B-Flat Music Production Logo

How to avoid Split Tones while playing Trumpet

(Q) Hi, does anyone know the cause of the dreaded "frack"?

(A) If am correctly interpreting the "subject matter" here (variously called "kak", "clam", "split Note", we are perhaps talking about the most ubiquitous problem in all of Brass playing! The easier part is to describe some of the many things which can "go wrong". Perhaps the more difficult part is to determine which factor, or more likely, combination of factors, are responsible for that last "clam". I view the "split note" to be the result of a MISMATCH. A logistical error, if you will, involving your perception of how the note "should" sound, and the physical "focus" (meaning, the various parameters which comprise the embouchure) which the player "selects" (as opposed to the one which is REQUIRED) in order to achieve the tone in question. A pure, clean, precise tone is dependent upon the coordination of : correct (appropriate) use of the tongue (attack), the correct "buzz" (lip tention), and the correct amount of air pressure. As Mr. xxxxx correctly pointed out in his response, the first opportunity for error lies with the player's incorrect mental/aural intrepretation of the written note. "If you can't "hear it", you aren't going to be able to play it!

"Clams" are often simply the result of :(1) Inadequate warm-up, ie., the "lip", and attending factors, is/are not yet adequately responding to our demands. (2) At the other end of the spectrum lies fatigue - which prevents us from "getting to" or maintaining the correct "focus". (3) Music whose demands are simply too acrobatic for our skill level. Inability to quickly adjust the "focus" of the embouchure. (Flexibility problems) (4) A problem, (though admittedly not high on the list) can also occur with an overzealous application of the lip/jaw vibrato - "purposefully" disturbing the embouchure. (5) As we approach our register "ceiling", be it high or low, our percentages of "mismatches" will increase. (6) And finally, lack of attention, early on, to the FUNDAMENTAL principles of tone production (attack and release), can result in increased difficulties. (7) LACK OF CONCENTRATION will take it's toll in a heartbeat! In a nutshell, I would define the problem as "failure to be in the right place, at the right time"! Thanks for listening, Clyde Hunt

How to avoid Spli Tones while playing Trumpet

Return To "Tips for Trumpeters" Menu

THE FIVE MYTHS OF TRUMPET PLAYING
extracted from SAIL THE SEVEN C's

MYTH #1 Only special freaks can play in the high register. Don't waste precious time trying to duplicate their efforts. There are plenty of notes below high C upon which to devote your time and effort.

FACT: Nearly any player can dramatically improve his or her high register. What is needed is the desire to do so, and a dedicated, systematic approach. The high register will not succumb to the casual player.

MYTH #2 If I could find just the right mouthpiece, I too could be a high note artist.

FACT: There are mouthpieces which facilitate brilliance and intensity of sound. These mouthpieces, sometimes labeled high velocity, are more "V" shaped as opposed to bowl shaped. Sometimes, usually at the music store when we are trying mouthpieces, almost any mouthpiece appears to be superior to the one we are now playing - hence the answer to all our prayers. But pitch is determined by frequency of vibration of your lip. If you can play a C4 on a Schilke 5a4a, you can also do so on a Bach #1. Don't get into the drawer full of mouthpieces syndrome. Choose a rim that is comfortable and learn to play it. I am convinced that a larger cup diameter and a more open throat, which permits a larger airstream, actually facilitates the development of the high register.

MYTH #3 I need a special trumpet.

FACT: Mouthpiece tapers, varying bores, different bell sizes, and various alloys will alter the timbre and playing characteristics of an instrument. But the instrument, in fact, has even less to do with lip vibration, which determines pitch, than does the mouthpiece.

MYTH #4 Playing and practicing in the high (G2 to C5) register will ruin the middle and low registers, and make my tone brittle and laser-like.

FACT: Not practicing all registers equally will allow one-sidedness to take place. Practicing the pedal register, especially, will serve to counteract the extreme compression required to perform the high register. More than likely, a piercing, laser-like sound and a too blatty low register is really the fault of a too small, too shallow mouthpiece. This combination leads to jambing the mouthpiece for the high tones, which is sure to elicit the above mentioned complaints.

MYTH #5 You must play in all registers without changing your embouchure, or play in all registers without re-setting your lips.

FACT: I don't disagree in principle with the above statement. But I believe it has been widely misinterpreted because of semantics and/or insufficient explanation. The opening quote, taken literally, is nonsense! No two tones are played with precisely the same lip setting, let alone an entire register. What is required is a constantly adjusting embouchure, capable of moving from the bottom register through to the top register without the necessity of stopping along the way to regroup your chops. Re-read the last sentence and memorize it! It is of the utmost urgency that you understand what is meant. The understanding which you believe that you have right now will probably be altered as you progress toward the Constant Adjustment Embouchure.*s Clyde Hunt Extracted from SAIL THE SEVEN C'S (C) Copyright B Flat Music Production

Twitter Facebook B-flat Music Production logo
Promote Your Page Too

Return to Menu