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1087070 Posts in 71980 Topics- by 19233 Members - Latest Member: Midnight1961
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1  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Re: Need Suggestions for Alto Trombone Mouthpiece on: Yesterday at 11:07 AM
I have a Bach 39 alto, a rather small alto. It can be played with a lot of different mouthpieces. It depends on what kind of sound you want. Do you want to sound like a small tenor or do you want a "lighter" tuch. I have used the Yamaha 48A as well as several other mouthpieces: Bach 15E, 12E and Hammond 14S and 14XS, and the Christian Lindberg alto mouthpiece - can't  remember the number of that one now maybe it was 15CL?. All these are alto mouthpieces. All work. The only one that I struggle with is the Bach 15E that came with the horn. There is my rim-size-limit. I can't squeeze my lips in to that mouthpiece.  After long search I finally settled with a Bach 12E. That mouthpiece gave me the best alto sound when playing Mozarts Requiem or Brahms Requiem. I used that when I played alto a lot, but that was more than 20 years ago and at that time my tenor mouthpiece was a Bach 12C. I still think I got the best sound from that 12E.

I have also tried my small tenor mouthpieces. Bach 12C, 11C, 7C but do not like the sound. Maybe if you want to sound more tenor-ish, but then why don't use a small tenor.

Today I played the second symphony of Mendelsons. It was for alto, but I used my Bach 6 VII and a Bach 6 3/4 C. Think my 12E alto sound is a bit small for that one. Could have done it on alto with the Yamaha 48A though.

2  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Repairs, Modifications and Maintenance / Re: Something's buzzing, and it's not me on: Nov 15, 2017, 08:49AM
I would say that's a good start toward isolating it - in the slide, and not the bell.  Have somebody else grab the outer slide in different places, and the inner slide barrels, slide lock, and grip area, paying close attention to every soldered joint including the flanges.

The 891Z is not a dual bore so you could turn the slide upside down and see if that does the trick.

3  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Full sound, whisper tones etc. on: Nov 14, 2017, 02:46AM
The whisper tone is very soft and is a way of practise. the "halftone buzz" is a way of freebuzz/into the horn, you buzz with just a little contact with the mpc. It is used in performance (and practised of course).
Another effect is the fuzzy tone you can get with an apperture that is "to big", that is the same effect a jazz singer could use like a whispered woice. Not as soft as the whisper ton and not the same sound as the "halftone buzz".
The Swedish composer/arranger Bengt-Arne Wallin asked for that effect sometimes calling it subtone, Lasse Samuelsson wanted the same effect calling it "lose lip". For a "full tone" the lips do touch in the vibrating cycle (like in a full sound singing the vocalchords touch) in the "subtone" the lips hardly touch, like in a whispered song. The Sedish trombonist Olav Holmqvist was very good at this.
So there is at least three different effects in this discousion.

Thank's for the explanation. To bad I never had the possibility to hear Olov do this live. Think this latter effect has complety eluded me. 

4  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Full sound, whisper tones etc. on: Nov 13, 2017, 11:11PM
I'm not talking about "a lot of air" passing but not vibrating.  It's more like learning to play at a whisper of volume and then backing off of that.  The only purpose in continuing to blow at all is so you don't relax - as if you're still playing even if there's no sound.

Okey, so it is a way of practice. By doing this you probably discover (in time) that you can do a lot with a very small amount of air. It is beneficial to play very soft. I try to be as economic with air as possible and playing soft helps a lot to find out how much is absolutely needed. Often little air can sound more than you think. My discovery after playing as soft as possible and for as long as possible.

5  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Full sound, whisper tones etc. on: Nov 13, 2017, 10:57PM
Heard several NYC or former NYC players use the effect

Probably the best way to work on the effect is to play a pitch and back off on volume until you're only blowing air but no pitch is coming out. Then start buzzing again and keep the air flow the same but add the pitch back in. 

Isn't this a way to find out how to play the softest you can? To have a lot of air passing that is not the tone is totally beyond my scope. What I try to achieve with my everyday practice is to get the maximum tone out of the 5.5 litres of air I,ve got. Probably what is described as full tone. Why?
1. To save air and still be able to play long phrases with vibrato and controlled tone musically.
2. To be able to be heard in the first place.
3. To be able to play dynamically.
4. Have tone that blends.
I guess the fuzzy/airy tone practice is for mic or is it just a way of practice?

