Undesired blowing sound

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by mrizzone, Jul 13, 2014.

  1. mrizzone

    mrizzone Pianissimo User

    Jul 14, 2013
    Buenos Aires
    Hello! Sometimes (not always) I have this problem while playing lower notes: the musical sound is accompained by an undesired and non musical blowing sound, as if an excess of air pass throught the trumpet without generating tones. Is something like the sound of Miles Davis in "Mood" or "Circle" but involuntary, of course. Changing my embouchure is usually enough to make this sound dissapear but I'm not always succesfull. Somebody knows the origin of the problem? Thanks!
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    It is counter-intuitive, but very often air in the sound is the result of not using enough air while playing.
  3. mrizzone

    mrizzone Pianissimo User

    Jul 14, 2013
    Buenos Aires
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    The simple answer is that there is a lack of focus in your chops. The reason why your chops aren't focused might be a bit more complex, but there are some pretty simple things that I do to improve my focus if it starts to wane.

    Using too much pressure is a common issue that causes a lack of focus. The chops get to a point in middle and upper register playing that they need the pressure in order to create the sound, but when you drop to the lower register, it requires less pressure, so the pressure then prevents the chops from focusing and it airs out. You can adjust your chops and get it to work, but otherwise it's not going to speak consistently.

    I'd recommend doing a lot of soft, low long tones, and A LOT of low articulation exercises, particularly single tonguing. Start at a note that does speak, say 2nd line G, and gradually work your way down chromatically, with both the tonguing and long tones, all while working to reduce mouthpiece pressure. That's what I prescribe for myself when I need it anyway, and it should work for you if a lack of focus is causing your lowere register to not speak correctly.

    To piggyback on what VB said, the long tones and articulation work will both serve to improve your air usage as well.
    Sidekick likes this.
  5. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    You might try the articulation exercises in Arbans.. somewhere around pg125. Use plenty of air and focus to get the lower pitches to sound.
  6. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Also consider if you are relaxing your chops too much at the lower notes below C - you need to still maintain your embouchure to focus the sound - relaxing too much may result in the airy sound. A sign for me, is my corners relax too much..
  7. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    Peter saved me writing this too. I'm playing a low pitched phrase in an otherwise middle to high pitched piece and I have to focus/control the airflow that little bit more to keep the lowest notes crisply defined.

  8. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    What the above posters have said is all true - there is a very fine balance to be struck between tension and relaxation in different parts of the embouchure.

    But as someone who has had to rebuild my lower register from mid-stave G downwards over the last 6 months, I would add that I've not found it helpful to think about the problem in quite those terms.

    What has helped has been picking slow hymn tunes that go down to the first couple of dodgy notes, and playing them over and over, without tonguing (just breath attacks) concentrating just on sound, resonance and intonation. Gradually (and this is over a few weeks), your ear does the focusing and fine tuning for you and the dodgy notes become less airy and more resonant. When they start falling into place, pick a new set of hymns (or even better, transpose down) so that you can work on the next couple of notes.

    After around six months of this I can still be a bit airy for the first 10 minutes or so of a practice session, and low A and below sometimes drop a bit flat on me, but essentially I've recovered a good octave with no awkward pivot needed to prise open the aperture!

    This is obviously just my own personal experience with a case that was probably a bit more severe than yours, but I hope it helps.
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Over the years I've kind of come to the belief that if you are working on chops issues that working specific exercises off of a page can be detrimental to the process of fixing the issue. My thought on this is that if you are focused on playing notes or a "part" correctly, it draws focus away from the issue at hand - the chops. Any time I'm doing chops work, or even when I'm warming up, I don't use a printed page for any of it. I want my focus to be completely on what's going on with the mechanics of playing. Are my chops focused? How much pressure I am I using? Are my articulations crisp and do I have control over them? What is my sound doing? Are my fingers and tongue in sync? Am I using my air correctly? With all of that going on, I just don't want to draw my attention away from what's important by working a specific exercise where I have to read something off of a page as well.

    I'm not saying that my way is right, it's just another approach is all. However I do think that sometimes taking things back to the basics, and being as simple as possible, is a good way to get to the heart of a problem where the chops are concerned. I think that most of the time it's just a matter of putting in the work over a period of time (weeks and months sometimes - not days) and not something that can be solved in 2 or 3 practice sessions.
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    We need to look how the embouchure functions. Optimally, the lips are always flexible and open and close like a switch:

    Lip vibrations - Institute of Music Acoustics (Wiener Klangstil)

    When this works correctly, the air flowing does not generate "noise" of its own but helps to sustain the switch function producing tone.

    If we do not have our breathing down and/or use too much pressure, we create a situation where the air cannot do its job correctly, the lips are not free to completely open or close and the higher proportion of leaking air makes a "hissing" noise. A high sodium diet or black tea (that has considerable amounts of tannic acid) can cause the lips to be not as "pliable" thus creating the same symptom, however with a different cause. Lack of embouchure strength or high amounts of tension in the upper body and face can also hinder the lips in their desired activity.

    It is VERY important NOT to just start messing with stuff in hopes that the problem will be found by accident. Judging from the couple of lines that you wrote, I suspect inadequate breathing, suboptimal condition of the face muscles, a weak daily routine and a not too well structured practicing schedule. With this in mind, it makes no sense to pull any of the factors that I mentioned out of context. You need to get a good daily routine with long tones, lip slurs, scales and VERY BASIC articulation. Then you need a big dose of easy tunes. These will allow you to SLOWLY move towards more control and away from "chance". Once your face has been pulled together and your sound is more consistent, then other things can be of help.

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