Tone Quality

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Arcanemage, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Tone quality is reached by emulation. You need to play duets with people better than yourself. It is also reached by learning to listen while playing - that means tons of easy tunes played softly and with feeling. You also need to play in good sounding rooms like a church hall or large auditorium.

    No amount of buzzing will develop your sound concept. Playing easy tunes beautifully will. You will find tons of easy tunes in a Hymnbook. The tunes all have a verse. If the theme is power and glory, beautiful tone is different than when they talk about the "meek", "weary" or "downtrodden". You need to learn to play emotion.

    Start simple and work up. No additional method books are needed, just an open mind, easy tunes, open ears and as often as possible a buddy to switch first and second parts with.
  2. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Your statement, while seeming like an obvious truth on the surface, begs the question of what does a trumpet sound like? Is it Maurice Andre? Is it Louis Armstrong? Chet Baker? Bud Herseth? Phil Smith? Chris Martin? Miles? Dizzy? Botti? Dokshitzer(sp?)?

    There is no single monolithic trumpet sound -- all those I mention (and so many many more) are recognizably trumpet sounds, yet all are so very different, some darker some brighter.

    I find nothing "obsessive" about wanting to shape one's own tone to be closer to an ideal tone one hears either in one's mind or from others' trumpets.

    And if we all simply "play with the sound we have" where is the growth in that? Aren't we supposed to be striving towards an ideal we have?

    Would you have made the same reply if someone were asking about how to play brighter?
    B15M likes this.
  3. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Some players have a naturally bright or dark sound ,so the only way for them to change their tone is with an equipment change. Isn't the reason we change mouthpieces and trumpets is to obtain a certain sound ? I play lead trumpet in big bands and need a bright penetrating sound ,so I use equipment that gives me that sound. Most problems can be fixed by working on software and some only through a change in hardware.
  4. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Indeed -- same player, different equipment = different sound (often.) My advice, though, was meant to encourage the original poster to wait until the external pair of ears he is trusting his musical development to has returned and can make a more informed decision than any of us on this list can make.
  5. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    Some ideals are more attainable than others by people of various levels of experience.

    I think it's better for a person in high school to be able to make a good tone of whatever character with good accuracy in articulation.

    And yes, for a high school kid, I would have said the same thing, except it would never happen.

    It's probably just overuse of "dark" to mean a rich, resonant tone.

  6. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    Nov 2, 2003

    Looking at this and the other thread it seem like we approach this problem in similar ways, though I start with buzzing to get it going since think the mouthpiece is the perfect place for someone to start this process.

    In general, all of these threads talking about tone and sound gloss over the fact that at this stage of of a students development you can not get a clear picture of your real tone. Playing out of tune or out of center, with tension, etc.. are all going to take away from your true sound. I have yet to meet a high school student that doesn't have some level of pitch problems. That is why I like to start with buzzing to work on the ear, then simple songs after that. For my students I love to use band book play along, and the Can brass quintet books with the reference recording CD. I also like the idea of using hymnbooks and will have to try this.

    I really think a lot of this is a mislabel for being to tense or to relaxed. I think a student should learn to play in tune and in the center of the horn with a pleasant tone, before worrying about dark or bright.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2009
  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    It's probably just overuse of "dark" to mean a rich, resonant tone.
    That that I would disagree. From my ear's opinion, the brightness and darkness has more to do with the spectrum. I play with a bright full spectrum similar to Doc, MF, or Arturo and need hardware if I'm going to pull off doing a dark Miles ballad and make it sound believable. Generally people have either a dark or bright slant to their sound and rarely does a person have both.
  8. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    While there is nothing wrong with wanting to darken your sound, be sure you also enjoy your apparently bright sound. There are many people who play "dark and cold" that would love to have a "warm, bright" sound.

    It seems we are always wanting the greener grass on the other side of the road. I have never had much of a range, but I spent 30 years of my playing trying to obtain higher range and purposely playing the charts that required it. Recently, I've decided I will never be screaming double Cs and am having much more fun and enjoyment playing music within what I can handle -or maybe a few notes higher to keep myself challanged. I have a good friend who was a screamer of a player, could have played lead with many of the top bands. Instead, be spent his career working to be able to ad lib within the staff, playing small group work (which was not his forte).

    I think it is important for us to realize our strengths and weaknesses. In some situations, the way we are made will limit our playing. For instance, Maynard made great use of the strengths that God gave him on the horn. His forte was high notes. What I would regard as a weakness was intonation (not trying to create a battle here-just my perception of his overall skills which are all far greater than mine). He didn't focus on formal classical that would require great intonation. Instrwead, he played charts where perfect intonation was secondary to range. We need to be sure we enjoy what we are able to do, not just focus on what we can't. Think there is a message in here somewhere, but not sure what it is.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2009
  9. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    I don't understand dark and cold or bright and warm.

    I've heard people talk about having a resonant sound and the bell will ring. I never got that top happen. I did get the sound in my head to come out the end of the trumpet.

    I think your assessment of Maynard is a little off, really big time off but, I get your point.
  10. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    Nov 2, 2003

    While there is some element that is part of a person natural sound there are plenty of people have both depending on the demands of the music.

    have you seen parts of the Jim Thompson master class on the yamaha artist website? there is a great section where he talks about how to manipulate tone quality.

    Yamaha Artist Model Series

    I think what people are missing here is how interconnected all of this stuff is.

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