6  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Full sound, whisper tones etc. on: Nov 13, 2017, 12:20AM
I am in the process of experimentation (more mentally than physically, as I am still recovering from hernia surgery) in the making and using (mostly for jazz I guess) different nuances/colours between full sound (as in classical) and airy sound up to the whispering/sub tones (in other words how to make chops flexible enough to be able to make any of the above at will (not interested in double buzz and airy sound provoked by embouchure and endurance deficiencies).

I'm not quite sure what you are asking here. I have not had a hernia surgery but I suppose you should be careful for a couple of weeks. Then you could start to develop your sound. It is good to practice softer nuances for a lot of reasons and if you are limited to only the comfortable register within the staff this could be the register to work at. Personally I would go for an open classical tone without airy or fuzzy noises. There are personalities in jazz who has integrated such noises into their sound, but I think it is more by accident. It is a shortcoming that they have turned to their personal signum. They might not be proud but we have learned to recognise and accept it. One player I come to think of is Kay Winding, one of my favourites.

7  Teaching & Learning / Pedagogy / Re: What is tone? on: Nov 10, 2017, 12:45PM
I still think of tone and sound as being two different things. When a mother scolds her child, she doesn't say, "You watch your sound with me!", she admonishes, "You watch your tone with me!". So tone is more than sound, it is attitude (or style) and context as well as the actual sound.


What is tone?

It is obviously a very good question.

Go practice! Yes, a very good advice.

... but

some of us are thinkers for better and for worse.

I think Geezer is on to something here. The problem I have with your statement is I do the complete opposite association. Probably it is the language barrier  Good!

As Svenne says: yes, in swedish "Sound" (which is an English word we use in swedish) could mean the description of quality of tone, but if a swede said to me "you have a beautiful sound" as in swedish "du har ett snyggt sound" I would still not understand if it was the actual quality of my tone or if it was the over all quality of my playing he was referring to which includes vibrato and good taste. To me "vacker ton" describes "a beautiful sonourous played note". Maybe the swedish "ton" is not equal to the English "tone".

Nuances in the english language is difficult for us non native.

As Geezer says: a mother could say to a child "jag gillar inte tonen du använder mot mig". It would be the same use of the word as in English,  and it would address manners, as to remark on the abcense if manners on how to speak respectfully to the mother (so our languages are not THAT different)

... still when speaking about music I do think "sound" is (has become) the wider concept and "tone" is the narrow concept. Tone is just the quality of how a note is played (or "WHAT note should be played here?" as in "Vilken ton ska det vara här?" ... hmm real confusing that note in English is translated to "ton" in swedish. I guess being non native disqualifies me from the discussion Don't know

... yeh, should go practice..

8  Classified Advertisements / Classified Advertisements / Re: 1960 Conn 88H, half-moon inscription on: Nov 08, 2017, 11:18PM
Did they even make 88H's in the 50's? Wasn't it just 8H's and 8H Specials back then?

The Conn 88h came 1954 before that it was 8h special if it had a valve.

9  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Accessories / Re: Mute/techniques to sound like 'French' horn on: Nov 06, 2017, 08:52AM
Gonna be covering some 'french' horn stuff in church orchestra... I want to get as close as possible to a reasonably horn-like sound...
Any mutes to invest in or techniques I can practice to make it sound a bit more authentic? (Hoping for fairly serious replies here :D )

I have done it. The soft pats you play open and any loud parts you play in stand. The cheapest way to solve this.

If you own a hat you could experiment with that too but you need some braces to hold the hat.

A plunger can do the trick too.

You will not sound like a french horn with a bucket mute but it takes away the edge of your sound, and that may be enough in some cases.

Often there are substitute french horn parts written in the trombone parts in both wind orchestras and symphony orchestras. I usually play close into the stand when there are french horns missing. No conductor has complained sofar.

10  Creation and Performance / Musical Miscellany / Re: Big Band Trombone Section Features on: Nov 06, 2017, 02:44AM
Thad Jones "Tip Toe"

That one is a real challange. Most challanging stuff I have ever played as a whole section in unison. That one should be on your repertoire list Good!

11  Teaching & Learning / Pedagogy / Re: What is tone? on: Nov 05, 2017, 12:23PM
Perhaps you are correct.

Words in and of themselves are meaningless. It is the meaning we as humans ascribe to them that gives us the ability to communicate in minutia.

With all due respect to Tom: Tom, I disagree with your concept of an "open" tone. Or else you might state that a tone that is not open is almost never a good thing.


