Chapter 16: Mutes and Dampfers and Plungers, Oh My!

If you shoot at mimes, should you use a silencer? ~Steven Wright

Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice by Jonathan Harnum is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

Chapter 16: Mutes and Dampfers and Plungers, Oh My!

To hear all these mutes, check out the podcast from 10-17-2010, Mutes Galore

This Chapter Covers:

  • What are mutes?
  • A mute by any other name,
  • basic mute use,
  • types of mutes

Terms to Know:

  • mute: a device used to change the tone quality of a brass instrument. Placed in the bell of the instrument.
  • closed: a term used with the plunger mute to indicate the mute covers the bell. Shown in written music with the “+” sign.
  • open: remove the mute (any mute), or move the plunger away from the bell. For plunger work this is shown with an “O.”
  • back pressure: the resistance of the air blown through a pipe. With a mute inserted (especially a Harmon-style mute), the backpressure is greater, so it takes more effort to move air through the horn.

Resources for This Chapter:

  • Mutes (All mutes chosen by me for their quality/sound. Click image to buy.)

Regular, lo-tech Practice Mute (click images to buy):

High-tech Yamaha Silent Brass System (highly recommended, esp. for apartment/family life):

Straight Mute:

Harmon-style wah-wah mute (copper=darker sound):

The Cup Mute:

The Plunger Mute:

The Bucket Mute:

Mute Bag:

Mute Holder (for music stand):

Book: The World of Jazz Trumpet by Scotty Barnhartt (kindle version)

Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice by Jonathan Harnum is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

The Usual Resources:


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