Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

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sidenius
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Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by sidenius »

I consider myself to be a natural player. That is: I have no issues with embouchure, breath support, tensions and so on.
I play fairly high pitched on any tuba and - as far as I know - other players have the same "problem".

Is there some sort of a physiological explanation on this thing?
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by GC »

Do you tend to play high on the slots or toward the middle? I have a friend who can drive any horn sharp because he prefers to play against the very top of the slots. He plays great and has a wonderful tone, by the way.
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by sidenius »

I'm just generally high tuned.
I manage very well by having the main slide and all other slides permanently pulled out.
Just wondering why that is.
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by Rotaryclub »

I am just the opposite.

I mainly play the F tuba (PT 15 and PT 16). Mostly in quintet but it doesn't matter the ensemble.

I use a PT 36 mpc, and try to get a big sound as I can.

I am %100 pushed in and am never ever high, always struggling to keep pitch up with other brass players. Been that way for 20 years.

That's just my professional experience and adding to the conversation.
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by Snake Charmer »

It is a very personal thing. I have two students (taught by me from the very beginning), which differed a half tone on the same instrument with identical mouthpieces. The one with the higher pitch now plays happily on a 30s Saxhorn in an A 443 band, the one with the lower pitch could not bring it up to A 435...
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by humBell »

This is an excellent question. Wish i had a useful answer.

I wander in my playing especially when i switch back and forth between instruments, as some sound like hugging the top of the slots is better in tune, and others feel differently.

Definitely some problem notes that instruments have are more within slot if you push one way or another...
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by tclements »

It is my experience when this happens, the player is focused too much on chops, and not enough on the target pitch and air flow. I could write a book ....
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by BAtlas »

"I have no issues with embouchure, breath support, tensions and so on."

If it is being isolated as specifically an issue on the player side - it's almost guaranteed to be one of these things. The Embochure and the breath support are always in a delicate balance - if you add air so the embouchure isn't working as hard the pitch should descend. In other words - better breath support would bring the pitch down.
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by Art Hovey »

The size and shape of your oral cavity and lips have a lot to do with your tuning. I can play some midrange notes with my jaw extended or pulled back and get significantly different pitches. In Harvey Phillips' autobiography he mentions using that trick to correct certain intonation quirks of his little CC tuba.
Different people have different sizes and shapes.
As Humbell mentions above, some folks habitually "hug the top of the slots" while others aiming at the middle, and that also makes a difference.
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by joh_tuba »

People that are 'generally high pitched' should be banned from designing instruments.

If a horn is flat with slides pushed all the way in it is of no use to me.
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by Matt Walters »

26 plus years both repair and sales, I offer this observation.
1) Most players that play high in pitch are lipping up to find a very tight "slot or pitch center" of the notes. That slot feels deeper and therefore more secure (Perceived as correct?). That person will need to pull out the main tuning slide more. Also, by lipping up (tighter embouchure), right behind the bell it will sound like a smoother cleaner sound. The problem is, that smooth clearer sound behind the bell sounds small and lethargic out at conductor and audience distances.
2) There is a second pitch center (slot) that is more subtle and sits lower in pitch. You have to relax down onto the pitch and you will find it. It will feel scary at first when learning to play that way. Behind the bell the sound is grainer, though not every player can perceive it to be bigger. But out at a distance, that sound has more bloom with sound bigger and fuller to the conductor and audience. I've introduced this to young players buying their first tuba and the look of amazement from the parents listening is priceless.

So the basic answer to the OP original question is: Some people only feel secure if they are lipping up in pitch. To the players still doing this and not happy with the way they sound and are playing, have you noticed that most of the really good players with great big sounds look relaxed when they play?

The fear I have of sharing this information is the natural human bias of, "I play well so what I am doing must be the right [only] way and therefore Matt doesn't know what he is talking about."
1) Let me share that I have learned how to play tubas using fast air and slow air plus tight smile embouchure and relaxed open embouchure. I've done this so I can understand where the repair and sales customer is coming from and what they need from me. "What model horn are you currently playing? How far out is the main tuning slide? etc." Those are the questions I ask the long distance sales customer not to find out how expensive a tuba you can afford.
2) Depending on how you play, you may not be able to play in-tune a particular model horn that most other players think is very in-tune. By changing how I use my air and embouchure, I can change the pitch tendencies of different tubas.

And those who have already offered an hypothesis to your question that is different than mine, I am certain they are correct....from their experience and view point. If you are getting the results you want with the least amount of effort with the main tuning slide pulled out further than those around you, then keep on. If you are not satisfied with your results, continue to seek out more knowledge.
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by Erik_Sweden »

Matt Walters wrote: Sun Nov 22, 2020 7:52 am 2) There is a second pitch center (slot) that is more subtle and sits lower in pitch. You have to relax down onto the pitch and you will find it. It will feel scary at first when learning to play that way. Behind the bell the sound is grainer, though not every player can perceive it to be bigger. But out at a distance, that sound has more bloom with sound bigger and fuller to the conductor and audience. I've introduced this to young players buying their first tuba and the look of amazement from the parents listening is priceless.
I have the problem that I am very high from low Bb and further down the register on the Bb tuba. I'm not a god muscian or got any musical education, I'm just a simple engineer, so can you explain how to do this in a practical way?
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by Matt Walters »

I can't teach this typing on a keyboard. I will suggest that the frets of a guitar are wider for lower notes. On tuba, we are dealing with mega frets and that means your chops have to open up more and more to settle down onto the pitch as you go ever lower.
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by brendanige »

I have been meaning to chime in, but I 1,000 percent agree with what Matt is saying. I do think that generally we just have to work to slow our wind down and relax and blow into that lower slot. I do believe most of the biggest names in the business are succeeding at doing this most of the time. Most players play with too tight of a set and too pressurized wind. This all results in sharpness.
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by npgriff »

I will attempt to add to Matt's comments as an engineer, since this question is coming from an engineer. When playing, we the players need to couple to the instrument and the shape of the oral cavity is very important, especially in the lower range. Remember, we are trying to get the sound through a very large instrument. My teacher spent time in many lessons reminding me to always play with my mouth as open as possible, definitely making it more open and round, pointing the chin down as the notes get lower. By doing this we can find that second slot in the sound. Another comment is that the breath should always be like what we use to fog up the lens on glasses before wiping them to clean them. The mouth and throat should approach the shape that is attained when yawning. By being totally open on our side of the mouthpiece we can better supply what the instrument needs. I hope this helps.
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by Doug Elliott »

Is "as open as possible" an engineering term?
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Re: Why are some people generally high pitched on their instrument?

Post by Erik_Sweden »

Doug Elliott wrote: Tue Nov 24, 2020 12:59 am Is "as open as possible" an engineering term?
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