When do you use which mutes.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by SmoothOperator, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. SmoothOperator

    SmoothOperator Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 14, 2010
    I use mutes very often during practicing out of courtesy to my neighbors, however I find that certain mutes seem to work with certain songs or styles better than others.

    Harmon mute: blues and just about any ballad.
    Straight mute: those classical, patriotic or European style songs.
    Solotone: nostalgic type songs like dixieland or folk ballads.
    Cup mute: hard bop, I can't figure out exactly why, maybe Dizzie liked it, but the cup seems to have better articulations than the harmon.
    Bucket mute: Ballads that I would play quietly anyway, but I want to tone down the airiness.
    Plunger mute: ?? I don't know that well, but it seems to work when I want a funky style or with songs with varied dynamics.
    Practice mute: practice early in the morning.

    When do you use your mutes?
  2. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    Generally, when the piece of music I'm playing calls for one. It will actually tell you which one to use, too...:lol:

    Now, if it's some sort of jazz/big band solo, then I use one for a certain effect to fit the mood of the music. Like you said, a Solotone works well for Dixieland and 20's music. A bucket will soften the sound, but I generally use a flugelhorn if I'm after a mellow sound on a solo. Then, there's a plunger, which is good for the blues. I rarely use a cup or harmon if it's my choice, because they don't project well, and a straight mute doesn't usually fit in with a jazz/big band type of solo (in my opinion).
  3. SmoothOperator

    SmoothOperator Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 14, 2010
    The horn and mouthpiece both effect my choice of mute. For example I don't use the cup mute in the cornet, because it doesn't fit in both very well.

    Do people ever use mutes on flugels? Maybe I have seen it done. The similarity between a bucket mute and flugel sound is remarkable, and I have seen some people use the bucket when they didn't have a flugel. But IMO, the bucket+cornet has more of a velvety tone to it than a flugel, besides the flugel would projects more.
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I don't generally use mutes unless they are notated. The trumpet has almost infinite color without. I have places to practice where I don't need a mute. I recommend that everyone make similar arrangements. Projection and sound need room to breathe.
  5. Chuck Cox

    Chuck Cox Forte User

    Oct 3, 2008
    Cary NC
    I often use a Harmon with out the stem while playing into the mic.
  6. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Seems like a lot of the music written in the 30s- 50s used mutes. Especially the big bands and concert bands. That hay day seems to have moved on. Harmon still seems quite common for commercial stuff, with cup and straight in concert band music.
  7. hhsTrumpet

    hhsTrumpet Piano User

    Dec 3, 2011
    I only use them when the music says to. When I'm practicing a night, I use a silent-brass practice mute.
  8. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    I use the cup often when I am looking for a more somber, mellow sound.
  9. BigDub

    BigDub Fortissimo User

    Dec 19, 2009
    Hillsborough, NJ
    Good advice and I agree it's best to get the real feel for projection and the true feel of your own sound. Sadly, though, it's not always possible to get that. I wish I could but try to get the opportunities whenever I can get them!
  10. Dave Mickley

    Dave Mickley Forte User

    Nov 11, 2005
    plus 1 to rowuk [again] - when I lived in an apartment a good friend and great player told me to practice with my bell in the coat closet to absorb the sound. it worked fairly well but I didn't push practicing after around 9pm. I usually tried to keep the bell of my horn in a heavy coat and I never heard one complaint from any neighbors. I bought one of the first Yamaha Silent Brass mutes but really didn't like the back pressure, gave it away to a student.

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