Mzony & Vulgano: vowels & syllables

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by crowmadic, May 30, 2007.

  1. crowmadic

    crowmadic Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 3, 2006
    I was reviewing past topics about sluring and flexibility. Mzony used the word "vowel" in his explaination, and Vulgano used the word "syllables" in his. Am I to understand that the formation of vowel and syllable sounds inside the mouth are actually used to accomplish flexibility and sluring? If so, I need to know more about this...........tom/crow

    P.S. Mzony & Vulgano is not a law firm.
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Short answer: yes.

    Middle answer: yes, as a rule, we’ll end up using “lower” vowel sounds like “oh” for the lower notes and “ee” for higher notes. Some lips slurs might therefore sound like “Taw-ee-aw-ee-aw.”

    Long answer: Yes but…. Don’t forget that as trumpeters we are at least slightly obsessive in a good way—how else can we explain the time spent goofing off here at TM! As obsessive types, we tend to turn rules into laws, and that tends to cause problems, and dogmatic teachings result. The other problem is one of notation.

    Little babies, learning to vocalize, have all the sounds we humans make at their disposal; as we age we lose our ability to hear and use the sounds not in daily use. Those funny markings in other languages are used to combine vowel sounds, like saying “ee” and “oo” at the same time. These kinds of sounds come closer to the mark when playing the trumpet.

    If we Google “syllable ‘trumpet playing’” we’ll get 1,110 hits. Some of these include doctoral dissertations—we can study this subject to death, and care must be taken not to obsess when exploring tongue position! We can experiment to be sure, keeping in mind the goals of a good sound along with the technique, and trying to allow our body to do the learning.

    One of the fun sites even mentions Vulgani, in quoting Cesare Bendinelli:

    “Cesare Bendinelli of Verona, Italy was a musician and the leader of a trumpet ensemble for the Duke of Bavaria. In 1614, Bendinelli published The Entire Art of Trumpet Playing. Included in the method are military trumpet calls. The military signals - field pieces, as the German trumpeters called them - were the chief repertoire of the field, or military, trumpeters. These signals were limited mostly to only three tones of the harmonic scale. The signals have syllables under them in order for the performer to know how they are to be tongued. Bendinelli suggested pronouncing certain syllables ‘dran,’ ‘hardly touching the first note and passing to the other with a kind of accent. The 'dran' is quite useful in the toccatas and in the [military signal] stendardo, but it is hardly used [higher] than in the striano [register]; when it is performed fast and precisely in the grosso and vulgano [parts] it sounds marvelous.’

    Hope this helps!
  3. crowmadic

    crowmadic Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 3, 2006
    I enjoyed reading that history. Is there a book that lists the syllables that are generally used? I'm only familiar with those in Arban's, and the Doo Daa Dit type use in Jazz. Playing the trumpet is like learning to be a good golf player (i'm not, but i've heard). There's so much to think about before you blow, as well as during the blow. I'm trying to become a better player without loosing the ejoyment of making music. The idea of technique becoming second nature during performance is reserved I think for the young. But I sure as hell am giving it a shot!.............thanks VB
  4. Mzony

    Mzony Pianissimo User

    Nov 14, 2004
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I had to re read what I wrote in order to reply. To be honest, I wrote that at a time, when I was really looking into my playing and trying to learn how to communicate to my students.
    I agree with EVERYTHING that my law partner Vulgano said. Perhaps, I can just elaborate my thoughts a little bit.
    I used/use vowels with my students as a way of demonstrating sound with them. One can play a G in the staff in so many ways and in trying to find their best sound I would have them play saying "AH, OOH, UH, AYY" etc. Always the best sound came from a more open syllable, but I liked to take them through the process (with recorder running) and let them discover their best sound on their own terms.
    In the past I have encouraged people to think different syllables in different ranges, but I have avoided those thoughts recently. Instead, I try and foster the idea of being really sure of the product one would desire and finding out that the body does what ever minor adjusments it needs subconciously. I'm sure we all adjust to a certain level, but I think to think it through (unless of course that is how you would naturally hear it) during playing takes us away from the main focus: Our sound, our direction, our music.
    I hope this helps. We are all works in progress, and re-reading that post certainly has shown me that.
    Thanks for bringing it up.

    Partner in the Vulgano and Zonshine Firm.
    We take your money and we lose the case!
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Good stuff!
    If you get a lesson with a great player, you can fine tune the vowels because you have something to compare your sound to - a point of reference if you will.
    Because the player "hears" something completely different than someone in front of the bell, it is very easy to get results that work in a practice room, but are not optimal for other playing spaces.
    Find a PARTNER, play duets, tooh, teeh and taah (AH, OOH, UH, AYY) one another - what comes out the front of the horn is what counts! It is always helpful to get a second opinion!
  6. crowmadic

    crowmadic Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 3, 2006
    I feel compelled to push this a bit further for my better understanding. Are these vowels and syllables actually uttered within the mouth cavity to match specific notes, or, are they executed similarly to "scat" singing. Is there a vocabulary of syllables and vowels going on that matches the sound vibrations coming out of the horn? I'm going to post this question as a new thread to make sure you all come back to this question.
  7. Khora

    Khora Piano User

    Sep 17, 2006
    New York
    These are uttered within your mouth cavity. When you articulate a note, you have to creating some kind of syllable - actually saying it - in order for there to BE an articulation. Whether you are aware of it or not, you start a note by saying Da or Ta or To or Woo or Fwah or any of the thousands of variations that are possible.

    The point is that being aware of what syllable you are using, and how that actually affects your sound/articulation, gives you an enormous amount of control over tone color, accents, type of articulation.

    However, the syllable should not change for different note - it isn't like saying solfege while playing. Consistency of syllable will help with consistency in pitch and tone color.

    Try practicing something simple - an easy tune, or a Clarke study - somewhat slowly, and really think about what syllable you are saying as you play. Try a variety of syllables. See what works best for you. It will probably be different for different styles of music. After awhile, it becomes mostly sub-conscious.

    Hope this helps a little bit-

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