Is there any need to be able to buzz the mouth piece when not attached to the trumpet? OK new boy here, returning to trumpet after a 34 year break, but I did remain a musician and became a studio sound engineer too. I ask the question because I know a little bit about frequencies having worked in the sound business. A dam site more than I know about playing trumpet to be honest. So my mind took me on a frequency filled trip through the inside of my trumpet tonight, which taught me a lot of good stuff that I hadn't really thought about before, but left me with the odd question too.
Reading another thread got me thinking about the whole mechanics of the trumpet, in terms of frequencies and what I know on that subject. I am sure many of you already know this stuff, and will correct my lack of trumpet knowledge if wrong, and give some good, correct guidance and help answer my fundamental question. Perhaps for anyone who doesn't know too much about frequencies, understanding what is going on inside the trumpet could really help to understand how to play better or fix issues and improve technique.
In a thread I read someone said that the standing wave causes back pressure. (klaxon sound) The standing wave does not create back pressure! A standing wave is where a wave, in this case a sound wave, is met by it's own reflection bouncing back and exactly matching the original wave's peaks and troughs. This doubles it's power and creates an amplified resonance. This is what powers the trumpet! If you think about all the energy a professional trumpeter efficiently puts into his instrument, then double it, that is why a trumpet can be so flipping loud! Every object (including you) has a natural resonance or frequency. A Bb trumpet is manufactured to have a natural frequency that equals Bb. If you blow into the MP and generate an oscillation that matches the trumpet's natural frequency (or a multiple of it - harmonic), it will create a standing wave. If you halve the wave length you will get another, higher frequency standing wave and so on, and that's what gives us the harmonic range on the trumpet. If the standing wave isn't quite perfect enough, we loose our tone, and if the standing wave drifts out of resonance all together, we loose everything!
The back pressure is caused by the restriction of the air movement through the instrument, and this is to our benefit as sound waves travel more efficiently through thicker, compressed air, further helping our standing wave. Now bung a bell on the end and we have a horn speaker that amplifies all of that even more! What a wonderfully refined instrument a trumpet is!
OK all good so far. So looking at this mechanically, all we need to do with our lips in order to ignite a standing wave, is generate an air stream that has the same natural frequency as the standing wave we want to produce. It's exactly that effect that caused the Galloping Gertie incident - the wind blew at the same frequency as the bridge's natural frequency, which caused the bridge to resonate and setup a standing wave within it's structure that doubled the amplitude of all the energy, resulting in a slight problem. So in order to get a Galloping Gertie going inside our trumpet we shouldn't need to buzz, as the lips will respond to the standing wave and start to resonate in sympathy with it.
As a newbie I am still struggling with trying to get a consistent embouchure, but when I do get it right, I know because it just feels so easy and right and sounds good too. So that's the standing wave igniting, and it feels easy and right because it's doing half the work for me by doubling the amplitude of the frequency and setting my lips in motion which keeps the whole thing driving on. It sounds good because the original wave and the standing wave are matched up precisely and this kicks the volume up too, which means I can reduce my effort and hold a note for longer. Oh man I love that feeling and can't wait for the day when I can ignite that standing wave every time I choose!
So if I have a good standing wave going, and a lovely tone coming out of the trumpet and I pull the mouthpiece out while it's still going, all I have is just the hiss of the air stream, no buzz, and then when I slip the MP back in, the standing wave ignites again in the lead pipe. If I buzz into the MP while it's in the trumpet I don't get that great sound. I can buzz, but not fantastically, and I remember all the buzzing stuff from when I played as a kid (when I actually could buzz - and play!), but thinking about all of this stuff tonight has got me to thinking, what is all this crazy buzzing stuff about? What is the benefit of buzzing the mouthpiece when it's not in the trumpet? I have heard pro trumpeters on youtube talk about buzzers and non buzzers, so is it optional? Can buzzing your lips before the standing wave gets them buzzing, ignite the standing wave faster so increase attack? Is it just a chop building exercise? What's it all about?
Here's to getting a Galloping Gertie going in your trumpet!