The Trumpets Are Closed?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Bachstul, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. Bachstul

    Bachstul Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 25, 2009
    I have recently discovered that some of the BRASS (pun) here on TM have a cool debate! Certainly I'm going to mention their names!.... I'll start with a Quote from the Embouchure Code thread.

    "Vulgano Brother, I still believe that the trumpet is essentially acoustically closed. The leakage of our air is only there to keep us from hyperventilating or suffocating. The mismatched horn design lets the internal resonance escape, giving our audiences something to listen to." Rowuk

    end quote ( what is latin for end quote? )

    This kind debate reminds me of Richard Smith and his great experiment he documented in the Journal of the International Trumpet Guild, "EXCITING YOUR INSTRUMENT ! link: you'll find a pdf of the original, 1999, article there.

    ITG Web Site - Journal Index

    I played third trumpet next to Richard Smith for two years, just not the same Richard Smith. There are 36,734 Richard Smiths in North America alone; how do I know? WHO CARES! This Richard Smith publishing on the Trumpet Guild does not even play trumpet!

    This link is faster, a brief 2002 re-hash of the theory:

    ITG 2002 Dr. Richard Smith "Exciting Your Instrument"

    I love the theory. I love the debate. I think it's very interesting.

    So.... BRING IT!
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2009
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    I agree that acoustically, the trumpet acts like a closed organ pipe. I would argue, however, that the combination of trumpeter plus trumpet results in what is called an open system, which allows for the weird and the wonderful.

    I like weird stuff; consider it brung.
  3. camelbrass

    camelbrass Mezzo Forte User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Dubai, UAE

    You probably couldn't find him in the census because he is English (a Yorkshireman I believe) and is the Smith in Smith-Watkins trumpets. I have one, it plays very well so he must know something! He is also the Smith that designed and developed the original Sovereign instruments for Boosey and Hawke back in the '70s and they play pretty well.

    Personally,I always try and divorce the physics from how I approach playing. I imagine my air flowing through the instrument whether it actually does or not. The facts may be very different, and probably are. I seem to remember reading about Rene Schilke (I think) trying to blow smoke through a tuba while playing a note to prove that airflow and sound aren't directly related...and he did.


  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The acoustic properties of the trumpet are fascinating. We blow into one and sound comes out of the other. What happens in between keeps many artisans and companies alive.

    My personal research shows that the trumpet is not the glorified megaphone that many think. When we play, our lips get a resonance (standing wave) started in the instrument. That note is dependent on the acoustic length of the instrument. The length changes depending on whether and which valves we push. The available "resonances" for each valve combination are limited to something called partials for those instrument lengths.

    The partial series is just count of how many wavelengths fit into the horn. Doubling the amount represents adding an octave.

    1 Pedal C
    2 low C
    3 G
    4 C
    5 E
    6 G
    7 Bb
    8 High C
    9 D
    10 E
    11 F/F#
    12 G
    13 Ab/A
    14 Bb
    15 B
    16 Double C

    I'll post more on how that resonance gets started later. For now it is important to realize that the resonance of the horn "locks" our lips into the note that IT wants.
  5. chet fan

    chet fan Piano User

    Jul 3, 2009

    this is terra incognita for me but what I see it looks like after we hit that E on the 10th partial we dont need fingering any more. right? because the tones goes in sequences one by one up to double C. am I right or wrong?
  6. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    PLEASE! I have so many questions about
    trumpet theory, but I just can´t make
    myself post them in this forum, since
    some of the readers have given signals
    that they find this boring.

    So, PLEASE, can´t we have a Technical Forum!?!?!?:worthy:
  7. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    At the ITG convention warmup session on Bill Adam's approach Rowuk's point was made abundantly clear -- to start the session the person running it (Gregory Wing) had us take our mouthpiece and simply blow very gently through it, so that we weren't buzzing but our lips were formed into our embouchures.

