Horn Temperature and tuning

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by SmoothOperator, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. SmoothOperator

    SmoothOperator Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 14, 2010
    I have been watching my tuning as I play. It seems that as the horn warms if becomes sharper. If I set it down and pick up another horn to play then go back to the original horn it is not sharp anymore.

    So my question is how do players deal with the horns tuning change as they play? If it is warm not a problem, but what if you have a bit of break or use multiple horns etc?
  2. ewanmains

    ewanmains Piano User

    Jun 9, 2009
    Kilmarnock, UK
  3. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    I adjust the tuning slide accordingly as I play. I've learned to do this pretty well as the other player will not tune up and I have to compensate. If you are performing outside, your horn will cool down faster and it's a challenge.
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The trick is to get to the rehearsal or concert early enough to make sure that your horn is at standard operating temperature. Kind of a no brainer regardless if you are running 100 yards, swimming 10 miles or playing trumpet.

    Preparation and attitude are the #1 keys to success.
  5. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    What I do after a break between sets,is to start blowing warm air through the horn as soon as I get back on stage.
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Generally, I tune my doubles in their cold state, and am ready to pull slides as they warm up. Now the tricky part.

    Sometimes we go up in pitch, sometimes down after playing a while and this is a tension issue not related to temperature or humidity. Reducing physical tension is a great practice goal, but I tend to be a realist and know that in performance my body does not respond like in the practice room. As a result, when practicing pieces for performance I'll spend some sessions pretending that I am nervous and playing before a hostile crowd (worst-case scenario). I'll spend more time pretending that I am "on" and the crowd is great (best-case scenario and the one I expect before a performance). One of the legitimate uses of those credit card sized electronic tuners is to check how our basic pitch changes during a practice routine or while practicing for a concert.

    The Vulgano rule for tuning during a performance is: "When in doubt, pull it out."

    Have fun!
  7. Jfrancis

    Jfrancis Pianissimo User

    Jul 19, 2008
    Hannibal, MO
    Yeah, just remember "every note is a tuning note". As musicians, we should make it our endeavor to play every note beautifully. If I'm playing lead, soloing or the like - I will actually play it out, maybe just barely sharp to speak out over the herd.

    As ewanmains said "ears".

    play beautifully!
  8. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    That's what I do, and the same goes for playing two different horns on a concert - when you pick up the cold one (do so as soon as possible after finishing with the other horn), bring it up to pitch by blowing warm air (air inhaled through the nose is warmer) through it.
  9. tpsiebs

    tpsiebs Piano User

    Feb 6, 2010
    Randolph, New Jersey
    Cold horns play flat
    Pitch rises with temperature
    Doubles should be tuned "cold", afterall they'll be sitting on the peg just chillin'.

    I used to play with a guy in a section who was constantly pushing in his slide. Even when he was sharp! He would say, "I'd rather play sharp than be out of tune".

    Notice I said, "used to play" with this guy. It is so physically taxing to play with someone who plays out of tune. There is a simultaneous responsibility of playing with the ensemble and playing with your section. You spend a lot of time lipping and nursing notes into a place where the horn isn't set for. The end of the first set feels like the end of the gig.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2011
  10. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009

    I know you have to continue to tune a horn as it warms up, but my logic gets the opposite answer. As a horn warms, the metal expands. A longer tube would lower the pitch, making it play flat. You correct for being under a pitch by pushing the tuning slide in. Where am I going wrong with my reasoning. Or, are we saying the temperature of the air in the horn makes more of a difference?

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