Is this possible?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BigDub, Sep 23, 2014.

  1. BigDub

    BigDub Fortissimo User

    Dec 19, 2009
    Hillsborough, NJ
    I had a story relayed to me about the great Herbert L. Clark in which a man approached him and asked him to simply play one note.
    This was approximately in 1932 or so, and Herbert L Clark reportedly had not played for ten years at that point. He told the man he hadn't played in ten years, but the man persisted and asked and bugged him so much, even saying "just play one note, so I can say I heard you play". So, the story goes that the great Herbert L Clark took a mouthpiece out of his pocket and held the cornet with his left hand and proceeded to play every chromatic note from a low G below the staff to a G above the staff, 2 octaves without using a single valve.
    Now what I am asking is this: can this possibly be done, taking into account who was doing the playing, and all the other factors? Or, the question is, could anyone possibly do this? I asked a few people already from TM and this is not me doubting their answers, it is just a desire to get more opinions on it. I neither believe it or doubt it, I would need to see someone do it. 2nd and 3rd hand stories are weak at best.

    And the question we must all ask is this: why would he have a mouthpiece in his pocket if he hadn't played in ten years?
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I don't believe it.

    Is it possible to play a 3 octave chromatic scale without valves? Only with much comprimise in tone. Clarke had an ego, but if bending tones would have been so significant-it would be in his method books!
  3. Brass_of_all_Trades

    Brass_of_all_Trades New Friend

    Sep 8, 2014
    I have the book Flexus by Laurie Frink and John McNeil and in the book there is an exercise where you finger one scale but play a different scale. It asks you to play a D major scale while fingering an Eb major scale. There's also an exercise where you finger E-F-F#-F-E while keeping the pitch at a constant E (it's also in several other keys) so the pitch doesn't change at all despite moving through valve combinations. I've only recently started using the book and haven't gotten that far but if it's in the book I assume it's reasonably achievable given enough time.

    I can't imagine it sounding very good but a valveless chromatic sounds like it might be possible.
  4. Cornyandy

    Cornyandy Fortissimo User

    Jan 9, 2010
    East Yorkshire
    I too have heard this story, In one version it was 15 years since he played and in on it was "at least 5 years" since he played. I think that says it all, like many apocryphal stories there is probably a shred of truth there somewhere perhaps he played a beautiful chromtic but with the valves, perhaps he played an open harmonic series. I don't know but I doubt it is wholly true.
  5. BigDub

    BigDub Fortissimo User

    Dec 19, 2009
    Hillsborough, NJ
    Sounds too far fetched, doesn't it? But I am not trying to promote it or anything like that. I just wanted to see what some thoughts were from people who know a lot more than I do. I think it has some holes in the story or inaccuracies as time will do to a tale. My Band Leader is a clarinet/reed player, so he wasn't telling it from a position of knowledge either. I will say more than one moderator here thought he just could pull it off. Again, I am a bystander just wondering. All in all, if you are going to have a set of perfectly good valves, why not use them to get the best results. This exercise is just a show off move if you ask me. The other discrepancy is this: if you hadn't played for 10 or so years, why on earth would you be carrying a mouthpiece in your pocket?
  6. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    IDK! But as has been said, it's possible, maybe, probably.... :D
  7. Rapier

    Rapier Forte User

    Jul 18, 2011
    If was possible, why invent valves? We'd all be playing bugles, surely?
  8. jengstrom

    jengstrom Pianissimo User

    Oct 17, 2009
    Rochester, NY
    Why? This could start a whole new thread. I can't begin to explain how heartbreaking it was for me to admit, in college, that I was never going to play at the level I wanted to, and quit the trumpet. In my mind, I was and always would be a trumpet player. Period.

    Long story short, whether playing or not (I'm on my 2nd comeback), in my mind I was always a trumpet player. Trumpet players many times carry mouthpieces with them at all times. For years when I wasn't playing, I kept one in my car. Sometimes I carried one in my coat pocket, JUST IN CASE...

    Yeah, I know, a shrink could have a lot of fun with this. Get over it. Now that I'm playing again, and better than I ever did in college, I have one in my pants pocket at all times, one in my jacket, one in the car, and at least one spare with me on any gig. Obsessive? Yes. Hey, I'm a trumpet player.

  9. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    I've worn the silver off one mpc carrying it and playing in my truck.
  10. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    Ok, you have the pocket mouthpiece angle, can you play a 2-octave chromatic scale without using any valves?...:D

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