Reducing Mouthpiece Pressure?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by RoccoNut16v, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Excess pressure is only tolerable in emergency situations. There is no direct correlation between aperature / mouthpiece size and pressure or pressure and the air escaping. Patric, I do not know where you get this stuff.

    Let's sort this out.
    When I put a mouthpiece on my face and buzz, the lips flap open and closed and that produces a sound. For the time being, this is just noise. When I add the trumpet, the vibration that I set up by buzzing gets the instrument "resonating" and this also adds a certain amount of back pressure. As long as the resonance of the trumpet plus the strength of my chops can balance the air that I am blowing, everything is ok and I do not need more pressure than to keep the seal between my lips and the mouthpiece.

    When our blow is more intensive than the chop strength and resonance of the instrument can support, our lips protrude into the cup and depending on the cup depth, can even "bottom out" stopping all vibration. Here is where additional pressure can "stretch" the lips somewhat, making them less prone to falling into the cup. This pressure cuts off the bloodflow to the lips and we now have the beginning of a desaster, the lips can't do their job, so more pressure is applied until the whole mess escalates to the point where we are wasted for the rest of the gig (or longer).

    During this whole process, the trumpet and mouthpiece stay the same - this includes the resistance. The problem is that we have put our chops into a vice and they do not react predictably any more. Our air backs up and stress increases, causing body tension to increase, this causes our bodies to go into "panic" mode and the result is further escalation.

    This is all interesting stuff, but does not help us on stage.

    The solution is to increase chop strength through intelligent practice and proper care and feeding!

    Don't practice until you drop, if you are in marching band, don't blow your brains out. Replace brute force with intelligence. Pace yourself. When you get a break, take it! Don't keep playing or trying to perfect a lick that should have been taken care of in the practice room. Less is more! Get used to using your ears and brains.

    Supposed comments of 8 hours practice by Maurice André or Rafael Mendéz do not necessarily have ANYTHING to do with our reality. To PRACTICE in excess of 2 hours a day requires very mature chops and thinking process! One intelligent hour can replace 4 or 5 "random" ones. The goal is to replace muscle with brain.

    Practice intelligently with your brain and ears turned on and you soon will not need to worry about "too much" pressure!
     
  2. Patric_Bernard

    Patric_Bernard Forte User

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    I get it from my head and through experience with the "Stuff"

    So your telling me that if you have a big appeture, you cant put MORE air through a horn FASTER?

    That The Cup shape of a mouthpiece doesn't control how much air bounces around the inside of the mouthpiece cup before going through the horn if the air is not aiming straite into the shank? Why doesn't every single lead players today play with a C cup, or a Very very deep cup? A rounder, deeper Cup will bounce more air back than a v cup or asymmetric mouthpiece.

    That if theres more air bouncing back towards your lips than air is going through your horn, its gonna have to go somwhere? Which is most likley to escape from your seal aroudn the mouthpiece. Think about it.
     
  3. brem

    brem Mezzo Forte User

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    Patric, I think what rowuk is saying is that it's not how much air goes through, but how your lips vibrate that is important. Air is secondary. A necessity, but not an end by itself.
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    This is exactly right. To understand what is going on: the lips open and close against one another like a switch. Bursts of air go into the horn and set up the vibration. Blowing harder causes the lips to move greater distances and that makes our tone louder. The size of the aperature (during the open part of the cycle) has NOTHING to do with the volume, only the physical movement of the lips does. Actually, the stronger your chops are, the less air leaks through the aperature and you can play loud notes much longer.

    The volume of the cup influences much, much more. You need to understand a little about horn theory to know what happens. A volume of air in front of the motor (our lips in this case) soaks up high frequencies. The bigger the volume of air, the more highs are damped. This means a deep cup will give you a tone that is darker because the overtones are damped. A shallower mouthpiece does not damp high frequencies as much and produces the more brilliant tone favoured by many lead players. A second advantage of the shallow cup is the higher back pressure in the cup that supports the lip better. The analogy is that a larger quantity of air needs more energy before it is compressed.

    When you learn to play efficiently, you do not turn a compressor on at 60 PSI and demand that the lips/horn/mouthpiece find a way to absorb it regardless of what you are playing. You always take that deep breath and then exhale, the playing process determines how much air pressure is needed and your body adjusts (except in some cases of lead playing where the "exhale" can be more "forceful" when required). The better your chops, the less "power" that you need to get the job done. More brain in the process, means less muscle and more range, endurance and tone! That is what makes a wind instrument inherently musical - our breath of life!

