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What Are the Different Types of Trumpet Techniques?

By Lee Johnson
Updated May 23, 2024
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Many different types of trumpet techniques exist, including articulation techniques, effects, and advanced techniques. These different trumpet techniques can be classified in a variety of different ways, and each group of techniques can often be split into several different sub-groups. For example, the articulation techniques can be further split into tonguing techniques and non-tonguing techniques, and the effects can be split into legato techniques and non-legato techniques. Advanced techniques can include many different types of technique, including multi-phonics and clicks. Types of trumpet techniques are used by players to achieve different effects required for pieces of music.

Articulation techniques are a very common group of trumpet techniques. These are broken down into techniques involving tonguing and those not involving tonguing. Tonguing is the process of splitting up notes using the tongue, and this can be used to create a staccato sound or a legato sound. Staccato notes are separated from the notes before and after them, and on the trumpet these techniques are achieved using the tongue. Legato techniques are the opposite, aiming for notes to run smoothly into one another, and not using tonguing.

Tonguing is a frequently used trumpet technique. Non-legato and staccato are names for two techniques which include tonguing to split up individual notes. Other, more complex techniques include double or triple tonguing and flutter tonguing. Double or triple tonguing splits up notes into groups of two or three using the tongue. Flutter tonguing involves moving the tongue in a fluttering motion, as if the player was articulating a rolled “r” sound.

Several different effects can be produced using trumpet techniques, including vibrato, glissando, trills, and cuivre. Vibrato is a legato technique, which means that the written note fluctuates between slightly higher and slightly lower in pitch, to produce an oscillating sound. A glissando is a technique by which the player “slides” the note up from one pitch to another. Trills are similar to vibrato, except that the note alters between two specific notes rapidly. Cuivre is a technique in which the trumpet produces a brassy sound, which is not related to legato playing.

Other trumpet techniques are more suitable for advanced players. These include techniques such as multi-phonics, breath attacks, and clicks. Multi-phonics are complex techniques whereby the player “sings” into the trumpet while he or she is playing, to produce multiple notes at the same time. Breath attacks change the sound produced by the instrument by altering the amount of air pushed through the instrument. Clicks are percussive techniques, usually played using the trumpet’s valves.

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