Harmonic series and triggers

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by GER, Mar 1, 2019.

  1. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,233
    Location:
    A pub, Surrey, UK
    See, this is one bit I don't quite understand. On trumpets/cornets, at least (and I don't see why any non-compensating instrument should be different) you can't tune a 3rd vale to be in tune on 'A' - it's already too flat when full in, and the reason for this is deliberate, so that Ab on 2/3 is in tune without any adjustment. One of my biggest bugbears is working with cornet players in brass bands who automatically throw out the 3rd valve trigger whenever they use the 3rd valve, rendering Ab/Eb horribly flat.
    [The only common exception to this is when playing some makes of 'C' trumpet (Bachs in particular), where the 4th space Eb on 2nd is unmanageably flat, and so it is standard practice to use 2/3, which is usually a bit sharp, and so requires a very small amount of 3rd valve trigger.]
     
  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,573
    Location:
    Oxford
    Well, you could saw a bit off if it didn't go in that far? This is the sort of reason why I gave 1b above, not 1a.
     
  3. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,233
    Location:
    A pub, Surrey, UK
    You may jest; I have in the past given serious consideration to having the 3rd valve slide shortened slightly on both my Schilke sop cornet and my Schilke C3L 'C' trumpet, precisely because they are naturally flat on 2/3 Ab's …
    Only fear of the unknown stopped me, in the end!
     
  4. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,573
    Location:
    Oxford
    I felt bad enough hacksawing off the ends of some overlong metal Venetian blinds the other day; tearing of metal is an ugly noise!
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
  5. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,397
    Location:
    Chigley
    Wow Dave, what a wonderful resource!

    It’s not central to this thread but your system 5 would be of interest to (4 valve) Tuba players.

    GJG’s comments about the third valve slide on some Cornets being too long was initially a surprise to me ........ but I suppose that for some customers it’s the best option (pre-adjusted so that Ab is likely to be in-tune).
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
  6. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,573
    Location:
    Oxford
    Here you go: System number 5 System name 4-valve compensating

    Fingering chart:

    upload_2019-3-2_21-26-49.png

    List of alternative fingering tunings:

    upload_2019-3-3_12-46-56.png

    Edit: reposted second picture as I've made it a little prettier. Those tunings within 10 cents of true now highlighted with white background.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
    2nd tenor likes this.
  7. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,397
    Location:
    Chigley
    Wonderful stuff Dave ....... now to remember it all and then apply it - challenging.

    It’s virtually self evident but for clarity I just wonder whether your Tuba table is based on system 1b as in #19 for perfect Ab tuning on an instrument with triggers? That would seem logical as the 1+3 combination is (ideally) replaced by use of 4.

    On my trigger less 3 valve non comp Tuba I favour the 1d compromise/system (perfect G tuning on 1+3), but for the 4 valve compensating one 1b/5b looks like the way to go.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  8. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,573
    Location:
    Oxford
    Yes, that's right - 2+3 is assumed in tune, as is 2+3+4. I could enumerate all the combos with 4V comp, but I haven't yet bothered to do it, partly because the many minor combos would make the list unwieldy. Comparing tables for the 3rd valve options in the 3V layouts gives you most of the useful info anyhow.
     
    2nd tenor likes this.
  9. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,573
    Location:
    Oxford
    I've just prettified the alternative fingerings list for 4V comp above and reposted it - adding the favoured fingering and its tuning in two rows above, and adding a white highlight for any fingering combos that are within 10 cents of ideal.

    There are surprising things lurking there if this is new to someone - for example, 4th space E ("top E" in the chart). It's available with various fingerings, most of which are too stuffy and 'French Horn sounding' due to higher partial and number of tube bends to be of much use with brass band instruments - but it's instructive to see that neither the favoured Open or the common alternative of 1+2 are in tune enough to attract a white highlight. In fact, the only fingering available for that note that falls within that tuning margin is the pretty much unregarded 1+2+3 - try it, it's actually not bad - but it's different enough in timbre and response from notes alongside that are fingered normally not to be very useful in a playing context.

