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

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

  1. dangeorges

    dangeorges Pianissimo User

    Oct 20, 2010
    I wonder the same thing about being taught without using your tongue.
    The ideas regarding syllables, tongue level, etc., aren't mine by the way. But it's the way I was taught, and the way I teach my students. I believe this is based on solid ground, what with Clarke, Gordon, and others teaching this way.
    Still - this is a very interesting thread. Seems to be more divided that I would have predicted initially.
  2. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    Not at all. I'm not American and was not trained on Gordon and Clark, but they have schooled too many top notch performers for me to cast any doubts on their methods. As for their explanations of their methods, that's a slightly different matter. I don't believe either were practising process engineers.

    For me personally, I don't need a high tongue to strike a high C. And though I can perform a lip trill pretty well equally with either a low static tongue or high flapping one, by and large I just use my lip. This is mainly determined by my sound preferences, and possibly the lack of much current interest beyond high C.
  3. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi sethoflagos,
    You stated:
    "This is mainly determined by my sound preferences, and possibly the lack of much current interest beyond high C."
    Moderators! Moderators! is sethoflagos allowed to have a lack of interest in notes beyond high C!?!
    Isn't our ulitmate goal (as manly testosterone filled trumpet players) to sound like angry teapots? Who needs to make the trumpet sing and sound beautiful when we can scare the hell out of the cat with shreaks above high C.
    But seriously, I don't think range trumps musicality. Always stay musical.
  4. gunshowtickets

    gunshowtickets Forte User

    Mar 11, 2015
    Tidewater, VA
    I'm here to learn, mang. You're opinionated, and so am i, so we're cool, homes. I'm liking the thoughts expressed in here.
    So simple a thing, buzzing our lips, is actually so complex.
  5. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    Why I've never studied Clarke is due to the fact that I studied with Walter H. Cameron who also had been in Sousa's band. Take what inferences you will. Otherwise, I'm still a regular with Arban's exercises and many others including my own. Why did Holton pay Clarke to use Clarke's name to promote a cornet his company made, your guess is perhaps as good as mine, but I can believe Clarke went after such corporate sponsorships inclusive of his studies. Dr. Cameron did not! He taught directly and didn't achieve his Doctorate in instrumental music until I was a junior in high school. Still, he had been my instructor, tutor, and high school band director. The question is: what am I missing without Clarke? Irrelevant perhaps, but Holton had played trombone with Sousa.
  6. keigoh

    keigoh Pianissimo User

    Oct 24, 2012
    Could anyone please explain to me where this thread is going? Honestly though...I am so lost/confused.
    I am here to learn as well; I just seek some help for me to understand this topic.
  7. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Here goes:
    A lot of what's being bantied around is "why" arching the tongue helps with playing in the upper register.
    What's been stated on various site, books, and by top professional trumpet players? Speed up the air by lifting the tongue which makes the pitch go up. The contention is: There has to be something going on more than "fast air" to make the pitch go up. Here's some fun learning:
    Verbalize a sustained "aaaaaa" as in apple and then change to saying EEEEE as in EEEE! there's a mouse.
    While you do this, notice what your chin does. With no movement of the tongue or jaw or both, the EEEE can not be formed and will not sound. You'll be stuck at "aaaaaaa"
    Next, Get your horn and play some songs to warm up
    Next, imagine a straight hortizontal line that goes follows where the lips meet.
    Next, add a imaginary vertical line that goes from the bottom of the chin to the bottom of the nose.
    You'll have in your mind the image of a cross hair on your lips and chin that intersects exactly at the aperture.
    Next, play some stuff in the upper register and when the going gets hard, shape your tongue to form an EEEEEE and do nothing but "think" about the cross hairs and where they intersect. Just "thinking" about tightening the area where the cross hairs intersect (at the aperture) should have an effect.......or not.
  8. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    Lynn Nicholson on the "fast air" theory. He says no, it makes you play louder. I don't think there is anyone here remotely qualified (save one or two)
    to tell him he is wrong.
    Perhaps in the future he will address how the tongue is used in the upper register.
    Rich T.
  9. Gxman

    Gxman Piano User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Ok, This might be long, but I believe will be WORTH the read as I spent time trying to see what is going on.

    I picked up the trumpet... I then 'very slowly' so I could see/feel what was going on, did slurs between 2nd line G and 3rd space C, then 3rd space C to top space E, then top space E to space above staff G.

    This is what I came up with/felt (as it was done slow so I could feel all the movements).

    Lifting the tongue does NOT produce higher notes. While whistling, or blowing air you do hear the sound change from a 'puuuu' blowing sound to a higher pitch 'tssss' sorta sounding air. However, that change in sound of air is not even close enough to change anything in terms of harmonics on a trumpet. All you will have is a "tss" sound coming out at each given note as you would have the same note coming out with the "puuu" sound (flat tongue).
    This of course was nothing BUT tongue moving. It changes the sound of the air, coming out of the mouth, not the sound of the trumpet note produced. It is faster air, but as seth said, not even close to faster enough to do anything.

    So, I tried again, this time trying to see what else goes on.

    By moving the tongue (2nd line G-C), if done very slowly until the harmonic kicks over, I do feel the jaw moving. I also feel the jaw moving 3rd space C-E and then 4th space E-G above staff.

    So, tongue moving up and forward, causes the jaw to move. Another factor I found was the lips themselves make changes accordingly (more firm, whatever u wanna call it, the muscles are definitely doing something).

    OK -

    Then I tried the same thing but this time, not using the tongue.