    Patric,
    the mechanics of playing trumpet are advanced physics and biology. There are an awful lot of things going on that I haven't even mentioned here. I have been studying this stuff for over 40 years (and still have so much to learn) and do not post to give you a hard time. You jump to conclusions that show that a bit more homework could go a long way. Thank God that most players do not need this information. They just pick the horn up and play. You obviously are very interested in the mechanics. That is cool - as long as you really try and get the best advice first instead of posting whatever jumps into your head. There is so much BS out there that makes it tough to find the truth!
     
  5. Patric_Bernard

    Patric_Bernard Forte User

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    So your telling me that physics are wrong? that is there is a bigger opening for matter to move through, in this case air, that the same amount of air will leave that hole when the switch (lip vibration) is opened?

    Think of it like two buckets of water. With one, poke a tiny needle sized hole into it. With the other put a nail sized hole through it, and cover each one on and off, ex. cover one second, release one second, cover one second, release one second. The bigger hole will empty faster, but with less force. the smaller one will empty slower, with a much higher pressure.

    I did not know that, thanks.
    Knowing the mechanics of trumpet playing will allow me to become a better trumpeter, and I intend to become one.
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    No, I am telling you that physics is right but you have use the right analogy. If we are talking about water, or electricity, your example is DC. Direct Current. In that case you would be partly right. I say partly because the throat of the mouthpiece would be the limiting factor regardless of how big your aperature is.

    Fortunately for me, we are talking about sound vibrations and the electrical analogy is AC. There we have completely different rules and a factor called impedance. That is the resistance to airflow and it changes with frequency. Need proof? Push the first valve on your trumpet down and try to play a low D (yeah you will have to try and lip it down some. Notice the very high resistance? Now leave that first valve pushed down and play an F. Notice how much less resistance there is? If you were pouring water through the horn, it would make no difference because DC is not a tone! That impedance plays a very big factor in how much "resistance" there is when you blow into the horn! Even a big aperature will not pass much air if the impedance is high!
    Getting back to your chops and aperature: The trick is to keep the aperature as SMALL as possible and the time that the lip is open minimized (the impedance of the horn can help you here!). Why? Because when the aperature is very open, air leaks away without being turned into sound - the efficiency of the motor goes down drastically!

    That is what I said in the last post: there is so much BS out there and one of the biggest is the obsession with getting as much air as possible through the horn. It is just plain WRONG. Filling up the lungs with that deep relaxed breath does not mean that we have 5 seconds to pump it through the horn. The amount of air required is based on what note and how loud. Low notes loudly need a lot of air because of the slower lip vibration and air leakage through the aperature. Take that note 2 or 3 octaves up where the trumpet is MUCH more efficient and we need only a small portion of that air previously required. Correct choice of mouthpiece shape can optimize the efficiency and tone for the job at hand!

    Intelligent choice of resistance can greatly enhance the playing experience. We must balance the ability to phrase (how long it takes until our air is gone) vs our breathing cycle to keep from suffocating. Both extremes are problematic. We change the resistance not by boring the throat of the mouthpiece out, but by selecting the correct backbore and throat combination for our instrument. We are talking about AC not DC!

    There are players out there that insist that THEY control the resistance with their lips and therefore need a free blowing horn. If that is what they believe, I will not argue, I have found no technical explanation or mathematical formula that backs up that assumption and plenty of evidence that it doesn't work that way. I am not the rocket scientist and there is plenty that I do not know, so I just don't argue!

    I hope that this minimal discourse in trumpet flow dynamics shows you that what is in your head is very incomplete. There is TONS of literature to absorb and it will take a while for you to figure out who to believe. That is simply cost of business when you really want to be in the know!
     
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    It is even difficult for physics enthusiasts: Pressure Question
    Mixing fluid dynamics with acoustics is more difficult than pleasing violist/conductors!
     
  8. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

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    Just a thought (and to try and parphrase Clyde Hunt in "Sail the Seven Cs") - mouthpiece force may be reduced by notionally "locking" the left elbow at initial address and moving the face onto the mouthpiece, rather than by drawing the trumpet onto the lips - worked for me.:dontknow:
     
  9. trpt2345

    trpt2345 Mezzo Forte User

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    I like the idea of not working any harder than you absolutely have to. If you don't have to use pressure, don't, use only enough to do what you have to do. Don't tense anything up that you don't have to, don't use any motion you don't need to, just don't work too much. 1) use plenty of air 2) just because you have the right valve pushed down doesn't mean the right note will come out and 3) don't work any harder than absolutely necessary. The only three true rules of trumpet playing.

    Michael McLaughlin
     

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