    I should say - physics that this spreadsheet knows about:
    - The harmonic series i.e. higher resonances are at integer frequency multiples of the fundamental resonance
    - c = f * lambda i.e. wave speed = frequency * wavelength
    That's it - nothing more fancy. It can cope with any single-sided system up to 6 valves where valves compensate other valves in any order - so more than one valve can be compensating valves, but any one valve can't be compensated by more than one other valve - but then I don't think anyone's ever built such a second-order compensating system. The valve loops would be too small to be practical, I think. It can cope with double-sided systems such as French Horns by emulating them with a compensating set-up that functions identically tuningwise, but it can't cope with the triple-sided systems found on some (very heavy) horns - to do that I'd have to rebuild the sheet from scratch in a different way, and I don't think that a spreadsheet is the correct tool to make that more general calculation with - it's barely the correct tool to do this - it's complicated and slow, though you get to see all the moving parts, which is instructive.

    Edit: And while I'm being a number plonker, I spot that this post takes me to 3^8 TMP posts... Sorry!
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
    2nd tenor likes this.
  10. CousinJack

    CousinJack New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Greenwich/Mullion
    Sorry if this has been mentioned before, I've just be skimming through this thread:

    Part of the warmth of the brass band sound comes from the fact that they are never really 'in tune' in terms of equal temperament. The flat major third and sharp minor third intervals between, for example, C E and G in the stave are mathematically perfect intervals. We often lie in that awkward middle zone between just, mathematical, intonation and equal temperament because of how brass instruments use the harmonic series. It's a pain to work around, especially as the movement becomes more open to more contemporary music with more complicated harmony, but it's worth being aware of as we play at rehearsals
     
    MoominDave likes this.
  11. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,573
    Location:
    Oxford
    Not with relation to harmonics, but this is like an orchestral string section in some ways - the cloud of minor tuning imprecisions between the group of instruments on different harmonics is its own sonic effect, one quite pleasing if not jarringly problematic. Both settings employ a smearing ensemble vibrato to similar effect to aid this.

    For my money, brass bands in the UK are less open to such stuff than they were several decades ago. Since the millennium we've become very musically conservative, and more complicated harmony does not seem at all in banding fashion right now. Compare Seascapes with what gets written and favoured now - the writing of RSA (a man born in the 1920s) is miles more harmonically complex.

    But then, beyond a certain point of harmonic complexity, fine details of tuning cease to matter very much. In too much 20th century writing, one gets the feeling that it really doesn't matter what notes one is playing - that one could play a chord full of wrong notes to the composer and receive nodding approval. The details of tuning perfection really matter most to strictly tonal writing.

    Getting a little astray now...
     
  12. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,397
    Location:
    Chigley
    I suppose that this is a little off topic but perhaps it might be of interest in some way and even application if the (slightly sharp/flat) notes can be made to line up correctly - makes a feature from a fault.
    Edit. Perhaps, alternatively, a trigger / tuning slide can somehow be used to similar effect.

    The Trombone section of River City Brass (USA) produced a video about chords and how to make them ring. IIRC the fifth is sharpened slightly and the third is flattened slightly. Though typically American (see past the cultural differences) they sound great:



    Edit. As an aside I’m inclined to think it a great shame that ‘Bandsmen’, in my general experience, have no idea that they are often playing part of a chord. Perhaps it is (only) within the Conductor’s role but sometimes it would be handy for players to know how their part fitted in (as part of a chord) with the other parts around them.

    We often talk here about the importance of intonation but perhaps we sometimes fail to see a bigger picture in terms of the collective sound produced by instruments playing different parts of the same chord.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2019
  13. Ron Lander

    Ron Lander Member

    Messages:
    36
    Excellent thread! Looking forwards to having a proper read through later on today.
     
    J. Jericho and IoiBP like this.
  14. Mello

    Mello Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Location:
    UK
    A heck of a lot of info on here.....fantastic stuff obviously. BUT a word of caution , to those who dont understand it all ,( like me ) Or feel they are failing as a player as a result. DONT WORRY ABOUT IT , just enjoy your playing and dont get bogged down with scientific statistics. If your sound is good and generally in tune to the Band and its MD , or your tutor. Forget it.... maybe the purists wont like me saying that , but honestly , dont let it bother you.
    The number of fantastic players I know who havent a clue about partials etc is phenomenal.
    I am NOT in anyway criticising their accuracy / usefulness or interest to the technophobes , I simply point out to average players , not to allow their ignorance of these matters interfere with their enjoyment of playing.......just keep practicing ...etc..

    Now,being devils advocate , most instruments in the band play in a section . If one player only in that section were to have absolute perfect pitch and intonation , it would odds on be a nightmare for the rest of the section to blend consistently with Mr Perfect pitch.

