From: Tim Phillips <>
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 1997 10:08:07 -0500
Subject: Re:  Shakes (RERUNS!!!)


I hope you don't mind my reposting this. Believe it or not, I saved it from the last time the list got the "shakes"...

I'm reposting this since the subject came up again. I posted this about six months ago.

I'm quoting Jimmie Maxwell who learned how to lip trill and shake from Louis Armstrong.

For those of you unfamiliar with Jimmie Maxwell, he was truely one of the great trumpet players of all time. He played lead as well as jazz and classical. He studied with Benny Baker, Herbert L. Clarke and Lloyd Reese. He played lead trumpet for Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Quincy Jones, Gerry Mulligan, Oliver Nelson, Lionel Hampton, Sy Oliver among many, many others. He played in the NBC Symphony with Toscannini and also played in the studio orchestras at CBS, NBC and ABC.

"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 category of jazz ornaments and like all ornaments it should not be used too often or it becomes trite and give the band a ragged, organized 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's 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 or lip trill 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 the vibrato, he went into a brief shake on some of the notes and in my opinion, that is 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 particularly 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 or lip trill has been with us for over fifty years as a standard fixture in the category 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 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 one notch at a time to your limit. Do this on all the 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 1/4 note= 80.

FIFTH: When you can lip trill up to a 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 into the hand shake. The wider the interval, the "Basie" trill/shake, is done by a lip action and is different, easier, than 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 tone is distorted. Say the syllables TA-EE-AH-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 register.

The tongue motion should cause a slight up and down movement of the jaw which is also helpful. It is risky to try to move 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."

What I personally do is say TA-EE-AH-EE-AH. As I go to the "EE" I push with a burst of air. By using the tongue in this fashion, I can control the trill. I use a hand shake if the music calls for it stylistically.

Jimmie's book "The First Trumpeter"

is published by Charles Colin, 315 West 53rd Street, NY. NY. 10019 (212)581-1480.

I think this is a "must" book for anyone serious about the trumpet.

I hope this helps some of you who are struggling with lip trills/shakes.

Rich Szabo

and my repsonse....

The type of shake you want to do depends on the particular style of music. There are three different types of "shakes". The one most people are familiar with is the Maynard Ferguson style shake. The resident authority on this is Rich Szabo, since he played with MF and was taught by another great, Jimmy Maxwell. I also imagine that Jim Manley, another great player on the list could help out...

For most everything I do in playing lead, that is the style shake I use. It is done as an extended lip trill, sometimes slow, sometimes fast - depending on the music. The width is also determined by the style. The best advice on how? Listen to MF. Take your mouthpiece and try to do a shake on just the mouthpiece. Add the trumpet and repeat the process. It goes without saying that if you have a shake on a high C, you'd better have a good fourth or fifth above to execute the shake... Record yourself and let you ears be your guide.

Does the tongue move? Is it done with the lips? Is it the jaw? There are as many answers to that as probably there are trumpet players. IMHO to accomplish this or any slur by purposely raising the tongue will distort tonal quality, close the mouth cavity and therefore limit your range or effectively reduce your ability to execute a series of up slurs. Where does one go after EEE? If the tongue comes up, try to

produce the effect by minimizing the rise, not maximizing. Remember that there is always another octave up there somewhere...

Remember that trumpet playing is like a singing activity and most vocalists prefer not to hold notes using "high" vowel sounds (or at least that's what I was taught). They will even substitute the wrong vowel in order to keep from using those "high" vowels...

If you want a demonstration of how the tongue affects tone quality. Play a g in the staff and move through the five vowel sounds with the tongue. A, E, I produce very focused bright sounds where O and U the darker (more full of lower partial) sounds.

There is also a way to accomplish a certain style shake by shaking the trumpet on the face. To minimize the possibility of lip damage, start by moving the horn away from you, slowly. This will produce a very slow hand style vibrato. The farther you move it , the more effect on the pitch. Finally, when overdone and quick, you will get a shake.

The third method is a combination of the two.

More detail is possible, but I will probably get flamed for this much...

I don't really care...

Tim Phillips