Well a tone that I describe as NOT open is compressed and can not expand. That is my definition of a NOT open tone. A tone that can expand and still consists of a good blend of complex overtones is what I define as an open tone. Open tones are best heard when they are not processed by a mic. It is the same difference with singers. An opera singer can expand his/her voice and doesn't need a mic to project. By project I don't mean to be heard like a laser beam thru an orchestra but a balanced sonorus sound that is just a bigger version of ones soft sound.

A pop and jazz singer needs a mic. It is a totally different concept. Not a bad concept.

A compressed trombone sound can take advantage of a mic and other things in another way in ones playing. In a mic you can whisper and still be as loud as needed. I would not say either is better. All tone-qualities can have their place as long as it is in the right context. It has less to do with if it is a large bore or a small bore. It is about resonance despite gear and mouthpiece.

12  Teaching & Learning / Pedagogy / Re: What is tone? on: Nov 05, 2017, 01:28AM
Sound has a lot to do with articulation and use of vibrato. It could also include choice of phrases in improvisation. Sound is a wide concept that describes both good taste and musicality. A tone must blend in a section chord and is one part of a sound.

Sound need to fit its musical overall context as well as tone needs to fit the specific context of a chord.

I know trombone players with a compressed tone, a tone I would NOT describe as open and complex, NOT full of a balanced mix of overtones.

Give them a microphone and they will produce a good sound with the help of the mic.

Trombone players with a compressed tone can sound and produce articulations and dynamics and fit a context of other compressed tones especially thru mic, and then the result can be good dispite their natural sound is built on a compressed tone-concept. In the right context their tones will be described as a part of their sound, if all articulation and musicality is there especially when improvising solos in jazz.

What differs a compressed tone from an open tone? What happens when a compressed tone gets louder is the high overtones makes it nasty or prominent because the balance is changed, but the lower fundamental will not be much louder. When such a compressed tone gets softer it looses its overtones and sound muddy. An open tone is not the same. An open tone is more even from soft to when it expands. A complex spectra of balance in all nuances. It brings light and is full of space when played both soft and loud. A classical context needs such an egal tone-concept. We like open tones there because of the possibility to make big egal dynamic differences.

In other contexts where there are lots of electrified instruments the dynamics of a tone is not at all as important. It can be done by microphones instead. It is more important to be heard in the first place.

Like it or not but this is the path jazz and pop music has taken. Most bass players are now heard electrified and piano as well and saxes have mics and most solos have mics. All may have mics.

If we have a mic tone is less important because the mic takes care of it for us, but we must have a good sound. Learn how to use the mic, articulate, use vibrato and play musically and play good phrases when improvising.

Control of tone is more important in aucustic playing. You know when players have good tone and blend well because their tones fit well together in all dynamics. Tones from different tone-concepts does not blend the same.

I do think dynamics and balance in the tone must be part of a tone-concept if a tone-concept has a meaning at all.

It is true that the attack under certain circumstances reveals a lot what instrument it is, and if the attack is removed you could not as easely hear that. I have also done that experiment, but in the test it is a RECORDED tone we can not separate under those circumstances.

The definitions may be a barrier of language too when translating "sound" and "tone". In swedish "fin ton" or "vacker ton" is actually a description of the quality of tone as beautiful. We also use the English word "sound" and then it is the wider concept. We don't only refer to tone when we talk about high and low frequences. We can also describe a bad improvised solo as "en massa meningslösa toner" translated to "a bunch of pointless notes". We may use the word different because it exists in differently languages and may have evolved differently.


13  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Picking out high notes out of thin air. on: Nov 03, 2017, 11:43AM
Speaking about singing, when I studied music we had to sing something called "modus novus". It was atonal and help our ears and read music. But I was so nervous the first time so the teacher stopped me after the first note and told; did you all listen that note? It is the first time we heard a note without any overtones. We all had to laugh and I never forget that moment. He was a very good teacher and it was always a bit of humor in the way he teach.

Ok I  can't hit so much high notes no matter thin or thick air. Lucky people like Doug with perfect pitch but we others can still practice our ears so it get closer. Many ways to do it and singing is one of them. By the way, lately I focused on high notes and in fact they are better. I can now play the Mozart requiem solo "nearly ok" each time I try. So it helps to practice things!


Yes "Modus Novus" and before that book we had "Modus Vetus". I remember I was good at reading intervals when at the Music college, I guess it was because I sung a lot in choires. I did also study Singing at the college, and have actually that in my examina which led to I also had pupils in singing when working in the public music school. I taught both brass and singing.

Leif, we also had some books by Jörgen Jersild to practice rythm. Are they used in Norway too? We used our pencils to drum them on the desk or we sang them.

