A/Bb dual key horns

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

  1. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

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    A lot of popular music during that era was written for cornet and/or trumpet in A. The clarinet parts were also in A, and people played A clarinets. I don't know exactly why the music was written with A parts, though, unless it was for ease of play. One of the solos in the back of the Arban's book is in A, and many old cornets come with an A mouthpipe shank, so parts in A were obviously found even as early the mid 19th century.

    I used to play in a reenactment of a "society band", sometimes called a parlor band. Back in the teens and '20s, this type of band played at parties and other gala events. I'd guess about 20% of the music we had was for trumpet in A.
     
  2. adc

    adc Mezzo Forte User

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    Yea that is the confusing part and may be bc of moving it back up to Bb. And I do recall Bb instruments early on in the 20th century were on the verge of being flat in that "Bb" is now 466Hz

    And certainly this makes sense but is not (as far as I know) related to the above

    Readers Digest: I don't know the answer
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    The A and Bb tuning is quite simple. Strings do not like to play with lots of flats and winds do not like to play with lots of sharps. I am not trying to be funny.

    The mutes in the renaissance and baroque eras changed pitch. By the time the valve came around (1810 or so)this problem was solved.

    As far as my research goes, professional classical musicians from 1860 to 1910 had Bb and A instruments (as well as deep toned F trumpets) to cover the territory. After that transposing everything on the Bb or C trumpet became more popular. That was the time that recordings started preserving events and security became more significant!

    I believe that the switchable Bb/A instruments were for more advanced wind band players and less for professional symphonic players - regardless of what the brochures of the day claim.
     
  4. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    A major reason for this is that string instruments are ascending instruments, whereas wind instruments are descending instruments. A string is played either open or stopped/fretted to a shorter length but a wind instrument is played to its shortest length (woodwind - no keys depressed, brass - no valves) then the length is increased using keys, valves or slides. This encourages the thinking of the string player to raise pitches, and the wind player to lower them.
     
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  5. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

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    Transposition by sight is a relatively new concept and is, in a way, a method of dealing with technological advance. Prior to keyed trumpets and valved instruments, the brass sometimes did not give composers the notes they wanted unless you actually changed the pitch of the trum-bone or whatever brass you were playing. That's the reason why there are so many pieces where the written pitch constantly changes. In the ouverture to Carmen, the trumpet pitch changes 18 times (or so), between seven different pitches. This was accomplished, not by transposition, but by varying the instrument length by adding or taking away different leadpipes lengths (sometimes called "pigtails" due to their shape). And when valved, fully chromatic instruments came about, it was easier to transpose the instrument than transpose and "correct" all the printed sheet music. Some of the most popular pitches for composers had been C, B and A, so for those players, who did not want to learn transposition, there were change-pitch instruments.
     
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  6. adc

    adc Mezzo Forte User

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    I think rowuk's answer is as valid as anything I have heard. And the key part of that is much of the music was paper transposed from A to Bb.
     
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    But the keyed trumpet (Klappentrompete) was an ascending instrument...
     
  8. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    Maybe why it doesn't enjoy much mainstream popularity :):):)

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  9. iiipopes

    iiipopes Pianissimo User

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    Don't forget the influence of Adolph Sax and the development of the family of saxhorns, including the soprano saxhorn, essentially a cornet, in Eb soprano and Bb "alto."
    Adolphe_Sax_instrument_catalogue.jpg
     
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  10. scottfsmith

    scottfsmith Piano User

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    The root of favored keys is based on ease of playing and the quality of the sound. For violin, think about the open strings -- G D A E. Then think about the sharp and flat key signatures: you will get to use a lot more open strings on the sharp keys than the flat keys. So it will be easier to play in sharp keys.

    I played early winds for many years. On early flute the "forked" fingerings (an open hole followed by a closed hole, e.g. 1-3 on the right hand) are muted and so composers usually avoid flats on the early flute: C, G, and D are the popular keys since they have few forked fingerings. On the early oboe on the other hand the forked fingerings are strong and flats are preferred to sharps. Military bands were originally oboe bands, that might be a reason why band music is on the flats side. There has been some research on this which I read about once upon a time but I can't remember all the details now..
     

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