Period Music Debate

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by rowuk, Nov 7, 2006.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Chuck,
    I am suprised it didn't start with your instrument. period.
     
  2. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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    Guys,

    Is there historical proves that natural trumpets in made in the barock time did not have any vent holes? I have heard that some trumpet makers are putting 1 vent hole most put 4. Is it possible that in the barock time makers were doing something similar? As far as I know till the late 19 century there was not a real universal standard in brass manifacture.
     
  3. robertwhite

    robertwhite Mezzo Piano User

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    Trumpetnick, that contention is true as far as I know (genuine old trumpets didn't have vent holes).

    That brings up another interesting point - everytime I've heard a performance on a "real" old instrument (or a faithful copy)by a specialist performer, I always am struck at how much those horns narrow the technical possiblilities available to the player.

    I saw a DM recital last year at Indiana by a very accomplished player who plays with a full-time pro group and teaches in a major metropolitan area now. He had some obscure Arban solos drawn from opera arias, and he played several original and copied 19th century cornets. While there were moments of really beautiful sounds that were compelling and unique, my overall impression was how hard this excellent player had to work to manage these horns. It was an interesting exercise in "re-enactment" I guess, and his lecture was really good, but I don't know how much it accomplished musically.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2006
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I know of no examples of Clarinos with vent holes in any museum. Walter Holy came up with the invention in the early 60s.

    As to the "limitations", I think we have to compare the right things. If I am playing a Mozart Requiem or Beethoven symphony, period instruments have no limitations(except for absolute volume). They do expand the amount of "color" in the orchestra to a great degree however. If we are talking about "cutting edge" technique, then the superior manufacturing processes today present an advantage. I do not know if Al Vizutti is more "musical" than Arban was - he definitely has technically superior equipment(this is not a criticism of Al Vizutti-the guy is one of the most brilliant players alive!). So the musical accomplishment is maybe a moot point. Arban would have loved to have modern valves for sure, but maybe not the "modern" sound.
    These points are the very reason for this thread - let's keep it up!
     
  5. cornetguy

    cornetguy Mezzo Forte User

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    ok time to fan the flames a bit. i don't mind the period hardware too much, (though i still think groups like the spco shouldn't mix the two or go that way) what really bothers me is the self rightous boasting either by the performer or the recoord company to the effect of "at last hear (insert composer name here) as they intended their music to be heard." My questions are first of all prove it, and second of all I think it is more what they had to put up with not what they heard in their mind. Think of the letters by Mozart and others boasting the virtues of a large string section. I really think a lot of the period instrument groups would not have gone so far if they were not artifically boosted by the recording companies.
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Cornet Guy, you have hit the nail on the head-NO ONE has the right to claim the absolute truth! In these days of massive marketing, we have become insensitive to the bold statements claimed by just about anybody wanting to sell something! Even TMers get caught up in "best trumpet", "best mouthpiece", "best player" arguments that often do little more than to broadcast the level of tolerance or lack of such of the poster.
    One point that I think is very important: if one gives period horns a chance, it will generally change their approach to using modern instruments. That doesn't mean that you will only accept period practices or instruments, but you look at things like color and balance in a different way. I feel the added experience is a must for anyone serious about older music.
    I personally do not look for converts (the period jobs pay better and I enjoy having as little competition as possible........)
     
  7. cornetguy

    cornetguy Mezzo Forte User

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    actually having said all i am interested in learning natural trumpet for the reason rowuk. i also think there are things we can learn from the period instrument people without using the hardware. particularly in the modern concert hall.
     
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Playing period instruments can become contagious!
    It is also one of the few times that the violinists will voice their respect for what you are doing (the period fiddlers know how tough baroque trumpet is!)!
     
  9. Hags888

    Hags888 Pianissimo User

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    Jumping in a little late, but here are my thoughts.

    The thing with music before the era of recording technology is, we simply don't know what it really sounded like, period. We can play the old period instruments now, and read the treatises about what music sounded like back then, and get an idea of what it *probably* sounded like. But at the end of the day NOBODY really knows exactly what it *should* sound like. We just have pretty good guesses.

    Compare that to the music of Copland, Stravinksy, Count Basie, or anyone from the last 100 years. We have recordings of this music either by the composers themselves or conducted by the composers themselves. We can pinpoint exactly the sound and style we should be getting with the music, because the sound and style has been precisely preserved with recording technology. Even the music of the 19th century was only a few generations removed in the recordings of the early 20th century. If you throw period music into the mix, it doesn't have a chance. People expect "correct" style and interpretation with Early Music, but it just isn't possible.

    Does that make early music a futile endeavor? No! I would argue to the contrary. It makes studying early music all the more important. If we want to play the music of Bach and Handel, knowing the concept, sound and style of Natural trumpet playing will give you a much better idea of how to approach it on the piccolo trumpet. Does that mean everyone should be playing Bach and Handel on natural trumpets? Of course not. But if we listen to Crispin and Ecklund and read Tarr and the treatises, or even pick up a natural trumpet, it can only inform us how to approach the Baroque style of music better. Are you going trill from middle C to D just because you can on a piccolo trumpet? Would you have been able to on a natural trumpet? Should you play a cadenza with lots of chromatic notes just because you can on a piccolo trumpet? Those are tough questions.

    I don't remember which musicologist made this point (and I'm sure I'm butchering this), but there is something to be said for music interpretation of our time as well. Since we can never truly reach the "music as Bach intended", our own interpretation of the music,informed by treatise study and period instrument experimentation, is just as valid as the interpretations during Bach's time. On the flip side, a jazz version of a Bach cello suite is equally valid, at least IMO. It all depends on what your musical goal is. With early music, it's an attempt at recreation that will never succeed 100%. But it's sure worth the effort.
     
  10. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

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    I have read the argument that in some cases this might be a more accurate representation of the impact the music will have had on the audience than what we consider a "period performance." If we take the Haydn concerto - this would have been a serious "shock" piece to the audience (who may never have heard a trumpet play chromatically) so if we want to make it less a period performance practice type performance and more a period impression performance (where the impression made on the audience is closer to that which would have been experienced at the time) then maybe the jazz version would give us more chance to do so (maybe the inclusion of microphones, amps and computer techniques would further this thought process).
    The audience now has very different preconceptions about performance than they would have done at the time the piece was written - when we are giving a period performance, are we satisfying our own musicological ego or are we trying to give them the same experience that a contemporary audience might have experienced?
     

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