Correspondence: Mutes

Following the recent post about plunger mutes, Rifftides reader Deborah Hendrick sent a reqest:

Would you give us a history lesson sometime, on the origin of mutes. “Jazz” seems to be played with muted brass more often than not. I’ve always wondered why, and how the practice began.

Aside from the plunger, mutes for brass instruments are not primarily specific to jazz, and they go back much further. I can give you no better history of mutes than this brief one on a website devoted to them.

As an appendix to that document, here is the brilliant cornetist Warren Vaché demonstrating a raft of mutes to his student Laura Telman.

For more of Vaché on the cornet and trumpet, go to his ArtistHouse page.

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  1. Deborah Hendrick says

    I’ve been down so many bunny trails that I didn’t think I’d ever get back to you. Thank you so much for answering my question—I’ve had the most amazing tramp. I have a crush on Warren Vaché (I do love the little round cornet). Thanks also to Steve Provizer and Bill Crow for their information—I followed all their links, too. Finished up with Chris Botti playing a muted” Hallelujah”—finally had to say no mas, and leave YouTube behind.