The mechanics of working into a shallow/small mouthpiece.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Local 357, Dec 10, 2011.

  1. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    633
    240
    Jul 1, 2011
    Several decades ago I went to a brass "clinic" with a noted mouthpiece maker. The man had supplied many jazz greats with mouthpieces. As well as a veritable "Who's Who" of commercial lead players.

    While sifting through his mouthpiece collection the man had me spend most of my playing time in the lower register. He had me tongue bell tones way down to Low F#.

    "Why are you getting that puny sound down there"?

    He would say. Yelled at me in fact. Then he taught me a set of breathing exercises that I still use and promote today. When i finally got my Low G to open up he said:

    "There's your G above High C". He replied. Meaning that a solid, readable High G was contingent upon a musical and powerful Low G.

    What I was doing was learning to loosen the center of my embouchure and place the playing burden on the outer facial muscles. Playing the horn in a very loose or "weak" position. At least that was/is the way it felt.

    Over the years i learned that the way to make a shallow/small mouthpiece work best is to set for a Low G and work the register higher. In fact (as a piece of advice that may help someone) whenever you try a mouthpiece even shallower consider setting in a somewhat weaker setting than the larger piece.

    "Setting weaker" is probably a concept better understood than explained. You'll know what i mean when you get there. Another way of understanding this mysterious idea is to evaluate how your development on a shallow piece improves.

    When trying a super shallow piece for the first time always reserve judgment on it. Wait until late in the gig and see if it opens up. Or wait until a few weeks pass before making a final determination as to it's usefulness.

    On my most recent change to a very very shallow piece I found that it took a couple years before I could use it all night. In the early days it wouldn't open up until the last set. So i was better off playing only a medium shallow piece through most of the gig. But by and by my muscles learned to synchronize better and I can now use the thing from start to finish. In fact i think i could even learn to play something even smaller. That's a real change from my first impression. From a novelty piece to my main tool. I may not want to go as shallow as Cat did but am not ruling it out. Cat's two pieces:

    cat_mpc_400.jpg



    Conversely when playing a deeper mouthpiece I must set a tad firmer all throughout the registers. Puckering more too. To gain more support for the upper register. The bigger piece requires more physical work to accomplish the same high tones.


    What trumpet players may not realize is that the cup volume on your really shallow pieces may be less than half that of the large one. That the Schilke 5a4a say may hold far less cup volume than the Schilke 14. So in a way the change from 14 to 5a4a is not far removed from switching from a trombone mouthpiece to a trumpet mouthpiece.

    In fact the ability to double on trombone i find similar to switching from "legit' to screamer piece. Or in comparison:

    Mack Truck to F-150 (trombone mouthpiece to standard trumpet piece)

    F-150 to Mini Cooper (standard trumpet piece to screamer).

    When we go from trombone to trumpet we play in a tessitura an octave higher. Going from most standard mouthpieces designed for symphonic or legit to screamer we move yet another octave of our tessitura.

    Going from Schilke 14 to 5a4a effectively changing to an instrument more suited to play the next higher octave.





    *"Clinic" in quotes as we were the only two people there. Much of the session involved massive consumption of warm beer...
     
  2. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    8,612
    2,128
    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    nice post -- and yet you have to still have a stong face muscle set to hold the embouchure in either case. That sheds light on why some of us won't) (won't instead of can't, or maybe it is Don't want to) adapt to a shallow mpc --- or why still others find small mpc's beneficial ---- interesting.....
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    61
    16,615
    7,957
    Jun 18, 2006
    Germany
    I really like this post. That being said, the key is that you get along with shallow mouthpieces in the first place and second that you DO accept that the road is not instantly smoother (if ever). The last point is that it took someone else seriously listening up close and an eye and ear opening to get this going in the right direction.

    I play primarily big mouthpieces and it takes quite a while to get back into even the 14A4A sized piece. Loosening does not help because I am swelling the cup full anyway. My personal old-age comprimize is a 7D sized piece. I get the sizzle that I need and still have room for the swelling. L357s loosening is exactly what I experience. I don't notice MORE tension in the corners though.
     
  4. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

    875
    202
    Jul 11, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    When you mentioned "outer facial muscles", where do you feel it the most? Just curious. I've learned some about the loosening of the middle after switching to shallow for lead playing, but never quite felt the muscle work you describe, so I'm wondering what SHOULD be working (besides air).

