help with intonation

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by bilboboone, Mar 15, 2007.

  1. bilboboone

    bilboboone New Friend

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    Mar 13, 2007
    Springfield, MO
    Hi Manny,
    I am having problems with my intonation and I hoped maybe you could help.

    When I practice I have trouble finding the center of the pitch. This leaves me searching for that sweet spot and often ends in frustration and tired chops. I don't notice it as much when I play with other musicians or cd's as my ears tend to guide me there and I am concentrating more on being musical and singing through the instrument than on all the technical stuff I think about when practicing. (maybe my intonation problems still exist under these circumstances and I just don't notice it as much, guess I would need to make recordings to know for sure).

    Do you have any advice, excercises, anything, that could help me nail this down? Nothing hurts my ears more than and out of tune note and it kills me to hear them coming from me!

    [​IMG]

    Thanks
    Boone
     
  2. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Sigh... that's the age-old problem, ain't it, Boone? Having a horn/mouthpiece combo that you can play in such a way so that the sweet spot (center) and proper pitch coincide.

    I don't know what to tell you, buddy, except that you need to go on a mouthpiece safari to find something close to what you're looking for. Sometimes opening up the throat will work.. there are so many variables that you'll just have to count yourself among the many that have to search for the holy grail of equipment combinations.

    It's why I play Dave's equipment but you may not be at a place where you want to make that kind of financial investment. I wish you the best of luck. Be patient and be firm about finding the very best you can afford.

    ML
     
  3. someguy6

    someguy6 New Friend

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    Sep 8, 2006
    Cincinnati, OH
    Hi:

    I guess the first thing to figure out is whether your ear really let's you adjust when playing with others or maybe you just don't think about it as much. Chase Sanborn markets a clamp-on tuner that would allow you to check your intonation when playing in a group. You probably wouldn't want to use this all of the time. Probably would want to close your eyes, play, and then look at the tuner so that you are not tuning with your eyes.

    If you are really playing in tune with others and out of tune when practicing, you might want to consider putting a tuning "drone" on when practicing-just turn on the drone which is in the key of whatever you are practicing.

    There are several available-Tuning CD, Tuning Tactics by Chase Sanborn, TuneUp by TuneUp systems. If all you are looking for are drones, then the Tuning CD or Tuning Tactics will work well for you. I would get Tuning Tactics since the price of the two is comparable and Chase is a trumpet player (we should take care of our own when possible).

    If you want Intonation excercises, you might consider Tuneup (which costs about 2X what the Tuning CD or Tuning Tactics cost). I haven't got this one yet (it is on order), but it is supposed to have more comprehensive exercises than either of the other two.

    Alternatively, if you have Finale or Sibelius, you could create your own drones and exercises.

    -rob
     
  4. Bikephan

    Bikephan New Friend

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    Sep 22, 2005
    Central Missouri
  5. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    I may be wrong but I don't think that was the point of Boone's post. Am i wrong, Boone? I believed your question addressed intonation and center.

    It sounded to me that Boone is more than capable of playing in tune but that his question had to do with playing in the CENTER (sweet spot) of the sound AND in tune. That's why I responded as I did.

    I have a recording of a trumpeter who plays the Zarathustra call in the sweet spot but is very sharp. I have a bunch of movie main title themes where the high Bb's, B's, and C's are right in the center but quite flat. That's what I believe Boone was asking about.

    I'm happy to be corrected if I'm mistaken.

    ML
     
  6. Bikephan

    Bikephan New Friend

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    Sep 22, 2005
    Central Missouri
    "I may be wrong but I don't think that was the point of Boone's post. Am i wrong, Boone? I believed your question addressed intonation and center.

    It sounded to me that Boone is more than capable of playing in tune but that his question had to do with playing in the CENTER (sweet spot) of the sound AND in tune. That's why I responded as I did."

    I think we may stumbled into an issue of semantics. I think we agree that the true issue Mr. Boone is concerned with is remaining in both the center of the pitch and in the resonant center of the instrument. The Thompson buzzing book with its combination of alternating mouthpiece and horn exercises played along with an accompaniment recording helps to address both overall intonation issues as well as reinforcing the idea that you get the most bang for you buck when you are buzzing the exact pitch that you are trying to produce.
    I don't claim to have a monopoly on ideas, or to be a master teacher, but I do have a personal knowledge of Mr. Boone's playing (We Have played together for about fifteen years). I also want to do everything I can to make Mr. Boone happy as he is in the process of rebuilding my vintage Strad.

    respectfully
    Tom
     
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Alternate fingerings (good) and using slides (better) can help give us the sweet spot and to tune the note at the same time, especially the first valve slide. Those saddles and rings are there to really invite us to use them! "Lipping" a note into tune: a) gets us out of the sweet spot and b) tires the chops, yet how few trumpeters pull the first slide for a high a, let alone an a in the staff?

    We'll spend hours and hours staring at a tuner, practicing lipping notes into tune, yet leave our thumbs idle.

    That's the wrong kind of voodoo.
     
  8. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

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    If I can pick up on this idea, and place it alongside your original idea that you have trouble inding the sweet spot in your practice, it might make sense to try some pitch bending with the slides as you play against a drone. Teach your thumb and ring finger where Eb, E, D, C#, A and the other bad notes are after you establish the sweet spot on the open horn. Play not only against a unison, but other intervals as well such as tritone, m2, M2, M7. We have a tendency to pull away from dissonance by either lipping sharp or flat, so practicing against the most dissonant intervals really helps center. Listen, for all notes, for the resultant tones or a whoosh/buzz type sound.
     
  9. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Here's a case of doing something so automatically that I didn't even think to mention it. Slides!

    Of course you guys are right. I used to use false fingerings all the time but haven't for many, many years. Middle C was automatically 23 and the high G was 12, the high A was 3, F# was 23 in some cases, etc. Naturally the first slide is always out for low E, middle A, C#, and high A.

    But, I take it for granted that people just do that sort of thing as a part of learning to play the trumpet. I have great isues with teachers that don't teach that every year during MYS auditions. It's part of what determines whether a kid gets into an advanced orchestra. If they walk around with a frozen 3rd slide because they never use it, well, that tells me a lot about the ear and the quality of teaching.

    I still have to say that well-chosen equipment goes a long way in helping pin the center of the sound and proper intonation concurrently. Anyways, it sounds like there's a lot of good advice to work with. Good luck!

    ML
     
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Bilboboone,
    we can drive ourselves nuts looking for things that we are having trouble with as we may just be on the wrong track.
    If you define the "center of pitch" as that what your trumpet/mouthpiece/body want to do without any correction, then you need to use a tuner and make a chart (in Excel is fine) of which notes are off and by how much. Better yet, you play and someone else notes the deviation! Just blow straight ahead and focus on what the trumpet wants. 2 octaves are enough.
    Once you have this information, publish it here or PM me, then we can give you tips on how to best start correcting it. Don't forget to say which note was used as the tuning note, and what horn/mouthpiece you play, as well as how long you have been playing, how much you practice on the average and if you are getting regular lessons. Do this a couple of times to see if the results are consistent. Play loudly and softly to see if the problem is the same. Do not play the notes as a scale or regular intervals, but at random to keep from conciously adjusting! Even if the chart looks like a disaster, don't worry, be honest and we can probably zero in on the real problem quickly!
    Whether your equipment, your body use, breathing or whatever are off, it makes sense to get a clear picture about WHERE YOU ARE before running around trying to fix something that might not be broken. There are many tell-tale signs that can be discovered by documenting your present state. I won't mention them yet to keep your documentation "unbiased"...........
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2007

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