Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

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timothy42b
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Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by timothy42b » Tue Jan 04, 2022 6:43 am

I seem to be doing something very wrong when playing more loudly.

The description of a straight mute is pretty close. It's not the sound breaking up, I don't think. I haven't noticed this until recently but then I can't always be sure I'm hearing what's really there.

I've used the idea that if I can push a note loud easily I'm probably setting correctly, but that may not be true. There may be more than one way to play a note loud!

Because of shoulder issues I've played more plastic alto than tenor lately. But a phone recording sounded pretty bad, and switching to the small tenor didn't improve it. I know I don't play enough, but I do a basic routine every morning, and I last through the trombone choir rehearsal.

Here's me trying to play a simple Christmas carol by ear, something I've added to the morning routine, once at medium volume and once trying to move louder one dynamic. Yes there's some sloppiness but I think the tone shows what I'm talking about.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1t-DwxK ... sp=sharing

Oh, and yes you'll tell me to get a lesson with Doug. I messaged him this morning.
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robcat2075
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by robcat2075 » Tue Jan 04, 2022 9:21 am

That is an odd effect!

It is something you hear and it's not just the recording, right?

I picked up my horn and tried to mimic it by squeezing my lips too much and closing my throat but it wasn't the same.

i shall be curious to hear other diagnoses.
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imsevimse
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by imsevimse » Tue Jan 04, 2022 10:25 am

What I hear and see in that video is you compress (lips) a lot more when you play loud.
You need to loosen up to expand. The amplitude needs to be bigger for loud playing so the vibrations must be "wider". I don't know if that can be understood? The lips must be allowed to vibrate more, that is flap wider but still at the same speed. Maybe use less moutgpiece pressure when you play loud can help that. In my case I try to relax and give the lips the space they want/need. I do not force, I try to be as relaxed as possible in the middle and I use less mouthpiece pressure. I also try to imagine I blow "from above", down into the instrument with still fast - as fast as is efficient - blow but "thick" air and lips loose in the middle where they shall vibrate. I even allow a little puff in the cheeks to make a little more room for the louder playing, but then I do not mean in a way to loose my corners because they need to be firm enough. I make sure I only tighten the aperture as much as is needed and I listen carefully not to choke the sound. If I do that I probably try to play louder than my current techniqe admits. I don't know if you also compress other parts of the body more when you play loud. I could not tell from the video, but to be as relaxed as possible in throat and the rest of the body to give space and to free up vibrations that allow more resonance also help the sound to expand in all directions of the sound spectra.
I don't know if anything I've written here makes sense, but Im trying to express MY feeling of playing loud (when it works, and I can play loud and also maintain a relaxed sound 🤠).

To sum up: I think you need to be more relaxed where vibrations are so you can expand the softer playing Just broaden it without getting tense in the middle where lips-tissue vibrates.

/Tom
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spencercarran
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by spencercarran » Tue Jan 04, 2022 11:36 am

Less tension. You're trying to bully the instrument into giving you more sound, but the trombone doesn't want to fight you. Keep relaxed and try increasing volume gradually while maintaining a good tone.

Go through the Remington warm-up book; not just for the exercises, also for Remington's commentary.
hyperbolica
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by hyperbolica » Tue Jan 04, 2022 12:20 pm

One of my teachers helped me visualize air and embouchure this way: like a hose or a stream of air coming up through my throat and mouth, with the embouchure as big as possible while still allowing the lips to vibrate. Getting louder almost always also involves the sound getting brighter, and to some extent some horns actually increase that effect. To make the sound really bright, you can close down the oral cavity. So to darken it, open the embouchure, drop the jaw slightly, drop the tongue as much as you can, visualize the air coming out in a steady column, like a hose. Articulation lightly flicks the tongue in the airstream.
Last edited by hyperbolica on Wed Jan 05, 2022 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
timothy42b
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by timothy42b » Tue Jan 04, 2022 1:42 pm

I didn't mention it specifically, though it was in the posture thread. I've recently started playing with an Ergobone.

It helps with my sore shoulder. But it must also subtly (or not) alter my posture and breathing.

Tom's comments about air make sense, I think. If I'm not getting the air through properly then I'm doing it somewhere else.
Kbiggs
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by Kbiggs » Tue Jan 04, 2022 1:58 pm

Yes, the ergobone will affect your posture, and therefore your breathing and, with the change in height of the horn, your embouchure.

