How to improve tone

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by hhsTrumpet, Aug 12, 2014.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The problem is in the "definition" of tone. It can be the fundamental and harmonic spectrum of a played note. The problem with this "definition" is that the proportions change with each partial and/or valve combination that we choose. This description is quantifiable and when we practice long and intelligently enough, we gravitate to a balance that sounds "full" regardless of the genre that we choose. Lets not forget that someone playing lead needs a different harmonic balance than someone in a symphony orchestra.

    Another, more fuzzy definition is what we perceive when we listen to someone playing. This is much, much more than frequency response. Ever wonder how we can tell who is playing after only a couple of notes? Think about Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Louis Armstrong, Maynard Ferguson, Maurice André, Rafael Mendez. They ALL practiced enough but ended up somewhere different from one another. If this is what was meant with the original question (and I suspect that it is judging from HHSTrumpets other very qualified posting at TrumpetMaster), we can get more into the interpretive/emulative rather than beating the mechanics up.

    When a player asks about tone, we really need to find out what they mean before offering any blanket solutions. We are at post 41 in this thread and are posting in circles because we do not know what we should be talking about. Everyone can be right and useless at the same time. In another thread I mentioned that TrumpetMaster is not always Search and Rescue, rather Search and Destroy. 40+ posts and not a bit closer to the requirements of the thread owner seems pretty lame to me...............

    I can claim for myself that more practice and/or a teacher would not improve my tone - in any genre. I need to simply play with those doing a fine job in the selected genre and LISTEN instead of DICTATE. An hour of duets with a top lead player/symphonic trumpeter/baroque trumpeter, cornetto-ist will do more for my sound concept/tone than any internet posts.

    There is a point where all of us need to take a look from the bell backwards instead of the mouthpiece forward.
  2. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    So true. This is a very subjective outcome and can even be a moving target (in my case a good thing as I like to change tone for the mood of the song). I look at tone as being a tool to "color" music. The most thrilling thing for me about my "tone" is the ability to change it. Playing the trumpet call introduction to "First Light" requires a different tone than playing the sultry head to "My One and Only Love" and the tone to Shostakovitch Symphony No. 5 I use is triumphant one compared to the other ones I mentioned.
  3. mchs3d

    mchs3d Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 30, 2005
    Provo, UT
    Now they're all in the same place.
  4. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    But there is no reason that many of us here on TM cannot have the same Heaven on Earth.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    But not due to lack of sound concept.............
  6. DaChan

    DaChan Pianissimo User

    Aug 10, 2014
    Back in high school my director sold me a bach 7e for $15. I got more interested in the upper register. A year later, I bought a yamaha drum kit for $150. I got more interested in rhythm. A few years later I spend the summer busking. I got more interested in swing. Around the same time an old player sold me a bach 5c. I started thinking more about tone. A few years later I started singing while getting drunk. Growling became easier, dynamics became easier, mix in some half valving and things got more lively. Less than 3 months ago I bought a $100 trombone. My range went up, endurance went up, ear got better. A month and a half ago I bought a pair of noise cancelling headphones. I wore them in the backyard and played LOUD, feeling the notes in my bones. My volume went up, self consciousness went down. Around the same time I got back to a jam session on Sundays at my local pub. Ear up, stage fright down. 2 days ago I got a vintage York perfectone cornet. Folk music, dixieland, and swing are getting much attention. It has made me much more aware of my tone on my trumpet (since it is a very very different horn). It is also more compact in the intervals which lets me work on things I would not otherwise be able to do.

    None of this gear is top dollar stuff... but I wouldn't trade the exposure. I'm not a 10,000 hr horn player, so my opinion may not hold a lot of weight.. but I'd say that if you aren't satisfied you probably need to try something new. Maybe thats a new bunch of scales or exercises. Maybe that's a different horn. Do you know where you might find a student level horn that you could switch to for a week? I bet after that week you will be pleased with your current ax. If you are having trouble controlling the upper register, the trombone worked for me within maybe 2 weeks of 15 minutes a day on the bone and 2 hrs on the trumpet. The noise cancelling headphones worked in a day or two of 2hrs practice per day. I rarely use my harmon, but I find switching from my bach 7E/7C/5C to my yamaha 7c works great for the harmon. When I switch back after a few days to the bachs, I can appreciate the difference and am temporarily past the hump that was holding me up. Do you use a plunger mute? If not, that is probably the cheapest way to take your mind off of it while learning something new, working out your chops and generally pushing the horn around. There are so many options. Sometimes I do chin ups before my practice just to get the blood flowing. Try stuff and listen... which is I guess what everyone else is saying.
  7. ultratrumpet

    ultratrumpet Piano User

    Jul 10, 2009
    Old Lyme, Connecticut
    Set aside a few minutes each day playing the basic exercises found on the first several pages of the Arban Method as well as the " Tone and Attack" studies found in the Harold Mitchell Trumpet Method with a strong, confident, double forte sound.

    This practice will enhance your sound, since "power blowing", (not "Power Blasting") sets up such a big vibration. It also will increase your wind power.
  8. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    11 days, 48 posts and much circular discussion (very good and humorous I might add) and HHS is where? :?::?::?: I think Solar's first response is spot on. Think about it! :think:
  9. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    ...reckon he's had a fair chance to respond by now.

    Can anyone reconcile these frequently heard comments:

    1) Whatever instrument I play, I sound like me.
    2) The sound of a Strad 37 is unmistakable.
    3) I modify my sound to match the musical setting.
    4) Try to emulate the sound of Billy "The Buzz" McToot (or whoever)

    I've scratched my head over these (and similar) for a while now. They can't all be right, can they?
  10. musicalmason

    musicalmason Forte User

    Dec 14, 2003
    #1 is true for me and most players, with only minor differences depending on equipment. These differences are small enough that th average joe probably won't notice them. If you don't sound d like you on everything, you haven't found your voice yet.

    #2 is silly and wrong.

    #3 can be true, and true of the best musicians, something we should all be trying to be able to do.

    #4 is a great way to learn, but once you get a good idea of what a trumpet should sound like you need to make it your own.

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