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A powerful sounding wind instrument that needs strength and skill.
The trumpet is the highest brass instrument in register, above the horn, trombone, euphonium, and tuba. A musician who plays the trumpet is called a "trumpet player" or "trumpeter".
The trumpet is made of brass tubing bent into a rough spiral. The bore is, roughly speaking, cylindrical, but is more accurately a complex series of tapers, smaller at the mouthpiece receiver and larger just before the flare of the bell begins. Careful design of these tapers is critical to the intonation of the instrument.
Sound is produced by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound into the mouthpiece and starting a standing wave vibration in the air column inside the trumpet. The trumpet player can select the pitch from a range of overtones or harmonics by changing the lip aperture tension. There are three valves, each of which increases the length of tubing when engaged, thereby lowering the pitch. The first valve lowers the instrument by a whole step, second valve by a half step, and third valve by one-and-a-half steps. This makes the instrument fully chromatic, i.e., able to play all twelve pitches of Western music. The sound is projected outward by the bell.
The mouthpiece has a circular rim which provides a comfortable environment for the lips' vibration. Directly behind the rim is the cup, which channels the air into a much smaller opening (the backbore or shank) which tapers out slightly to match the diameter of the trumpet's lead pipe. The dimensions of these parts of the mouthpiece affect the timbre or quality of sound, the ease of playability, and player comfort. A wider and deeper cup are often best suited for a fuller, more expansive sound, while shallow-cupped "pea-shooter" mouthpieces can facilitate execution in the extreme high register (e.g. double high c). A larger rim allows for more assured striking of the notes, making it less likely for the player to split the note. A smaller rim improves endurance but decreases flexibility.
The first trumpets reputedly came from Egypt, and were primarily used for military purposes (Joshua's shofar, blown at the battle of Jericho, came from this tradition) like the bugle as we still know it, with different tunes corresponding to different instructions. In medieval times, trumpet playing was a guarded craft, its instruction occurring only within highly selective guilds. The trumpet players were often among the most heavily guarded members of a troop, as they were relied upon to relay instructions to other sections of the army. Eventually the trumpet's value for musical production was seen, particularly after the addition of valves around the mid 1830s, and its use and instruction became much more widespread. The Arabic word for trumpet was naffir. The Spanish used the Arabic name al naffir and changed it into anafil, while the French gave the trumpet its own name, buisine, derived from the Latin word buccina. (Trompet.nl, 2005)
Today, the trumpet is used in nearly all forms of music, including classical, jazz, rock, blues, pop, ska, polka and funk. Among the great modern trumpet players are Maurice André, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Jon Faddis, Maynard Ferguson, Adolph "Bud" Herseth, Wynton Marsalis, Philip Smith, Doc Severinsen and James Morrison. See 20th century brass instrumentalists for a more comprehensive list.
Instruction and method books
Perhaps the most well-known trumpet method is Jean-Baptiste Arban's "Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet (Cornet Or E-flat Alto, B-flat Tenor, Baritone, Euphonium and B-flat Bass in Treble Clef)". Copies of the text can be purchased now (copyright 1982 by Carl Fisher, Inc.) but include much of the unmodified original text from the 1894 edition.
Other well-known method books include those written by Herbert L. Clarke, Saint-Jacome, Claude Gordon, and Colin. A common method book for beginners is the "Walter Beeler Method", and there have been several fine instruction books written by virtuoso Allen Vizzutti. In many schools, the Breeze Eazy method is used to teach younger students, as it includes lots of musical background information as well as trumpet related info.
A new book, recently published is . It is an excellent book that covers a wealth of material, particularly if you are trying to teach yourself to play. I agree, the trumpet is quite a difficult instrument to master, but Louis Armstrong did OK by himself.
The trumpet is "not" an instrument that is easily self taught. An instruction book can only give you general ideas. Trumpet students are encouraged to seek the advice of a skilled player/teacher, even if only for the first few lessons so they can avoid starting with poor technique habits.
As with all musical instruments, there are physical challenges to playing the trumpet. The knowledge of operating the instrument is called "technique". Almost all aspects of technique are controversial, since different people have different problems to overcome, and different successes to celebrate.
