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Playing in the Red Blindfold Test


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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:55 am    Post subject: Playing in the Red Blindfold Test Reply with quote

I'm conducting an informal experiment as sort of a pilot study to observe how accurate people are guessing a trumpet player's mouthpiece placement through sound alone, specifically if one can actually hear if the player places the mouthpiece on the red of the upper or lower lip. If you'd like to participate and see how you do, please visit the following web site. There are audio recordings of 6 professional trumpet players playing octave slurs for about a minute. At least one player places the mouthpiece so the rim is in direct contact with the red of the lips and at least one player does not. Then there is a short quiz asking for your thoughts on whether the player places the mouthpiece on the red or not.

http://www.wilktone.com/?p=3746

Feel free to post your comments on the site or here if you have thoughts about this topic.

Thanks,

Dave
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Ekim Gram
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't take the survey but I did watch the video out of curiosity. I must say, there is something slightly unsettling to me by watching that video, it felt so weird just to watch random peoples' lips like that.
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BobD
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So from that example of players it would seem that it doesn't matter if your on the red or not since they are all so accomplished.
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Jetrang
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

as BobD said it doesnt matter, but if you told us they were just students i think many would have believed you....

* Edit to add something constructive, why didnt you let them play a beautiful melody ? this would get you more listeners because those slurs rather annoy people.


Last edited by Jetrang on Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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roynj
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Playing the red can actually help tone quality, if that's all you're looking for. But it does not help with endurance and range, and can lead to severe lip scarring. On sound alone, the issue of playing the "red" isn't relevant (IMO).
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Jerry Freedman
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are a lot of variables uncontrolled: mouthpiece(throat, cup, bore etc), horn (horn size etc). It's not clear that much would be proven
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, folks. Just to clarify, I'm not actually conducting serious research here, just testing the feasibility of the idea and playing around with the plug in to see how well it works for this. There are many flaws with what I'm doing that would never pass peer review, and please be assured that I'm aware of them.

Quote:
Edit to add something constructive, why didnt you let them play a beautiful melody ? this would get you more listeners because those slurs rather annoy people.


There were some advantages to using octave slurs in this case. First, it allows us to compare all the players doing the exact same thing, regardless of what style they predominantly play in. If I had a jazz or classical etude it would perhaps be obvious to discriminating listeners if a player was out of his element and that could possibly influence people's choices.

But most importantly, it's because the videos were all taken long ago for another formal research project and I happened to need all the participants playing octave slurs for this research. I used them because that's what I happened to have.

Quote:
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 21:15 Post subject:
Playing the red can actually help tone quality, if that's all you're looking for. But it does not help with endurance and range, and can lead to severe lip scarring. On sound alone, the issue of playing the "red" isn't relevant (IMO).


I don't necessarily agree with you (excepting that it can be the case with some players, not others), and also the issue with lip scarring you mention doesn't seem to be supported by any medical literature I've come across yet. Can you help me understand you points here and explain why you feel the above?

Quote:
There are a lot of variables uncontrolled: mouthpiece(throat, cup, bore etc), horn (horn size etc). It's not clear that much would be proven


Again, there are many flaws in this particular blindfold test and it really can't prove much of anything beyond looking at an aggregate picture of how everyone who took the test averaged out. To really truly get an accurate picture would require many more examples to listen to, having subjects be recorded in the same room to correct for differences in acoustics, etc. The equipment issues you mention may or may not be an issue, depending on what sort of research questions someone might hope to get out of this.

But essentially, the single thing I'm curious about at this stage is simply how well can people tell by sound alone whether a player is placing on the red of the lips. Depending on the end results, perhaps we could infer, as you suggest, that there are so many other issues (like equipment and any other particular circumstances that happened to be going on at the time of each recording) that people will mistake other effects as being caused by a particular mouthpiece placement.

Again, it's really hard to do any of this based on how I've set things up for this, so I wouldn't read to much into anything - particularly your individual score (if you taken it). With only 6 subjects and two possible responses for each audio sample it's statistically likely that some people are going to get 5 or 6 correct and some only 1 or 2 by random chance alone. Looking at many scores over the long term it will be interesting to see if it gets skewed towards better or worse than 50%, but I'll need a lot more people to take the test before there's enough to do that reliably.

