Single Tonguing Speed

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Roy, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    This is an old thread, but Artie needs "new" help.

    The comeback players that I have taught share a common problem: They have the expectations from their heyday with dramatically reduced level of preparation.

    Slow tonguing has one major reason: too much muscle applied. Fast tonguing just "rides" on the air. This situation for comeback players is generally caused by the same reason: Body use sucks and the compensation is to tongue harder to get ignition on the lips. You see, when we are well trained and have a stable base, the lips require very little energy to get the sound started. When our body use and/or breathing suck, we use more pressure on the chops and need dynamite in the form of an explosive tongue to get "decent results".

    My suggestion is to take a long, hot shower, and practice immediately after that - leaving no time to cool down, after some long tones and slurs, play 16ths on 2nd line G. Your speed should pick up a lot when you are really relaxed.

    Google my Circle of Breath here for more details. All the stuff that you need is already in your head, you are just too stiff to let it out effortlessly.
     
  2. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

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    Here is a post that I submitted back in 2005, it is still a good read

    Concerning the speed of tonguing......
    It is limitless.
    In the 30's Louis Armstrong was timed (with the old fashioned method) at the speed of 13.4 single tongues per second. (STPS). He was timed at the then amazing speed of 22.2 double tongues per second. (DTPS)

    As time and tenchniques progressed, so too speed increased. By 1941 Harry James had improved upon the speed to 15.1 STPS and 23.9 DTSP respectively.

    In the fifties Rafael Mendez set a record which stood for quite a long time.
    Although some people thought he should not have been allowed to hold the record due to the unfair advantage of speaking a very fast paced language,(Mexican Spanish) he was finally allowed to offcially hold the record of 18.3 STPS and the then thought of impossible to reach 26 DTPS. (Most knowlegable people thought the 25 DTPS barrier would be impossible to break)
    This record was unbroken until the early 1990's when Wyton Marsalis shattered both ends of the record.

    At a special session just for the purpose of breaking the record Wynton played his way ito the history books. He single tongued has an amazing speed of 22 STPS!!! His double tongue speed was recorded at 27.4 DTPS!!!.

    At the awards banquet 3 days later Wynton expressed relief that the elusive records were finally his and that he could get back to his number one love of "Just making beautiful music on the world's greatest trumpet".
    He confessed that he did spend a lot of time working on his patented "Tongue in Cheek" method in which in between tongue attacks the back section of the tongue would hit the sides of his cheeks setting up sympathetic vibrations in the oral cavity which would send another blast of air toward the lips. This would increase the speed of the tongue and give it a much faster response time. Somewhat like having a car drafting you in a race which would increase your speed.

    As players become bigger and better in shape, expect even Wynton's records to fall eventually. The techniques out there are just to good to have records stay for any great length of time again. Wyton will not pursue the record again. "I have nothing to prove to anyone" he is quoted as saying. "There will always be some tongue fighter looking to make a reputation, let him make it somewhere else, I'm done with this" Marsalis added, still tongue tied after three days of rest.

    Look for the record to be bested... but not anytime soon.

    As a side note, some mouthpiece manufacturers are developing equipment to help in the need for speed.
    The Callet company is doing R&D to see if his double cup mouthpieces will increase the speed. The thinking is that by employing the through the teeth and lips method, in a double cup, you will actually hit both cups with one stroke, thereby actually doubling the speed. The Rules and Records Committee is looking into this, but will most likely rule against the use of double cup mouthpieces as a legal way of setting a record.

    -cw-


    Information, courtesy of Dr. Molarian Curley.
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Ahhhhhh, different strokes for different folks!
     
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    You and I have somewhat different approaches to getting to the same thing. My thought is that through repetition, certain aspects of technique "self-correct" with the time spent in introspective practice on a particular discipline - at least to reasonable levels of boilerplate playing and gigging. In that self-correction, air utilization improves, as does body use toward the end goal of playing the trumpet. I've always believed that introspective work on articulation can have positive affects on multiple aspects of playing, simply because it leads a player toward better air usage.
     
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Patrick,

    during my long stay with IBM we had a concept called: "only deliver big servers to a prepared site". That meant that an engineer went on site, checked that the double flooring was strong enough, network considerations were covered, power was available and in the real old days, water was available for cooling. Without the signoff from the AIP engineer, nothing was delivered - because it wouldn't work anyway.

    My concept for the trumpet comes from there: without a prepared body, we practice wrong and usually end up reinforcing comprimise. It doesn't have to be that way, but not being able to see the trees for the forest is a very real concern of mine when teaching.

