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Topic: A mute question - for trumpet & tbone players

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  1. #1

    A mute question - for trumpet & tbone players

    I know that the primary function of a mute, as its name implies, is to reduce the volume of the sound for a brass instrument. But I find myself wanting to use them more for color effects than anything else. And I am wondering how much that would effect the volume in the real world.

    For example, in JABB, I can set cc1 to a value of 127 to get the maximum effect of a harmon mute and set cc7 to 50. I vaguely remember reading that harmon mutes have a stem that can be moved in and out to affect the quality of the sound. I suppose that means that it's possible to get the tone color of a trumpet or tombone played loudly with a mute, but without having to score them as ff or fff.

    I guess what I am looking for is a workable rule of thumb to use in JABB: which cc7 ranges are comparable to which cc1 ranges. In other words, if I set cc1 to 127 because that is the character of the brass I want for a harmon or cup mute, what are acceptible ranges for cc7 (127 to 50? ... 127 to 100? ... or what?) I know that in JABB, I can set them to any value I want, but I don't want to write anything that is going to sound substantially different when played live on real brass instrument. Mostly what I am looking for here is the lowest volume (cc7) value that can be played when the expression (cc1) value is at the max (127).

    I hope I have described this in a way that makes sense.

  2. #2

    Re: A mute question - for trumpet & tbone players

    Hey ejr,

    Mutes are used more for color. Only in much rarer occasions will a player be asked to use a mute because he is too loud. They just tend to be softer the way they affect the sound. When marking dynamics, the dynamics are marked for the desired volume output without regard to the damping effect of the mute.

    Harmons- stems are out 99% of the time. I can count on one hand the number of charts I've played where they call for half stem. Full stem in is even rarer and used to fake a solotone mute (think old radio sound), or it is used in combination with a hand motion to get the wah-wah sound.

    Offhand I don't know the JABB specifics, but hopefully this helps you understand mutes a little better.

    Cheers,
    Reegs

  3. #3

    Re: A mute question - for trumpet & tbone players

    Reegs is right, brass mutes do not function like string mutes. Brass mutes are for color and the player compensates for projection and volume. I am a trumpet player and as soon as I get a new harmon mute (well, I've had a total of TWO - but that's another story) I throw the stem away. I've never had a chart in front of me that used the stem (and I've been playing for over 30 years). I suppose it's used in cartoon work alot - if there are still live scores for cartoons! Reegs is also right on about the Solotone mute. This advice goes for 'bones as well. Tuba mutes and horn mutes are a slightly different story, but not much. They are still coloration devices. I know I didn't contribute much more than Reegs has already stated but hope this helped a bit.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  4. #4

    Re: A mute question - for trumpet & tbone players

    Actually, yes, both posts help a lot. I was just hoping that a horn player who uses JABB would give me a little guidence on the range of values (cc1 relative to cc7) should be using. Or should I even worry about this at all?

  5. #5

    Re: A mute question - for trumpet & tbone players

    If you are trying to mimic live sound it may have an effect but of course if the sound was recorded theres a good chance that the rec engineer would tweak the volume to get an effect or to blend in with other instruments and thus the sound level becomes unimportant
    Derek
    Things may come and things may go but the art school dance goes on forever
    NOW WITH Cubase 5, JABB,GPO, Fender Strat, Ibanez RG, Yamaha Fretless Bass, Framus Archtop, The Trumpet and Mr T Sax, together with GREEN SEALING WAX


  6. #6

    Re: A mute question - for trumpet & tbone players

    Yes, live is what I am talking about. I'm trying to teach myself how to orchestrate for live musicians.

  7. #7

    Re: A mute question - for trumpet & tbone players

    Depending on your community the local high school may have a jazz band, or there may be a community band in the area or even a community jazz band. I would ask permission to sit in on some rehearsals and watch and listen to what goes on mute-wise. Things can become very clear very quickly this way - much faster than through words, and you may pick up on subtleties that cannot be conveyed through words. You may also hear some instrument combinations, and identify some ensemble conventions, that you had not previously imagined. This is how I began orchestration as a student - when there were no formal orchestration classes. I learned a helluva lot this way. Best of luck.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

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