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

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

  1. Gxman

    Gxman Piano User

    Jan 21, 2010

    I am not sure regarding the kettle idea...

    What I did notice (as a student) is that, when you use the tongue as advocated by Arban's and every other material of musical authority that advocates the use of tongue, it changes the minds focus off the lips.

    The whole problem I see (at the start of my learning) is that I was too focused on making notes with my lips. Everything was air/lip based. So, when I wanted to go higher, brain said "Tighten the lip". Want to go higher again "tighten the lip". Want to go more high, "lips". Everything I did was manipulate the sound via the lips.

    That method is good to make you a bad player or at least not a very developed one. It is limited.

    My teacher I can say is one of the best teachers around. He started teaching me to use my tongue, to get it mobile, to have it moving in the mouth not just "focus on lips" as I have been. He is the one that told me the first aparatus is the Lungs, if we have bad air, no support etc, everything else will suck basically.

    So get that right first, the fundamentals - Air. Allen Vizzutti and many others that he has had the privelege to talk with etc while doing his masters in teaching and everything else, always focus on "air". Air is like 85-90% of everything if you wish to have a big, round, solid sound.

    The second aparatus he told me is the tongue. - The tongue is like traffic lights on a street, it directs traffic (air). So if you want to play higher, direct the air higher and so forth.

    The third aparatus is the lips. - The lips - embouchure - however, is the last bit of information before the air leaves the mouth. Once its out of the mouth that is the end of controlling it.

    So he has been working on me to think from 2nd line G - to use "oo". When you go down from there (like the C below staff), you go "aw". This places the tongue in slightly different positions. Below C we just drop the jaw.

    Embouchure should have the sides set, so we do not collapse the pillers (kind of like a bridge, if hte pillars collapse everything will be a mess). I used to collapse mine to go lower. With the work and teaching method, I now understand why "Drop Jaw". It allows the embouchure to remaing in a healthy position while opening the apeture up to get lower notes. It also keeps embouchure relaxed from being over-used. Bigger hole, better sound.

    Now as we go from 3rd space C and above, the idea is "ee". This raises the tongue in the mouth thus changing pitch.

    The reason I can not say its like the kettle, is, because, by default, I do notice even by using the tongue in different positions, that the lips do change as well. So they do not stay identical as it would in a kettle.

    The idea is however that, if you think OOO, Awww, Eeee etc, (the manipulation of the tongue, the thing that controlls the traffic), the least stress will be placed on the lips. So yes, the lips change accordingly, but, because you are not thinking about the "lips" (as I used to), you are basically allowing the lips to do 'minimal' work because you are thinking tongue.

    This method has allowed me to develop much further than where I was, my sound is a lot richer, my lips do not die as early as they used to, G above the staff now sounds full in tone and rich, rather than as though its being closed off (by the lips being manipulated too much).

    So I do not say the lips do not move. I say as my teacher has shown and I have experienced, by thinking "tongue controls the traffic", less stress will be placed on the lips. Which means, the Lips will do what they need to do automatically, they will change without you thinking about it as you do the controlling with the tongue. Thus you control the sound at the 2nd aparatus, not at the 3rd and final one where the air has left your mouth and all too late to think about.

    By using the tongue the lips basically do what they need to by default (so change the tongue, lips will move on their own accord to where the tongue is wanting to go). However, while we think about "control it with the lips", they get over-used, poor sound quality gets made and really, by that stage, the air is out of the mouth already, which is too late.

    I am sorry if I have doubled up on stuff... I find it hard to try to explain in written form. And I still don't know if even this made sense.

    From my own experience, any good teacher will explain, and think tongue to the student. It has transformed my playing from the days when I used to think "lips".

    Like my teacher said and I have experienced, not everyone that is a professional principle orchestra player knows how to teach.

    These are all methods of teaching to develop a players best ability and tonal production. If one can not or does not care to address the tongue (or any other factor that is part of playing trumpet, like the A frame, lungs, intercostal muscles etc) and how it works, why it works, how it is all connected and so forth... look for a new teacher, they are no good as they can not explain to the student what is 'actually' going on leaving the student with a ? in his/her mind because the teacher could not explain it or make them aware of it to consider. Sometimes I find, professionals just take everything as a given, it all works, they do not have to think about it. That is all good and fair-enough, but that stuff is still happening (just subconsciously to the professional). The student is not a professional though and is learning how it all works, so they need to be aware of everything before it can become "natural" to them, and if the teacher is not making them aware of it... what good is the teacher?

    Bottom line is, everything must work in sync. #1 - Lungs, #2, Tongue (what happens inside the face BEFORE the air leaves the mouth and produces tone) #3 - Lips. Think about the first 2 being correct and the lips will by default be right and not over-used. The thing you want to do the least work with is the lips. If you can do everything via lungs/tongue, you will be able to play much longer at a comfortable, less stress rate.

