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

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    Hi rowuk,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to look around. I've found nothing that supports arching the tongue to change the pitch either but as the old saying goes: "10,000 frenchmen can't be all wrong". There's a bunch of people out there that advocate this method (I use it too) but as to "why", this is a mystery. Well maybe a little less a mystery if what's been uncovered about the link with the jaw and vowel sounds cuts the mustard. I hope that someone grabs this idea and goes with it in an academic sense. Even discovering that it isn't what is thought is cool.
    I'll keep plugging along and if I do find something that supports (or doesn't) I'll let you know.
    Thanks!
    Dr.Mark
     
  2. Gxman

    Gxman Piano User

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    From everything I have tried... if I do 'not' think about what I am doing and just play a song and allow it to sing... I think my tongue is mostly dormant as it is just 'easier' to not use it.

    I mean, going up/down/up/down slurring high low high low notes constantly at speed... you get tired to work the tongue EEE AWWW EEE AWW positions... and seems counterproductive when you could have just controlled most of this via the air pressure and subtle movements of the lips. Less work and thus more efficient.

    If I think to not move lips at all, and ONLY use the moving of the tongue, I run into a problem. People say just like when you whistle, by moving the tongue and not the embouchure the note does rise and fall in pitch. But this I find has no barring or even relevance to the trumpet because when you whistle your lips are not vibrating as they are on a trumpet. Its more like a flute/pan pipe rather than a trumpet. To me whistling is a VERY Bad example of trumpet tongue relevance as it has none at all, the notes are formed completely different by whistling and blowing through a trumpet.

    So when I move tongue and NOT move lips (like whistling)... My note in the trumpet will not change. I can put my tongue right up in my mouth, in an extreme EEEE position all the way down to a total flat AWWW position, the note will remain the same but my work-load increased as now I'm doing more than just blowing.

    It is as though the LIPS set the note, the movement of the tongue might just help with the movement of the lips. So when you move your tongue other things move to. If nothing but tongue moves, no change in pitch will be realized just a diminished air stream that has lost its body (because u made the space in your mouth smaller, thus sound = thinner)

    *scratches head*
     
  3. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

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    While it is fun to explore the reasons why and how things work, after getting a good grasp of the basics all one has to do is to hear the pitch and volume of the next note to play and let the "muscle memory" do the rest. I hate that term as muscles have no memory of their own, they are controlled by the brain.

    There is a feedback loop, brain-chops-air support (pressure)-horn-ears and back to the brain. When this loop is made we have optimal results.

    Regards, Stuart.l
     
  4. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    ---
    You're not alone. There's no credible info (that I've read) that explains "why" lifting the tongue assists for a easier upper register but as the old saying goes, 10,000 frenchmen can't be all wrong. There must be something to it but how it works (for me) is less of a mystery. Lifting the tongue speeds up the air and helps make the hole smaller.
    Dr.Mark
     
  5. gunshowtickets

    gunshowtickets Forte User

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    [​IMG]

    bruh, why?

    I never posited any of what i posted was *why*, i was spitballing because that seemed to be the direction this thread was going. Your post just comes off as arrogant and abrasive. Way to welcome new members to the site. Some people play for fun. Can't we all just get along?


    I decided to do some experimenting last night and the "non sequitur" you did not address was what came to mind. Let's just leave aside the choke flow, which Dr. Mark's subsequent post alluded to, at the moment.
    Go put a mute in your horn and play above the staff. I recommend the mute because it lowers the amount of sound you hear coming from the front end of the horn, but a set of earplugs or noise-reducing earmuffs can work. When i did this last night, i found some tones to be INSANELY LOUD only to me because it seems the resonance comes from within your mouth, i'm guessing the insanely loud ones (like a, ledger line above staff) are the natural frequencies of my head.
    I seem to recall a video of Allen Vizzutti at a clinic showing a drill where he blew air through just his lips and the buzz only came after he put either the mouthpiece or the horn with mouthpiece to his lips.
     
  6. dangeorges

    dangeorges Pianissimo User

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    I tried the following last night:

    1. Tried to change pitch (higher and lower) without using my tongue
    2. Tried to change pitch by only moving my tongue

    For the life of me, I find it very difficult to move the pitch higher without moving the back/sides of my tongue upwards (like whistling). I can do it with just a smaller aperture and more air, but it's more difficult.
    Adding the tongue to the mix makes a HUGE difference for me. Case in point - lip trills in the upper register are done (relatively) easily by using my tongue (e.g., F, G, A above the staff). Without using my tongue, I really could't make it happen - at least not consistently.

