Some people call it edge; some
Friction starts when our air passes between the lips and causes the vibrations to travel through the length of the instrument; the longer the instrument, the more friction the smaller the bore size, the more friction. Instrument makers and brass performers have been working for centuries trying to get that ratio just right.
There’s something magical about the high register of a brass instrument when it’s played strongly, we hear it in the sound of the single F horns of the Vienna Philharmonic, we hear it with commercial trumpet players like Harry James, Doc Severinsen
Frequently, for the sake of security, many players choose to use a
Perhaps the Vienna Philharmonic, with their tradition of playing everything on single F horns, is one of the best examples of friction. Everyone agrees that is an absolutely exciting sound, which usually functions beautifully. Now the question is evident; is it better to play a
And a more polarizing question is the option of changing to instruments of different bore sizes in order to achieve the quality of friction. Again, this is very personal. Concert halls also have a huge influence on friction. Most players try to achieve friction in some way and many times that way is simply by playing louder. The dynamic level that results in friction is very influenced by the halls we play in. The New York Philharmonic performing in Avery Fischer Hall with sometimes problematic autistics has to play at a very loud dynamic to achieve friction, while the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, playing in the extraordinary Concertgebouw, can achieve the effect of friction at a much softer dynamic and therefore is able to use equipment considerably smaller than New York.
Friction is an aspect of brass playing that many players fear, especially when we refer to it as “edge”. It exists in all instruments including voice and it’s a powerful and essential tool in
Revised, Oaxaca, Mexico,