14  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: 72H on: Nov 02, 2017, 02:15PM
I just took possession of a 72H. 1962 vintage.

It was a straight up swap for a spare 6H I have been trying to sell. Both my 6H and the 72H were very clean, so I think we both came out okay on the trade.

It came with a Wick 2AL. I spend all of my horn time on a 6H, so fooling with a bass bone is insane. And to think that I felt I had good air capacity. I had no idea.

Not sure I will keep this horn, but it sure is fun. I may get the word out (soon, not now) that I am available to sub on 4th part in big bands.

Sure, it is a single trigger and the throat is tighter than most bass bones, but it is a very nice horn. And it has none of the dreaded "Conn Wear" on the inner slides.

Having fun for the time being, but I probably will dial back to a mouthpiece that isn't quite as deep. Maybe a 3G.

The 72h is a good single trigger. Has good factitious notes as well. The longer slide helps when you want to reach a C if you have long arms or can lean the trombone to the right and push your shoulder forward. If I do this then I can reach the C on V5 much better and still have an in tune F on V1. Great horn!

15  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: How to be the leader in your section on: Nov 02, 2017, 12:27AM
My granddaughter plays trumpet and has moved into middle school in her first jazz band. While she is only in the 6th grade she is playing at a 9th grade level. She says the director is pointing to her with his criticisms of her section, and she asked me how to get the rest of the players to follow her lead (they are often out of time). She is a leader type, but she feels intimidated by the older 8th graders, I get the peer pressure. Any advice would be appreciated, I told her this is a challenging situation, and to keep playing her best and set a good example...I thought I'd ask you guys.


This is a problem that anyone at any level can have. A conductor that points at the wrong player. It has happened to me. It could even be the wrong section.

Once a conductor gave "us" the hand repetedly and we played softer and softer to a point I said to the others we should just pretend we were playing. We still got both the hand and the "angry eye".

I then raised my hand and asked the conductor very politely if that hand was meant to us because we played really soft. "Yes! Get googles" he replied, and not very politely. It did not help to play the softest we could which was "nothing". Then later he noticed we did not play and got angry and frustrated because of that too. I think he mixed up things and what he really heard was the four french horns who sat in another direction. It was the last time I ever played in that orchestra for double reasons  ;-)

As the leader of the section you will only succeed to lead if you get the respect of the other players in the section. They must like what you are doing, and you must like what they are doing. If this is not the case then everything will be a struggle. If it is working you could reason about how to make the section play better. You could then begin to tell the others about your ideas. To do that successfully you must also pick up any good ideas coming from the other section members. To play music in a section is not a one-man-show and it is not to show off. The best guy may be the bass trombone player. Make sure you listen to the othes and meet them with respect. The others are not there just so you can learn how to play first.

In any case you can only succeed as a team when/if you become that team. When you reach that state then everything will be easier.

If skills between players are too different or if players don't like each other then the section has a problem. I think all players in a section need to be at approximately the same level. It can not work if one player is an accademic former semi pro that practice hours every day and another rarely touches his instrument between rehearsals. It will never be a happy section. A situation like that needs some changes. If the conductor points at the best player and tell him to take care of things it might be only two chioces:

1. Make the conductor aware of the problem and let him take care of it. Might be to have the less skilled replaced or give him a month to fix his playing if doable. If he is doing hard work and is making progress but still not at resonable level the conductor could take into consideration to give him yet another month. Players must be told and aware of the problem the bad playing or bad attitude is causing. This way of solving the problem might take some time.
2. Leave the orchesta to find a better orchestra.

These advices I would give to a high school student or to any grand dougher at any level in the same situation.

16  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Picking out high notes out of thin air. on: Oct 31, 2017, 03:19PM
I suppose it's easier to nail notes using whatever technique you are accustomed to... of course.

But my opinion is that starting with lips apart is one of the exact reasons people have trouble with this and other things.

I suppose it is up to the individual player, but my attacks gets better/more secure if I have a slight open aparture and not completely closed. It is not an embouchure with loose mouth corners or loose lips. It is just the centre I try to keep loose. The sound starts immediately and I avoid the risk of getting a "prr-start" in the attack. I guess it is different with different techniques. To me it is easier to start clean this way, especially when cold/after a long rest.

17  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Picking out high notes out of thin air. on: Oct 31, 2017, 02:23PM
If you don't hear it first you have virtually no chance.  That's a necessary first step.

If you're a doubler playing on a less-than-familiar mouthpiece that's probably too small, that's one reason for overshooting.

