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How important is range?


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trpthrld
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, let me add a few things about musicals and range. I need to give a disclaimer that all of this information is based on my personal experience. There are college courses in musical theatre history, but I've never taken one. Besides - those classes wouldn't have anything about the trumpet parts so...pretty much a waste of my time.

"West Side Story" (1957) called for the 1st & 2nd players to have solid Fs & Es. Those two were Gino Bazzacco & David Jandorf.

As far as I know, WSS is the show that really broke the range barrier for trumpets.

"Gypsy" (1959) has a 1st Trumpet solo in the Overture where Dick Perry gets to go crazy!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYS1G9ZLOio

And that, boys and girls, is the way to play an Overture!

Back to kehaulani's question.

I think extending the trumpet range for musicals was simply natural evolution. Broadway composers started writing for a more "jazz" or "big band" kind of sound vs. the Golden Age of shows written by Rogers and Hammerstein, Rogers and Hart, etc. which were much more "orchestral" in sound. Even shows like "Guys and Dolls" (1950) which was very much big band in style, the trumpets had only a couple of Ds to play.

By the mid-to-late 60s, show themes became much more contemporary, and the style of music followed those changes. Composers liked that they not only could write higher trumpet parts, but that there were plenty of power-house players available to play those parts. That came about mostly because the jingle, TV, movie and record recording session work started to diminish and "A" list jingle players (who always looked down on pit players - Broadway used to be considered a job NOT to take and certainly not one to tell your trumpet buddies that you had) were now available and willing to play their shows.

Then we need to factor in the addition of electronic keyboards to pits. Not to take away from the talent of those musicians who play and can program those keyboards but...they are taking jobs away from wind & string musicians.

Those machines can play any note any time. Composers/orchestrators hear it played on a keyboard & they expect you to play in on your part.

Hope that answers your question. Always happy to help with what I can!
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Grits Burgh
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tim,

Great history lesson. Where else can you read something like that outside of Trumpet Herald?

Good stuff.

Warm regards,
Grits
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grits Burgh wrote:
Tim, Great history lesson. Where else can you read something like that outside of Trumpet Herald? Good stuff.


Couldn't have said it better, myself. Thanks for such a concise, yet significant post. You're a good guy, Tim.
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bach_again
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post, Tim!
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trpthrld
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're known to have a really solid range...you might get the 1st trumpet part for a show written specifically with you in mind.

Cases in point....or izzit case in points....whatever:

"In the Heights" and "The Book of Mormon" were written with NY trumpet great Raul Agraz in mind. Anyone who's played "Club Number" knows what I'm talking about.

And Book, which has a smattering of Gs, Gbs & F#s ENDS on a dubba A stinger.

"Legally Blonde" was written with Dave Trigg in mind. The MD for that show heard Dave play on the Martin Short B'way show ("Martin Short - Fame Becomes Me") and hired him for Legally Blonde.

Those who have played LB know about the end of "Positive" with its Ab - Eb - dubba Ab ending. That's the tour version. On B'way, it was up a half step.

Same with the last tune in Act I - "So Much Better" with its dubba A to dubba G last notes. On B'way, that tune, too, was up a half step.

Dave nailed the crap outta those notes on every show.

Kinda like if ya got it, flaunt it.
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Arjuna
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

+1



trpthrld wrote:
Sound is the most important thing. A rich, vibrant, resonant sound is what most players go for.

After that is technique and control.

Add those in with a consistent sound (also meaning good pitch center) throughout the range that you have and you can be a highly-in-demand trumpet player.

Doc Severinsen said it best - when he was asked what could be done to increase range he replied "Why worry about high notes? Herb Alpert is the richest trumpet player ever and he seldom plays above the staff."

(I could be paraphrasing a bit on Doc's quote).

When you audition, you should always play to emphasize your strong points.
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gabriel127
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No matter what anyone says:

There are two kinds of trumpet players in the world: those who can play high and those who wish they could. Yeah, sound is important and you can still impress people and get plenty of work if you can't play high. But you without a doubt can get MORE work if you can play high in addition to all your other strengths on the horn. You'll get more chicks and you'll get more roars from the audiences.

