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

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

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    We could start, but why? It works for some. Those where it doesn't, don't need to argue. I think that it is more significant when I play natural trumpet than any of my standard valved horns. I know many lead players that also extensively use EEEEEE. It kind of shows up in their tone (don't mean that in a negative way.....).

     
  2. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Hi rowuk,
    Very good point. Just think, on this trumpet site there are people discussing Boyle's law, Bernoulli principle, Reynold's number and other academic ideas and no one got smacked on the knuckles with a ruler. Maybe there's something in the water.
    Dr.Mark
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Mark, we have a lot of other civilized stuff going on even beside that. There are a lot of angles to just about anything artistic but when we get to physics, the choices narrow appreciably.

    There was a trombone player that visited a couple of years ago, I think his name was Sabutin. He had a very interesting theory about the resonance of the oral cavity and its effects on playing. There was a lot more to it and it was VERY interesting reading even if in my opinion he made a law out of a theory. There simply is nothing absolute except that we need to practice a lot to build habits. Just about anything else is subject to many exceptions........

    You may want to search on his stuff. The tongue definitely plays a role on the resonance in the mouth and may be related to your observation.

    I payed close attention when practicing a couple of hours ago. On the picc, there was very little tongue motion or arch up to double C. The same was true for the zink in its couple of octaves. On the C or Bb trumpet only a tiny bit more (big symphonic mouthpiece). On the natural trumpet it was almost 100% archwork for register changes and trills. I didn't try a lead mouthpiece but suspect that there would be more arch to get the correct "shape" of the sound.

    What I interpret is that when the "vowel" sound of the trumpet tone is more O or U, the tongue is down. When we want a more "e" or "a" tone, the arch aids that. At the end of the day, we can get the trumpet to talk. The tongue in my case is not always used in the upper register and arch can be useful for other things in the middle register. For me this is different than when speaking however as the lips are in front of the oral cavity and have a much different effect on the tone.
     
  4. Gxman

    Gxman Piano User

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    I am learning to use the tongue as I go above middle C, the more E vowel position to get things moving in there, or used to moving.

    What I don't get is this:

    Once i hit the G above staff (via moving the tongue)... once the G is played and sustained i can drop my tongue all the way flat A vowel or U and the G does not change. It keeps sounding G.

    On other hand, trying to play A ledger line above staff... i can move tongue until air is completely cut off, there is no increase in note, as though moving it does absolutely nothing.

    So on one hand, moving it up does not help get higher notes on other hand, once I am blowing a higher note, dropping the tongue does not decrease the note either.

    An observation I made is when moving the tongue from an A to E vowel position in the mouth what actually happens is the lips move accordingly. So i figured its the embouchure that is doing it not the tongue, but by using the tongue it makes you think about it prior to the air reaching the lips which is all to late then...

    Help?
     
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Gxman, you are not unique. You see, there are many factors that have to come together. Every trumpet player into advanced lip slurs discovers this. Basically, your lips have to be riding on air and be relatively free of armstrong pressure to be able to change pitch with relatively low effort. On my natural trumpet playing, it is easy to over-/undershoot pitches if I haven't been practicing that horn for a while. The tongue in that case negotiates a change in pitch made possible by the air pressure. If we squeeze the lips off, far more effort is required. The tongue is not a secret for upper register, it is simply a factor when the rest is together.

     
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Gxman, once we "hit" a note Newton's first law of motion comes into play as the standing wave reinforces the buzz. That is what happens to your G above the staff. As you have rightly noted, tongue arch is not the "be all and end all" of playing. Yes, it happens, but I believe tongue arch is a symptom of and not a cause of high notes. (Sorry for "shouting" but I do feel strongly about this.)

    David Hickman believes that if we can flutter-tongue a note our tongue is in the right position for that note. I concur.
     
  7. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

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    From my own measurements I have concluded that for every note there is a minimum air pressure and aperture/tension required, and as Gxman has found once the note is established the tongue position will not alter the pitch.

    As Paul Kurth postulates in his video "if one can play a note at 7 discrete levels of volume then one can play 7 partials" this is based on the Work of Fletcher and Tarnofsky University of New South Wales dept of Physics.

    I will try to verify this with my pressure gauge and sound level meter soon.

    Regards, Stuart.
     
