Stuffy notes on a specific partial

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Double_G, Dec 10, 2005.

  1. Double_G

    Double_G Pianissimo User

    May 4, 2005
    Gordonsville, TN
    OK, so I was practicing the other day and while playing my upper long tones I notice my notes from E above middle C to F# above middle C sound stuffy if I could call it anything. It doesn't sound forced and but it sounds as though something might be lodged in the horn. I already cleaned out in an attempt to fix the problem. Presuming that the problem was something blocking the air passages I scrubbed them thoroughly. Well, the horn was in pretty good shape as far as cleaning and nothing was lodged in the valve casings nor the any or the pipes. Everyhting checks out. Clean as a whistle. So, I got back to playing the long-tone series again. Sounds full until I get to the E and it sounds and now FEELS like something has been placed in the pipes somewhere. Check out the horn again. Still nothing. So, now I assume it is my playing. I believe my embouchure may be the problem. I believe I may be closing the appeture (sp?) a little to far a little prematurely in preparation for the higher partial. That is the only trouble spot I have noticed in my practicing lately so maybe that's a good thing. Please help me out if you can.
  2. Heavens2kadonka

    Heavens2kadonka Forte User

    Jun 17, 2004
    Lebanon, TN
    Long tones and Clarke 1 should show you whats going on. Focus on consistency on Clarke 1 especially. The lowest note should feel and sound exactly like the highest note.

    See what happens. Mouthpiece buzzing should also help.

    BTW, see you Friday.

  3. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    I would like to throw a little spice into this food for thought. The area you speak of is usually where our natural "breaks" occur. It happens around the same vicinity an octave lower. We essentially have two breaks, both occurring around the "E's" above and below middle "G". If you use Jim Thompson's approach to this problem, ironing through the breaks and making them further apart is the goal to fixing it. My breaks are currently low "G" and "C" above the staff (on C trumpet). The "C" is also compounded by the fact that my mouthpiece "break" also lies there. In general, it can be a squirrely note, but with careful muscle training, it works. Mouthpiece buzzing with smooth glissandos between target notes, forcing you to keep the air-stream supported, will help iron out these breaks. This will get you closer to having the sound you want in those areas.

    I hope this made some sense and that it helps.
  4. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona

    I think Alex has introduced a very important concept that you may not have considered in the past.

    Breaks are simply the points at which we have to change something about our playing to continue moving into a certain register. For instance, the falsetto voice when we sing is a "break". The goal is to discover the "break" points in our playing and then figure out a way to “push them out†so that the "break" is not discernable to us or to our listeners.

    Although I’ve never studied with James Thompson, I use his Buzzing Basics every day and really relate to the concepts that he advocates related to sound production on a brass instrument. I was surprised to learn that we have two breaks on the trumpet (as Alex mentioned around the E’s above and below 2nd line G – maybe a little higher or lower depending on the player).

    Most players will compensate for these breaks and figure out how to play in the different registers with slightly different setups trying to “smooth†over the area where the change takes place. Thompson’s idea is that if you maintain a middle register setup and slowly allow this setup to stretch it’s way into the lower and upper registers, it will lead to a more resonant, colorful, vibrant sound. I am finding this to be true in my own playing (and it sound’s like Alex has pushed her “breaks†to the normal register of the horn).

    It seems that most of the well conceived warmup/maintenance routines that I have seen begin around this second line G and expand it (up and down) while maintaining this middle setting (without mentioning the idea of breaks). Look at Adam, Caruso, Stamp, Remington, etc. There’s a lot to be gleaned from looking at how many of the successful methods structure their exercises (apart from the text that accompanies them). They must have intuitively known about these breaks without specifically discussing them, and generated exercises to maintain a middle-register setup stretching into the extremes.

    You may enjoy reading an article that I wrote summarizing the ITG Conference presentation by David Krauss several summers ago. His ideas align very well with what James Thompson discusses.

    Hope this helps!

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