I have three suggestions:

1. Sing in a choire. It helps to be able to hear in advance what the part will sound like. Can you sing the part you are going to play? I mean practice to sing an unknown part and check how you are doing. It helps to know how to play the piano.

2. Play in a symphony orchestra. Lots of rests and awkward chords, until you get used to the music. I have just become a member of an amateur symphony orchestra, at a fairly high amateure level. We are now playing the second symphony of Felix Mendelsohn. Lots of high notes. No clue first time what role your part is if you haven't heard the piece before. If you are unprepared then you do not know what chord note you are assigned until you have played the part with the section. You do not know if the conductor will give you a sign when to play either. Lots of things to do better. If I had to work in a symphony orchestra for profession then I would have to prepare for each work not to make a fool of myself, but in this orchestra I don't have to do this.

3. Something about technique to start cold.  Don't start notes with your lips together. It is much easier to nail notes if you are a little loose/open in the centre of your lips. A symphony orchestra is a good place to practice that skill. Count 56 bars and nail a loud high chord note with sforzando, full sound or begin in pianissimo on a in a a-major chord after a fermata when the conductor moves his baton in a small sweeping gesture. It takes some skills to do that together as a section. Not at all like playing in a big band.

18  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: How can I solidify and increase my range? on: Oct 31, 2017, 12:57AM
I have figured out how to play high, and my range tops out at an F currently. Long term goal is the Bb. How do I make this happen?

I have had success with increasing my high range with chromatic scales. I also do them as a warm up. It feels great to have played all notes at least once before a rehearsal/performance so I cover the whole register in 5 minutes. I do them in sixteens in one octave and often I start on middle F and go upwards. I usually stop when I come to  if it is a warmup, but at home I continue as high as I can. Then I've found that the factitious notes are good for the low range and to open up the sound so I do those in between as broken chords downwords. It might be the combo that has helped me. I had a limited high register in music college. My low range worked better. This said my progress and work with this range-building exercise started long after I had graduated, after my emboshure was ready for it.

I think it is important to BE ready for the task, in this case the next higher note. In the chromatic exercise the step from your best note is just a semitone from your limit. This means you are ready for that note as long as you have done right so far. For me it never worked to aim for the highest possible note on the horn. That only destroyed my overall playing and the note I got was NEVER a good sound and never usable, but that was the way I practised when I was very young, before high school before I got an experienced teacher.

In high school when I got that teacher I changed my playing completely from a destroying smile-embouchure to an academic more "normal" tight embouchure. This was done because I could not play anything higher than a    It is another chapter and you don't need to know details, but just as to make you understand where I come from.

I have had REAL problems with range that has been solved.

I also had the help of a great teacher so I advice to have lessons. Even though I could not do it right back then with the teacher I had the words of advice I got in my head for many years to help me to get where I am today. I did understand the concept of a good working embouchure at the time but because if the way I had played it had to take a lot of efforts to correct things.

19  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: Fixing Stuffy Bass Valves on: Oct 30, 2017, 12:50AM
One thing I've noticed is that when some people say "stuffy", to me there is no problem. The horns that you call "not stuffy" are so open I personally would have a hard time playing them. The word you should use is "resistance". I used to be a 547 only player, and I thought all small bore horns were stuffy. But when I learned to play a small bore, I realized there is no such thing as stuffy. Its just a different response. Try blowing less air, and you'll find the stuffiness goes away. Its not just the horn and its not just you. Its how you relate to the horn. Another person playing the same horn won't think "stuffy". On an axial flow horn you get accustomed to blowing a lot of air. Try blowing less, and you won't get all backed up. Same on a peashooter, just adjust to the amount of air the horn needs.

A great comment. Best thing I've read in months here. Gear is important, but the variances are often sublte. You need to adopt to the differences and then you can take advantage of the gear. If an instrument is not possible to make a good sound on, and it is NOT due to a bad repair or leaks or dirt in the leadpipe or dirt in the mouthpiece or dirt on the inside of the inner tubes of the slide (something you should check) then it is the player.

20  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: Improvising when sight reading and subbing? on: Oct 28, 2017, 08:39AM
If I don't know the tune but have the chords then I just read the chords and play. I mostly only use the chords to navigate.  I might aim for a third or a seventh by what I read, but what happens in between? I have no clue... I just try to stay with the beat. I think I use the chord more as a trampoline and jump off and continue by ear. I often have no clue in advance what to do. If I think then nothing will happen, so I don't. If people around me say it was good then I have to trust them because I don't know and I don't remember what I have done either, and absolutely no intellectual reviews during a solo. My mind is somewhere else.

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