Tone help

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by NYCO10, Mar 31, 2010.

  1. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Most times tone problems are caused because by improper breathing techniques , not only the intake but the way air is expelled. Try taking a quick , full relaxed breath , filling the bottom of your abdomen , then play the note , but don't blow into the mouthpiece or trumpet , but blow the note through the horn , think of the note as a dart and aim it at a target across the room, remember it's not volume ,it's projection.
  2. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    I concur with the idea of listening to good sound and then trying to emulate it... that's much of what I did early on in my trumpet life. A good teacher can also help with this. One thing that has become evident to me is that the resonance of the oral cavity as well as the air in the trachea contributes to the tone color.

    If you can feel the difference in your body between saying "Eeeeeehhhhhhh" like Bugs Bunny might say before he says "What's up, Doc?" and "AAAAaaaaaahhhhhhhh" as if you were trying to emulate the resonant tones of an old-fashioned public speaker, try to move the same muscles in your throat and back of the mouth while you play... the "Ahhh" will sound much more full than the "Ehhh"

    "Ooooopen, Sesame!" instead of "Ewwww, a dead rat!"

    Hope that helps someone!!

    Guy Clark
  3. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    OK try this:
    Play a note and bend it up slowly and then bend it down slowly.
    What to listen for:
    As you bend the note listen for when the sound seems to come alive. There will be a point(when slowly bending the note) when the trumpet will actually seem to vibrate more in your hands. Thats where the best and brightest sound is.
    Next,tune your trumpet to match where you found the best resonant sound.

    Also, I've cut and pasted an article that might be of help, here goes:

    Efficiency ThroughResonant Intonation
    The Idea of playing efficiently is one of the most sought after skills that seems to elude brass players. The whole idea of not having to work hard to produce the results you want is pervasive in every part of our society. How can I get what I want without working for it! .....or at least working as little as possible. When it comes to playing a brass instrument, the idea of how to get the best sound per grunt ratio is very important, being able to play well without paying a high price physically.

    So, back to the title: Efficiency through Resonant Intonation. What is Resonant Intonation?Intonation is the player's ability to match the pitch of his/her instrument to the pitch of the instruments around them. Resonance refers to the acoustical phenomenon that occurs when the resonant frequency of an object or space (in this case: the volume of air inside the instrument) is stimulated. Resonant Intonation refers to the act of playing in tune with your instruments resonant frequency. Matching the pitch you produce with the pitch that the instrument wants to produce (because of where you have it tuned.) I like to call this the Shower Effect.

    The Shower Effect is what happens when you are singing in a shower stall. You happen to find one note that really jumps out at you. When this happens you have just matched your intonation (or pitch) to the resonant frequency of the shower stall (the resonant space.) The efficiency that I am talking about is the result of being in tune with the shower stall's resonant frequency or tuning. At this point, you are not only producing a sound as a result of singing, but you are also deriving benefits from the shower stall's enhancement or resonance. The sound per grunt ratio has just improved!

    Now that you have an Idea about what I'm talking about .....what does this have to do with brass playing? When a player tunes his/her instrument, that's exactly what is being tuned. Just the instrument! Playing in tune is not a given, just because your horn has been tuned properly (A-440). You can play in tune (A-440) with your instrument tuned correctly or incorrectly! You can bend the pitch almost a full half step either direction without touching the tuning slide. Good intonation is a result of learning to hear when you are in tune and when you are not.

    I have worked with many high school bands that spend (what seems to be) hours tuning each player's instrument. Even if all of the horns are (technically) in tune, there is little or no chance that they will actually play in tune unless the individual players can recognize when they are in tune to begin with. Good intonation resides in the players own ears, not in the default tuning of the instrument!

    The problems arise when your horn is tuned to, let's say, A-436. You now have to bend the pitch sharp in order to match the A-440 tuning of the ensemble. You are in tune with the other players but you are no longer playing in tune with your instrument. Your instrument wants to resonate the A-436, but you force it to produce the A-440 by over tightening the embouchure or whatever. This is not only less efficient physically, but also less efficient from the resonance standpoint of the instrument. You do not get the instrument to work with you as a team. You are now fighting the acoustical properties of the instrument. You have set the instrumentÍs tuning to resonate at A-436, but you produce A-440. This new pitch (A-440) will not generate as much resonance as A-436 will. Playing this way will not result in the Shower Effect!

    After working as a trumpet tester at the Vincent Bach factory, I realized that (by design) most trumpets play in tune at about the same tuning slide setting. If the horn is designed and manufactured well, the tuning will be very consistent from horn to horn. If I notice a trumpet player with the tuning slide pulled too far out or pushed too far in for that particular instrument, I can already tell that their tone will not be as big or vibrant as it could be. I also know that they will be working a bit harder than they need to be which will result in endurance and production problems.

    If I notice that a student has tuned his/her instrument in a manner that is inconsistent with the horn's design, I change the tuning, placing the tuning slide in the correct position for the instrument. Then make the player adjust his/her pitch to the horn. You can check the horn's tuning by popping the mouthpiece with your hand. You will notice that you get a pitch. This is the pitch that the horn wants to produce. This is the pitch that should be matched to the ensemble. This is the pitch that (if matched by the player) will produce the most resonance and result in a bigger and easier to produce sound.

    So, to sum all of this up: You can tune your instrument, you can tune your ears, and you can tune your ears to your instrument. When you are producing the pitch that your instrument has been tuned for, you gain resonance as well as ease of operation or efficiency. Playing in tune with your instrument is what I'm talking about. You should tune your horn to the ensemble and yourself to the horn.

    How To Find The Center Of The Horn's Pitch:

    Pitch: While playing a long tone, bend the pitch up and notice the tonal change that occurs. Bend the pitch down and notice that the tonal change is not the same as when the pitch is bent up. A sharp note has a distinct tonal change that is different to the tonal change of a flat note. These tonal colorations are good to listen for when checking resonance. Even subtle changes in tone color can guide you back to the exact center of the pitch, and to greater resonance. Learn to hear pitch shifts by tonal colorations.

    Resonant Oral Cavity: While playing the first note in the exercise below (G), open and close your teeth slightly. A "WA - WA" sound or movement. You will hear that as the teeth are closing, the sound changes to a tighter, pinched sound. As you open the teeth, the sound becomes thin. You will also notice that somewhere in the middle, the sound jumps out of the horn. You have just matched the resonant properties of your oral cavity with those of the horn. This is the point of greatest resonance

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