Almost a little hard to believe I'm writing this. Not after having played the past thirty years on well rounded inner rim pieces.
"What me worry about attacks"?
I'd always felt that the only real reason for sharp edged inner rim mouthpieces was to get a little more pop on attacks. That these nasty sharp pieces (usually by Vincent Bach) were made this way for classical duffs who never had to "live" above High C and at triple forte volume. And there's a lot of truth to that i think.
Don't believe me? take from the boss.
Maynard has to say this about sharp mouthpieces starting at approximately 3:00 in: Maynard Ferguson on Equipment - YouTube
The whole video is a great view so feel free to blow off this post and watch. Hope to see you later...
Then about three to four years ago I had a church job. I don't know about you but my chops are never at their best at 10am Sunday morning. The gig in question while not a screamer did have a fair amount of High D's, Some C#'s and an abundant array of soft volume, exposed first ledger line A's and A flat's. Entrances on those low ledger lines that were very exposed and not to be played loudly. Concerned, I reached for my piccolo. When in doubt, right? Can't miss an A on a pic I figured.
Well just pulling out the pic didn't seem to assuage my fears much. While it's hard to truly "clam" a first ledger line A on the pic it isn't always that easy to blow it softly on cold chops. Not with twenty minutes of rests prior. So just to be on the safe i side i stuck in a nasty, sharp edged Bach 1C in the horn.
It worked beautifully!
Analytic by nature I decided to evaluate what happened. Why I felt so reluctant to use my soft edged, slightly shallow piece which i normally throw in my pic. That and why the hell this huge piece (which I hadn't used since 1974) worked so well. While i pondered these thoughts I watched the Maynard video again (Maynard Ferguson on Equipment - YouTube) . Not to prove what I already knew, ie sharp edged mouthpieces are woe to a good big band lead player. But more as a hint to see WHY the classical cats love those nasty, sharp deep pieces.
then it dawned on me! Right were Maynard said (at about 3:25:
"it'll make your warm up quicker by the way but you'll pay for it at the end of the night".
Right there in those italicized words is a clue: Sharp edged mouthpieces "make your warm up quicker". OK so what else does that indicate???
It means that you'll feel and be more accurate after long rest spells on sharp edged equipment.
I think that the large/deep pieces the classical cats use allow another layer of accuracy because with more lip in the bigger rimmed mouthpiece there is more "play" or flexibility to the control. That the subtleties of refined exposed attacks are far easier.
Now I'd have to be crazy (or crazier) to blow the Birdland scream line intro on a sharp deep mouthpiece like the 1C. However for my soft exposed attacks on the clumsy first ledger line A Natural it was a good choice.
So I'm thinking of going down to the musical instrument store this week and checking out a few sharp edged pieces. Not just for classical either. I'm considering those occasional show tunes which start on a High D or so after 45 minutes of rests.
We did this big band arrangement of "All Of Me" recently. Maybe you've played it too. The version that gives the lead player five chances to clam a High D within the first four bars*. It was the first chart of the set but the band had been sitting cold for over twenty minutes. Sure i nailed all five of them and at good volume. However it was somewhat stressful. I generally don't miss a High D but as the first note of a gig on cold chops? Stress.
We use shallow mouthpieces not because we need them to blow high notes but because we can play more of them more musically. Now if a sharper edged shallow piece will "make your warm up quicker" it stands to reason that just perhaps a good lead player could take advantage of this using a somewhat sharp edged piece attacking high notes on cold entrances. Or those times he's been waiting for twenty minutes to play. Then after his chops recirculate? Plop in his regular lead piece and carry on.
Lead playing is like mountain climbing. We pare down all our gear. Making sure the load is as LIGHT as possible. Some of us anyway. In most cases shallower and softer "bites" are helpful. But maybe in certain cases a little more edge might tip the scale in our favor. Just in those special occasions.
This all sort of fits in with an observation i noticed several years ago. That my shallowest equipment tends to work best later in the gig. And when in doubt? Play the mouthpiece with the highest batting average for the circumstances.
And for classical or church gigs/chamber music? That may mean a sharper inner edge than the Bobby Shew lead/scream piece. Besides I'm not going to need tons of endurance to play the Hummel or the Haydn anyway.
I'm also re-evaluating my Baroque and piccolo work. Thinking that a wide inside diameter rim with a fair amount of bite and a slightly shallow cup could be best. Accuracy being the name of the game. No one plays the Brandenburg triple forte. In fact the idea of using fairly deep equipment could be beneficial so long as the piece doesn't last for hours.
I'm thinking of putting a flatter rim on the piece too.
Flat rim + sharp bite = higher degree of definition when picking off exposed notes in the upper register.
This of course is all anathema to serious screech work in the big band and pop idiom. Anything goes there. Whatever works.
* Or to put a positive spin: "five chances to light of the band with your outstanding accuracy". It's all about positive thinking here...