Why does bright=bad and dark=good?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Towo, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. Towo

    Towo New Friend

    Jul 3, 2011
    It seems that as far as classical music goes everyone always says that a bright sound is terrible and that one should strive for the darkest sound they can, but I've noticed that the best classical players actually have quite bright sounds.

    For example Marice Murphy, Harry Glantz, Phil Smith, Tine Thing Helseth all have (or had) bright sounds. I wouldn't consider any of these players sound or any trumpet players in any major symphony orchestra to have a dark sounds all, rather the words brilliant, clear, ringing, sparkling, resonant, bright come to mind but never dark or mellow.

    So with the majority of great players having such bright sounds (once again I'm referring solely to classical musicians not jazz) why is it that so many players and teachers constantly encourage dark, mellow tones as being ideal?

  2. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    Hi Towo,

    I would love to hear the answer to this myself. As far as getting a "dark" or "mellow" sound in an orchestral setting goes, I think composers get the french horn players to do that rather than the trumpets. (I could be mistaken.)

    Also, a lot of classical music is just that - classical - and comes from a time when trumpets were built with a "thinner" sound than in the 20th century -- so composers possibly overlooked them for warm, mellow sounds on account of that.

    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011
  3. bagmangood

    bagmangood Forte User


    "Classical players" don't like to sound "bright" - they like to sound "brilliant"

    DUH :-P

    From talking to serious legit players the main sound goals are a big, powerful sound that projects.
  4. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    I think it is really comparing a spread tone to a round tone ... ie lead player in jazz band high vs a principle player ...
    at least that's how I see it
  5. Darten

    Darten Mezzo Piano User

    Dec 21, 2009
    New York City
    I imaigine if you are playing certain Purcell pieces, you will sound bright, and if you are playing certain Wagner pieces, it would sound dark. I think it may depend on the composr.
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I think that the whole "dark" sound thing is kind of going away because as I see it, it's not so much dark as it is very full, round and focused, and that's not actually dark all of the time. When I listen to orchestral recordings I don't hear the trumpets and think "dark" - to me it's more along the lines of "brilliant."

    Full and focused - that's what I strive for, although depending on the equipment I use, I can either enhance or tone down the amount of edge on my sound.
  7. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Seems to be a traditional "thing to say", when someone compares jazz to classical. I personally don't like "dark trumpets", that's why we have the horns and trombones. There are certainly jazz horns that just don't blend in an orchestra (my Conn 40B is an example) setting. This is IMO because Bach dominates the classical scene and not through any fault of my 40B. I think "piercing" bright is what is not appreciated. Full, robust, and bright are fine.
  8. RichJ

    RichJ Piano User

    Jan 16, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    To me a "bright" sound is one that lacks depth. A brilliant sound has depth but also shine as well. Also, what sounds sparkly up close can sound dead out front and vice versa, in an acoustical setting (no mic).
  9. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    I approached the village brass band to learn to play trumpet when I was a lad because I really like the "trumpet sound" on some Wagner records we had at home. I didn't realise then that the sound on the record was actually french horn or some other middle brass (though there were undoubtedly trumpets in there somewhere).

  10. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    IMO the attempt to define sound is malarkey. When your tone is solid throughout your range on a particular instrument as played from ppp to ffff why look for definition. Everyone's hearing is not the same, nor is your sound the same in different venues.
    Too, what you listen to on a recording is so often a manipulation of the audio engineers and/or an interpretation as directed by the recording producer to the engineer. The bottom line is to develop your own sound on your instrument as will not be a copycat of another's.

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