Treacherous C to D interval on Bb trumpet

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by ellestad, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. ellestad

    ellestad New Friend

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    May 18, 2006
    Madison, WI
    My recent woodshedding on a piece of music that had some languid slurs from C to D in the staff on my Bb trumpet revealed a problem that I hadn't really noticed prior (I suppose I should have). I can't make the transition completely clean. There is always a very slight "hiccup" at the valve stroke. I can reduce it to an acceptable level with some concentrated "lip finesse" but this then becomes another technique element to keep track of which, for me, takes my attention away a little more from focusing on the musicality. In exploring the problem I have discovered that trying to play this transition as a trill yields a mighty ugly sound - I can keep the trill together (just barely) but it is a skunky mess. All other full-step slurs play cleanly and the ones that lend themselves to trills do so cleanly as well on this horn.

    I don't have this problem on my Bb cornet, flugel, C trumpet, D or Eb trumpet, or pics.

    The horn that gives me this trouble is a tuning bell instrument. Is this possibly part of the problem? I've tried about every in-tune combination of bell and crook adjustments that I can physically make and got no appreciable improvement. I've tried 5 different mouthpieces - size and manufacturer - with no appreciable change in the problem either.

    What can I try? A heavy cap or two? A "sound brace"? Any suggestions or insights would be very welcome.

    Thanks very much.

    Tim Ellestad
     
  2. loudog

    loudog Piano User

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    Jan 4, 2004
    Grand Island, NE
    Practice Clark #4 until you can work up the speed to trill it cleanly. That will solve your problem.
     
  3. ellestad

    ellestad New Friend

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    May 18, 2006
    Madison, WI
    Thanks for the suggestion. Clark is back on my stand.

    Since this is a non-issue on my other instruments, how long would you work on Clark #4 before considering that the problem might have other causes?

    I'm going to try it on some other Bb trumpets tomorrow or Monday and see if I have the same trouble with those horns. I'll post the results.

    Tim Ellestad
     
  4. tatakata

    tatakata Mezzo Forte User

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    May 29, 2007
    What brand of horn are you playing on right now.
     
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    A couple of things to try:

    Is the trill easier if you throw out the first valve slide a bit on the d?
    Is the trill easier if you finger the d 13?
    It might be that the interval you hear is not quite the same as the interval the trumpet wants to play.

    Is your tuning slide all the way in and the tuning bell quite a ways out? Sometimes a little gap in the tuning slide and a smaller gap at the bell will help.

    Please keep us posted, and good luck!

    If all else fails, practice more.
     
  6. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

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    Jan 24, 2005
    This was always a problem for me on the Eb doing trills from C to D. I think it's challenging because you're making the horn longer, yet making the pitch higher. E to D or Bb to C probably isn't as hard.

    I know trills are different from what you're doing, but my problem was sort of "aiming" for somewhere in between the C and D and not really playing either pitch. I practiced going slowly from C to D, at a healthy mf, and really finding the center of each note (even if it's a little jarring at first, the fluidity will come). Eventually I sped it up and the clarity was there. My chops had to learn (subconciously!) where each note really was and make that little transition accurately. It's really not much different from slurring an octave cleanly...you have to center each note immediately for it to sound clean. I'm not saying to consciencely manipulate the chops or anything like that, but the slow, deliberate practice will train the chops to find those notes very smoothly. I think the same thing might help smooth out your non-trill C to D.

    It wasn't a one day fix for me (unfortunately!), but a little each day will get you there.

    Good Luck!

    Jason.
     
  7. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

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    Jan 24, 2005
    One more thing...

    Have you recorded yourself? It may be that this little hiccup might not be audible to anyone else! Still good to figure out though...

    Jason.
     
  8. ellestad

    ellestad New Friend

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    May 18, 2006
    Madison, WI
    Thanks everyone for all the kind help.

    In response to your input -

    The horn is a Schilke B2L. Currently it is playing in tune with either a Schilke 14 or 17D4d mouthpiece (the different backbores don't seem to change the tune here - I'm a little surprised). The main crook is pulled about 17/64" and the bell is pulled about 15/64". No matter where these two are positioned the D/E transition is problematic.

    The problem doesn't change at all by pulling the 1st valve slide - even to an extreme. 1 and 3 fingering on the D doesn't improve it either.

    I will be shedding Clarke #4 as well as slurs. I am an aging comeback player (greybeard). I played pretty well as a student (not music major) but then my career kept me from being able to keep chops and be involved in organized music for over 35 years. I started again about 7 years ago and I have made pretty good progress. I mostly play in an orchestra so I haven't been using Bb very much. My other horns don't give me this trouble - this has sort of taken me by surprise. I don't have huge chops but I'm not in soft condition either. I put in a fair amount of practice. I can play anything within the range of typical classical literature. On the most demanding extended high parts I have to go to a smaller horn to get through it because I hit my strength limits. I can grunt out a high G (but I wouldn't bank on it).

    This (C/D) is the only problem transition for me with this horn. Any other trill or slur that I can think of has been clean and stable. I do record myself periodically (no trumpeter ever really knows quite how he or she sounds out front in varying environments except in recordings, in my opinion). I use a Marantz Compact Flash recorder with a couple of reasonable condenser mikes and, referencing years in media production, I'm quite impressed with what this small, modern gear can do.

    I went to my local dealer yesterday and played a few new Bb trumpets with my mouthpieces (I know that my mouthpieces may not necessarily be the best fit for those horns). I played a Yamaha Xeno and a Yamaha Bergeron - both very nice horns. Both horns notably reduced my transition problem with the Xeno being the better of the two for me. I played a Van Cleave which also reduced the problem but played a little more stuffy. Then I played a Getzen Custom 3051. With it the problem was pretty much gone - clean slur and clean trill. I couldn't find any bad spots on this horn. It is very, very fast - maybe the fastest horn I've ever tried. It effortlessly and cleanly double and triple tongued itself, I think. It had a nice even voice. It really talked. I'm going to go back to record it to see if I think its spectrum would work in long-hair music.

    The B2L that I'm playing is a beautiful horn. I'm mystified as to why I'm having this problem on it. A few years ago when Prof. Matthias Bertsch from the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna was here gathering data for his trumpet and player study he analysed this horn on his computer with the same Schilke 14 mouthpiece. The instrument performed very well, having excellent note by note intonation as you might expect. It was slightly sharp up through middle C, on-pitch from C# through high Bb, and then slightly flat up to high E where the evaluation stopped. The notes that have to be sharp (low F#, low C#, low D, low E, etc.) were predictable and needed modest correction.

    At this point I assume that this is largely a player problem and I will truly work on it. If anyone has any breakthrough ideas for me I'm all ears.

    Regards everyone.

    Tim Ellestad
     
  9. ellestad

    ellestad New Friend

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    May 18, 2006
    Madison, WI
    A correction to my previous post -

    The Getzen trumpet that I tried out was actually a standard Classic 3052 in silver plate.

    Tim
     

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