Pre-1910 trumpet method books

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by gsmonks, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. gunshowtickets

    gunshowtickets Forte User

    Mar 11, 2015
    Tidewater, VA
    I'm glad I'm not the only one who remembered that thread.
  2. gsmonks

    gsmonks Piano User

    Due to demand, because of the war of 1812, and subsequent demand after the war, keyed bugles were mass-produced. Natural trumpets and bugles were also mass-produced. Trombones were also mass-produced. Museums are often stuffed chock-full of old natural trumpets, which I've seen stuffed into cases like sardines, so that it's hard to get a look at the individual horns.

    In the world of brasswind physics, the modern Bb trumpet is considered a type of cornet. The reason is simply the ratio of conical vs cylindrical tubing, a trumpet being roughly 65% cylindrical vs roughly 35% conical, and the reverse for the cornet. Some refer to the Bb trumpet as a sort of "cornet hybrid".

    Without getting into all the historical stuff and the gradual development of the instrument from ca 1750 to ca 1850, at the centre of it all is the matter of tone quality.

    The natural trumpet, being a double-length instrument like the Horn, in a big room with lively acoustics produces a "rolling" sound, as do all double-length instruments. Half-length instruments like the cornet, Saxhorns, and others, do not produce this rolling sound. The difference is in the wave-forms.

    The low F trumpet's extra tubing (you may as well consider the low F to be a C, the low Eb to be a Bb, etc) is to preserve the trumpet's characteristic (natural trumpet) sound.

    In order to really hear the effect, you need to play these instruments in lively settings with good acoustics. Old churches and parliamentary buildings often suffice. In such settings, if you switch from 3 contra-alto trumpets to 3 Bb's or C's, and 3, say, old Besson cornets, you can really hear the difference between the types of instruments. But the trumpets and cornets sound very similar, and it is possible to fudge the sound of a trumpet to sound like a cornet, and vice versa, depending upon the mouthpiece used and the playing style.

    In my collection of old band music, there are lots of examples of arrangements having both cornets and trumpets. The music for Zampa by Ferdinand Herold, for example, has trumpet parts that are like bugle calls, from which one can probably infer that natural trumpets were originally used.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Your definition of a trumpet is your definition. The math argument only works if you ignore most other things (like the function of the instrument in orchestra or band). Fine for you.

    One thing is true however, all of those cornet methods (even the ones between 1824 and 1900) are now primarily trumpet methods. The modern trumpet has nothing to do with the "perfected" post horn of ages gone by.

    Even although modern composers have a great variety of alto and soprano brass instruments at their disposal, they are primarily writing for modern trumpets - parts not seriously interchangeable with the "cornet".

    Instruments by the numbers doesn't work any better than finding a mate by hair color. Blonde or red head is only one of many parameters. Ignoring the other parameters does not strengthen any argument. I do not understand the need for a box or one sided definition. I enjoy my cornetti, natural and baroque trumpets, low and high pitched valve trumpets, flugelhorns and cornets. They all offer a specific palette of colors that allows me to fine tune the experience depending on the ensemble. My modern or historic cornets certainly have no place when trumpet parts are called for.

    Our use of words does change with time. Funny enough however, even the cornet virtuosos of old drew a very clear line when it came to the trumpet. THEY certainly acknowledged the difference. Maybe the problem is much different - perhaps the cornet should have never been considered a soprano horn, rather a not so distant cousin of the trumpet.

    In any case, you wanted <1910 methods. They are out there, not hidden and certainly useful when comparing instruments.
  4. gsmonks

    gsmonks Piano User

    The definition of a trumpet is not my definition. It's the prevailing definition in brasswind science circles. Lots of papers on the subject in the Edinburgh University music library. You might find additional related material in various papers in the Brasswind Taxonomy Project.

    Arnold Myers - Edinburgh Research Explorer

    The cornet virtuosos of old often held very dogmatic and out-to-lunch opinions. Clarke was pretty snarky where the Bb trumpet was concerned, calling it a "European fad", a phrase that was often thrown at Louis Armstrong when he first picked up the instrument.

    I've read several papers on the cornet, one of them titled something like "When the cornet became a trumpet".

    I've looked at a ton of equipment from ca 1900 to ca 1930, and when I was still collecting, had lots of WWI-era cornets that came with very small, shallow mouthpieces. The sound was not at all cornet-like. Lots of the horns in question had very little conical tubing, having instead stepped tubing (lots of those cornets with S-shaped tubing and slides for low and high pitch). The cornopeans were like that- lots of stepped tubing, and they were around 50% conical vs 50% cylindrical. But the sound was very cornet-like because the stepped tubing somehow manages to do the same job as conical.

    The horns that really have that distinctive cornet sound everyone is looking for are the old Bessons, the ones with really large bells. But you have to play them with a mouthpiece like a DW2 in order to get that old-fashioned British cornet sound, I find. I've tried numerous mouthpieces in my Getzen Eterna cornet, and as big as the Bach 1 and the Schilke model 24 are, they just don't produce a real cornet sound, probably because of the DW2's greater depth.

    I'm babbling. My brain is fried from working on an old Hammond organ since early this morning, doing a Hauptwerk/Artisan conversion. All I can see is endless little yellow wires that have to be cut, stripped, and plugged into the keyboard manuals.

    Mainly what I was looking for, in terms of pre-1910 method books, was something written specifically for the contra-alto. I've never seen anything specifically for the contra-alto, and perhaps nothing exists?

    The cornetto! There's an instrument I love and hate. I love listening to them played well, I wish I could play one, but my experience back in university was one of dismal failure, trying to get the hang of playing to the side into that damned tiny fipple. The two guys and one girl who fared best were all "French" horn players. Dunno whether it was just coincidence, or something to do with the embouchure. In Class Brass they also did very well on the trumpet. Had better tone than almost everyone in the regular trumpet section.

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