the myth of "fast air"

Discussion in 'Trumpet Pedagogy' started by rowuk, May 2, 2008.

  1. nordlandstrompet

    nordlandstrompet Forte User

    Apr 5, 2008
    An interesting, and probably neverending thread (story)

    The last posts here brings up a new element, which is not thorough discussed yet:

    When playing a C in the stave, (at 440Hz), and changes the pitch an octave up to high C, (at 440Hz+++++) what will happen with the lungpressure/aperture/frequency pulsation/airspeed?

    Will the aperture be narrower to be able to achieve a higher pulsation frequency? Will the pressure behind the lips have to be increased, and will the relative fast airspeed through the aperture increase?
  2. oldlips48

    oldlips48 Piano User

    Mar 1, 2007
    Hey Guys (and I use the term "Guys" in a nongender-specific manner).

    Please excuse my "cut to the chase" approach. But I find when I play my horn, I go up the register to a point, then, nothing. I play a decent sounding high C, then a D, then an E, then nothing.

    I can appreciate and understand the discussion of resonance, pressure imbalances, impedence. Please believe me when I say I understand the importance of the ultimate sound coming out at the bell of the horn. But what I am saying at this point is, I'd like to get the sound of a triple "C" out of my horn, even if the timbre and quality are not the best. You know, to see if it's possible.

    As a high school science teacher, I am so into the mechanics of the upper register. But as a player, why do I "hit the wall"? I've read about the various approaches to embrochure. I understand the "tongue supporting the lower lip, rolled back over the bottom teeth" is one example of an embrochure approach. But again, it doesn't answer the core question: "Why do I hit this wall?" I could understand a gradual fade-out, but it's decent, decent, decent, nothing.

    Any suggestions?
    (Nick, Robin, I'm looking to you guys....)

    Thanks for the help and the truly wonderful discussions.

  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    This is an easy one. The culprit is an aperture that is too large, and can't get smaller, usually because we try getting a fatter sound, and the use of mouthpiece pressure simply holds the too-big aperture in place.

    Lots of ppp long tone and range work usually works as a good antidote.
  4. NickD

    NickD Forte User

    Wowzers! This thread has REALLY taken off.

    Welcome Kalijah! You speak wisdom. Great ideas. Again, I am intrigued by the flow control thing.

    Now a page or two back it was pointed out that there are two ways to change the fundamental frequency of a guitar string; lengthen it (frequency is inversely proportional to length) and tighten it up (frequency is proportional to the square root of tension). However there are two other ways. One can increase the diameter of the string (another inverse proportion) and the last is to vary the linear mass density. This part is tricky. All other variables kept constant (tension, length and diameter) the frequency is proportional to the INVERSE of the SQUARE ROOT of mass density.

    Holy algebra, Batman! Make the bad man stop! OK, sorry about this. However, there is something to think about here for trumpet players. IMHO, it is a myth that we exclusively use tension to control the pitch. Certainly, there is a component there, but if it was all about tension only, we'd have to be able to pull over two hundred pounds of force to cover the range of a screaming lead player. Our faces would have to have muscles like thighs!

    The other component is the vibrating "lip aperture." By making the aperture smaller as we ascend in pitch, the net vibrating mass goes down, reducing the frequency. This doesn't require strength so much as control.

    This was written up quite a few years ago in the ITG Journal by John Lynch (the Asymmetric guy - a former NASA engineer). While modeling the lips like guitar strings is a gross oversimplification, I am personally very comfortable with the mass relationship as a trumpeter.

    As to the TCE thing, this is an idea largely promulgated by Jerry Callet, though other folks have used it for a long time, as well, though, perhaps not exactly as articulated by Jerry. My version of it is more like the Walt Johnson thing, and I describe it in my Hi-Gear Low-Gear video:

    YouTube - Hi Gear Lo Gear

    I also talk about the set in this video:

    YouTube - Long Tones - Sotto Voce

    Now, before I get flamed, I realize I have wildly deviated from the thread with this windy post. I just wanted to address a couple if ideas that I missed over the last few days. Now to get back on topic.

    I'm starting to get some focus on flow control ideas from all of you. Great ideas you are all sharing. I look forward to more.

    Peace, all.

