Trumpet Topics


Several years ago, while I was preparing for a very difficult solo recital a very unexpected double-buzz appeared in my tone. I had been practicing about 3 hours and my embouchure was beginning to tire; I was playing Baroque trumpet at the time (which uses an extremely large mouthpiece). I didn't recall ever having this problem in my tone production, so I was quite surprised and frankly, was a bit concerned, since the recital date was rapidly approaching.

I did quite a bit of experimentation to see if I could not only figure out what was causing this double-buzz, but also to see whether I could deliberately get a double-buzz to occur. After considerable practice I was able to produce a double-buzz at will. My conclusion is that a double-buzz occurs when the upper and lower lip are not vibrating at the same frequency - generally, the lower lip is buzzing an octave below the fundamental pitch at which the upper lip is vibrating.

This is an interesting concept, isn't it? Working diligently to produce a poor tone quality! However, I believe this concept has merits. If you are able develop a control over the factors which cause problems in tone quality, you should be able to eliminate the problems whenever that problem pops up again. Because I now know how to produce and control a double-buzz, I can get it to stop if it appears in my tone again.

I believe that it would be a good idea for all trumpet teachers to experiment on their own to develop a controlled double-buzz. If you can master this control you will be able to relate to the causes of a double-buzz and will be able to help your students who encounter this problem.

How does one deliberately produce a double-buzz? Because the lower lip will be vibrating slower than the upper lip, it needs to be more relaxed. This is a bit tricky, since we obviously tend to tighten both lips equally. However, with practice you will find that while sustaining a long tone you can gradually relax the lower lip until the lower octave appears.

One hint for stopping a double-buzz: since the lower lip is vibrating at a lower pitch, and is more relaxed than the upper lip you will need to firm-up the lower lip to eliminate a problematic double-buzz. I have had success in suggesting to my students that they try to "pucker the lower lip". If you pucker your lips (both lips) you will probably form a faulty embouchure in which the buzz is on the inside part of the lips. However, you if you try to pucker just your bottom lip, you'll see that you can't really pucker just one of your lips, but if you try to pucker just the lower lip you should get just enough firmness that it will hopefully stop your double-buzz.

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