    Many times body tension is VERY elusive. It does make us play sharp (and thin) though and THAT makes us compensate by twisting something else around.

    There are many roads to success, I have had the most reliable results getting the body and breathing straight BEFORE adding the horn. Once that works to my satisfaction, we add only enough tongue to create the required definition.

    No doubt, introspect can and does work. That is one cross to bear however when we need every ounce of our being in the musical process.
     
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    However did people manage to ever play any instruments before we all knew we were using our bodies so incorrectly!? :dontknow:

    I don't discount it entirely of course, but at the same time, I do believe that a lot of learning can be done simply by practicing - often times the body finds ways to correct itself and use itself correctly, in spite of the body owner.
     
  7. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Hi Trickg,
    You stated:
    "I do believe that a lot of learning can be done simply by practicing - often times the body finds ways to correct itself and use itself correctly, in spite of the body owner."
    --
    Oy!! That's not been my experience both in learning the trumpet and teaching it. Think about it. More often than not, when a person comes to TM with a problem (range, endurance,sound,ect.) it's often the result of either not using the mechanics that were taught or (most usual) they were never taught properly in the first place and they come here because they have hit a brick wall and can't move on until they shed themselves of their particular bad habit.
    I wish all trumpet players were taught the fundimentals instead of being left to their own devices which eventually leads them to here.
    Dr.Mark
     
  8. Honkie

    Honkie Pianissimo User

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    I think of it differently: we have a certain amount of conscious control of our bodies (willed movements like typing, walking, etc), and a certain amount of metabolic activity that is beyond conscious control (heartbeat, intestinal contractions, etc). Most people are rarely conscious of their breathing; they don't have to be. As brass players, we need to become very aware of our breathing, and many other things our body does when we play: posture, muscular tension, coordination, etc.

    So to become a better player means to make more unconscious processes conscious. If more processes become controllable, we can enact more efficient processes.

    The word proprioceptive is useful: it means a bodily sense -- not one of the 5 external senses -- but an internal sense of what is happening inside the body. If you're drunk, you might bruise yourself and not notice. That's low proprioceptive sensation. Trumpeters need high proprioceptive sensation. That's exactly what you're doing when you, for example, hit a high note clearly and cleanly, without effort -- you were able to control the coordination of parts of the body that a non-musician doesn't even have any conscious sensation of.

    Now, the big question is: how to increase control? What should be made conscious, and what should be left unconscious?

    No easy answers there. Personally, I'm focusing trying to increase bodily awareness, mostly for trumpet, but also as part of a general approach to living well. However....I do think it's possible to over-think things in this area. And, certain aspects of trumpet, like working on fingering patterns for jazz improv, are less about subtle coordination, and more about brute-force cramming as much as possible into the bodily unconscious, so that there's never any need to think about that aspect of playing.
     
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  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Very good point. It kind of highlights what is going on in the music world. Those that are lucky and have a good teacher match or tons of natural talent develop well "in spite" of the odds. I would guess that there are quite a few in this category too. I am speaking of something else though. Normally within the first 10 notes that I hear someone play, I can form a good guess about their playing level - even if they are having a bad day. There are things that immediately become apparent even when playing half notes.

    What do I notice: Preparation before a note is played, if the inhale "swing" is followed through with a predictable start of the tone, Rhythm, Articulation, if the tone is supported, evenness of tonguing, if each note is wrapped like a piece of candy and individually presented to the listener, sense of phrasing, if the player knows their "limits" and can compensate, intonation, understanding of the musical genre being played, team player or not.

    Many of these things NEVER work if they have not been formally worked on. There are of course many more. I can write volumes about the colleagues that only were invited once to ensembles that I play in because something important was missing that they didn't even realize...........

    Starting to play from a prepared body makes many other things line up in a natural way.
     
  10. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Required reading in Gerald Webster's trumpet studio was Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. Hard to describe in a few words, Wikipedia says: "The book combines the cognitive behavioral technique of teaching an individual how to regulate self-concept developed by Prescott Lecky with the cybernetics of Norbert Wiener and John von Neumann. The book defines the mind-body connection as the core in succeeding in attaining personal goals." This really doesn't offer a useful explanation, but it stresses the importance of self-affirmation and specific goal setting. This requires excellent critical yet non-judgmental listening on the trumpet players part. If we pursue a total package, in the case of articulation the attack, decay, sustain and release as well as speed the body can teach itself to a remarkable degree. The introduction of concepts on the part of the teacher (riding on the air, playing with a relaxed tongue, etc.) can lead to a satori experience for the student.

    Although there are exercises where we can isolate aspects of trumpet playing we should view them again, as part of a larger package.
     

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