Sinus and Sonus

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Venturion, Jan 21, 2006.

  1. Venturion

    Venturion New Friend

    Aug 24, 2005
    New Jersey, USA
    Greetings Manny, et al.,

    Maybe everyone can relate to this, especially during cold season:

    You have a cold and congested sinuses. To your own ears, through your stuffed-up cranium, your trumpet sounds distant, unresonant and none-too-powerful. But in reality does it sound any different than normal? How does it sound objectively to, say, the ears of a colleague or even a tape recorder, compared with your normally healthy playing?

    I recently returned from a long flight, and my ears didn't seem to pop back to normal and my sinuses were clogged. Head had been ringing for days. Then I had a quintet rehearsal and could hardly recognize my own sound. It sounded and felt so foreign to play, unpleasant, frustrating. I felt certain my own sound had objectively degraded. No one else seemed to think so. But I wonder.

    (( Btw, this is my first post, having read and studied for many months much of the wonderful wealth of trumpet info and insight found here. Many, many thanks for your generosity to the community of trumpeters, Manny. It is inspiring to continue to consider and learn new ways of thinking and applying different techniques to the demands of maintaining/improving one's viability on the trumpet. Sometimes it's re-learning neglected old tried-and-true methods.

    (( By way of introduction, I am a fairly active musician in central New Jersey and am involved in a wide variety of musical contexts: pit orchs, brass quintet and quartet, small combo jazz, trad jazz (don't call it "dixieland"!), British-style brass band, weddings, the odd pick-up orchestra freelance or big band, church work, etc., a real gumbo of styles. I am a pianist also. I am 53.

    (( FWIW, I play on a Benge "Lenore 90" Bb, a Bach 229 large bore C, Yam. Flugel, Getzen Eterna cornet, Yam. Eb/D, and about once or twice a year a Getzen Eterna picc. Mpcs generally in the Bach 3 or 3B area. ))

    Anyway, sorry for the ramble. Quite interested anyone's views/experiences regarding the sinus and trumpet sound connection.

    -- Mike
  2. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004

    Welcome to TM.

    What you described used to happen to me when I was younger but it hasn't for many, many years. However, the only difference in playing is your perception, much like singing with your fingers in your ears. It's a nuisance but a good study in ignoring what you hear and trusting that all is well, if not a bit troubling to your psyche.

  3. fundenlight

    fundenlight New Friend

    Aug 2, 2005
    I think that this idea is applicable even when your hearing is perfectly normal. We play an instrument that doesn't "open up" until the sound is a considerable way in front of us. I have recordedd myself with a very high quality recorder and noticed that what I hear behind the horn is certainly not what is in front of it. My instructor mentioned that for him, he eventually got to the point where his brain reinterpreted the sound that he actually heard into what it would sound like out front.
  4. Venturion

    Venturion New Friend

    Aug 24, 2005
    New Jersey, USA
    ML, thank you for the encouragement to "trust all is well". A former teacher, Vince Penzarella, talked to me once about a heavy series of concerts he had to do when he was quite ill with a bad cold or perhaps it was the flu. Anyway, it was his meticulous preparation coupled with trusting his inner sound ideal (what he used to call his "personal Gabriel sound", something he consistently encouraged me to develop for myself) that enabled him, so he said, to prevail under those physically demanding circumstances.

    Funden: Your reply reminds me of the the ideas expressed on another thread having to do with relative reverberant qualities of the room or auditorium one practices or performs in. I'm beginning to think my real instrument is not the trumpet, but the room I happen to be in. THAT is the vibrating instrument at hand, the trumpet is essentially the "mouthpiece to the room", if you can see what I'm saying.

    It has no doubt happened to most of us that when playing outdoors in a non-reverberant open-air stage, say, or playing with poor or nonexistant sound systems, that the tendency is to way overplay to the point of early fatigue, in the futile attempt to hear in one's ears the familiar tone qualities remembered from more favorable halls.

    Even knowing this can happen, even having been there many times, one can still get caught up trying to hear the fullest sound, when our ears are not out in front of the bell where it's all really happening. My lip once gave out into a blood blister (just last summer) from overcompensating to bad acoustics in an un-miked outdoor event. I am really learning to take seriously the whole issue of soft playing and, now, trusting the sound.

    "Trust the sound you are producing, even if you can't hear it so well yourself at the moment." -- perhaps I should tattoo that to the back of my right hand, where I can see it while playing.

    And the irony is that historically the (proto)-trumpet is primarily an outdoor instrument, for signals and ceremonies, etc. Those early guys must have had lungs of leather and chops of iron.
  5. krossum

    krossum Piano User

    Aug 23, 2005
    New York, NY, USA
    Interesting thread...

    Sinus and Sonus, a topic I have spent much time considering. I found out a couple years ago that I have a chronic condition, sinus polyps. This is a condition which, if not handled correctly, can lead to complete blockage of the sinuses w/ soft tissue (polyps).

    I had battled sinus infections for years and one finally wouldn't go away. After a horrifically uncomfortable series of weekend shows, I found a specialist.

    Anyway, the most difficult hurdle I had to overcome was not the ear blockage and the change in sound perception, but the unbalanced air pressure between my head cavity and my oral cavity. The sinuses seem to balance the air pressure in ways that we are not directly aware of while we play.

    I was able to overcome the sound changes by relying more on feel, as I often do while playing in electric situations wearing ear plugs. "Playing by feel" goes agains my practicing and teaching philosophy, but in a real world environment, one does what one must do.

    I'm interested in hearing other stories, input, ideas on this topic:)


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