    Next he had us remove our tuning slides so we would be blowing just through the leadpipe.

    Then, holding the mouthpiece to our lips and still blowing quite gently so we weren't buzzing on the mouthpiece, we carefully slipped the mouthpiece receiver onto the mouthpiece and before the mouthpiece was in contact with the receiver our lips were buzzing! The lead-pipe's acoustic system and properties were providing the buzz, not us!

    He had us move the trumpet back off the mouthpiece and then back on, so we could be certain that the buzz was coming from the horn, not from us.

    It was a very incredible phenomenon, but it showed me something I had never before known about trumpet playing (and I've been doing it for 46 years!) and has helped me turn my trumpet playing around and I'm getting a better sound with better range and far less effort than ever before, thanks in part to that simple experiment Greg Wing had us do.:play:

    While we do maintain control to decide which partial of the overtone series to force the trumpet onto, it's important to remember who/what is really in charge, and it is the trumpet every time.

    To tie this thread into the thread on student/pro horns and what the differences are, the ease with which the trumpet takes your energy and helps you lock into the frequency the trumpet "wants" you to play is another huge difference between student and pro horns.
  8. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    It isn't boring, Sofus, so ask away!
  9. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    We certainly agree on that VB, but the fact remains;
    my asking questions about the bell as a closed end and
    the mouthpiece as an open end made at least one member
    yawn (I won´t mention his name here . . .) and when I
    suggested that we should have a Technical Forum others
    agreed, saying that although they sometimes are interrested
    in these matters they equally often aren´t up to reading about
    it. This had to do with the mood they were in at the moment.
    I FULLY understand this; sometimes one may think these questions
    are too "ambitious".

    There were also a number of members who thought that having a
    Technical Forum was a great idea, and these members also stated
    that they certainly would take an active part in discussions taking
    place there.

    I think that a Technical Forum IS a great idea since those interrested
    can feel that their questions aren´t boring those not interrested.
    I´m personally reluctant to post anything that I can suspect that
    other members are yawning about or finding boring, out of place etc.

    Boring; NO!!
    Interresting; YES!!
    Deserving a forum; YES!!

    PLEASE make it happen, those of you who have the power!!
  10. NickD

    NickD Forte User

    The trumpet is a closed end resonator. One end is open near the bell. The other end is plugged up with your face - CLOSED. Now, some folks like to think that since the lips pop open and shut at the frequency you are playing that the horn is sometimes open, but this isn't acoustically correct. There is ALWAYS a pressure antinode at the mouthpiece and there is a pressure NODE near the bell. This is characteristic of a closed end resonator.

    If trumpet were a pure cylinder - no mouthpiece, no leadpipe taper and no bell, it would produce only odd harmonics. I demonstrate this all the time. Adding taper to the tubing from the mouthpiece throat into the lead pipe and then again at the bell collapses the odds only series togheter filling in the gaps giving what appears to be an all integer series. How well the horn plays depends on the rate of tapers and shapes (cantenaries, Bessles curves, etc) are mateched together.

    An interesting fact is why the pedal C is so flat on trumpets but not so much on flugels. One theory I have heard is that the flugels have more extreme conical shapes and the this false fundamental more in tune. Don't forget, for an all integer series, which a trumpet is tricked out to imitate even though it is a closed end resonator, has an octave as the interval between the first two harmonics. Well many trumpet players think the low C (Bb for many of us) is the lowest note, so it is the fundamental and that the pedal C is just a pedal note. This isn't correct. The pedal C is the fundamental, but, on a turmpet, the interval is greater than a factor of 2, so it plays very flat.

    A trumpet is often referred to by acousticiains as having a variable acoustic length. I have heard physics teachers errantly teach that a trumpet is open at both ends and somehow works like a vibrating string because it seems to produce an all integer multiple series.

    There is another thread on this running here already titled How A Trumpet Works; good stuff.

    BTW, the mouthpiece is the closed end and the bell is the open end.



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