    Also, does anyone know why this loosening is needed? It is due to the increased feedback perhaps?
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2011
  5. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    633
    240
    Jul 1, 2011
    Loosening of the vibrating points (or all flesh within the rim of the cup) is needed on any embouchure and on any mouthpiece in order to ascend into the upper register. Try the opposite:

    Try and firm up your vibrating points and play a high note. No tone will come out. This is the paradox of the upper register. Muscles must be flexed and/or compressed but not within the mouthpiece rim.

    The difference between embouchure function from the large piece to the small piece is one of leverage. In a golf analogy you may actually be able to drive a nine iron 200 yards or play a loud High F with a Bach 1C. But you wouldn't have a much control and would work too hard.

    Some trumpet players can not play well on a shallow m/piece but most of these cases would be people who aren't willing to put in the time to do it.

    Of course there are cats who play fine high notes on deeper or medium pieces. Arturo for one. These type are however the exception.

    AND... And we've found that the trumpet players who have the biggest tones in the upper register generally blow shallow pieces. Those similar to the Schilke 6a4a.
     
  6. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

    875
    202
    Jul 11, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    Mmm interesting points to consider. Thank you L357, this post is one I've actually been waiting for the likes of for a while!
     
  7. Dave Hughes

    Dave Hughes Mezzo Forte User

    778
    136
    Oct 19, 2010
    Rochester, NY
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've been told by many if you do the math of overall cup volume (width/depth/taper) that a Schilke 14a cup is actually not that small a mouthpiece. This is because its width is about (in Bach terms) a 1 1/2, which is quite wide, and adds to the cup volume equation.
     
  8. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    633
    240
    Jul 1, 2011
    The 14a4a is a medium large rim dimension but with a fairly shallow cup. Not as shallow as the 6a4a or even the 12a through 13a series. I was comparing the change to a screamer piece from a regular mouthpiece to that of a trombone player switching to a large trumpet mouthpiece.

    Although seemingly slight, the cup depth reduction from the 14 to the 14a the percentage of this cup volume reduction is significant. Almost huge. While I doubt that the cup volume decrease is much more than an eighth of an inch shallower this still represents a large fraction of the former volume.

    You could make the same 1/8th of an inch reduction of cup depth in a trombone mouthpiece and the effect would be much less. Barely noticeable to the player. Because an eighth of an inch is a far smaller portion of the larger trombone piece than it would be for a trumpet mouthpiece.

    But I'll agree: The Schilke 14a4a is not quite the true screamer piece. Not when compared to the 6a4a.

    In fact I consider the 14a4a to be an odd choice for a legit player who wants some help with register support. Which is what it is commonly used for. It's high alpha angle will tend to smear notes together. Anathema to the symphonic player. And the piece really isn't small or shallow enough to do the job on a REAL jazz lead big band chart. Not and still get a big sound w/endurance.

    If I were to choose a real piccolo trumpet mouthpiece I'd probably put in a straight down/low alpha angle, shallow cup with a bit of inner rim "bite". To hold the attacks tighter and fight the tendency to smear notes together.

    A typical real screamer piece may not be very good for piccolo playing. It's a different game than screech.
     
  9. Dave Hughes

    Dave Hughes Mezzo Forte User

    778
    136
    Oct 19, 2010
    Rochester, NY
    I can respect that- but many of us old 14a cup players just want a slightly more shallow piece, with the same wide rim. In my case the difference between my 14a cup and my Warburton 1MD is quite large (going along with your point).

    I guess its just where you start from in many cases.

    As for REAL big band charts, on my 14a cup I can go right on up to Double B (and that's really good enough), yet with the 14a I don't have as much "laser-tone" or really nasty overtones like I used to on my Wick 5/5E or my Jet Tone Al Hirt "A". This is the case with a lot of guys I still know who use the 14a cup- they really don't want to go for the 6a4a because of the tone compression that tends to happen.

    PS: mine has been machined with a Warburton rim on it, which has cut down on the Alpha angle, and I have a Warburton 11* back on it. But I'd still really consider it a specialized lead MP...A while back we had a HUGE discussion on this!
     

Share This Page