Denis Wick has announced two new product lines of interest to trumpet and cornet players. Mr Wick, eminent trombonist and currently president of the ITG's sister organization the International Trombone Association, is also a well-known manufacturer of mutes and mouthpieces.
The new lines are the Maurice Murphy Signature trumpet mouthpiece, and a "heavy top" series of cornet mouthpieces which Wick characterises as "Mouthpieces for reluctant cornet players". Denis Wick takes up the story:
At last! The Maurice Murphy mouthpiece
"In 1977, my orchestra, the London Symphony, needed a 1st trumpet. Howard Snell, who had served the orchestra well in that capacity for ten years or more had decided upon a complete career-change. He was then beginning what was to become a successful conducting career and had left us. After various players had been tried out, the veteran Willie Lang, by now 3rd trumpet, said that he might be able to persuade Maurice Murphy, who had already something of a reputation in Manchester with the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra, to come to London. Several other London orchestras had tried and failed to do so, so it was to my personal great delight that Maurice appeared with us on a tour to Mexico City in July 1977. We had worked together occasionally with the London Sinfonietta and I knew his playing. Not much to do on that tour; mainly classical repertoire, but we all agreed that if he could be persuaded ...?
"Maurice decided to join us. His first session with us back home was at the Denham film studios. A new composer, a new film. Within the first half-hour, a legend was born in the opening titles of Star Wars. It suited Maurice perfectly and gave the brass team just what we needed. John Williams loved the sound! On successive films with John Williams’ music, Maurice led the team brilliantly. Many more Star Wars films as well as Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark - and many others that gave that very special LSO brass sound that we were all so proud of. My one regret when I retired from the orchestra was missing that special combination of suave, super-musical orchestral style, brass band virtuosity (yes – MM was a Black Dyke veteran !) and big-band lead trumpet.
"On various occasions I asked Maurice if I could get him to work with me on mouthpiece design. Although he had successfully used my 3E on the piccolo (you can hear it in the films!) I could not get him interested so I more or less gave up trying. 27 years later, with his retirement in sight, I happened to ask him again and to my delight, he agreed.
"So after remarkably few work-sessions, we came up with a mouthpiece which out-murphies Murphy! More volume, easier to play, fantastic high register but marvellous pp at the bottom end. He liked it better than anything before. So did many other, much younger players. Not many trumpet players can sound like Maurice, but this mouthpiece will help!"
Mouthpieces for reluctant cornet players
"A few years ago, I was invited to an event at a major British training establishment for musicians. I was intrigued by the sound quality of a cornet soloist, playing on a Besson cornet. The soloist used a cornet mouthpiece made by a major manufacturer, which is identical to their trumpet mouthpiece, made to fit a cornet. Although the soloist played perfectly well, the sound quality was neither trumpet nor cornet, but could be described as an emasculated trumpet or a rather hard-sounding cornet. The trumpet and cornet professor at the school explained to me that his students must play the cornet, but often do so reluctantly – they all are fundamentally trumpet players.
"More than 30 years before, I had designed cornet mouthpieces that gave the cornet a life of its own. I am told that they have created the sound of the modern British brass band. This is a tremendous compliment, but on reflection it almost certainly happened because they had almost nothing before I came on the scene. My cornet mouthpieces are deeper than anything made since the 19th century, when cup depths were almost the same, even if rims were flatter and bores were narrower. This, as often pointed out, means that switching from one of these to the normal much shallower modern trumpet mouthpiece creates problems for the trumpet player- he or she becomes more accident–prone.
"The concave outer profile that I settled on when the first designs were made in 1969 worked well and added a degree of brightness to the Besson cornets.
"To be honest, nobody had any idea of the difference that more or less mass in the mouthpiece might give. The great Renold Schilke, whom I much admired, actually said so in his lectures. This set me thinking. Surely it must be possible, with a slightly shallower cup and increased bulk, to make a mouthpiece that would feel less different and make a real cornet sound. My old friend John Wallace, a marvellous trumpeter, now Principal of the Royal Scottish Academy, had helped me very much with my early trumpet designs. (My 1X is modeled on one of his treasured 19th century F trumpet mouthpieces.) He had an 1880 cornet mouthpiece that might work. So my engineer and I worked out new models with this cup, a bore/backbore that perfected intonation and response, and designed an outer profile that made a really massive mouthpiece, carefully testing every step of the way. The result was successful and worked exactly as we hoped.
If you are interested to try them, the model numbers are:
- 6881-1XB 17.5mm
- 6881-1B 17.25mm
"We also have the 2B, 3B and 4B in the same exterior format; these are the same cups as the normal concave exterior models."
Editor's note: Readers interested in these product lines are urged to contact their Wick retailer for more details. These cornet mouthpieces, in particular, seem not to be widely listed in all online catalogues but are, nevertheless, available.
Denis Wick page at the International Trombone Association