I want to learn about natural trumpets

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Masterwannabe, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. Masterwannabe

    Masterwannabe Mezzo Piano User

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    I have recently been trying to learn more about the original trumpets, they fascinate me especially in regard to being able to play a chromatic scale. My problem is that my research so far has been on the internet as a whole and we all know that one can waste/spend a great deal of time reading the infinite supply of data found there. I have several questions and I apologize ahead of time if they are dumb questions or seem so. 1. How does one get the different pitches with only the lip vibration? I understand about the horns with holes, I want to know about the horns preceding the holes. One site I found talked about using modern mouthpieces with these horns and suggested a baroque mouthpiece would be better. So also what would be the difference in these? Just as an aside, I have always wondered why one can buzz a mouthpiece and hit almost any pitch they want but when length is added to the mouthpiece that ability disappears. 2. Do you more knowledgeable players think that learning to play a natural trumpet would improve one's playing on a modern horn? Any insight you all can provide would be greatly appreciated. _________________________________________________________________ If you don't know where you are going it doesn't matter how you get there.
     
  2. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

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    At the top of this section, there is a 'sticky' thread "How does a Trumpet Work?" which will help to explain the issue of why the mouthpiece can buzz continuously variable pitches but when the rest of the trumpet is added, only certain harmonics can be played - it has to do with the length of the 'standing wave' which is set up inside the trumpet - and these harmonics become closer together as you move up the range. There is also another thread 'Hidden Slot' that discusses this in some detail - along with other related topics that you may find to be of interest (there are a lot of posts and you will need to read through them):
    http://www.trumpetmaster.com/vb/f131/hidden-slot-47113.html

    As far as the natural trumpet is concerned, the original ones could not play a chromatic scale. So, the player sometimes had several trumpets of different lengths to play different parts of the scale. But, if the trumpet is long enough, the partials (the playable harmonics) are close enough together that it is possible to play something close to a chromatic scale over a short range. I have put a trumpet mouthpiece into a trombone and due to the additional length of the trombone, I can play something close to a chromatic scale at the upper end of the range - and I am not a real natural trumpet player (pun intended).

    Do a search on this forum for 'natural' (the search only works for one word at a time) and you will find some more information. In fact, at the bottom of this screen (scroll down all the way) there is a section named "Similar Threads" which has some suggestions. Also, if I recall correctly, there is a video here somewhere with Nick D. playing a natural trumpet (he's the same one who does the video on how a trumpet works).

    Good luck on your research.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  3. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

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    (Double-post gremlin strikes again!):-(
     
  4. Masterwannabe

    Masterwannabe Mezzo Piano User

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    Sorry for the run-together sentances, I can't seem to get the posting/editing process to recognize my 'enter' key to go to a new line.

    At any rate I have done some searching on this forum and read some of the 'STICKY - How a trumpet works'. I have done the searches on multiple words, I will try only 'natural' and see if I can narrow things down. I did read some about slotting adn I must say that I am not sure what it all means, I never had physics in school. Ha Ha.
     
  5. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

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    In the very top/right corner of the posting window is a little box with [A/A] sort of graphic in it. If you click on that box, it changes the editing mode so that you can backspace, insert, delete, and other normal editing functions. When you post again, try it. The software that runs this forum has a few issues (including the search function, below)

    You don't need to be a physicist and probably don't need to know the theory in order to simply play a natural trumpet. But, is sounds like you are looking for information more than a trumpet itself. In this case, the theory is a big part of what you will likely find. So, might as well read through some of it. As you do, more and more of it will start to make some sense.

    Do you play a regular (valved) trumpet now? If not, you should pick up a beater at a flea market or pawn shop or Craigslist and try it. If you do play now, this theory can only help you become a better player. After all, "knowledge is power"! (Wow, why didn't I think of that before???):dontknow:
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    We have to separate a couple of concepts here. The instrument that we see on YouTube is NOT a natural trumpet. It is actually an invention from the late 1950s. More on this later.

    Here the 2 minute history of the trumpet:
    The natural trumpet started life probably as a seashell and animal horn. As metallurgy progressed, instruments were then made of metal. During the middle ages, man discovered how to bend metal tubing and finally a trumpet could be built that was long enough to have a playable scale in a range that people wanted to hear.

