In praise of... the F trumpet!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Manny Laureano, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    Dear Tmike,

    I was perusing TH and noticed your question about the F trumpet and thought I would talk about this oft neglected instrument!

    In the "old" days this was the premiere instrument (well, in NYC, admittedly) for those who played a lot of Baroque music. It was during a time when orchestral guys like Vacchiano and Voisin looked at the piccolo trumpet as a gimmick, "not a legitimate instrument", as Vacchiano once said during an interview with Martin Bookspan.

    We have to remember this was before André became a world class figure and completing what Adolf Scherbaum and Benny Baker started with the piccolo.

    That having been said, one of the transpositions that vachiano held us accountable for was the minor third down so that we would be able to play the D parts for the Bach oratorios and masses. A few years ago, when the Mesiah orchestra around here got smaller and smaller I used the F to play it and really enjoyed the sound. I've also used G, Eb, and D. Now I play the Piccolo exclusively because the orchestra is so small (we split up so we can put on Hansel and Gretel concurrently).

    I've used the F for Bolero as well. I would never use it for a Tchaikovsky symphony, but another conceivable use would be some of the "kleinem piston" parts of Mahler 7 and 3.

    So, bottom line, it's an instrument that has a big enough sound to get away with certain things in the large orchestra yet small enough to use in the baroque orchestra.

    I have two instruments. One is an F/G set-up by Bach that I bought while still in Seattle in 1980. I might be very interested in selling that horn/s. The reason is because I now own an F and a G; two separate instruments. The F belonged to Mr. Vacchiano and is the one he used to record the Brandenburg with Fritz Reiner and the G is a Bach frankenhorn which he used quite a bit in the orchestra in the later years. I also own an Eb which is my prized sentimental posession that belonged to Mr. Vacchiano. It's a GORGEOUS horn which plays sweetly when asked.

    So, there you have it... my paean to a neglected horn!

    Be well,

  2. jwtptboy

    jwtptboy New Friend

    Dec 7, 2006
    Portland, Oregon
    Hi Manny,

    Great post on the F-tpt. I finally got an F a while back and have found many good uses for it... I'd like to mention one such use here: modern music written by composers with limited knowledge of the trumpet! As a freelancer in Boston, I got to play a lot of new music, especially with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Very often, I'd recieve trumpet parts with very high passages which needed to not sound like a piccolo. Often, they were notated in B-flat. What a convenience to play F and have the familiar 'up-a-fourth' picc transposition (OK, 'down-a-fifth') for these often illogical series of notes!

    But now, I'd also like to sing the praises of another neglected instrument--the E-natural!!! I had one of these made custom, out of a B-flat trumpet, bell and all... It has been a lifesaver and a very full-toned lifesaver at that! A few examples: the last page of Mahler 3, the third mvt. of Mahler 9, Pulcinella, the second mvt. of Symphonie Fantastique, the first mvt. of Pines, and the list goes on. I thought I'd only play the Hummel on this horn; boy was I wrong! It just goes to show, when you get a great instrument in any key, surprising uses will present themselves to you at every turn...

    All the best,

    Jeff Work
  3. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    For those of you that don't know Jeff, he is the recent winner of the principal trumpet position in Portland, OR. He plays alongside our good friend, Dave Bamonte, whom you've seen playing with me on those Monette video clips.

    For those of you that normally attend PSO concerts, that's one hell of a one-two punch to listen to on a regular basis.

    Thanks for contributing to this tribute to the F trumpet!

  4. Eclipsehornplayer

    Eclipsehornplayer Forte User

    Sep 14, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Fascinating Fellas....

    Keep it coming! :-)
  5. Bear

    Bear Forte User

    Apr 30, 2004
    What about the bass trumpet? There's some lit for it! lol. Transpositions... something I STILL struggle with ocassionaly.

  6. Jimi Michiel

    Jimi Michiel Forte User

    Mar 22, 2005

    A while ago, you mentioned that one of the reasons you liked Monettes (especially on late 19th century symphonic rep) is that they allowed you to get closer to the sound of the low F trumpet, which many of these works were written for (I couldn't actually find the post, so I'm working from memory here...). Have you played/do you own the larger F instrument? Just curious...

  7. jwtptboy

    jwtptboy New Friend

    Dec 7, 2006
    Portland, Oregon
    Hi Jimi,

    Sorry to jump in on a question for Manny, but... I actually own a period low-F tpt by Cerveny (known today for tubas) which I found at a junk store near Boston. Check out my post in the VINTAGE HORN EYE CANDY thread in the vintage equipment section. There's a photo attached.

    (The post was on 12-12-06 @ 4:23pm.)

    As for the sound, it's surprisingly closer to the horn family than you might expect! If you really want to hear one, Ed Tarr has a piston version of one of these beasts, though I think he might have a modern mouthpiece on the horn. He recorded on it, even the Saint-Saens Septet crooked down to low-E-flat! The two CD's I know of are on Christophorus: no. 77168 and no. 74557. It's very eye-opening to listen to this horn... The sound is very mellow at low dynamics, very brilliant in the loud, and very 'intimate' in character. The articulation has that 'burr' or 'chiff' that we sometimes associate with natural trumpets. Some have said that the low-F is that last true relative of the natural trumpet. (Because B-flats became so influeced by cornets, they're viewed as a sort of hybrid.)

    By the way, I believe there are a couple of modern makers making low-F's. Dotzhauer (spelling?) is one. The other is one of the big historic reproduction companies; can't remember which. Don't tell any conductors!!!

    One other note: These are not 'bass trumpets' but some have called them 'contra-alto trumpets' or simply 'orchestral trumpet in low-F.' Bass trumpets use a trombone mouthpiece, these fit trumpet and the bell diameter is like a trumpet. My low-F actually fits in my old Benge triple case!

    Long answer to a short question.

    ~Jeff Work
  8. Groggles

    Groggles New Friend

    Mar 3, 2006
    I heard John Francois Madeuf play the low f trumpet last week in Basel and it was ridiculously good. He replaced Ed Tarr as the natural trumpet teacher in basel. it is a rotary instrument which was built in prague at the turn of the century.

    Madeuf and Guillaume Jehl have started playing these instruments in Paris with an orchestra that are only playing romantic instruments and the brass sound with f trumpets f horns and the bass trombone using a long f slide is like an organ. Good for bruckner obviously!
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I have an old rotary deep F-trumpet (built around 1900). It is primarily cylindrical in bore and sounds somewhat like a natural trumpet. These were standard orchestral instruments about 100 years ago and many players back then thought that the "high Bb trumpet" (our normal Bb) sounded thin.
    The tone changes depending on register and it is much easier to split notes. It does give new meaning to the dynamic marks in Strauss, Wagner, Brückner and Mahler though. FFFF does not destroy string section and the first 10 rows of the audience! When played loud, they have edge but don't get extremely bright.
    I also have a rotary high F trumpet that I almost never use. It works OK but isn't big enough for the orchestra and is too big for baroque. The G works better for Bach cantatas in C and I have a good Eb for the orchestral things.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2007
  10. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    Now, ya see...? I would much rather try my hand at playing those low F trumpets than the rotary for Bruckner. I don't think the sound would be more "authentic" than that.

    I think using the low F's is a great idea. It would likely take A LOT of getting used to.


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