Spit vs. condensation

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trpt2345, May 30, 2006.

  1. trpt2345

    trpt2345 Mezzo Forte User

    May 21, 2006
    Morelia, Mexico
    After having used one of Arnold Jacob's breathing devices, the one with a ping pong ball, I noticed that very quickly there would be quite a bit of moisture condensing inside the device. It's only logical, the air one exhales is warm and moist. Which leads me to a question: how much of the liquid that we expell from spit valves is actually "spit", i.e., saliva, and how much is condensation? Should we rename spit valves "condensation valves"?

    Michael McLaughlin

    "The police are not here to create disorder, they are here to preserve disorder." Richard J. Daley
  2. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    I guess it depends on the player. If someone has the tendency to salivate more than the average person, they'll have a higher saliva content in what goes into the horn. I would also tend to believe that folks that tongue harder will expel a bit more saliva just because of the sheer velocity from the initial intra-oral pressure released. Just like someone who is giving a speech and exaggeratedly pronouncing his hard and sibilant consonants. "Petunia!" as opposed to "Ha!"

    In any case, I can't imagine it's terribly much.

  3. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    I will go out on a limb and say it is at least 95% condensation. I know most of what comes out of my water key and slides is just that.

    Yeah, I have always called it a water key and I tell my students the same thing. It's really not a "spit valve". Whatever saliva we do blow through doesn't make it much further than the leadpipe, IMO.
  4. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Calling them "spit valves" grosses out viola players much more than calling them "condensation keys", but when we are using that warm moist air from the bottom of our lungs we do make bigger puddles on the floor.
  5. Clarino

    Clarino Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 9, 2003
    Sheffield, England, UK
    The more air one uses, the more "spit" one has to release from the water key (spit valve, if you like).

    I found it to be directly proportional. When my air wasn't working well, I produced less water.

    There is less than one pre cent saliva in the water that collects in your trumpet. This is obvious when you think about it. Saliva is more viscous than water and would not run out as easily.
  6. trpt2345

    trpt2345 Mezzo Forte User

    May 21, 2006
    Morelia, Mexico
    I forgot the benefit of the Viola Gross Out Factor.

    Michael McLaughlin

    "I can suck melancholy out of a song as a weasel sucks eggs." Shakespeare
  7. NickD

    NickD Forte User


    I think the correct value is that it is 93.27% condensation and 6% spit. The remaining .73% depends on what you're drinking during the gig.

    Now, this is an off the cuff estimate, and the statistics on off the cuff remarks is that at least 75% of all statistics quoted in an off the cuff manner are completely made up. Of course that is off the cuff, but I digress...

    OK, Mike I'm just being silly. Sorry! Seriously, I would think it really depends on the player. Are they using a very traditional "legit" style of playing or are they using a 'spit-buzz' ala Callet? Or are they somewhere in between.

    The air in your mouth is under pressure when you play. As it passes through the small space that is vibrating open and shut between the lips, it flashes into the throat (which is much wider than the lip aperture) and then into the backbore, then to the venturi then the lead-pipe. It undergoes a Bernouli 'slow-down' and the pressure drop should be adiabitc, which ought to cool off the air a bit. Since it is filled with water vapor from your body, it ought to condense out a bit.

    What I have no feel for is how MUCH cooler the air is when it decompresses after passing through the lips. The old ideal gas equaiton (PV = nRT) could be re-written as P = nRT/V, and one could make a per liter estimate. The pressure in the leadpipe ought to be about 1 ATM (aprox 100,000 N/square-meter or 14 PSI). The tempetature drop would then depend on how hard the player is blowing. I would think the condensation would also depend on the dew point in the room in whcih you were playing. On my first gig last Friday, I was playing at Allgauer's in Northbrook (you probably know this joint, Mike). It was a bit muggy in the room and I found myself emptying out my horns more than usual. In this case, I think condensation was the primary issue.

    So, Mike, I guess the REAL answer to your original query is, I don't know.


    Say, Mike are you the trumpeter working that Latin gig with Eisen on Tuesday's? Just curious!

  8. Eclipsehornplayer

    Eclipsehornplayer Forte User

    Sep 14, 2005
    Metro Detroit

    I think I just learned more about putting air through a horn then I ever wanted to know! :shock:

    Interesting thread!
  9. trpt2345

    trpt2345 Mezzo Forte User

    May 21, 2006
    Morelia, Mexico
    Re: Hmmmmm...

    I do know Allgauer's, and no, I'm not doing the Tuesday thing, but I know Steve Eisen and I taught his daughter for about three years, Maria who is now living and working in NY.
    As for P = nRT/V, and all that, I may be sorry I brought this up!

    Michael McLaughlin

    "A jazz musician is someone who never plays the same thing once." Shelly Mann

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