  8. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    I payed close attention when practicing a couple of hours ago. On the picc, there was very little tongue motion or arch up to double C.
    The same was true for the zink in its couple of octaves.
    On the C or Bb trumpet only a tiny bit more (big symphonic mouthpiece).
    On the natural trumpet it was almost 100% archwork for register changes and trills. I didn't try a lead mouthpiece but suspect that there would be more arch to get the correct "shape" of the sound.

    What I interpret is that when the "vowel" sound of the trumpet tone is more O or U, the tongue is down. When we want a more "e" or "a" tone, the arch aids that. At the end of the day, we can get the trumpet to talk. The tongue in my case is not always used in the upper register and arch can be useful for other things in the middle register. For me this is different than when speaking however as the lips are in front of the oral cavity and have a much different effect on the tone.[/QUOTE]
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    Hi rowuk,
    I edited your post just a little but left the parts to possibly ponder on.
    Something to try:
    1.Take your finger and place in in front of your mouth about an inch away.
    2.Blow a soft steady stream of air and without moving the tongue, make the feel of the air against your finger get faster. My guess is that you will manipulate the corners which will reduce the size of the aperture which will make the air feel faster against your finger.
    3.Now do the same thing again but arch the tongue to make the air feel faster against the finger.
    Hopefully we agree that in both cases, because the hole got smaller, the air got faster. It is not because the air got faster behind the hole.
    The hypothesis I'm kicking around is:
    Many of the ideas about speeding up the air with the tongue or compressing the air in the mouth by raising the tongue, etc. may not have a direct effect with playing in the upper register. These appear to be important tools we can feel or imagine. Methods that use the tongue to play in the upper register appears to be the result of tension being placed on the mandible to be pulled up which (when raised) puts the lips a little closer together which helps make the aperture a little smaller.
    I've found very little that addresses this idea but when I read medical sites and texts on facial structure, there seems to be a anatomical reason for this phenomenon. A co-hypothesis? Is raising the tongue and it's effect on the mandible hard wired for suckling behavior.
    Unfortunatley/fortunatley, that should raise the question " If the tongue raises and causes the mandible to go up which causes the bottom lip to apply force, what's the upper lip just below the nose doing when this is going on?"
    Yes, I read some of Sam Burris (I think that was/is his name) on oral resonance and if I remember correctly, I didn't agree with the idea and when questioned, there were no credible backing sources and the individual took too much of a definitive (sort of this is the gosple) stance. Hopefully I am not. If it appears so, It's just the exuberance of possibly finding something new. If excessive, I apologize.
    Dr.Mark
     
  9. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    Now run with this idea and think about leverage. Movement of the major jaw muscles are designed to raise or lower the jaw by an inch or so for chomping through serious steaks. But we don't need that. We need jaw motion of the order one-hundredth of an inch or so. The main jaw muscles have neither the fine adjustment nor the speed to deal adequately with this. But these muscles between the base of the tongue and front of the mandible, acting at a much less direct angle, move quite a long way with lots of mechanical advantage for a tiny adjustment of jaw position. And isn't this exactly what we need for fine control and rapid response in the upper register?

    Simple experiment. Try trilling between E & G with 1) lung pressure 2) main jaw muscles 3) lip tension 4) tongue waggling. They all work after a fashion, but which is fastest and most accurate?

    And wouldn't it be nice to have the tongue free for this sort of activity rather than have it tied up a good deal of the time with basic pitch setting?
     
  10. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Hi Sethoflagos,
    Yes I do think that fine motor skills exist when moving the mandible and this is exactly what we need for fine control and rapid response in the upper register. I don't think the tongue sets the pitch. I think the tongue raises the mandible which helps bring the lips closer together. The tongue in respect to "what we feel in our mouth" is a visualization which helps getting the job done. I know if I incorporate my tongue in the upper register as I have for decades, I can play Ferguson solos till the cows come home. The idea of how the mandible might be the "secret", is something I just thought of a couple of weeks ago. The choices that work best for me when trilling E & G is the #4.
    It's interesting that I don't find a lot of info about what the mandible's role is when a person is playing in the upper register and chooses to arch their tongue. There's a bunch of info from really good players about speeding up the air in the mouth, compressing the air, focused air, ect. but isn't it the size of the hole that determines the pitch, not what's going on behind the hole?
    Hey! we could call it the Great Mandible Caper. Let's all get in the Mystery Machine and meet down at Old Mill Creek with Scooby, Shaggy and the rest of the gang. If you don't mind, you drive. My jaw is tired.
    Dr.Mark
     

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