Baroque trumpet double tongue: authentic?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Sustained note, Dec 15, 2006.

  1. Sustained note

    Sustained note New Friend

    Sep 3, 2006
    I heard today parts of the Bach Christmas Oratorio on the radio.
    The trumpets were perfect. Gorgeous playing.
    They played on baroque trumpets, no doubt about it.
    You can't mistake the unique sound, trills etc.

    The rythm was energetic, about 1/8 = 135-140 so in my opinion these specific trumpet parts had to be double tongued.
    Maybe it could be done by single tonguing after rigorous training but I think it's very unlikely and not practical.

    In his book Arban tells that he was the first cornet player to use the double / triple tonguing which untill then the flute players were using.

    I wonder, could it be that these baroque pieces were originally played at a much slower tempo or could it be that trumpeters such as the famous Reiche did use double tonguing and this ability was later lost?

    What are your opinions?
    it would be interesting to hear opinions from players here who do play on baroque and natural trumpets, such a Rowuk. This brings to mind, what is the opinion about it in Germany? Did Edward Tarr ever discuss this?
  2. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vidin, Bulgaria
    Altenburg is speaking of something similar to what we call double/triple tinguing but he uses different consonant (not the ku arban thing) in his book about trumpet playing. Obviously Altenburg is much older than Arban. Get the book, mate :thumbsup:
  3. Groggles

    Groggles New Friend

    Mar 3, 2006
    a great place to start for baroque articulation is the fantini method. Lots of information on tiri tiri and other combinations which would be how you would play faster double tongue sounding passages.
  4. Sustained note

    Sustained note New Friend

    Sep 3, 2006
    Thanks for replying Trumpetnick and Groggles.
    You have really enlightened me on this one. :-)
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Hi Sustained note,
    authentic is a theme that I could write books about! I will try and keep this short!
    I am sure there were a lot of different "tonguings" back then. Altenburg (German school) mentions Ti-ri or ti-ki for double tonguing and ri-ti-ri/ ki-ti-ki for triple. The French and Italian schools had their preferences too. I have also seen the "doodle" and many other guesstimates.
    When practicing this stuff, recording it and then listening - the results for the audience are very similar regardless of technique. The most important part of the baroque trumpet is articulating in a way that reduces cracked notes. For me this generally means not as "brutally" as is possible with a modern trumpet.

    You are also right about interpretations of tempo. Sometimes I think many music historians and conductors should learn how to dance before we turn them loose on music. There are so many dance patterns in baroque music that are ignored by the supposedly "authentic" readings. There are tempos that have nothing to do with the style, an extreme exaggeration of "micro dynamics" and asthmatic phrasing - but being being different seems to sell. So respected and qualified Nikolaus Harnoncourt is today, his earlier Bach readings are to me more of a castration than a stripping away the romanticism of earlier generations.

    The argument whether or not something is authentic is really a non-argument. We can assume that every generation had its share of maniacs, and today it is hard to sort out who got the best press back then. I am sure that Bach was not one of the maniacs however. His understanding of the old church music regulations, secular influences, even something as radical as a well tempered scale, made him a pioneer, a melting pot of style and tradition. I have been studying his works for 30 years (I am 50 now) and still seem to be at the very beginning.

    The next time a conductor asks you to play something more "dancelike" - ask him to demonstrate what he means. Great dancers phrase just like we do and reducing the first movement of the Christmas Oratorio to a fast waltz is probably NOT what Bach had in mind (but I play at least one performance a year where this is exactly what the conductor asks for - I do not try to change his mind in front of the orchestra - it never works. I just play the fast waltz for the first rehearsal and try and get some quality time over a beer or glass of wine to make some "suggestions" later). A double tongue for the 32nd notes was on the other hand probably preferred!
  6. Sustained note

    Sustained note New Friend

    Sep 3, 2006
    Thank you very much Rowuk.
    I enjoyed reading your explanation. It is both educational for me and also breathes life into a musical period we only know from notes and books - delightful :-)
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    "Jauchzet" is a word we just don't have in English. "Make a joyful noise" is the typical King James translation, and "jauchzen" kids do automatically. (sorry about the German grammar just now.) Rather than angels dancing, they are whooping up a storm, and after a zillion W.O.'s in Rilling's backyard around Stuttgart fast tempos are the norm. Think the timp. lick at the start, and the text. Fast works fine. Bugles and other warlike brass have to be in a hurry sometimes to get the information out. Have fun, and double-tongue.

    p.s. You can play loud, too.
  8. Dr. Zink

    Dr. Zink Pianissimo User

    Feb 8, 2007
    North Coast US
    Bismantova, in his Compendio of 1677, spoke of modern-style double tonguing, giving the example of de-ghe de-ghe. Though he was illustrating articulations on the cornetto, he was perhaps the first to acknowledge that “brass†instruments require an articulation that produces more compression than those associated with wind instruments such as recorders (dalla Casa’s lere lere and dere dere) As a cornetto player, I find dere or tere (like saying “today†or “tada†though with the accent on the first syllable) most effective for moderate tempo passage work. (It is also particularly effective on the baroque/natural trumpet, and you can indeed flick off two sixteenth notes a la the Christmas Oratorio quite handily: ta-tada ta-tada ta...) Lere or the “didl†articulation I only use on the fastest passaggi and trills (yes, in the early 17c trills were articulated!)

    As odd as some of these articulations may seem, thay actually work. Try them, and even if you can't make heads or tails of them one day it'll click in and open up a whole new world making the music speak. (Actually having something to say with the music is another matter)

    Fantini as well, in his Modo of 1638 illustrates teghe teghe for repeated as well changing-pitch sixteenth notes.

    And as Rowuk noted, Altenburg also prescribed (though considerably later, in 1795) so called double tonguing.

    I suppose you can’t get much better historical justification than that.

    What ever the articulation employed, one would be well advised to be mindful of both the effect and the affect of the music - it is music after all, not merely an excerpt to be conquered. There’s nothing more obnoxious than an over articulated brass part. Not every baroque work with trumpets, however glorious, was intended to be a trumpet concerto.

    Best Wishes

  9. BrassOnLine

    BrassOnLine Piano User

    Nov 22, 2007
    Double tonguing is as older as trumpet playing, you've seen.
    Nothing new is invented. Only the technique is improved.
    Best regards

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