    I also did them side by side, as in, 2nd line G-3rd space C tongue, then compare to no tongue. Then 3rd space C- 4th space E tongue, then no tongue, then 4th space E-G above staff tongue, then no tongue.

    When done without tongue I feel the jaw move, I feel the muscles change, every so slightly, I also feel more air from the lungs/intercostal muscles helping to keep the pressure and support needed to get the note. Kind of like an operatic singer, instead of lifting larynx up (closing off the hole) to go higher, they just go up via more air etc. I did the same this method, it feels like the higher note is coming from inside your body rather than from the throat (as that is where the air support is).

    When done with the tongue, the above still stands true. The air support etc is still there, the tongue helps move the jaw and manipulates the muscles in embouchure to be stronger in position to not get blown apart.

    I have personally felt and analyzed doing it all slowly so that I can have a chance to think and feel minor/subtle changes in what is happening.

    What I came up with is this:

    In either situation using the tongue or not - The air pressure and support, intercostal muscles etc will do the changing the same way.

    The Embouchure muscles will also do the same changing, whether you use tongue or not. - I personally felt when I used the tongue how the lips changed, When I did it without tongue, I had the exact same sensation/feeling of change.

    The Jaw moves, (bringing aperture closer and all the other stuff) when you use the tongue or not. Again - I felt the same movement in jaw when I used tongue and when I did not use tongue.

    So I can only conclude that, whether you use the tongue, or do not use the tongue, your jaw/embouchure will need to do the same thing to produce the same notes. If no jaw/embouchure change, no note change, regardless of how far you move the tongue or do not move the tongue. So that means, its the setting of the embouchure/aperture that will produce a given note, not the tongue inside the mouth.

    I see that the tongue is a 'means' of how to get there. Some can just move jaw/embouchure efficiently without tongue (that is what I find easier), others use the tongue for the embouchure/jaw to move into the 'same' position someone else can do without it.

    So my conclusion is:

    The tongue is a way to achieve the same goal. For your notes to increase, the jaw will move, the aperture will probably get smaller, and the muscles will resist the air more (as your giving it more) thus causing the vibration to increase thus causing the notes to increase.

    Whether you use the tongue to achieve the above or not, its the above that does it. The tongue may just aid in 'moving the jaw, aperture getting smaller, muscles resisting the air more etc'. If it did not aid in doing that, and the above (jaw, aperture, muscles) stayed the same, and tongue moved... not 1 single note will change. It cant.

    Some find using the tongue good because by default it moves the embouchure, jaw etc into place for the given note they are trying to play.

    Others, like me, I can achieve the same thing without worrying about the tongue, My jaw also moves, embouchure muscles etc (the same amount it would when using the tongue).

    So there may just be 2 ways of getting to the same place.

    Relating to articulation

    When I use my tongue to go up in notes (which as established, by default moves jaw, aperture and so forth - otherwise, no note change would occur), when I am above the Staff on the G, my tongue is in EEE vowel position. To now do nice articulate tonguing, I find odd. Why?

    Well - When I do a scale, from low C - Middle C, Because tongue is low in the face, I can get a nice pointed "t- t- t-" sound. Kind of like when you have a bit of sesame seed or something else stuck on tip of tongue and you wanna spit it out, its that short burst "t" sound.

    As I start to raise the tongue into an E vowel position... my articulation starts to sound a little more sloppy, only because now I can not just 'lift' the tip of tongue as the entire tongue is up, so the point of contact becomes slightly behind the tip of the tongue.

    So from low C-C the tip does nice articulation, above C as tongue raises into E position, the part behind the tip of the tongue starts to do the articulation, which is a wider part of the tongue and so loses that cutting sound it used to produce.

    What was purpose of using tongue again? Well, to bring the jaw closer, place embouchure/aperture etc as mentioned with which without, no notes would change anyway regardless of where tongue is.


    By not using the tongue. By placing the embouchure and all that stuff where its supposed to be (where it would be had you used the tongue) , well then it gets interesting. low C-C is normal, tongue is at bottom, thus you have the room to nicely use the tip of tongue to articulate strongly. Now we get to 3rd Space C-G above staff. Guess where tongue is? Same place (seems like), which again, allows me to use the tip of my tongue to articulate strongly rather than the part behind it (more mushy tonguing) due to the fact tongue has risen into a different position.

    So I conclude (at least for me) is:

    Since the tongue movement helps the jaw/embouchure all move into place to achieve the higher notes, but at the same time, means the articulation will be a little more mushy due to the fact that a different part of the tongue from that position will be touching the roof of the mouth ... WHY NOT ON THE OTHER HAND BYPASS THE TONGUE? ... learn to use the jaw/embouchure, to place it in the same place that the tongue is trying to put it into, thus allowing your tongue to remain in a better position to have more freedom to continue articulating nicer and therefor making you a better sounding player?
  10. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi Gxman,
    You stated:
    "So I can only conclude that, its the setting of the embouchure/aperture that will produce a given note, not the tongue inside the mouth. I see that the tongue is a 'means' of how to get there.
    I agree! I think you've discovered half of what's been hypothesized.
    Yes lifting the tongue is a means of lifting the chin which puts the lips a little closer to make a smaller aperture.
    Now, which is harder to get buzzing, a aperture at middle C or an aperture at C above the staff?
    For me it would be the middle C. The low note tends to use more air but the buzzing is easier. It's tough to get such a tiny hole to cooperate and occolate. This is where it appears that the "fast air" comes into play. The air needs to go faster to get the pin hole aperture to buzz.
    Great investigative work. Are you sure you're not a cop?

    Yes it was wordy but worth every bit. What you found is what's been hypothesized. How cool is that!!

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