Brits weigh in on style

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by davidquinlan, Apr 4, 2005.

  1. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Pianissimo User

    oo, that's a big ask..


    As far as I know, the majority of the players here in the uk more than likely have brass band roots. (e.g. Maurice Murphy, Martin Winter , John Wallace, Rod Franks to name a few etc..) so this would have quite an influence on how these players would approach melodic lines (from a tone and phrasing point of view). As you know, there is a great tradition of very high quality brass band playing here in the UK which has it's own very distincitve style of cornet playing, "big fat warm dark sound" with bucket loads of vibrato!!
    Also, I would say that the standard equipment would more than likely be a Bb horn. I believe that Maurice Murphy played almost EVERYTHING on Bb and sounded amazing! One of my colleages (an ex-pro) in the brass band I play in did one gig with Maurice Murphy some years ago. Whatever they were playing (a recording session I think), it was written for Piccolo. Apparently Maurice gave it a go on Picc (and nailed it obviously) but said something like, na, it feels uncomfortable.. then proceeded to nail it on Bb.. saying, ah that's better! He used the Bb on the recording!

    I know my previous teacher (when we both lived in Ireland nearly 10 years ago now!!!!) Mark O'Keeffe (currently princpal with the BBC Scottish Symphony) is a great fan of his Schilke 3EL4. Uses it for quite a lot of repertoire. (Nailed Mahler 7 at the Proms 04 !!)

    I must admit, I do not attend enough concerts (shame on me.. something I will have to rectify) to really say any more than this.
    I do have recordings of the Bournmouth Symphony Orchestra (the Tchaikovsky box set conducted by Andrew Litton) which has in my opinion some stunning trumpet playing.
  2. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004

    That's what I'm looking for... I respectfully request for the other members to hold off a day or so before asking questions about equipment, etc. to allow as many British participants to contribute first. You may find that a question or two may be answered before you have to post.

    How about you wait until Wednesday of this week? Thanks.

    Carry on, ladies and gentlemen.

  3. JackD

    JackD Mezzo Forte User

    Nov 30, 2003
    Manchester / London
    Ok, I'll have a go.

    As David said the Bb is pretty much the standard over here, though you do see some people using Ebs quite a lot, and you do get people playing Cs too.

    The brass band thing is definitely a big influence. To add to the list David gave, I know Paul Beniston (principal, London Phil) and Paul Archibald (former co-principal ROH orchestra) both started in bands.

    For some reason we over here seem to always be pretty traditional (I refer you to the use of slide trumpets after everyone else had thought "hmm... no!"), and the Bb thing seems to be rooted in that.

    There are also many fine period instrument orchestras on this side of the pond, and there are some great nat players here (Crispian Steele-Perkins and Mark Bennett to name but two). Period brass seems to be quite popular at the moment - I saw a production of the Magic Flute at the ROH a few weeks ago with my teacher (Bob Farley) playing nat along with a section of nat horns, modern trombones, and a modern orchestra.

    A lot of film music gets recorded here, and you can hear the LSO and other London orchestras and session groups on a suprising amount of famous films. James Watson is another great player and legendary teacher who can be heard on a lot of film scores.

    I think we've dropped the names of many of the great Brit players, but I should add Patrick Addinall - BBC Phil (who my teacher told me he reckons is one of the most phenomenal players he's heard).[/list]
  4. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

    Oct 11, 2004
    Farnham (a place too smal
    Well, if dropping names into the mix is the name of the game - Philip Jones needs an honourable mention. He is not the most famous player for his orchestral playing (although he was quite a mean player), but his influence upon the brass ensemble world is without question.

    The use of the 4 valved Eb was popularised (I believe) by Howard Snell, during his time as principal of the LSO. I know many players who followed his example and still choose to do much of their playing on these instruments (although many of them use Bb bells - often Bach).

    The Bb is the standard, however, for orchestral playing. Because just about every player has come through the brass band scene, Bb is the pitch they are accustomed to, so they use it.
    Something which has never seemed to enter the British orchestral scene is the US idea of sections all playing on identical models. The LSO have all sorts of Bb in their section (last time I looked, Maurice was on a Bel Canto, Rod Franks was on a Yamaha, Nigel Gomm was on a Bach - I think) and they sounded fantastic - no problems with section blend there.

