How To Play Pedal Tones on trumpet
Hunt Plays Arban Pedal Tones - section 125, #
My (artificial) pedal tones have always been very good. Fellow trumpeters react very suprised when I descend to pedal D (or Db) with no real loss of sound and tone quality compared to the low G. I can play these notes, in tune, at p to ff (I have to change my lip setting a little bit compared to my setting in the low register starting from low C). OK. - concentrate on the ff at this point. Because the REAL objective is to make you aware of the FLOW - MOVEMENT of the air. Also, in this manner, you will be preparing to "match" the sound of the "open" pedal C. With pedal C, I have much more problems. I have to play it VERY loud in order to blow it in tune and it does not sound as beautiful as the higher pedal register. That's OK. Being beautiful is not the real objective! I get a real change in sound quality when I reach pedal C (playing the chromatic intervals starting from a pedal C is the most difficult exercise for me). This trouble with playing in tune and making a good sound continues until I reach pedal G. Then, from pedel F# I can play resonably well down to the double pedal C (p to mf) Yes, these can really tough. But again, keep in mind the objective. When I try to decend even further I've noticed that I can reach down to the A or G (at p, these are very fussy tones. Most of the air does not enter the mouthpiece or doesn't make a sound) and at this point the trumpet is not giving very much resonance and your lips trill out of the mouthpiece (the only sound you hear is the sound from your (very low) buzzing lips. (2) You haven't made any mention about your success with the "harmonics" scales. (They start on third space E, using all three valves.)
(1) You make no mention of pedal tones. Please tell me about "where you are" with this very important technique.
That is because I thought I am not ready for that yet, for I am starting at the first phase which does not go any higher than a C2.
(3) How are you doing with the concept of beginning in the pedal register, and ascending to the top of your register - WITHIN A SINGLE BLOW? (And vise-versa).
Next: same procedure - C - E - G - C- E(1 and 2 valves) Next: C - E - G - C - E - G Next: C - E - G - C - E - G - C Play quite loudly, (don't "blast") move right up through the 3 C's without stopping.Now - you are able to play throughout the two octaves with all tones of equal strength.Go ahead and move-on-up, as you are able. I haven't tried this either, see (2). (4) You have made some mention of your mouth-piece-less buzz. This needs to be quite "pure", with a definite pitch - well under your control. My guess is that this buzz can be done mush more effectively, than you are assuming. It is the buzz which determines "where everything needs to be"! This buzzing stuff is still a bit confusing to me. One can buzz in many different ways. A buzz will sound when you blow while your top lip completely covers your bottom lip or even with your bottom lip placed behind your upper teeth. A buzz will also sound when your bottom lip covers your top lip and in all the lip setups in between these extremes. I'm having a very hard time finding "the right setup". Further whatever setup I choose, I truly cannot see how anyone can buzz any higher than a C2 (I hope this is just mental). Well - I can assure you they can. NO, I cannot buzz a mouthpieceless C 4 - but I can buzz a C 3. Now, having said that, let's go back a moment. My suspicion is that you are attaching too much anxiety to this portion. I believe that I probably use MOST of your above descriptions, depending upon the register in which I am playing. It would be much too simplistic to say, "here is where your lips must be". REMEMBER - My entire premise is that "there is a 'best' focus for each and every note we play. Our job is to make certain we'get' there. Go ahead and begin the "harmonics scales" section - beginning on 4th space E, using 1-2-3 valves, then get back to me in a while.
OK - start on the first pedal: Big breath - fill up! half notes, c. quarter not = 120 mm. C - E - G - C (this one is middle C) USE NO VALVES -"manhandle" the tones into "pitch" - hold the last note until you "cave-in"! This is a fairly "violent" process!!! You simply "MAKE" the pitch go where you want it!
All the best,
Hi, Robert! Two points here: (1) Because something seems "easier" at first (instant gratification?), should not dissuade us from pursuing those skills which may make it "easier", later on. The ability to "push around" those unruly partials with air and the "chops", is what I am seeking. Learning to "push" that pedal C to "where you want it", is central to the value of pedal tone study. (2) Using the "normal" fingering has certain pragmatic advantages, as well. For example, in Clarke's Bride of the Waves, final cadenza section - I like to start that last two-octave chromatic scale, which begins on middle C (fermata) and ascends to C3, on PEDAL C ascending with a three octave chromatic scale. I can't imagine "screwing around" with a different set of fingerings for that first octave!! The same treatment could be applied to the opening cadenza in Clarke's, Sounds from the Hudson (starting on pedal D). If you would like to hear a demonstration "in action", my solo on CARAVAN (CD - Chompin' At The Bit) begins with a three octave chromatic, ascending scale from pedal D to D3. ***************************************************************************
No doubt your pedal C is coming-out at about Bb or A below? This is a very common scenario.