Thanks for your comments and thanks to everyone who has participated!

Dave
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mcgovnor
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:44 pm    Post subject: The Reply with quote

Everyone plays with the mouthpiece on the red. The relevant question actually is, not on the red, but the inner edge of the mouthpiece completing it's arc inside the red of the upper lip.
The only way to judge this is by looking directly at the indets made by the inner edge of the MP on the upper lip. If the inner edge completes the arc inside the red, it is too close to the aperture. The attack, when the lips protrude slightly, will cause the aperture to open, and the low placement and proximity of the inner edge to the aperture will cause the vibration to be disturbed. Cracked attacks will be heard, often. The lips are not able, due to the inability to contract the muscle, partly due to the effect of arm pressure, used to jam the lips together..to relax and contract, descending and ascending, so flexibility becomes issue-matic.
As the lips move a lot double and triple tonguing, it will nearly impossible to execute, throughout the register, multiple tonguing. There are no medical records of the thousands of players who develop the little teat at the crest of the red on the upper lip, which evolves into a hard piece of sand size corn, in time. This corn eventually grows, and when it rises, the player is unable to continue, until it retreats.
Not knowing how you are defining playing on the red, it is impossible to make relevant assessments. I was 50% correct, as it stands, and where I was wrong, saying the player did not play in the red, the player was described as having a medium high setting. Could this be playing inside the red of the bottom lip? At any rate, I think I get what you're attempting to say. Since things aren't really defined in terms specific to problem set ups, it's difficult to go on. If you are trying to say it does not matter if the inner edge of the rim completes it's arc inside the red of the upper lip, I could not emphatically disagree with you or anyone else, more. The only cases I've ever seen without serious issues where individuals who has the red rising up on the lip far more than normal. Almost turned, inside out, where you see the red, where most have white. In this case, the inner edge is far enuf away from the aperture, due to anatomy.
In the red, on the bottom lip, slightly, is fine. High horn players set inside the red, on purpose..now to the clips.
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PacoTheTrumpeter
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well...I have listened to each sound clip. I haven't watched the videos yet. All I can say at this point is that each of the clips shows evidence of a player with fundamental problems in sound production and flexibility, and that none of the flaws in their playing can be solely attributed to the placement of the mouthpiece. If you want a listener's ears to test whether a mouthpiece is placed well, you'll have to post an unedited recording of a lengthy and demanding recital for each one. I'll add that I've never heard a consistently great player without trumpet-related struggles who places the inner rim on the soft lip tissue and who has maintained greatness for very long. Furthermore, Louis Armstrong's problems stemmed from overuse-related injury despite a good basic approach to the instrument, whereas Lee Morgan's can best be blamed on the fact that he never really developed a technical mastery of the trumpet.
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mcgovnor
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:46 pm    Post subject: i Reply with quote

I agree..there were some obvious issues and they could have been ironed out, just by listening, tuning and retakes. Additionally, a sound is really realized, in many players, and the sound was the focus..when playing music...not just calisthenics. Anyway......
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JazzTrumpet1
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can I just say that mcgoverner, while he is a great trumpet player, his chop advice ruined my trumpet playing after moving my mouthpiece placement higher upon his advice. I mean absolutely destroyed all semblance of endurance range and accuracy.

It wasnt until I stumbled upon wilktones videos I realized that players who need to be on the red exist. While rare, this placement will be the best one for a sizable minority.
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Tyson2011
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got them all right, completely guessing on all of them

edit: By guessing, I think more so mean picking the examples that I enjoyed the quality of more.
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you to everyone who participated so far. I'm leaving the blindfold test open if you haven't already tried it out and want to see how you do. So far I have had 54 people try it out. Tyson, you were the only 100% so far. A quick calculation shows that the average score of all participants is just over 53%, which is consistent with random chance.