Testament to this is the fact that I've seen many-a-jazz-players who can't play high, preaching to their students, don't worry if you can't play high, it's not the only thing....blah, blah, blah. Same thing with classical players who try to discredit lead players by saying that "anyone can play high if they use those cheater mouthpieces that they use," and on and on. But hand those classical stiffs a "cheater" mouthpiece and see if they can play high consistently and with a big sound. I'll make a prediction right now........they CAN'T.

But then these same high note naysayers go home and secretly try all the new gimmicks, techniques, devices, equipment to try and finally be able to play in the upper register. I remember one such guy trying something, and when he told me about it, he said, don't tell anyone I'm doing this, if you do, I'll deny it and call you a liar, so don't even think about telling anyone."

Any time you hear a band play, the largest and loudest reactions from the crowd are obtained when a trumpet player belts out a beautiful high note, you can't deny this.

There's a church gig that I've been playing for about six months. I've been playing second trumpet. The guy who plays first (because of seniority, he's been playing at this church for like 30 years) can only play up to a D. And of course, when there are notes above that (particularly at the end of the tunes) he takes them down to the closest note of the chord that he can play, and out of etiquette, the third tpt and I decide during rehearsal what notes of the chord to play below that and save face for the incapable lead player. Any high notes in the middle of the tune on moving high parts, the guy takes down the octave. Well, a couple of weeks ago, this guy was on summer vacation and I moved up to the first part. I played all the notes as written. One of the tunes had a part that was 8va opt. going up to a G, there was a tune that ended on an E, and there was one that ended on a Bb and I took it up to an F. This congregation never reacted with as much excitement, enthusiasm, and emotion as they did on this day and the music pastor told the whole band at rehearsal the following week that the lead pastor commented to him that the band sounded better than ever last week. I've witnessed that a strong lead player actually motivates the rest of the musicians to play with more passion and elevates the performance of the ENTIRE ENSEMBLE. No other instrument than the LEAD TRUMPET is capable of doing this. You can't deny these truths, they occur every day. So to say that playing high isn't everything? Maybe it's not to everyone, but as someone who has after many years figured out how to play high, I wouldn't want to ever go back to not being able to. I'd be devastated.

So, if we're really being honest, yes, playing high is a huge, huge thing. It can elevate a band's overall performance and evoke the audience's emotions like no other single element of the music. Maynard Ferguson staked his entire career on this fact and as a result, he was worshipped by young trumpet players everywhere (who don't carry around the cynical denial baggage that guys get when they get older and come to the realization that they'll never be able to play high). And many older players who aren't in denial worshipped him, too.

Another response to the typical high register detractors/naysayers (who say that playing high isn't everything) is this: If you can play in the extreme upper register with relative ease that USUALLY means that you're doing a lot things right, which manifest positively in other aspects of one's playing. There are exceptions to this rule and those are the cases in which the person's sound is bad. If a person can play high easily, but their sound is nasal, pinched, etc. then they are probably using bad mechanics to get into the upper register. So my word of advice to the trumpet player who aspires to play high is to ALWAYS CONCENTRATE ON A GOOD SOUND. Don't focus on trying to get high notes out any which way you can without worrying about sound because that will have diminishing returns.

I'm a firm believer in pedal tones. I think that everyone should try out some routine that incorporates pedal tones to see if this will work for them, because I think that learning how to play pedal tones correctly will force a player to make corrections to their embouchure without even knowing about it. It gets players to achieve a balance between their upper and lower lips and this balance makes it more possible to keep the lips vibrating under heavy compression, rather than choking off. Another positive aspect of pedal tones is that they help the player achieve that good sound that everyone is looking for.

I'm thinking of a good case in point, who was a renowned studio lead player in the 50s-70s. I will not name him because I don't want all of his worshippers to come out of the woodwork and have a hissy-fit and jump all over me. But this guy in my opinion was a great musician and had a great upper register, but I don't think he had a good sound, at least not from the recordings I've heard. And I have read that this person was not only INCAPABLE of playing pedal tones, but also, when he tried to practice them, they were like poison to his playing. They'd screw him up, so he just didn't practice them. I heard a recording of this fellow playing piccolo trumpet one time and his sound on that thing was hideous and his attacks were those oinky, chippy, unclean attacks that all players try to avoid when playing piccolo. In actuality, the piccolo in this case was revealing the incorrect mechanics of his embouchure that adversely affected his sound. This person got an awful lot of work in his day even with that sound of his. Of course, there weren't as many real screamers back in those days as there are today, which put him in more demand even with a sub-par sound. If any of you are able to guess who I'm talking about then that only confirms my opinion of this guy, even though many will disagree with me.

