Input Please: Why Is The Tongue Used In The Upper Register?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Pedagogy' started by Dr.Mark, Mar 6, 2015.

  1. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    920
    704
    Apr 5, 2011
    I've got a question that's designed for those with a background in physiology, biology, or neurology.
    Here's a little Internet background for those who ain't:
    Genioglossus is the fan-shaped extrinsic tongue muscle that forms the majority of the body of the tongue. Its arises from the mental spine of the mandible and its insertions are the hyoid bone and the bottom of the tongue. Innervated by the hypoglossal nerve, the genioglossus depresses and protrudes the tongue. The name derives from the Greek roots: "Geneion" for chin and "glossa" for tongue.
    Here's what I'm thinking:
    The size of the aperture determines the pitch, right? If that's so then the tongue could do flip flops and it wouldn't effect pitch what so ever. However, if moving the tongue up and toward the front teeth causes or allows the mandible to raise (even just a little) maybe this helps to make the aperture "smaller." The question: Does moving the tongue to play in the upper register result in the mandible moving up causing the lips to be closer together making the aperture smaller?
    Dr.Mark
    [h=2][/h]
     
  2. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    2,513
    1,291
    May 7, 2011
    Arizona
    Whistle a trill and tell me what your tongue is doing... And why does that make the pitch change?
     
  3. Michael T. Doublec

    Michael T. Doublec Pianissimo User

    50
    28
    Nov 20, 2014
    Dr. Mark
    You always ask such tough questions, but I like them. I will tell you what I feel when I do a lip (tongue is correct) trill. When I play in the upper register and especially from an e above high c, the forward arching of the tongue seems to quicken the air flow while compressing it into a smaller space. That space being from the top of the arched tongue to the back inside of the chops. In the extreme upper register, my tongue will actually restand press on the bottom lip .It also seems that the directional change of the air is responsible for any change in pitch. I often practice while looking in a mirror. My lower jaw or chin does not move at all when I do a tongue trill or use the tongue to enrich the forward compression. I also note that there is no real visible chop movement other than what I would use for vibrato. When playing loud and high I seldom use vibrato until the last held note. So I think it's the air, air flow and not the lower jaw...buts that's what I feel. Also in the upper register I play with relaxed chops and jam a little more chop into the mouthpiece. I would be interested in what anyone else thinks or feels.

    Mike Fesi
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2015
  4. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    920
    704
    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi jiarby,
    Here's a little snippet from the physics forum on human whistling:
    "The basics is just moving air inside a hollow tube that's closed at one end will do to produce a clear sound. You can only make whistling sounds at the resonance frequencies of your mouth, because only at the resonance frequencies the pressure changes due to the moving air will get amplified. You can change the resonance frequencies by changing the position of your tongue."
    Whistling as we know it (something I'm actually good at. My hero is/was Ron McCroby) appears to be fundimentally different than buzzing. Noise made due to the resonance frequencies of the oral cavity verses the tongue possibly effecting the chin which (if so) helps bring the lips closer together which effects pitch.
    It appears that one sound is made in the mouth (whistling) and the other is made as it leaves the mouth(buzzing).
    Dr.Mark
     
  5. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    920
    704
    Apr 5, 2011
    ---
    Yes I know. If I place my finger in front of my lips while blowing softly and bring my tongue to the front of the mouth while doing this, the air will get faster. I can feel it on my finger. But the aperture hole stays the same. Doesn't the size of the aperture determine the pitch? Don't get me wrong, I'm a big advocate of using the tongue in the upper register and have done so for decades but (unless I'm totally off-base) it's the aperture, not the air that determines pitch. We know the tongue thing works. We have also read about Bernoulli's principle which (if memory serves me) the tongue shouldn't have any effect on the pitch.
    Dr.Mark
     
  6. Michael T. Doublec

    Michael T. Doublec Pianissimo User

    50
    28
    Nov 20, 2014
    Dr. Mark
    First off I hate to keep referring to this, but if you look at Lynn Nicholson's chops on just a rim, you will see very little if any change to a smaller aperture. I have learned to play this way and the idea is to have the chops vibrate all the way across the rim, not get smaller in aperture. The way I envision it is, if you had 2 airplane wings upside down and on top of each other, when the air flows across them they will separate, until the air pressure drops enough to have them come back down, touch and then rise again. In fast motion this is to me pitch. I would also say the wider (thicker) the wings are the faster they react to air flow, thus making the upper register sound full. I wish I had understood this years ago. But that is why it is best to keep learning. Look at Lynn's chops on the rim with this link.

    https://www.facebook.com/video.php?...b.100004206160826&type=2&theater&notif_t=like

    Mike Fesi
     
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    61
    16,616
    7,960
    Jun 18, 2006
    Germany
    I think that there is a tendency to make this more complicated than it is. Our lips are trapped in equilibrium between the AIRPRESSURE of our blow and the impedance of the horn (AC backpressure). This allows them to resonate freely with the horn resonance. The tongue motion slightly increases the pressure in the oral cavity (well, actually detunes equilibrium by increasing the resonant frequency slightly) thus aiding in pitch change. PRESSURE is the key to tuning the lips. The german term for increasing pitch to a higher partial is a bit clearer here: ├╝berblasen -overblowing. We are talking about fine motor activity here. The chops need enough strength to keep from falling into the cup. The backpressure of the horn helps a bit here in countering the AC pressure of our blow.

    We need to look at a monostable circuit to best explain what the embouchure does, not Bernoulli. The equilibrium also explains why our tone gets thin when we twist our chops into shape with armstrong pressure, there is no equilibrium, lip tension is required to compensate.
     
  8. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    2,776
    1,904
    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    From my measurements there is a minimum static air pressure behind the lips to sustain a note below which the sound disappears, low C 5" Water gauge, middle C 12"WG, High C 30" WG (approx 1 PSI) readings averaged over many experiments regardless of horn or mouthpiece.

    Regards, Stuart.
     
  9. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    5,332
    4,732
    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    I'm sure you have something here, Dr Mark. One of the little quirks I've had to deal with during my relearning process is that I've become aware how every little movement of the tongue ends up 'tweaking' my mouth corners by some process (maybe via the mandible, maybe not), and thereby affecting lip tension and aperture. This has been most obvious while matching the pitch of the tu's and ku's in slow double-tonguing: the tu's 'want' to play just that bit higher than the ku's.

    I find this physical link between tongue level and pitch far more convincing than the various air speed theories which simply don't wash with basic physics.
     
  10. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    920
    704
    Apr 5, 2011
    ---
    Hi jiarby,
    I have to admit, since our last post, I spent some time (this probably sounds perverted) feeling my whistle and noticing my face. One of the things I noticed while doing this was when I went from a low note to a high note, more than the tongue seemed to move. I can conciously (as best I can) stabilize the chin and lips but if I just whistle like I normally do, I can feel more than the tongue moving. Something to try:
    Do a low whistle and slowly slur up to a high note. For me, it felt like more than the tongue was in action. As the tongue moved toward the front upper teeth, other muscles seems to be activated.
    Maybe the tongue, chin, and lips are hardwired to work in tandem for early survival but over time, the behavior lessens. With feeding babies, tongue thrust, (if memory serves me) the tongue goes forward and forces some food past the lips as the lips tighten. During that time, the chin appears to lift appearing to assist with the tightening of the lips.
    One of the great things about the internet is that we can look things up. If a person youtubes Tongue Thrust, examples can be seen
    Hey! We need a pediu...pedicur...pediatr....baby doctor. They might be able to direct us toward a lit link that can or can not show a link between the tongue going forward and the chin raising.
    Dr.Mark
     

Share This Page