Brass Players Obsession for “The Sound” Part 2

What Is The Perfect Tone?

If you ask a dozen trumpet players this question you will get many different descriptions for each player has been influenced by their past likes and dislikes. To a die-hard cool jazz musician, his/her leanings would be more toward the darker side illustrated by the styling of Miles Davis but to a traditional jazz follower, the tone of Louis Armstrong would be more appealing. Most symphonic trumpet performers would agree that the tone of Mr. “Bud” Herseth would be ideal and yet there are some who would prefer a different principle chair player.

It would be useless and unproductive for me at this time to get into a discussion on “who has the best tone quality” for that would be like which is the best car on the road; it depends on many different expectations of the driver. What we will be discussing in this post is the question, “What is required to produce a full, rich and resonant sound on a trumpet”?

To produce the qualities list above, several elements in the production of a full trumpet tone are required:

1. An embouchure which is as relaxed as possible to produce the desired pitch. Please note the selective use of the words “as relaxed as possible”
2. An air stream with the least amount of resistance to produce the desired pitch.

3. The least amount of mouthpiece pressure to produce the desired pitch and decibel volume.

4. The correct amount of air to produce the desired tone quality.

5. The most open passageway in the throat and oral cavity to produce the desired tone.

6. A high mouthpiece setting produces a richer sound.

7. A wider aperture between the lips increases the overtones in the timbre.

If any of these elements are impeded, the quality of your tone will be diminished. To better understand how each of these areas affects your final product, I will illustrate with both visual and audible examples.
Next Installment- “How Your Tone Is Impeded By Less Than Optimum Conditions”.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.