Sunday, November 3, 2013

Epistrophy Suite 1: Monk's Left

From my Facebook page:


  1. Bill out of curiosity, do you use the same technique with breathing as you do in singing or acting with projection? i.e lungs are kept inflated most of the time with air (reserve supply deployed when needed) and you take snatch breathes use the diaphragm for the most part.

    One other question. Do you use you're body (or different parts of it to resonate, amplify, or change quality of sound) or are you controlling how it resonates through the space you are in entirely through whats projected out of the instrument?

  2. I breathe from the diaphragm. I was taught that by the late Harold Rehrig. He'd spent his career with the Philadelphia orchestra and then retired to Baltimore where he taught at the Peabody conservatory. I studied with him there for a semester.

    In my first lesson he had me place my hands on his abdomen and in the small of his back while he breathed. Then he placed a large belt loosely around me waste and had me expand the belt while breathing in.

    On the second point, yes. Mostly, I believe, the throat. Sometimes when I've played for a long stretch my throat is sore afterward. I simply don't do enough playing these days to keep in top shape.

  3. Thanks

    Diaphragm would suggest the calculations you make are similar to speaking verse I would speculate.

    On amplifying sound not sure how the throat would work. For speaking you would want to keep it as open as possible as its resonance through bone structure of skull you aim for.

    Probable/ maybe a false memory on my part, I played the trumpet until I was 12, have a memory of the bones in my nose tingling. That and the top of the skull are significant for projection. Not done this in years but was chewing through exactly what the range of calculations are involved when you are first playing with how sound moves through the space you are working in. First empty when you work out where it hits walls etc how you can use that, then when its filled with a mass of bodies.

    Its also used to modify pitch, think of you're head and the way sound resonates out of the bone structure will give a higher pitch, switch to resonating through the rib cage get a lower tone.

    You don't really think about these things but the range of calculations involved in carrying out these acts seems almost insane. In real life I have no awareness of what the time, date, month our year is, I put my keys down forget where they are. Have the short term memory of gnat and mathematical and arithmetical skills that are educational subnormal.

    Think about it 'rationally' I would come to the conclusion no way I could do these things with dyslexia.

  4. But I think it is in the mix of these calculations and careful control over the rhythm and pace which is in the page that makes words take on the form and sense they need to make a performance whole.

    Its not a heavy emotive electric thought firing and resonating out of mind, the rhythm patterns are often enough to convey emotive sense on their own, you can detach from the emotion, stand back and control and evaluate more fully the way the sound flows out of you through a space and hits a mass of flesh and bone at the correct trajectory to keep everyone in the zone.

  5. W/ trumpet you're pretty much counting on the horn to amplify the sound. There's other stuff concerning how "big" the sound is, which is a matter, not of volume so much as "purity." How much of the air flowing between the lips and into the horn is resonating and how much is just white-noise dead air. This is VERY important and takes a long to get a handle on.

  6. Basically, when it comes to breath control and trumpet we're in an area that's very important, and very tricky. Hard to tell what kind of talk is mostly superstition and what's real. The language isn't precise. The language lags behind the physical technique and facts.

  7. "how "big" the sound is, which is a matter, not of volume so much as "purity."


    "How much of the air flowing between the lips and into the horn is resonating and how much is just white-noise dead air."

    For me its sound resonating top of nasal passages front of skull; it's what I have full control over and get loads of feedback from. Where what you term "purity" and how "big" the sound is would stem from.

    Fascinating thanks

  8. Feedback as in data that allows for very fine tuning forgot it carries a different meaning in music

  9. "For me its sound resonating top of nasal passages front of skull…"