For those of you who didn't like the quality of performance by the subjects, I hope you'll consider participating sometime yourself. Please send me a private message or contact me via my web site and we'll see if we can make arrangements to have yourself video taped. It would be nice to have excellent examples to draw from, but be warned that octave slurs spanning 2 or 3 octaves are not quite as easy as you think to pull off cleanly on 1 take. Multiple takes would be fine, but when I was personally collecting data the idea was to not take up too much time out of my subject's busy schedules.

A few additional thoughts and questions for you.

Quote:
The relevant question actually is, not on the red, but the inner edge of the mouthpiece completing it's arc inside the red of the upper lip.


Yes, this is what I'm referring to as playing on the red. That is, the upper or lower rim is directly in contact with the vermillion of the upper or lower lip.

Quote:
The only way to judge this is by looking directly at the indets made by the inner edge of the MP on the upper lip.


It's easy to spot with a transparent mouthpiece, which is what I used for most of my research.

Quote:
If the inner edge completes the arc inside the red, it is too close to the aperture.


This depends, of course, on how large the individual's vermillion actually is. Some players have very thick vermillion and placement very high or very low doesn't get all that close to the aperture as with other players. Also, there are many other factors that influence a player's best mouthpiece placement and how close the rim ends up to the aperture will be different for each individual.

Quote:
The attack, when the lips protrude slightly, will cause the aperture to open, and the low placement and proximity of the inner edge to the aperture will cause the vibration to be disturbed. Cracked attacks will be heard, often.


Possibly, but cracked attacks happen for a variety of reasons and they are not always caused by the mouthpiece placement. Before changing a student's placement I prefer to address other causes to be certain that I'm not doing more harm than good.

Quote:
As the lips move a lot double and triple tonguing, it will nearly impossible to execute, throughout the register, multiple tonguing


I'm not so sure about this. I used to place my mouthpiece much more centered and later switched to a very low placement right on the red of my upper lip. I never found an issue with multiple tonguing after the change.

Quote:
There are no medical records of the thousands of players who develop the little teat at the crest of the red on the upper lip, which evolves into a hard piece of sand size corn, in time. This corn eventually grows, and when it rises, the player is unable to continue, until it retreats.


Again, I'm not certain that this is accurate. The vermillion is very adaptable and quite capable of accepting the pressure applied to it in normal playing (my sources include a doctor who is also a trumpet player, a speech therapist, and combing through medical and musical research concerning this very issue). Now twisting the lips with the mouthpiece will indeed cause irritations on the lips, but this is regardless of the placement.

Has anyone out there developed a corn on the lips as mcgovnor describes? If so, can you offer some personal insights into this?

Quote:
All I can say at this point is that each of the clips shows evidence of a player with fundamental problems in sound production and flexibility, and that none of the flaws in their playing can be solely attributed to the placement of the mouthpiece.


Could you clarify as to what you heard indicated fundamental flaws and what you feel those issues were being caused by?

Quote:
It wasnt until I stumbled upon wilktones videos I realized that players who need to be on the red exist. While rare, this placement will be the best one for a sizable minority


I'm glad you found my videos helpful. Yes, this isn't common, but it's not necessarily something to discourage for all players. I tend to treat all mouthpiece placements to be a "last resort," no matter how conventional or strange looking they are.

Quote:
I got them all right, completely guessing on all of them

edit: By guessing, I think more so mean picking the examples that I enjoyed the quality of more.


Would you please elaborate on what you were listening for? Were you guessing that the placements off or on the red would have better quality?

Thanks again, all.

Dave
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royjohn
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting little study, Dave . . .

I don't know what would bring agreement on this issue other than a lot more research . . . what we have very little of at this point is research that uses some particular methods and then determines how well they work . . .

Research on the singing voice has produced a lot of data that validates some of the old classical maxims. It has even let to the use of spectrograms in training singers. This doesn't replace old techniques, but does supplement them and improve teaching and learning. However, a lot of the research was undertaken by medical researchers because it has implications for medical treatment of various laryngeal conditions. Research in trumpet playing doesn't help anybody but trumpet players.

A couple of clarifications . . . Those who play in the red are probably far from a majority . . . I wonder, Dave, from those you've examined, what percentage play in the red?

