Alessi-Vacchiano trumpet Mellomute

Alessi-Vacchiano
£ £62.00
Ref: L3001

An extending tube mute suitable for trumpet or cornet.

The original Alessi-Vacchiano straight mute was developed by New York Phil trumpeter William Vacchiano (1912–2005) and his colleague Joseph Alessi, Sr (father of trombonist Joe Alessi), resulting from their efforts to invent a mute that worked well in both upper and lower registers.

The story of its almost accidental discovery is told by Brian Shook in his 2011 biography of Vacchiano:

In Shostakovich’s Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings, op. 35, the trumpet is required to play a muted low F-sharp. The mutes at the time were not suitable for this register, affecting intonation and response. Vacchiano and his former student, Joseph Alessi, Sr., began working on a solution to invent a mute that sounded good in all registers with uniform intonation. After going through almost twenty mutes, Vacchiano and Alessi were not able to improve both the upper and lower registers with the same mute.

One day, Vacchiano accidentally tipped over the shelf containing all of the discarded mutes. While picking them up he decided to try them all again and surprisingly stumbled across one that did exactly what they wanted. The two of them could not understand why they had already discarded the very mute that worked. Upon examining the mute closer, it became apparent that the bottom end of the mute was dented from the fall, changing its shape from a round contour to a flat end as a result of Vacchiano knocking it off the shelf. Thus, the Alessi-Vacchiano Mute was born.

Extending tube ('ET') mutes, also known as harmon mutes (after their first producer Paddy Harmon) originated in the Chicago ballrooms of the 1920s, and produce a hallmark 'wah-wah' jazz sound exemplified in the performances of Miles Davis. A cork collar seals the gap between mute and bell, directing the sound through the mute's body which has an adjustable 'stem' (an 'extending tube' with a small cup on the end of it) to further vary the tone colours that can be achieved. ET mutes are made of metal and have varying shapes, including the bulbous so-called 'bubble' mute.

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