  5. kalijah

    kalijah New Friend

    May 5, 2008
    A good thread here. Some good conversation.

    Unlike another site forum where if you dare question the myth of air speed you are branded a heretic and your very playing ability is attacked (not that that has any bearing on the discussion)

    I have tons of practicing to do to prepare for some gigs but there are so many points I wish to respond to. Perhaps later.

    but (being also an electrical engineer) I could not let this one go:

    rowuk wrote:
    Well, kind-of. You must also consider the length of the thin part. or the lenght of any part for that matter, depending on the pressure, umm, voltage you are dealing with or flow umm, current involved.

    Hold on! The pressure from the lungs is, at any point, easily considered to be constant. That is: DC. that is: VERY low frequency (compared to audio)

    BUt, again, the lungs are not generating AC pressure, so the size of the oral space supplying that pressure is quite irrelevant.

    The tone color is quite completely determined by the embouchure alone and how it behaves.

    MAny players believe that tonal color is a function of the oral size. I am not one. Some honest evaluation will show convincingly that this is a false concept.

    In other words, it is the "waveshape" of the pulsing aperture and the associated harmonic content that determines the color.

    There is also some good research and theory that suggests this is so.

    Again, Thomas Moore investigated this very thing and has written of the aperture "waveshape" analysis.

    There is also a good read here:

    Most players have simply been steered away from giving the aperture/embouchure, and its function, due credit for tone quality, range, efficiency. Almost always attempting to back it up with so-called "science".

    Darryl Jones
    Last edited: May 7, 2008
  6. kalijah

    kalijah New Friend

    May 5, 2008
    nick wrote:
    Or shorten it, of course, for a higher frequency.

    Yes, but you must change the string to do this. And you may not have that option. Neither can you replace your lips with ones with more mass density.

    An argument some have attempted to make is that a shorter string has a higher frequency because it has less mass. But, I would say that it vibrates more frequently because it has less length.

    (You will probably have to look at the equation for a vibrating string frequency for that one to sink in)
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    yes, compression of the lips makes them "denser" (harder?) and raises the resonant frequency. I am not sure if the effect is due to smaller aperature, less "damping", more mass or all of the above though..........

    all of the factors you mention are variable (I am not convinced about airspeed though) and contribute not only to range, but also tone color. If we squeeze high register out by force, the played frequency is the same as a well supported dark tone or scream sound.
    The infinite combination of variables creates an infinite combination of unique trumpet players sounds.

    there are 2 factors that create a brick wall, one is your chops that theoretically have to be free to vibrate (little mouthpiece pressure - especially on the upper lip) and the resonant characteristics of the horn. Above high C, the trumpet really does not amplify much anymore. That means that we have to work harder. Most trumpet players like VB said use force to play the upper register. That force squeezes off our aperature and creates the brick wall.
    The solution is to get the pressure off of the upper lip (angle the horn down a bit). You generally will be able to play higher, but the tone thins out dramatically as you postulate. THAT is then a function of breath support, chop strength and tongue position. The unique combination creates YOUR range and tone quality!

    I think we will have to calculate lip motion to figure out efficiency. Dr. Moore investigated pitch vs volume not tone quality, Q or efficiency.
  8. nordlandstrompet

    nordlandstrompet Forte User

    Apr 5, 2008
    On a string instrument, the strings are clamped in both ends and will always have the same fixed total length between the anchoring points. If you take the tuned "G-string" and "stretch" (tunes) it from the G up to an A, the string will have the same physical working length, (with higher tension), but the mass/diameter of the string will decrease, and the frequency will increase. Actually, the total length of the string will be longer, but a part of it will be "hidden" onto the tuning screw.

    Another aspect, which I think you are reffering, is when you play a guitar, you shorten the strings with your fingersetting. The strings will vibrate more or less frequently because of the change of length.
  9. mrburke

    mrburke New Friend

    Jan 28, 2008
    Who was it that said;

    "Brass playing is so difficult because it is so damn simple"

    Great thread by the way. Some great discussion. I have enjoyed reading, although it has made me exhausted!
  10. nordlandstrompet

    nordlandstrompet Forte User

    Apr 5, 2008
    Last edited: May 7, 2008

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