If you don't believe in the value of pedal tones, go to YouTube and search for K.O. Skinsnes' video that's entitled something like "Arturo Sandoval, Jim Manley, and Frickin' Science." You can disagree with me, but I think you'll be less inclined to disagree with what Arturo Sandoval and Jim Manley say.
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Rod Haney
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stay away from North Texas State if you can't play high ( and like God) don't waste time auditioning. But if you can make the 1 o clock band - you are gonna be a meat eater for sure!
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bnsd
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with certain points within this thread:

Herb Alpert can play a D and is a legend anyway... probably most well-known trumpet player in the world.

Maynard Ferguson is not particularly known outside of musicians.

Sound is more important than range to start with, but plenty of high note guys have a great sound

Nobody gets passed over for a gig because they play great, but can also play high
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gabriel127
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Herb Alpert? Give me a break. Sure he is well-known, but is this due to him being a great trumpet player?

What does Alpert have to make up for his lack of range? Is he a great jazz improviser? Can he play all different styles?

If he didn't own A&M Records, and have all of the right connections, he never would have been able to record and get his music exposed to the masses.

Some of his stuff is pleasing to listen to, but anyone can play that stuff, it's the lowest level of difficulty of any trumpet music I've ever heard.

Would it be a responsible thing to do for a trumpet teacher to tell his students, "hey Sonny, you should strive to be as good as Herb Alpert. He's the gold standard. If you can play like him and play everything he can play, you will prosper as a trumpet player." Would that be right?
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Croquethed
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You'll get more chicks.

Really?
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Lionel
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a person who has made his living behind the trumpet for at least ten years of my life? Found that having a big sound, good intonation and endurance were the primary factors in sustaining my career.

Since I mostly played live concerts? My reading never needed to be much better than average. That surprised me at the time. Later on after I gained a little bit of authority in the group I was asked if we ought to bring in a 2nd trumpet player.

The guy sounded strong in the audition. Good high register. Another useable minor third above my chops. Yett I had still had some reservations about him. And suggested that the leaders invite him into the band on a temporary, conditional basis. To see how well he would work out after a few weeks of constant playing. What do they call that? A "probationary period"? Something like that. Well it was a good thing for us and the auditioning trumpet player.

As he turned out to be what Maynard called,

"A five minute hero". Lol.

This being the poor guy with a great sounding double C but burns out before the end of the first set. When we had to let him go (because he really was just dead weight in the band) he still hadnt quit his day job. So no harm was done to anyone. And I learned a lesson about trumpet players with apparently better range than me. Careful of the "5 minute hero".

Far better to have my high F which lasts all three sets. Than the poor guy who can't last into the second set.

Another interesting trumpet was this guy named Steve. Held a masters degree in performance, applied Trumpet from a major university. And he played well. I'd have paid to see him in a band.

One problem... Despite his immaculate intonation, world class ad-lib soloing skills, and mastery of sight reading and rhythm? He was worthless above a high D. Gave the lead book back to me. I dont think he liked me very much.
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Trumpetingbynurture
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:18 pm    Post subject: Re: How important is range? Reply with quote

Lionel wrote:
Bryant Jordan wrote:
So here's my dilemma. I've never had a solid high range (as of now it's High D, E at most). Mainly this is due to my embochure. My top lip falls into the cup, leaving a deeper inprint (half circle). I've tried to reform it many times, and am working with my instructor as of now on it, but I'm afraid I won't be able to keep my top lip from falling into the cup permanently. I have placement on the vermilion of my lip, which is ideal. I'll have college auditions coming up the beginning of next year, so what I'm wondering is how much not having a great range would impact my auditions? How important is it in that aspect? Any feedback is appreciated.