Secondly, I would be real surprised if anyone played in the red of their "vibrating" lip. In other words, in downstream players (the majority), if they play on the red, its on the bottom lip, not the top lip. It would be upstream players who might place on the red of the upper lip.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:46 am    Post subject: can't Reply with quote

Having taught 100 if not thousands, and corrected many, suffered through in the red playing, and with full knowledge exceptions, however few, are the only rule, and knowing there are some who have SO much red playing would be impossible otherwise and their physique compensates, I'm sure..there is NO way to know, during the course of a playing day, by looking through a visualizer or transparent mp, if the inner edge ends in or just above the red. The MP moves all day. And there are no medical studies done on this, available. Playing is the test, and the indents tell the story. 99 out of 100 will have playing issues they would not have, if they played in the white. The brass world has known this, for 100's of years. No one made it up, or fought for it. It's known because people played, listened, changed, or quit, and once in a while, broke the odds. "Exceptions, however few, are the only rule." Funny, and dis-heartening how even reading posts, among some ..often evolves into the old telephone game.

Last edited by mcgovnor on Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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BeboppinFool
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I play in the red of my upper lip.

Listen to some of my SoundCloud clips (below) and tell me exactly what's wrong with my sound as a result of playing in the red.

Thanks, and thanks Dave for bringing this up (by the way, I did dismally on your "blindfold test").


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crzytptman
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've heard plenty of players with a nasal tone that did not have the edge of the rim in the top lip.

I don't think guessing by hearing a few slurs is indicative of anything except luck. What mcgovnor says is true: it's in the day to day playing demands where the problems will show up. If you can play everything all day with the edge of the rim in your top lip, you're one of the exceptions. Straight ahead and striving for TONE . . .
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First off let me say that when I came to the TH, I was having massive playing issues. At the time, I thought this was due to my placement, which then was WAY in the red of my top lip. Mike McG. sent me some very encouraging private messages and a lot of advice. I was grateful for his help and it really felt like he wanted to help me. Anyone who reads his posts can glean that he really knows how to play the instrument and has a ton of advice on how to play the horn at a world class level. I for one appreciate you being here and posting at the regularity that you do Mike.

With that being said, today, I still play with the mouthpiece rim in my top lip. However, it's no where near as low as it was all those years ago. I'd say its about a couple millimeters from being in the white (I've got a fat upper lip naturally) Through taking lessons with Rich Willey, Dave Sheetz, and Chris LaBarbera from the Reinhardt forum, I realized that my playing woes were caused by all my bad habits and not necessarily from my placement. In fact, all my bad habits were forcing the mouthpiece lower; so low that in what little bit of upper register I had at the time, the mouthpiece would literally slide off my top lip. Before I had those problems, I was playing lead trumpet on ships. When I was off contract, I was working in the region I was living in at the time, full time. It was literally over the course of a weekend that my playing went from good to non-existent.

When my bad habits finally got the better of me, I began to search out teachers. That's also when I started posting here trying to get answers. I must have seen 50 teachers in 6 months (yes, atleast 50, and some majors one at that). Most of them told me that it was my placement that was the problem. I always was skeptical though because before all those problems crept up, I was playing fine. I didn't have any problem making it to the end of my playing obligations, and I could practice for as long as I wanted too (in hindsight, I wish I would have done more!)

5 years later, I'm playing the instrument at a level that I couldn't even have imagined when I was hurt. What's better is that I can practice for as long as I want. I'm seriously making up for lost time with those years I couldn't play! I never consciously moved my placement up. As I worked on correcting my mechanics, the placement came up naturally.

Wow, this got really long...sorry about that. All I'm saying is this; Playing in the red can work. Maybe I'm in the "exceptions" category, I don't know, but I've seen other great players with the mouthpiece rim in the red and it works for them too. I've seen more people having difficulties while playing with the rim above the red. Maybe it's because that placement is the majority, again, I'm not sure. What I am sure of, at least for my own playing, is that if my playing mechanics are correct, my embouchure works.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got 3 of 6. I would have guessed that these are high school players, seeing as how the playing examples were kind of rough-sounding.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a lot of good reading there, Sailor!
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