    As a matter of interest... I used to play in a decent Brass Group alongside some top conductors ......and in the 17 yrs I was with them .the Guy with the 'perfect ear ' in regard to tuning ,was the guy whom the top conductors used to ask when in doubt about a certain 'rub ' in a chord or passage . ...was our drummer !! .....Yes , our percussionist - sitting at the back , not missing a thing , seldom voicing an opinion unless asked, ...due to his modesty and respect for the MD at the time. ( answers such as the 2nd Trombone is slightly sharp on his Ab , or the F on 3rd Trumpet should be a D )
    He possessed an amazing ear for our balance and tuning, and could always be relied on for an instant solution , by pinpointing the cause of the problem.
    Just thought I would throw that in as an interesting fact ....cos neither the players or MD could spot it instantly like he could.
     
  15. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,573
    Location:
    Oxford
    Absolutely right, Mello. While knowledge is a wonderful end in itself, 'paralysis by analysis' is a danger if one loses sight of why one's enquiring in the first place. "Just blow th' bloody thing, lad!"
     
    IoiBP, Slider1 and 2nd tenor like this.
  16. Mello

    Mello Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Location:
    UK
     
  17. Mello

    Mello Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Location:
    UK
    Well said .Actually one of my sayings is "Blow the Bloody thing. It's a wind machine & if you don't blow...it don't go "
     
  18. Ron Lander

    Ron Lander Member

    Messages:
    36
    Its the tension side of this that I find most interesting. I can play the whole range on a Bb cornet (and on a good day up to F above the stave) pretty much in tune. However on sop I start going sharp from the middle of the stave B! This is definately tesion, probably of the nervous or psycological kind. I got a very good book that extensively covers the subject and I need to study it again.

    The problem is not helped by me having the whole gamut of flu/cold bugs through january and february as I went full time on sop in jan.
     
  19. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,233
    Location:
    A pub, Surrey, UK
    Possibly you shouldn't jump to conclusions. Obviously I can only guess, having no knowledge of your personal circumstance, but Renold Schilke was a great believer in being able to solve intonation problems by ensuring that the mouthpiece acts as the most effective interface between the player and the instrument. It may be that the sharpness you're experiencing could be due to a mouthpiece that's shallower (or deeper) than it needs to be? As I say. I'm only guessing, but you probably shouldn't rule it out, and it may be worth experimenting.
     
    Slider1 likes this.
  20. David Broad

    David Broad Member

    Messages:
    72
    Location:
    Chedworth Gloucestershire
    I find this thread very interesting. I don't play much these days as I had terrible troubles when I broke two front teeth off a few years ago and have been conducting for the past 20 years or so.

    I have a bit of trouble with the notion that an instrument plays flat ( or sharp) on certain notes of the harmonic scale depending on the fingering. In my world it plays hard and affects the tone quality as the player lips the note into tune. The out of tune notes are the low ones where players don't trigger 3rd valve.

    I didn't realise it but when I do play I use System number 1d 3rd valve tuned to G on 1+3 (albeit with 1st valve fully sharp) with a plastic pipe clip holding the slide out as I play 1 handed while waving my left hand aimlessly in case anyone wants to follow my beat. I find its much easier to lip the Abs sharp a tad than flatten the D's and C# anywhere near in tune.

    I used to love playing Sop so was surprised to read

    I used to find I was forever fiddling with the tuning on the Sop. I found that my sop rose and fell in pitch more with temperature changes that the Bbs and it was always a challenge to get absolutely in tune on the high notes an octave above the Bbs. Ideally when tuning its the G an octave above the Bbs C which should be the tuning note. Its easy enough to lip a sop into tune on the low notes, or hide among the Bbs or even take a rest, check your emails etc, in the boring bits and just come alive when the MD wants a bit of real power on the high stuff.

    Thinking about it, illogically perhaps, I think we need the 1st valve trigger sprung the other way, with a stop to give a good F natural, or Bb when tuned to C on open valves, and a good D when "triggered" to sharpen 1st valve, otherwise you end up with 1st triggered all the time which is tedious.
    Going further, a pair of springs so 3rd slide is held in around the 1d position for a good D and can be sharpened by pulling and flattened by pushing sounds like a good move, obviously many trumpets have this but with no spring assistance and in my experience too much resistance to movement to be much use. My old B/H Imprial/ Besson cornet had a ring for the 3rd valve trigged which made sharpening the slide more precise than the flat triggers.

    That said one of the finest musicians ever played with tuned his instrument deliberately sharp and lipped every note into tune. He had perfect pitch and sadly there is no substitute for that attribute.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice