the biceps; see Pressure.
    (The) Basics Sheet = see
    BFB = big full breath.
    Biff = see Clam.
    Blanched = see Dead tone
    Blast = play at a volume beyond ones ability to control tone and pitch.
    Bone = trombone - preferred fallback for failed trumpeters.
    Breath attack = untongued articulation using the syllable "hoo"
    Bright = quality of sound rich in harmonic overtones.
    Choke = fail miserably during a solo or performance; shut off air flow.
    Circle of breath = see
    Clam = general term for a mistake, missed accidental or rhythm etc.
    Colour = character of a sound due to the higher harmonic overtones, and various stylistic technical effects.
    Compact = sound with moderate Core (q.v.) and little peripheral Spread (q.v.)
    Compression = reduction of lung volume due to muscular contraction of various anatomical parts.
    Core = concerning the clarity and resonance of the lowest harmonics of a sound.
    Cornet = small horn.
    Cut (through) = emphasise a line with a non-blending tone rather than sheer volume - see Laser Tone
    Dark = quality of sound rich in the Core (q.v.) tones.
    Dead tone = executed without vibrato.
    (with) Derby = muted effect using a bowler hat.
    DHC = "Double High C" - space above the 5th leger line over the treble stave.
    Doit = upward glissando.
    Embrochure = misspelling of embouchure typical of those who read brochures but not books.
    f = forty pace pain threshold.
    ff = square of f (q.v.)
    Flub = see Clam.
    Flugel = small tuba.
    Focused = Compact (q.v.) sound with narrow Core (q.v.)
    Frankenhorn = instrument cobbled together from parts of various other models.
    Gap = clearance between end of mouthpiece shank and lead pipe with mysterious, unknowable properties.
    Growl = onomatopœic, highly coloured tonal effect.
    Heft = a 'weighty' tone - sonorous and authoritative.
    Impedance = a measure of the minimum extra 'effort' required to raise loudness one unit at a given pitch.
    IPA = 91 vol% solution of isopropyl alcohol - useful for sterilising inside tubing etc.
    It! = any pathetic, embarrassing or shameful affliction; see N+1.
    KTM = k-tongue modified - a popular modern tonguing technique.
    Lamp = low quality or otherwise unserviceable instrument.
    Laser tone = penetrating, very Focused (q.v.) sound with limited tonal Colour (q.v.)
    Lick = a small phrase, generally undeveloped, that someone enjoys playing.
    mf = (in style of) Maynard Ferguson - loud, up an octave and add a lip trill.
    mp = mighty powerful.
    N+1 = one more trumpet to add to the collection; also a certifiable addictive condition that craves N+1.
    N+2 = acute case of N+1 (q.v.)
    Nail it = successfully execute (e.g.) a challenging high note.
    Noodle = to play groups of random notes, perhaps in search of a Lick (q.v.) or theme.
    Oboe = an ill wind no-one blows any good.
    Octave key = hook mounted on leadpipe for small finger - often used to extend range via Pressure (q.v.)
    Open = with no valves depressed; alternatively, presenting low Impedance (q.v.)
    p = powerful.
    Pinky hook = see Octave key
    Plop = downward glissando.
    Pop = precisely articulated slur; alternatively, post-concert beverage.
    pp = pretty powerful.
    Premature articulation = an entry made too early, with likely risk of Train wreck (q.v.)
    Pressure = force of mouthpiece against embouchure - often applied excessively for range extension.
    Projection = capability of making oneself clearly audible at a distance.
    Resistance = grossly misleading malapropism for Impedance (q.v.)
    Resonance = the core sound strength of an instrument played in sympathy with it's natural harmonics.
    Ray of power = see
    Reverse(d) lead pipe = a lead pipe that extends as a leg within a main tuning slide sleeve.
    Scat = stylised imitation of vocalist who has forgotten his lyrics - characteristic style of Satchmo.
    Screamer = mouthpiece designed specifically to assist extended playing in extreme register.
    Sizzle = onomatopœic quality of some Bright (q.v.) sounds, perhaps including tonal distortion.
    Slot = low impedance 'sweet spot' - may be narrow, wide, more or less close to pitch intended.
    Spitball = balled up paper etc. blown through trumpet to clean inside tubing.
    Spread = the more peripheral, diffuse elements in a sound.
    Stradivarious = predominantly Bach-based Frankenhorn (q.v.)
    Stuffy = presenting a high Impedance (q.v.)
    Tacet = musical passage in which trumpets are silent due to excessive difficulty, boredom, bar visit, death etc.
    Train wreck = collapse of an ensemble performance due to a catastrophically misplayed phrase.
    TSO = "Trumpet Shaped Object" - cheaply made instrument of limited musical capability.
    Tuneritis = Degenerative affliction caused by believing electronics and ignoring one's ear.
    Viola = more vile.
    Violist = most vile.
    Welly it = play in unrestrained fashion - see ff.
    Zombie = resurrected old thread.

    If you're sure of the appropriate meaning of these terms, or can think of others that should be added to the list, please post/discuss below so I can update this posting.

    We obviously don't need non-trumpet related definitions of these words. That's what dictionaries are for. :-)
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  2. mgcoleman

    mgcoleman Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 22, 2010
    Clam is obscure? That's one I heard early in my playing days and have consistently heard over the years. That said, I believe my recollection of its use is mostly confined to jazz and big band genres.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Heft like Hefty = with weight, of considerable size. It can describe the sound or body of the player...........

    Just to head off cornet, it is not tough. Corno in Italian and cornu in latin means horn. Cornet in french is the diminuative form of corne (horn). The definition is "small horn". As the traditional cornets have primarily tapered bores, they belong to the horn family.

    Train Wreck is a term worth knowing - it generally means that you completely destroyed a phrase and no one else was prepared for it.
  4. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    Air-ball = ? Blow, but only air comes out.. no tone. Lips not vibrating.
    Clam = ? A flub, mistake, missed accidental or rythmn.
    Heft = ? Heavy, Fat.. played with some weight. Can't say I have ever seen that one in a chart.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Neal Hefti's charts are musically pretty heavyweight
  6. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
  7. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    When VB talks about the need for an orchestral C trumpet to have 'heft', isn't he talking more of a sound quality? Something like 'sonorous and authoritative', maybe?

    Still a bit 'standard dictionaryish', but we'll give it a try

    Good one!
  8. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    I heard a conductor in college call for "heft" of a part ... to the extent that it had sufficient timbre to be heard as reasonably well like it was intended and should be. One must play forte when it is called for and not pianissimo.
  9. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Biff - same as clam
    Choke - messed up a solo, or perhaps a whole performance
  10. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Usually in pencil, BFB. It means, uhh, "big full breath." Yeah, that's it--full....

Share This Page