This may be old-fashioned and controversial… following on Tom’s suggestions… but I think it can be helpful in some situations to think of the embouchure as balance between “smile” and “pucker.” (This is from Philip Farkas’s book.) In more modern terms (and, I believe, Doug Elliott’s terms [apologies if that’s not correct]), the “smile” refers to the muscles just underneath the corners of the mouth, and the flattened lower lip. When playing louder, the smile is decreased. The pucker is increased towards the center but stays loose. I don’t know whether that makes sense. If it does, great. If not, please disregard.

The other concept I think of is what Jeffrey Reynolds used to say about the center of the embouchure: Louder means looser. Again, if the makes sense—great. If not, disregard.
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by Doug Elliott » Tue Jan 04, 2022 2:21 pm

I actually hear exactly the same thing at the softer volume, I don't think it's exclusively an issue of how you play loud.

Your lips are too compressed in general. You don't want a space between them but you need to feel less "clamping together" or really none of that at all. "Just barely touching" is how I would describe it, and you need to start that way no matter what volume you're playing.
hyperbolica
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by hyperbolica » Tue Jan 04, 2022 2:51 pm

timothy42b wrote:
Tue Jan 04, 2022 1:42 pm
I didn't mention it specifically, though it was in the posture thread. I've recently started playing with an Ergobone.

It helps with my sore shoulder. But it must also subtly (or not) alter my posture and breathing.

Tom's comments about air make sense, I think. If I'm not getting the air through properly then I'm doing it somewhere else.
The ergobone doesn't have to work against you. I use one sometimes. You do have to get it set up correctly and limit your movements to what the ergobone can handle. It does make you think about your posture more. I use the pole that goes to the ground because that interferes with my breathing less.I couldn't use one that pushed on my abdomen or waist - that kills my breathing.
Basbasun
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by Basbasun » Wed Jan 05, 2022 5:48 am

You do have a very high air compression in your mouth mouth and very little airflow from your mouth into the mouthpiece. You are blowinbg very hard, but the air is moving enough.
Your embouchure is collapsing towards the middle of your mouth.
Looking at your face I see the famous bunched chin that is pressing the lower lip upwards.
Yes there are some players who can play good that way, but I dont think that is a good way for you.
Try the just touching thing, that works for many players. (not for me though)
I am not a D Reinhardt student just so you know.
Can you find a teacher in your neigborhood?
timothy42b
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by timothy42b » Wed Jan 05, 2022 7:22 am

Thinking out loud.
I wonder if I've done this to myself, rather than it being an accidental bad habit.
My concept of what I like in a trombone tone is much brighter and edgier than the dark symphonic tone most people seem to favor. I think I've been hearing a bit of this mute sound and liking it, and doing some things wrong to get it.
Now that I've listened to my recordings a bit more I'm starting to be able to hear it while playing.
Basbasun
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by Basbasun » Wed Jan 05, 2022 1:20 pm

timothy42b wrote:
Wed Jan 05, 2022 7:22 am
Thinking out loud.
I wonder if I've done this to myself, rather than it being an accidental bad habit.
My concept of what I like in a trombone tone is much brighter and edgier than the dark symphonic tone most people seem to favor. I think I've been hearing a bit of this mute sound and liking it, and doing some things wrong to get it.
Now that I've listened to my recordings a bit more I'm starting to be able to hear it while playing.
That is great! A very good attitude!
timothy42b
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by timothy42b » Wed Jan 12, 2022 5:39 am

Update: had a lesson with Doug yesterday. He agrees the bunched chin is causing this problem, but fixing it is a struggle. Doing it correctly made it almost impossible to get any tone, it took about an hour of working on it to get a midrange tone sounding. So it's very much a work in progress at this point.

I wondered if the ergobone and my experiment playing under the stand had anything to do with falling into this. So I tried looking at old videos; I have a fair amount on my phone, for listening to clean articulation but had not been looking at the chops. Unfortunately most of them have the mouthpiece shadow across the chin area. I found one from last August where I'm lip slurring down an octave then down another, starting on F two octaves above F in staff. The alt F chin is fairly flat, the F above middle C mostly, but the mouthpiece pulls down for F in the staff and I can see my chin rise to meet it. And that's exactly what I was doing with Doug. Mouthpiece pulling down for lower range, chin balancing it by rising it to meet it. Very hard to avoid for me!
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by Doug Elliott » Wed Jan 12, 2022 2:05 pm

You were having good success by the end - keep it up.
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Savio
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by Savio » Fri Jan 14, 2022 12:26 pm

timothy42b wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 5:39 am
the bunched chin is causing this problem
What is "bunched chin"?

Leif
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Bad tone when loud, sounds like straight mute

Post by Doug Elliott » Fri Jan 14, 2022 12:30 pm

Chin pulled up instead of down and flat.
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