A/Bb dual key horns

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Sal, Jan 5, 2019.

  1. Sal

    Sal New Friend

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    May 24, 2017
    I have asked two experts whom I thought might know the answer to why many cornets and some trumpets were made dual key A/Bb from around the turn of the 1900's until around 1930. Both experts responded with what seemed to me to be unlikely answers. One stated that his guess was that mutes of the time made horns so sharp that the 1/2 tone down made horns better in tune. The other person stated that A was for orchestral work and C was for popular songs played off piano sheet music therefore not needing sight transposition (Bb wasn't mentioned in that answer so it wasn't helpful). Anyone out there actually know the answer?
     
  2. N1684T

    N1684T Forte User

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    These were experts? Well, i didn't know before looking it up a few years ago either. I cant put it into the best words, But most music WAS in A early on. Then they switched. Maybe around the 20's. Someone will give a better answer.
     
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  3. Sal

    Sal New Friend

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    May 24, 2017
    Thanks. I think your answer seems most likely. Where did you look it up? I 've read through all my books and spent a fair amount of time online without success. Why was A chosen back then and why was it given up for Bb? That's what I'm intrigued by.
     
  4. N1684T

    N1684T Forte User

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  5. N1684T

    N1684T Forte User

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    site;)
     
  6. adc

    adc Mezzo Forte User

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    Been reading up on it. Its gets very convoluted but it appears that by about 1875 Germany and France had cornets keyed in Bb but it gets murkier bc the definition of B = 440 Hz was defined in 1917. Prior to that it varied. I will be watching this
     
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  7. scottfsmith

    scottfsmith Piano User

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    Bb is good for playing in flat keys and A for sharp keys; with both options you can more easily cover music in all keys. Piccolo trumpets today often have both Bb and A leadpipes for this reason, and a similar thing goes for the D/Eb convertible high trumpets. From the 20's on, Bb trumpets were commonly used in genres like band and jazz where flat keys are more common, I assume thats why the Bb/A convertible trumpet faded.
     
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  8. Sal

    Sal New Friend

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    May 24, 2017
    Thanks, I think you both have solved the dilemma for me. I knew about the high pitch/low pitch info but hadn't made the connection to A/Bb horns. I still don't feel up to speed about how composers during this flux state were dealing with it. I suppose they just noted the score any way they wanted to and let the players work out how to deal with the necessary transpositions. I guess that's why our college professors hounded us about getting good at sight transposing.
     
  9. nieuwguyski

    nieuwguyski Forte User

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    Conn made Bb/A trumpets and cornets in both high and low pitch, so I don't think high/low pitch fundamentally contributed to the existence of Bb/A instruments.

    I do think it can be challenging to play in keys with lots of sharps on vintage Bb instruments. Instruments in C eliminate two sharps, but don't really help with playing in B concert.
     
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  10. Sal

    Sal New Friend

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    May 24, 2017
    Okay then, why A/Bb if not because of the shift to A440. Is it possible that people naturally like the timbre of a trumpet at what it was (A457?) prior to A440 so that when A shifted downward to A440 at the armistice of WWI that gradually people pushed the trumpet back up to Bb to get that timbre back. Yeah, I know, pretty far fetched.
     
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