    Air starts in lungs, goes past the tongue then through the lips. Thus importance should be Lungs #1, Tongue #2, Lips #3 in order of how the air goes through your own body.
  2. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Yes! I would like to see someone investigate this from a academic perspective. Here's what it is:
    Does arching the tongue result in the chin going up which puts the lips closer together making the aperture smaller? I hope someone grabs the topic and cuts a dissertation or thesis with it. If I'm totally wrong, I'll be the first in line to say "Thank you!! and I stand corrected and now I know why arching the tongue works when in the upper register."
  3. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi rowuk,
    Just damned. You really don't get it. You are the nay-sayer that brought up the IWK website. If IWK (or ANY credible literature) has information and you know it exists then pony it up. My goodness, you've basically shown nothing but heat coated with generalities about how other parameters are necessary to play the trumpet. I can't speak for others but I know that it takes more than a tongue and a lip to play a trumpet. I totally agree that it takes a whole system (including the psychology) to play a trumpet. Taking a critical look at arching the tongue and it's effect on the aperture is one little section of that system. Like I said, pony up more than a "rowuk-ism" and I'm all ears. Otherwise you're major objective seems to be to derail instead of enlighten. Think about it. If you're teaching trumpet, wouldn't it be great to know if arching the tongue actually makes the aperture smaller or not!
    If you must add, do me and the rest of the scientific community a favor, change "I've nothing to prove" in line one to "I've not the resources to support or not support the claim: It appears that the purpose of arching the tongue is to make the aperture smaller
  4. keigoh

    keigoh Pianissimo User

    Oct 24, 2012
    This thread is starting to get pretty heated...oh boy.

    I'm sorry to bother.
  5. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    This is what comes from the banter between Arch rivals.

    But trumpet discussions are passionate, because we trumpet players are a passionate breed. God, I am glad I am a trumpet player. By the way, Rowuk and Dr.Mark have done much to improve my own playing, and banter as they do, I highly respect and read with great interest both of their prospectives.
  6. gunshowtickets

    gunshowtickets Forte User

    Mar 11, 2015
    Tidewater, VA
    Did anybody address venturi effect when the tongue arches? Unless your tongue is directly behind your lips, the velocity of the air column shouldn't change. This topic may be one of the proverbial rabbit holes.

    Another consideration is you're altering the resonance chamber (mouth). Think about it. How low is your tongue when you're playing pedal tones. This goes back to whistling.

    from : Venturi effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Choked flow
    The limiting case of the Venturi effect is when a fluid reaches the state of choked flow, where the fluid velocity approaches the local speed of sound. In choked flow the mass flow rate will not increase with a further decrease in the downstream pressure environment. However, mass flow rate for a compressible fluid can increase with increased upstream pressure, which will increase the density of the fluid through the constriction (though the velocity will remain constant). This is the principle of operation of a de Laval nozzle. Increasing source temperature will also increase the local sonic velocity, thus allowing for increased mass flow rate.
  7. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    Yes. It's negligible. If it wasn't, it would reduce the pressure available to your embouchure which would destroy your upper range. If you wish to counter that a reduction in air speed at the embouchure restores pressure close to that in the lungs, then the exercise was pointless. If you think you can retain your initial lung pressure and get a whole bunch of inertial force for free, then you fall foul of the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. Which means you can't.

    Except it does quite quickly due to viscous shearing (low Reynold's number) or eddy diffusion (high Reynold's number) or both (transition zone).

    If that means that it's a gross misapplication of misunderstood concepts, then yes.

    Non sequitur.


    To generate choked flow, you need lung pressure to be more than 1.8 times oral cavity (absolute!) pressure. What do you think will happen if you attempt this?

    So it's a totally irrelevant point isn't it?

    PS. Next time bring numbers. Numbers show that you're not just regurgitating random technical terms you read somewhere.
  8. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    1st Law of Thermodynamics "You can't win".

    2nd Law of Thermodynamics "You can't break even.

    I have been pondering what causes the horn to jump from one partial to another, the conclusion I have reached is that it requires an increase in energy for this, the higher the energy the faster the wave front travels through the horn causing the standing wave to increase in pitch.

    Perhaps this should be a new topic.

    Regards, Stuart.
  9. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    While you're around Stuart, I must say that I owe you a great debt of gratitude. I'd always thought that pitch control was about getting lung pressure somewhere near and letting lip tension manage the rest. Thinking over your earlier postings, I had a go at putting a little more lung pressure there than 'just enough' and pretty well immediately solved a whole bunch of problems at the top of the stave and above. Not least was discovering that my lip didn't need to work half as hard as it had been doing. I owe you a drink, mate.
  10. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi all,
    Here's a little something for your dining and dancing pleasure from Physics Behind the Music by Tatum at University of North Carolina. I'm going to darken certain parts.
    In order to send an airflow through the trumpet, the musician's lips create vibrations which "buzz" the mouthpiece. As the sound wave travels down the trumpet, it reaches a node (point of minimal amplitude) at the bell end and reverses direction back to the mouthpiece. The reflected wave and incoming new wave movements have the same amplitude and move in opposite directions, canceling each other out and creating a standing wave. Once the wave returns to the mouthpiece, the wave is altered by the lips to create a certain frequency. As the musician wants to play a higher note, he/she must increase the velocity of the airflow input. The sound waves emitted from the mouthpiece then have to travel to a node further down the bell, which means it is harder for this wave to return to the mouthpiece and for the musician to hold this high frequency note. Those who have ever experienced a band class can verify that it is more difficult to play a higher-pitched note.

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