    Even Gordon and Clark instruct us to use the tongue:

    The tongue does much more than just articulation. It must first be understood that the tongue controls the velocity of the air coming out of the mouth. When going higher the tongue rises and moves forward into an arched position, as in pronouncing an “Eee” vowel sound. When descending, the tongue flattens into an “Aww” vowel. Claude’s term “Tongue Level” means that for every single pitch the tongue has a specific level or shape in the mouth. High velocity air causes the lips to vibrate faster and produce high notes.

    It may be that we all learn to control pitch in different ways. If we weren't taught to use the tongue, of course we might not use it.

    On the other hand - those who say they don't use their tongue just may not be aware of what's going on with it after the initial "hit" of the higher note. Once the tongue "helps" you get to a higher pitch, it gets out of the way to make a nice full tone.

    So bottom line (in my mind) is that however you reach the notes you need to reach - go for it. To those who don't use their tongue: try it and see what happens.
     
  7. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    That's because I am arrogant and abrasive. Or so Mrs Seth says.

    On the other hand, I did make the effort to give a genuine, reasoned response to the points you raised (the one's I could follow at least) and some people are happy to pay a few bob for that. You get it for free. Welcome to TM :-)
     
  8. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    Dan, could I suggest a slightly different perspective on this for you to consider.

    The main difficulty I have with the 'faster air' concepts is that I can see absolutely no mechanism for raising air velocity in the oral cavity to anything above snail's pace; the flow volume is just too small and the flow cross-section just too large. Granted in qualitative terms, a reduction in flow cross-section for a given flow (by eg bringing the tongue towards the roof of the mouth) must cause some speed increase but only to the extent of having a slightly faster snail. Quantitatively, it simply doesn't work for me, and I do have some experience with this sort of stuff.

    Particularly for the case of the rapid lip trills you mention, there simply isn't the time for air to get from the face of the tongue to the embouchure in order to effect a rapid articulation. And remember, we must also include lip trills in the lower registers where the tongue is nowhere near the roof of the mouth, and where I believe all would accept that the air is slow.

    But there is a way out of this.

    While raising the tongue may not create a high air speed, it does displace a considerable amount of air. Most of this air will actually work its way around the sides and under the tongue to fill the space vacated rather than head for the aperture, but in doing so the tongue will create a pressure wave pulse and that will travel through the system, not at snail's pace, but at the speed of sound. This I would call fast, and quite fast enough to meet the needs of rapid articulation. It's just that it is a pulse of energy travelling through the air at speed, not the air itself which continues to crawl slowly towards wherever it is eventually required.

    I've yet to convince myself that there is sufficient power in this pressure wave to disturb the embouchure enough to flip the vibrational equilibrium, but combined with lip movement and Dr Mark's musculo-mandibular connections, and maybe even oral cavity resonance, it seems credible to consider as a contributory factor.

    Seth
     
  9. dangeorges

    dangeorges Pianissimo User

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    Interesting, Seth.

    What do you make of the Gordon and Clark methods indicating the use of the tongue? Are they off-base? I also believe Arban instruction (can't remember, though), as do at least a few pros and teachers (e.g., Charlie Porter to name one). Are they all blowing hot air (pun intended)?
     
  10. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Hi Dangeorges,
    You stated:
    "The tongue does much more than just articulation."
    ---
    Oh my yes, for us it does at least. I can't imagine playing without my vowels. Something fun to try!
    Open your mouth wide and say "aaaaaa" as in open wide and say "aaaaaaaaa" and slowly change the sound to "EEEEE" as in EEEE there's a mouse! See what your chin does. Can you keep it stationary? Probably but it's probably gonna feel strange. This is one of the areas that may house the "why" it works. Just speeding up the air shouldn't be enough in an of itself to cause a change in pitch. I suggest that the chin raises a little when we "EEEE" which brings the lips a little closer together.
    ---
    It must first be understood that the tongue controls the velocity of the air coming out of the mouth. When going higher the tongue rises and moves forward into an arched position, as in pronouncing an “Eee” vowel sound. When descending, the tongue flattens into an “Aww” vowel. Claude’s term “Tongue Level” means that for every single pitch the tongue has a specific level or shape in the mouth. High velocity air causes the lips to vibrate faster and produce high notes.
    ----
    It should be more than just the velocity of the air.
    Some mechanism should be making the hole (aperture) smaller too, right?
    That's what lead me to this:
    1. When the tongue is lifted, does the air goes faster? Yes.
    2. When the tongue goes up, does the chin (unless taught otherwise) go up? Yes.
    3. Does this put the lips a little closer together? Yes.
    4. When the lips are closer together, can a smaller aperture be made? Yes
    Faster air through a smaller hole and the tongue appears to be either the culprit or at least complicit.
    ---
    Another interesting find is:
    Why were so many taught to not use their tongues? I thought just about everybody used vowels (Taaaa Toooo TEEEEE Taaaa) when they played.
    Dr.Mark
     

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