Dude,

I'm not Maynard. But my upper lip goes so deep into the cup of my mouthpiece it nearly covers the throat. And yet I csn blow youva consistentv B flat above High C which can cause hearing damage.

Sometimes my double C is equally nasty.

Clear, solid high notes well connected to my lower register. For years and years. Some other playing fault is at work here my friend.

I do have my problems but am working them out. Fortunately most aspects of range wotk goodvfor me.

Aa for your title question? Yes. Range is usually important.


Ha! A few trumpet teachers have spoken/written about the 'dreaded top lip pucker' which should be avoided at all cost.

Out of curiosity, is it only the top lip that protrudes? What's your bottom lip doing? Is this the Walt Johnson overlap thing or something else?
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trickg
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lionel wrote:
Another interesting trumpet was this guy named Steve. Held a masters degree in performance, applied Trumpet from a major university. And he played well. I'd have paid to see him in a band.

One problem... Despite his immaculate intonation, world class ad-lib soloing skills, and mastery of sight reading and rhythm? He was worthless above a high D. Gave the lead book back to me. I dont think he liked me very much.

Really? Just because he didn't have the range you did he didn't like you? I've got my own limitations and understand what they are, and I've never begrudged anyone I've worked with because they had a better upper register than me. I do what I do well enough that I've always been able to hold my own as long as it doesn't involve playing much above a D.
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Croquethed
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But the chicks, trickg! How do you get any chicks with just a D?
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trickg
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Croquethed wrote:
But the chicks, trickg! How do you get any chicks with just a D?

I'm guessing my wife of 25 years is perfectly happy that I only have a D.
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Croquethed
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha! I was married for 15 years before I started the comeback thing, and my wife looked at me real funny when I said I was popping $1500 for a new horn.

Now she talks me up to folks like I'm Clark Terry. And I have a D, too (Eb sometimes, but not to brag about).
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EdMann
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This dissing of Herb Alpert is ridiculous. His early recordings were hits not because of connections or technique, but because he was, and is, a great musician. Gaining a range above the constructs of the instrument is only important for a narrow aspect of what's expected of a player. Musicianship is everything.

I had a conversation with Herb about 28 years ago at a radio publicity event, told him that I played (past tense at the time), and he went right into it. "I had range I could use, but I found early on that it wasn't saying anything." I never forgot that. Art Farmer talked about the appropriate range of the instrument as everything under high C, if I remember his quote correctly. I've learned a healthy respect for the altissimo range and practice up to dubba C most days, but I'm never gonna get the call to do that. Strangely, I get called.

ed
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trpthrld
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

EdMann wrote:
This dissing of Herb Alpert is ridiculous. His early recordings were hits not because of connections or technique, but because he was, and is, a great musician.

Nicely stated, Eddie!

People - millions of people - enjoyed what he and the TJB played. Songs that made you feel good. Songs that you could dance to. Songs that didn't disrespect women, legal authority or race.

He also (and please don't flame me for this) brought a stylized Mexican flavor of music to the general world population, which exposed and opened up many people's ears to that music.

He's also just a really nice guy!
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bnsd
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

from Wikipedia:

Alpert set up a small recording studio in his garage and had been overdubbing a tune called "Twinkle Star", written by Sol Lake, who would eventually write many of the Brass's original tunes. During a visit to Tijuana, Mexico, Alpert happened to hear a mariachi band while attending a bullfight. Following the experience, Alpert recalled that he was inspired to find a way to express musically what he felt while watching the wild responses of the crowd, and hearing the brass musicians introducing each new event with rousing fanfare.[10] Alpert adapted the trumpet style to the tune, mixed in crowd cheers and other noises for ambience, and renamed the song "The Lonely Bull".[11] He personally funded the production of the record as a single, and it spread through radio DJs until it caught on and became a Top 10 hit in the Fall of 1962. He followed up quickly with his debut album, The Lonely Bull by "Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass".

no connections

If I remember the tune correctly, it doesnt go above a staff G... i.e. a note we could all play before high school

He's a musician that proved stirring emotion in people can pay off "without range", which IS this thread

How important is range? Obviously depends on what you want to do with it, but I still contend the general public doesn't care about range. They care about section work, catchy tunes, intonation etc.
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