Which mute???

Oh, decisions, decisions…

Original advert for the 'Whispa' mute

Original advert for the ‘Whispa’ mute

The RLPO recording Thomas Ades’ very fine violin concerto ‘Concentric Paths’ over the last couple of days, with the wonderful Sibelius violin concerto, amongst other things.

Brendan in the RLPO recording facility, The Friary,' with a lot of mutes!

Brendan in the RLPO recording facility, The Friary,’ with a lot of mutes!

The Ades has some very interesting mute choices. Some which the trumpets really like and some we’re both not yet convinced about. Don’t just rely on one sound, or two. There is a whole sound world out there and as large a selection of mutes can only help. This Ades piece, for instance, asks for the 1st (me) & 2nd (Paul Marsden) trumpets to play some things in unison whilst using different mutes from each other. Including the hard to come by Shastock, Spivac Whispa mute! Don’t get cynical and stuck in a rut over mutes etc. You can see how many we keep handy at work, alone! We have a lot more at home to choose from, too.


We did some experimenting, in front of the orchestra, with some imput from conductor Hannu Lintu and went to the recording booth so the producer could play back our work before deciding finally on our mute selection. The Shastock Whispa mute was difficult to track down. Mine went missing a while ago, in Blackburn St. George’s hall. They are brilliant for playing all those ‘scary’ quiet, exposed trumpet solos in the orchestra. My old mate Aneel Soomary, trumpet star working in Vienna, have often talked about how these old mutes have proved to be life/job savers, time and time again. There are some available in ebay from time to time, but I bought one this week from a company called EMO, who are making pretty good copies out of plastic. London based trumpeter, Andy Tovey, reckons a cup mute with a cloth in the bowl is a pretty good substitute in an emergency, too…

Whispa Mute!

Whispa Mute!

It was as a student, that I remember the advice from Mike Hinton, at that time Principal Trumpet with English National Opera and a busy studio player, that he had done a lot of session work with ‘jazzers’ so had started collecting as many mutes as possible to much up his sound with them; particularly in a recording studio situation.

Whilst talking about equipment, you can see Paul’s Yamaha Xeno Artist Model, New York style, B flat trumpet. Custom made for him by Yamaha at their state of the art facility in Milton Keynes and my Yamaha Xeno Artist Model Chicago C trumpet. Both instruments were supplied by Mr John Bennett from his fabulous ‘The Music Cellar’ shop in Preston, Lancashire. By all your trumpets from John and keep him in holidays to the South Of France, please…

The Music Cellar

The sessions we are involved in this week are for Simon Foster’s Avie label as a showcase for violin virtuoso Augustin Hadelich and conducted by Finnish maestro Hannu Lintu. We had a very nice large birthday cake to share amongst the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra yesterday. The office computer had apparently stated that it was Augustin Hadelich’s birthday, but was in error. We ate the cake anyway! Augustin Hadelich plays on the 1723 “Ex-Kiesewetter” Stradivari violin, on loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the Stradivari Society of Chicago.

Augustin Hadelich with his Stradivarius

Augustin Hadelich with his Stradivarius

Website of Augustin Hadelich

Hannu Lintu - Finnish Conductor

Hannu Lintu – Finnish Conductor

Website of Hannu Lintu

The ‘surprise’ photo of me was taken by one of our horn section, who was intending to ‘take the mickey’ about the trumpet section’s rather extensive mute collection. Horn players only ever seem to carry about one mute each. Rank amateurs!!!

About brendanball

Professional Trumpeter: Soloist, Orchestra Player, Chamber Music, Contemporary Music & Education.
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