Intersting Article on 'Lip Trills'

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by TheMusicMan, Jul 15, 2005.

  1. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    I had this link sent to me today from a friend in the USA. I am not sure how up-to-date the material in it actually is, but it might be useful as a technical reference for anyone needing to learn how to do lip trills.

    From the Jimmy Maxwell book "The First Trumpeter":

    Many aspiring trumpet players have over the years been stuck when it comes to performing a correct "lip trill" or "shake". They hear guys like Maynard Ferguson play with wide and fast lip trills and wonder "how in the world can I do that????"

    The "shake", the lip trill, you name it, it has many names as it has interpretations, but the production is basically the same. It can be put in the catagory of jazz ornaments and like all jazz ornaments it should not be used too often or it becomes trite and gives the band a ragged, unorganized sound. Used sparingly it sometimes contributes to the excitement of a swinging arrangement but I believe it to be much more effective in a live performance than it is on records or broadcasts. When it is being played on records or broadcasts, it has to be done carefully and in a well rehearsed manner or it will just give the band a rough sound, but in this careful presentation, it is apt to lose much of the impact that spontaneity would lend to it. So, it is a dilemma. The solution, of course, is to do it in an organized manner as seldom as possible. In "live performances" the interaction of the band with the audience often leads to displays of peaking emotions and on this happy occasion the shake can be very effective.

    It is my theory that the shake, like most ornaments of jazz, was originally un-planned, perhaps a mistake, but had some quality of excitement about it that led to imitation. the first shake that I ever heard was done by Louis Armstrong who had a strong emotional vibrato. He was playing the final chorus of "When You're Smiling", a simple thrilling rendition of the melody in the upper register. Because of the closeness of the harmonic series above the staff, a tone apart, and because of the intensity of his vibrato, he went into a brief shake on some of the notes and in my opinion, thatis where the shake was born.There may have been earlier examples that I don't know of; it doesn't matter, that is where I learned it and it wasn't until then that I heard anyone else do it. I heard a great many after that and played a great many myself. Louis often lapsed into shakes particulary in his later career but I believe that he rarely did them deliberately, and of course, that is the best way to do them.

    Deliberate or accidental, the shake has benn with us for over fifty years as a standard fixture in the catalogue of devices, and has caused aspiring shakers frustration and anxiety to say nothing of bruised lips in their search for expression. So here are some words of advice from someone who learned the shake from the master, before he knew it could be done without hurting.

    FIRST: Learn lip trills in the lower register and learn to do them with lip, jaw, or tongue motion avoiding the use of changing pressures as much as possible. Do not go to the extremes of fighting the use of pressure as this could delay all progress; just concentrate on the use of tongue, lip, and jaw.

    SECOND: Learn to trill in all of the harmonic series starting with F#, bottom space. Learn all seven positions starting with 1-2-3 and work upwards.

    THIRD: Use the metronome! Start at a comfortable speed and increase the speed on notch at a time to your limit. Do this on all fingerings in all the series possible for you.

    FOURTH: "Lip" as sharp as you can when practicing these exercises, this is very important. These exercises should be worked up to four notes per tick at 120. If you find that you are too tired to continue above the staff, try starting on a higher harmonic, after you have gotten to a fairly good speed on the lower notes. Quarter Note=80

    FIFTH: When you can trill up to high C (from high Bb to C) start a trill on the top line F# (1-2-3) lipping up and keeping your lip in a fixed position. Push the trumpet toward your mouth and relax, push and relax, go as fast as you can and as slow as you can. Try to have control at all speeds.

    Remember, lip up between the notes to be played, hold the lip fixed, trill using the up and down movement of the jaw or the flapping of the tongue as in whistling, then go to the hand shake. The wider interval, the "Basie" trill, is done by a lip action and is different, easier, then the fast trill of a tone or a major minor third.

    Lip the pitch high (a bit sharp) and keep your lips there. Don't lip so high that your tones is distorted. Say the syllables "ta-ee-ya-ee". These syllables are not much help in the lower registers but you will form the habit of using them. They will be very helpful in the high registers. The tongue motion should cause a slight up and down movement of the jaw deliberately so if you don't get immediate results, discontinue the deliberate jaw motion. Don't resist it if it is natural. It should go without saying, but unfortunately often needs to be said, use plenty of air support. That means to literally "push" the air through the horn don't just let it dribble out.