    Manking being what it is, trumpet players formed unions (guilds) and had incredible control over who got to do what. The tradition was that trumpet players get transposed parts for instance.

    In any case, most music was limited to the "partial" scale, sometimes wrongly called the harmonic series. The two are mathematically the same, but harmonics sound all at the same time giving instruments their characteristic tone and partials are played one at a time giving us the specific pitch that we hear. That scale was not very well in tune and the artisans that built instruments played with bell design and mouthpieces to get the instruments more "cooperative". There were also various inventions to help like a short slide between the mouthpiece and horn (Tromba da tirarsi) that allowed for tuning on the fly up to a whole tone.

    During this baroque era, the players developed chops that help them bend tones in tune. This was their life. Composers did not write much that asked for notes outside of the easily "bendable" natural series.

    So the chromatics that you mention, really did not exist with a couple of notable exceptions. Bach wrote a Cantata or two with notes like C# of Eb. They had to be lipped down and if you check the liturgical context, you see that these notes represented pain or sorrow - and probably sounded as such.

    There seems to be one bigger exception though in Bohemia where H.I.F.Biber was in charge. He must have had the real "monsters" of the baroque era as there are all sorts of interesting parts - also in minor keys. In any case, this was more of the exception than the rule.

    The modern invention that I mentioned at the top is essentially a historic model with holes punched in at critical positions. Much like reed instruments, this "detunes" the partial scale and allows players to play in what modern ears call "in tune" with greater ease. The sound changes somewhat when you open the holes, but the tone is not worse than a lipped up or down note from a REAL natural trumpet.

    The partial series is called such because it represents the amount of parts that the air column is divided into. The fundemental is one wavelength in the horn, "C" in the bass clef is 2 wavelengths in the horn, "G" below the staff is 3 wavelengths and not perfectly in tune. Low C is 4 wavelengths, first line E is 5 and not in tune. 2nd line G is 6 wavelengths, Bb is 7 and not in tune and 3rd space C is 8. Here is also where the scale starts:
    D=9
    E=10
    F#=11
    G=12
    a very flat A=13
    Bb=14
    B natural =15
    C above the staff =16

    Beyond that you have to have your chops really together to get a clear sound.

    So that should at least get you started. To experiment, an 8 foot garden hose with 1/2" inside diameter is tune to about "C". The octaves won't be in tune until a bell is added.
     
  7. Masterwannabe

    Masterwannabe Mezzo Piano User

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    Rowuk,

    I think it was a comment you made about Gottfried Reiche that prompted me to look into the natrual/original/baroque trumpets. In my research I came across a painting of him (the one done for his 60th birthday I think) and in it he was holding a manuscript with the fanfare 'Abblasen'. Since most of us in this country recognize this as the opening fanfare to the 'CBS Sunday Morning' show I am fascinated at the ability to play this on a natural trumpet. There are no vents depicted in the painting but I do understand artistic license and know that the artist may have just not painted them, although I find it hard to imagine the painter leaving out this detail when he got the notes of the fanfare accurate.

    Do you know anywhere one might find drawings or pictures of the mouthpieces used on these horns if they were designed to compensate for some of the inherent problems you mentioned? I would like to compare them to the modern ones we use today.

    Thanks.

    ________________________________________________________________
    If you don't know where you are going it doesn't matter how you get there.
     
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Gottfried Reiches picture is actually a consequence of the guilds power. It was not allowed to paint the trumpet for pictures like this so he got the coiled invention trumpet instead. The score for Abblasen (blow-down) was painted to portay him as the master he was, even without "his" standard instrument.

    I have been to most of the museums and there is no proof of any vents before the late 1950s. If you want to check out more about these original instruments :
    trompetenmacher.de - Historische Blechblasinstrumente - Trompetenbau
    especially the tab "workshop". This is a course offered where you build your own instrument from scratch. It is offered in the states here:
    Workshops
    Blechblas-Instrumentenbau Egger
    Construction
    Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music | Vol. 8 No. 1 | Kurtzman Part V
    The Baroque Trumpet Shop
    Francisco PĂ©rez

    THE authority on no vent playing is Jean-Francois Madeuf. Google him. There is a lot of info.

    In defense of the vented trumpet, it really makes life easier when you are playing with modern orchestras and modern intonation. Those are curses that baroque artists in the 17th century did not have to deal with.
     

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