WindWorks Trumpet Academy Forums WindWorks Equation for soft tones Reply To: Equation for soft tones

Greg Spence

Hi Adrien, thanks for your post.

Q.”If we play with passive air flow, we do not control the volume. C is f and then as we change pitch with lip corners G is p. Right?”

A.It will be softer due to change in volume/amount of flow per second because of the change of SHAPE (in this case aperture size).

Q. “So if we want to play a G soft we have to do something. (Not with the lips because they control the pitch and not the volume…

A. I have to stop you there. The opening between the lips, the aperture, controls the volume. The flow of air per second will determine the amount of displacement of the air in the instrument therefor affecting the volume of sound.

Q continued… “…Less open lips for a note played p than the same note played f. Same frequency but not the same amplitude)
A. Correct.

Q. “We have to control air flow to let less air go thru the lips. Am I right?”
A. Not exactly. How would you “control air” without the lips being involved? Less flow – softer sound and more flow – louder sound and the lips are involved all the way through.

Think about how the voice works, a whisper versus a yell. The most efficient way to get a loud, resonant sound is to find the optimum amount of flow combined with the optimum amount of tension at the vocal cords OR reed OR lips.

Q. We can play with a small aperture a soft G and play a hi note with a small aperture too, right?
What difference make the hi note if it is not the aperture?
Speed of air?

A. Fantastic question. Firstly, there are degree of small! Secondly, blowing faster air and changing the speed of air between the lips are two different things. Here we have frequency and velocity at play. It is easy to confuse the two in simplistic terms so what the question infers in a way is correct which may seem confusing but there are varying degrees of flow and velocity at play. The size of the aperture determines the flow through the aperture. Using a passive breath, the velocity is preset and will change as the aperture changes size. The notes get incrementally softer as you ascend using the passive breath.

In regards to the SPEED OF AIR, this can get murky. For our purposes and in the spirit of efficiency I want to break down what can be perceived. “Blowing Faster” using the body changes the speed of air through the lips as long as the aperture size doesn’t change. (notice that to do this and keep the aperture at exactly the same size, the facial muscles must engage). THIS CHANGES THE VELOCITY.

Changing the size of the aperture without “blowing faster from the body” changes the amount of flow but not the speed (or only a minimal amount which diminishes further as the air runs out).

You could argue that to change volume from loud to soft on a middle G, the amount of air flowing increases so if you went from using 1 litre of air in one second or 3 litres of air in one second you would clearly have to move the air faster.

Moving the air faster means either a larger aperture which will not effect frequency/pitch OR a smaller aperture which requires work from the facial muscles and breathing support muscles that will effect frequency.

You could argue that it is because you are moving the air faster through the lips that that is the reason for the pitch change BUT you were moving the air faster through the lips when you changed volume on the same note by allowing the aperture to get larger which leads us to the conclusion that it is the engagement of the facial muscles that effected the frequency, not the flow itself because if you changed the SHAPE/Facial muscles without changing flow, the higher pitch will be…..softer.

This all sounds WAY TOO CONFUSING! So if we can simply break it down without thinking too deeply about it and say “the lips change pitch and flow changes volume” which is demonstrated using either the Singing C Series or numerous other exercises throughout the course, we can eliminate overblowing because we are now confident that pitch in fact isn’t achieved by blowing faster from the body, rather a change of SHAPE… the face bit!


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