A Mad Trumpeter's Experiment

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Maxim A. Potashov, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. Maxim A. Potashov

    Maxim A. Potashov New Friend

    12
    0
    Sep 26, 2013
    What would happen if brass and woodwind players were started on much more difficult scales, such as C#/Db and F#/Gb instead of C, F, Bb, and G? Would the terrible tuning of such scale tones be cured? Would musicians who learned the "harder" scales first fly through scale studies in those keys with the same ease as most of us in the "easier" keys? Would they stumble through our "easy" keys as much as we do in our "hard" ones/their "easy" ones?

    Please let me know. I also want to know if I am the only musician who has pondered this. Now, granted, there is a case to be made about the literature of most beginning groups; most key signatures of beginning pieces tend to be in "easier" keys, so starting musicians off on the "harder" scales wouldn't make sense from that standpoint.

    Has such an experiment ever been performed?
     
  2. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    7,069
    4,660
    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    It would not have worked for me.

    The circle of 4ths and 5ths is a better way to train for scales. If I had this theory explained at an early stage in music, it would have made scales a lot easier as well.
     
  3. Maxim A. Potashov

    Maxim A. Potashov New Friend

    12
    0
    Sep 26, 2013
    Why would this method not have worked for you?
     
  4. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    7,069
    4,660
    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    It would have been too hard to just learn to play the Gb, F# Maj, Ebm or B /G#m scales at a young age. I hardly would have seen them or used them. It would always be better to understand what you use most - C. G, F, D, Bb, E, Ab

    Playing in tune is about developing the ear past your own noise. - In tune is also relative to other players and instruments. If a person plays out of tune by themselves, they will never know unless they use a Tuner. or they use their ears to play in tune with a piano, or a band. Scales and knowing them develop your instrument skills, not your ear. IMO
     
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    60
    12,458
    7,034
    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    In college we used to debate this topic over beers and french fries. I had a deep-fat fryer, potatoes were cheap, and I gladly drank the beer of my visitors. Neither myself nor my friends knew about the woodwind instruments; where the forked fingerings and breaks were--we were honest--brass percussion and keyboard players. There is evidence that trumpeters can start in concert pitch on Bb trumpets and reading in C is "normal" for the Posaunenchor players in German speaking countries.

    There are also mechanical issues. In addition to what difficulties the woodwind players might have there are the difficulties for trombonists to get to sixth position, and seventh is "way out there." By starting with the open tones the student learns the sound of a perfect fifth. That will "stick" as a benchmark for later intonation.

    In addition there is tradition. Trumpet music was almost always written in C major and the key of the natural trumpet specified. Before equal temperament, an organ or harpsichord would be tuned to the key of the piece, but for the theorists, C was the tonic of choice.

    I don't see changes happening anytime soon.
     
  6. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    2,776
    1,903
    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    Having started my comeback in a small church band with a lot of the old hymns in the key of E Major it meant I was playing in F# a lot of the time on the Bb trumpet, one gets used to it. Not an easy key to sight transpose into so I purchased a C trumpet.

    My friends that played in Brass Bands hated keys with lots of sharps, they preferred to play in flat keys, I think it is what you are accustomed to.

    There is only 7 combinations of valve positions, it is only a matter of getting the right ones.

    Regards, Stuart.
     
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    60
    12,458
    7,034
    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    So we have a 1 in 7 odds of fingering the first note correctly, then what? A 1 in 49 chance to fingering two in a row correctly? If so, we truly are remarkable if we can finger a simple tune! Hooray for ourselves! :bravo:
     
  8. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    5,331
    4,731
    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    As I'm trying to bed in a new embouchure, and all I can play just now is long tones and scales, I've been taking the opportunity to concentrate on the more unusual keys.

    It's quite interesting running up and down a key like F#, then trying to letting your mind float away to see how long the subconscious processes will keep it going. And after a couple of hundred goes at that, try switching to Gb. Same notes, right? Try it and see ;-)
     
  9. Honkie

    Honkie Pianissimo User

    175
    125
    Feb 22, 2013
    There's the mental part: knowing the sharps and flats in each key.
    But then there's the mechanical part: getting the valves up and down cleanly in all combinations.

    The first is a cultural construct, yes. It has to do with how we're taught.

    But the second is a genuine problem for trumpeters. F major is objectively easier than F# major. Why? Because the fourth finger is not naturally as dextrous as the index finger. We trumpeters are among the very few humans who need to use the fourth finger independently.

    Try this: starting on C below the staff, play C-D-Eb-D repeatedly at high speed. Then try B-C#-D-C#. Which one can you play faster? Is it only because of sharps and flats?
     
  10. Honkie

    Honkie Pianissimo User

    175
    125
    Feb 22, 2013
    Also, this is a really geeky point, but there's 8 possible valve combinations. People forget about valve 3 pressed by itself (like alternate fingering for E or A).
     

Share This Page