Recording Gospel Trumpets

I just recorded 4 trumpet parts (↑ hear the snippit of them ↑) for a client's Gospel album, and thought I'd share the process with you.  When first approached to add horns to any song, two things can happen: One, the client can give me sheet music they have (or someone else has) arranged -- that is, notes that I simply need to read off the page; or two, they can ask me to do the writing.  In this case, the client knew I'm a composer and arranger myself, and left 100% of the arranging to me.

Having been asked to arrange the parts myself, I then must determine if I need to bring any other instrumentalists on board to give the client the sound they want or if I can perform them all myself by overdubbing several parts.  In this case, since Gospel horn sections (think Fred Hammond, Israel Houghton) tend to be on the smaller side, and because of the key (E Major) and budget of the project, it made the most sense to perform all of the parts myself.

I decided four parts would give the client the sound she wanted.  Since it's very rare to have only four Trumpets in any band's horn section (lovely as that would be), I decided to use 2 Trumpets and 2 Flugelhorns.  Written and played in the right range, a Flugelhorn can sound almost like a high trombone, and creates an especially strong sound when doubled by a trumpet in its own low to mid-range (John Williams very often doubles high french horn with mid-range trumpets to achieve a similar effect, like here at the very beginning of his NBC Nightly News theme).

Whenever any single instrumentalist is overdubbing parts twice-over (or more) in unison -- or even two parts that only sometimes overlap in unison as was the case here with trumpets 1 & 2 -- it is very important to use two different instruments if possible.  The reason is thus:  Even though each overdub is its own separate performance and not copy/pasted, it is still the same exact physical instrument.  This creates two very similar waveforms that sometimes even become identical in shape, causing the sounds to cancel each other out or cause phasing.  One way to mitigate this effect is to use two different instruments altogether (in my case, trumpets).  It's still the same lips and body (mine) playing with similar inflection, but the two different instruments can drastically reduce the phasing and canceling, especially if the trumpets vary in design.  I'm lucky I own several very good Trumpets of differing makes/models.  Some phasing still occurs, but it's usually negligible.

Since the two Flugelhorn parts were never in unison, it wasn't necessary to use two different instruments.  It's a good thing; I don't have two Flugelhorns!

The rest of the process is purely creative: arrange four parts, print them out, and play!

 - Knox

:: to book Knox to record trumpet (or trumpets) on your album or song in any style, click here ::

screenshot of the session in Logic