Method to the Madness?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by PiGuy_314, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. PiGuy_314

    PiGuy_314 Pianissimo User

    Oct 12, 2013
    Hey all.

    On a normal trumpet, cornet, or flugelhorn, from what I can gather, the first valve lowers the pitch by a step, the second valve lowers the pitch by a half step, and the third valve lowers the pitch by one and a half steps. If there is a fourth valve, it lowers the pitch by two and a half steps (someone correct me if I'm wrong on this).

    My question is this:

    It doesn't take much to realise that if the first and second valves were switched, everything from first to fourth valve would be in order---half step, whole step, one and a half steps, two and a half steps.

    Why were horns not built like that? Why are horns not built so that the first valve lowers it a half step, the second a whole step, etc, all in order?

    Is there some definitive reason for the actual way they build them? Or did it just perhaps become 'grandfathered in' and no one changed it (think of the fingering changes (!))?

    Thanks for pondering my question.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2013
  2. Comeback

    Comeback Forte User

    Jun 22, 2011
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Consider the entire horn architecture. Slide length associated with the valves might make an efficient convenient design difficult given the sequencing you suggest.
  3. PiGuy_314

    PiGuy_314 Pianissimo User

    Oct 12, 2013
    Obviously the saddle on the first valve would have to be modified (perhaps the half step slide length would be too short to facilitate its attachment directly to the slide), but other than that, what would really be difficult?

    Course, there could be something obvious I'm just missing...
  4. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    Since it is the 1 step slide which commonly needs adjusting on the fly, then what finger would do it and how if on the 2nd valve? Also where would the 2nd valve slide go, so as not to interfere with the playing hand? The short, non-adjusted slide on the 2nd valve in the standard design doesn't protrude much and so doesn't get it the way of the right hand.
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    There are some very early rotary-valved cornets with the 1/2, 1/1, 1 1/2 configuration. My theory is that they changed the configuration to weed out stupid people--the viola, after all, has been around a long, long time.
  6. PiGuy_314

    PiGuy_314 Pianissimo User

    Oct 12, 2013
    Good point. One and two would have to be alternately fingered as three. I assert that if the one step slide were on the second valve, it could be easily bent (or even left straight) and not interfere with the movement of the right hand.

    Thanks for the response. Thought provoking, definitely.
  7. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    Selmer Paris made a French Horn with an ascendent 3rd valve ie depressing raised the pitch one tone, sort the fingering for that!

    Regards, Stuart.

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