    The brass band association has been present in the orchestral trumpet world for some time. Willie Lang was in the LSO in 1962 (ex solo cornet with Dyke) and apparently would take things how he felt it should go, not necessarily how conductors wanted it.

    Denis Wick has written a fascinating article on orchestral trumpeters through his life in the LSO. I have been fortunate enough to get a copy of this article (the joy of knowing Denis), but I believe it is going to be in a future ITG Journal - so everyone will be able to read it for themselves - it is a good reason to join!

    One passage I particularly like is the following
    The rising generations of young players have always fascianted me. It seemed to me that there were two basic schools of playing; the old brass band style, with barely suppressed vibrato but tremendous virtuosity, and what the late John Fletcher used to call the Prince Consort Road whiter-than-white school - referring, of course to Ernest Hall (1891-1982), the biggest single influece on British orchestral trumpet playing, who was professor at the Royal College of Music from 1924 until his retirement.

    In some ways, this polarisation has left the UK trumpet world now. The top players, in the best brass bands, are able to produce the most stunning tone without vibrato, making the transfer to trumpet and orchestral playing that much easier. Many of the upcoming stars are still very much influenced by the brass bands (their technique tends to be flawless) yet are also able to play in such a style that you would never think they have ever touched a cornet.

    How to describe the sound is very difficult. Describing sound in terms of words is always going to produce problems. We all hear music differently, so maybe this is going to a pointless activity. One person's "bright" is another's "lively" or "sharp." My advice is to listen to the opening fanfare of Star Wars. That sums up the Maurce Murphy sound - it is a full fat tone, with warmth, yet powerful enough to make you take notice after only one note.

    I am very interested how this discussion will end up. I will do some more reading and see if I can find anything else relevant, memory serves that there is a passage in Howard Snell's The Trumpet book that might be useful, now where did I put it?

    I do hope that, in time, Manny will start up a thread about he perceives the US sound (and how he compares it to the other sounds around the world). That would be fascinating.
  5. wiseone2

    wiseone2 Artitst in Residence Staff Member

    Nov 19, 2003
    Sections playing the same horns is a relatively new thing. Philly's section, when Krauss or Johnson played first, played a wide variety of trumpet makes. Boston was also all over the place with horns. When I subbed with the New York Philharmonic, Bill Vacchiano was playing a Getzen D frankenhorn, the rest of the section played Bachs. Only Chicago seemed to have played the same model horns.
    In my humble opinion, much too much is made of matching horns.
    The magic was in those wonderful players. By the way, I played on some of the horns that were owned by some of the great players in the Philly, NY Phil and the BSO.......... I thought my horns were better :cool:
  6. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

    Oct 11, 2004
    Farnham (a place too smal
    This is what many of us think, so nice to hear someone over there agree with us - you must have some Brit blood in you somewhere :-)

    (either that or you have been talking to some of us far too long :-P )
  7. JackD

    JackD Mezzo Forte User

    Nov 30, 2003
    Manchester / London
    I have to say after seeing the CSO for the first time last night (first time I've seen a US orchestra - that coming on and practising thing cracked me up! :D ) I do wonder if they might be onto something. Their section blend was, for lack of a better word, perfect! I know they're all amazing players in their own right, but I did wonder if all being on the same trumpet helped things.

    (Ducks the hail of smelly cheese bound to come from Mike :lol: )

    That's a whole different thread though.

    ps. Can't believe I left out Howard Snell, what a legend he is!
  8. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Pianissimo User

    I can't either, and I've had several lessons with him!! .. :oops:

    Also, originally a cornet player from a Salvation Army background. In fact, an interesting story of Howards, kind of related to use of Bb instruments. When Howard first turned up a college orchestra, he'd never heard of transposition. He just played the notes as printed in the copy (I think they were for trumpet in A or C). The conductor obviously stops the orchestra to find out what's happening. Howard explained that he couldn't play the part today as he had to learn about transposition, but he would be able to play it next rehearsal. The lesson he learnt and no doubt passes on to every player he teaches, do your research, be prepared!!


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