Joined: 25 Jul 2016
|Posted: Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:38 am Post subject: "If at first you don't succeed?..."
|If anyone has ever made a wrong prediction then you'll know how I feel. More on that in a bit.
I've worked on three embouchures during my adult life. The first being a very common receded jaw chop setting. Some nearly 50 years ago it dawned on me that I wasn't ever going to play Double Cs on this setting. To make a long story at least a little bit less long, I've experimented on two more embouchure settings. Starting in a decade or two past. The first experiment being a dry lip, rolled in setting which required a mouthpiece with a very large inner rim dimension. If only to get a decent sized sound out of it. After giving up on alto horn customization I started carving my own trumpet mouthpieces. These with over-sized inner rim dimensions. Sorta like wider even than an alto horn mouthpiece. Strange as it may seem I developed a fair amount of fluency in the extreme upper register this way. Like being able to "sit" upon a Double C almost until my breath ran out. Somewhere there's a video I made about 12 or so years ago. One in which I held a "27 second DHC". That and a 7 sec Triple C. What's unusual about the THC (not cannabis!) is that the pitch sustained itself well. Another oddity was that on all the time that I used to fool around on this embouchure system I never, not once ever played any note above Triple C!! Such an unusual note to cut-off at. I'm telling you that try as I might that Triple C wouldn't even squeak up a half step to the "Trippa C" sharp!
What was a problem on Experimental Embouchure however was my articulation. As described by Reinhardt "dry lip squeak artists" tend to have problems as their mouth corners moisten. He said that their chops can fall apart when no longer dry. So largely due to this issue I put my first experimental, forward jaw embouchure on the back burner. After awhile it was almost like I forgot about it. This was because a couple of years ago I became fully engrossed in my second experimental forward jaw setting. The one which I've posted on over the past year or so.
Now my second embouchure was/is a very Rolled-Out forward jaw setting. It doesn't require dry lips and plays on my regular mouthpieces. It also articulates decently. I was improving steadily on this 2nd experiment system and even played a couple concerts last Spring that required blowing some high notes. Naturally optimistic, I reasoned that the sky was the limit and even made a public prediction right here on the TH forum.
Never in my life have I
made such an inaccurate forecast. OMG! Hey, it kinda hurts. Both that I had to go through it. Next to admit that I was so wrong. Lol. Starting about last August the more that I practiced on this System II? The more my performance deteriorated. .Not one inclined to quit so easily? I even redoubled my efforts a number of times since last Summer. However whenever I fail it always helps me to recall the immortal words of Mr W.C. Fields. He who said,
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. If that doesn't work? Give up. No one likes to see a damned fool".
Aw yes my little chickadee. So after both gaining and losing over two and a half octaves of range? I quit my second system. Oh for God's sake my only dependable note was a Low C and lower LAUGH OUT LOUD! And I had such high hopes for it. What to do?...
It finally dawned on me a couple weeks ago to go back to "Experimental System 1" again. Heck at least I did have great register on that chop setting. Plus it does have a cool tone. Kinda like that "lazy, featherlight, effortless tone. Sorta like Satchmo although I gotta learn his lip trill/shakes. No one could trill like Pops. Maybe with what I've learned since before I can iron out some of those articulation issues. I searched for a few hours and finally found that epoxy/plastic cupped mouthpiece I made back in the early 2000's. At first glance I thought,
"Whoa Lionel. You played Triple C's on this piece of (expletive deleted)???".
A couple hours after some lathe work and experimentation with cup depths/rim contour etc I had carved a workable mouthpiece. Putting up to my chops on "Experimental System I" naturally most of my extreme range was gone. And yet even on the first day I still squeaked up to high F. That and even played the High C below solidly. Patiently I practiced carefully. Not trying to overdo it the past coupla weeks. Then just yesterday?
Felt much better on it. A good deal of what you might call "practice room range" has returned. So I can now understand how I once played fairly easy Double C's this way. As on one glissando in the upper register yesterday the tone carried lightly on up to E or Eflat over DHC. So it's all coming back. Wished that I never discontinued working on it. I reason that by making the inner rim dimension a bit closer to a regular trumpet mouthpiece dimension it oughta help clear up some of those attack difficulties.
Thanks to the internet god for not crashing this post. And to those who dared read this far. Gracias to all!
"It is surprising how skilled you can become on a very limited (trumpet) embouchure and how many years you can play on that and then how difficult it is to correct that once you find that it is tremendously limited". Bill Moriarty, 2005