Several important aspects of technique:
# Breathing properly (abdominal support of air). "This is one of the areas of brass playing that causes a great deal of confusion. Much discussion about the importance of the diaphragm has sent many a player down the road to confusion, inability, and bleeding lips. The upper part of the torso contains a large family of muscles that all have been designed to function in a teamwork fashion specially when we do something requiring forced exhalation, eg. blowing out candles, spitting something out of our mouth, or blowing into a wind instrument. "There are 3 layers of abdominal muscles from the groin to the sternum (breastplate); there are 2 layers of muscles (inner and outer) in between the ribs; there are back muscles from the lumbar region upward to the shoulders; there is the diaphragm just below the lung sacs; and there are muscles coming-down diagonally from behind the ear which connect to the top of the rib cage . When a person does a "forced exhalation", the entire family is activated as a "one- family" movement. They ALL simultaneously increase their tension levels in order to raise the internal compression level (PSI) in the lung chambers. This moves the air FASTER which is one of the first necessary things that must occur when a player moves "upward" in the register. The area that the player needs to become aware of is NOT in the diaphragm but in the center of the abdominal muscles, approximately near the navel. The body has a natural way of centering itself if you only just try to blow suddenly as if spitting a piece of rice or blowing out a candle. By learning to control the variance of tension, either isometric for holding a compression level or by tightening and relaxing the degrees of tension based upon what you are playing, one discovers that it is really the abdominal support that controls the air. This ab support certainly influences the diaphragm but it is NOT the diaphragm alone that moves the air. It is the FAMILY of muscles, all guided by the abdominal centering." (Bobby Shew)
# Strengthening the embouchure (muscles of the face, sometimes "chops" in common slang). Some commonly accepted ways to do this are:
##Lip slurs: playing exercises that change notes without changing the fingering. This forces all of the work to come from the facial and tongue muscles as well as changes in breathing.
##Tonguing exercises: playing exercises that have many notes started with a sharp definition produced by the tongue.
##Practicing on the mouthpiece: playing exercises on the mouthpiece only, without the trumpet. Without the resonating chamber of the rest of the instrument, the pitch may vary much more freely. To be able to play something requires development of control. Also, this may reduce the amount of pressure one can apply.
##Playing high: playing in the upper register, at the top of the player's comfortable range. This is an excellent way to increase one's range, as eventually the higher notes will become easier and the player can move on to progressively higher top notes.
##Reducing pressure. To play higher notes on the trumpet requires compression of the embouchure (the muscles of the face and lips), as well as air pressure to provide the energy for the vibration of the lips. One way to compress the lips is to press the mouthpiece firmly onto them, however this is counterproductive in the long run and is not an effective way of playing in the upper register. Blood cannot flow into the lips, so they become stiff and swollen, unable to vibrate. Also, the other muscles necessary to play without pressure are not sufficiently developed.
# Avoiding bad habits. There are many bad habits that can develop while learning trumpet that can ultimately lead to slower improvement, a poorly developed sound, lessened endurance, or even pain. Common bad habits include pressing the mouthpiece to the lips (as explained above), uneven pressure (see Double buzz), inflating cheeks when blowing (although this is debated - some of the greatest jazz trumpeters such as Dizzy Gillespie, Harry James, and Charlie Shavers were known for it and it is essential to circular breathing, a technique necessary to play continuously for any significant period of time), playing with poor posture, and closing the throat (tensing of the throat muscles, resulting in partially choking the air flow.).
# Having too tense a posture is another bad habit . Producing notes becomes easier when the body, especially the embouchure and shoulders, are relaxed. Try not to extend the arms more than 90 degrees from the elbows.
# Keeping neutral corners. Keep the corners of the mouth in a neutral position to avoid stretching or compressing the aperture too much. Pulling the corners back too much (into a smile) pushes the lips together thereby restricting vibration. Pushing them front too much pulls the lips apart too much, also restricting vibration.
# Not resting the pressure of the mouthpiece evenly on both lips. One wants to find the ideal mouthpiece placement that allows maximum vibration. Experiment with different angles and positions until the best possible one for vibration is found. This position may vary in extreme registers.
On any trumpet, cornet, or flugelhorn, pressing the valves indicated by the numbers below will produce the written notes shown - "OPEN" means all valves up, "1" means first valve, "1-2" means first and second valve simultaneously, etc. The concert pitch which sounds depends on the transposition of the instrument. Engaging the fourth valve, if present, drops any of these pitches by a perfect fourth as well. Within each overtone series, the different pitches are attained by changing the embouchure, or "lip position" and "tightness", along with increasing air velocity. Standard fingerings above high C are the same as for the notes an octave below (C# is 1-2, D is 1, etc.).
Note that the fundamental of each overtone series does not exist - the series begins with the first overtone. Notes in parentheses are the sixth overtone, representing a pitch with a frequency of seven times that of the fundamental; while this pitch is close to the note shown, it is slightly flat and use of those fingerings is therefore discouraged.
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