Have you ever played a recorder? If so, think of how you use the air to "overblow" for the second octave. I believe that, that "blow" is analygous to the one needed for the trumpet, in this context. "Lean" on the air and adjust (pull-up/in) the "chops" - careful, not too much or you'll "jump-up" into the normal register. GRADUALLY, you will be able "bring it up" sufficiently. This will expend a LOT of air!! And the feel is NOT the same for all mouthpieces - so please play on ONE mouthpiece for at least a month, before giving up! (or buying a "better" one - grin) For me - the feel is as if I am "setting" for middle C (first ledger line below staff) but "sounding" the pedal C. Now - after you have it "up to pitch" you need to begin ascending, starting on that pedal C, into the "normal" register, using "usual" (octave above) fingerings. This ascension may be arpeggiated or scalar. NO BREAKS after the original inhalation !! In short, I think it is a "mistake" to settle for Pedal C - 1-2-3 fingering, because it circumvents the development of one of the essential elements of the "MODERN CLARINBLASEN" - the art of sounding the 4 ft trumpet from the 8th through 32nd partials. (Q) I have played pedal tones for a long time and do find that they get the "blood back" into the chops after a long blow, but I have a hard time understanding how they help a player improve the high register of the trumpet. I recommend pedal tones because:
(A) They require very light mouthpiece pressure to produce them "fat and loudly". (B) They require a large and plentiful air supply to produce loudly (C) The intention is to transfer the feel of that fat, vigorous, airstream - even as we move upward into the "normal" register. Refer to the pedal register scales and arpeggio's. Start your scale (or arpeggio) in the pedal register and move smoothly up into the "normal" register. ALL within a single blow!! You may cut back on the pedal tones after you are CERTAIN that you have the correct "feel". Are you able to produce the 1st pedal C loudly, and IN TUNE - using NO fingers? If not, perhaps you are not yet using the air forcefully enough! 2. When going through the various "Phases" of your method, you refer back to other phases for scales. I find that if I were to play an entire phase, it would take a tremendous amount of time - mostly spent on scales (slurring, then tonguing them). Am I missing something or is this your intent - a lot of scales ? I use a lot of scales for at least two reasons. When we ascend stepwise, we are less inclined to "jamb" the mouthpiece into our chops in order to "get" the next higher tone. Also, I find that MOST students do NOT have all of the scales under their fingertips!! Try practicing ONLY the ones that give the most difficulty. Try tonguing and sluring on ALTERNATE days. 3. I have only about an hour or two (at the absolute most) to practice each day - usually in the basement after everyone else has gone to bed! With this situation, what type of routine would you recommend for maximizing the results of my practice time ? In addition to the advice given for "starting" in the pedal register - I believe that the "harmonics scales" offer the most immediate access to the high register. This begins on the 4th space E, using 1-2-3 valves. Squeeze the air, play SOFTLY at first, use so little mthpc. pressure that you can "hear" the "buzz" coming from around the mthpc. This will insure that you are not "jambing" the mouthpiece. Keep that airpressure squeezed within your body - feel those partials "snap" by as you ascend and descend. You will be amazed to find out how little mthpc. pressure is required to produce these "harmonics scales". **************************************************************************************
I have read your posts on TPIN for several years now and thought that you might be able to answer a question that has been bugging me as of late.
A new concept of practicing has been introduced to me recently that entails practicing the scale in the full range of the instrument. I have never thought of doing this, but since beginning to spend some time practicing like this I now can see the merit in actually being able to do this. This concept is absolutely essential!! H.L. Clarke dwellt heavily upon this subject nearly a century ago. My recording of the Clarke Technical Studies deals with the question, and expanding it to the "nth" degree. This brings me to pedal tones. I have never been able to slot the pedal tones as well as notes above that low F#. I am sure that some of this may have to do with the chops and what is going on there, but what about the fingerings? I am trying to use what I would like to label as traditional fingerings for the pedal tones (i.e. Pedal F = 1; Pedal E= 1&2; Pedal C=Open; etc.), but sometimes they just do not slot. I seem to get a more solid tone from trying to play pedal F with 1,2,and 3 than with 1. Why is that? 1. Because the Pedal tones, with the exception of the "true" pedal (one octave below first ledger line "C") - simply do NOT slot! Yes - any combination will "work". You find 1-2-3 "easier" because you are "working" with more tubing. It almost appears that the pedal tones behave like the high notes where just about any valve combination will work. I always thought that partials are supposed to get farther apart the lower the octave, right? 2. Most people have a great deal of difficulty playing the true pedal, "in tune", using NO fingering (ie.open), because it "wants" to slot about a step-and a half lower. Perhaps you could help me by giving me the correct pedal fingerings. I think there was a question on the list similar to this recently, but I never was able to find a reply with a concrete answer. As far as I am concerned the "correct" fingerings are those that you already "know and love". Why? Because the sense of "feel" of the valve combination PLUS the "sound" of a given pitch are very much "wrapped up" with each other. The better one's sense of pitch, more this is true!! We need to know "where we are" while playing. The answer, in regard to the "high register" (above G3) is the same as for the pedal register, and for the same reasons.
Thank you for your excellent questions-I hope I have answered them to your satisfaction. Keep 'Em Flyin',
Clyde E. Hunt