Single line or multi line?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by breakup, Nov 26, 2015.

  1. breakup

    breakup Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 19, 2015
    Central Pa.
    I've been thinking about this for awhile and I have been wondering which is considered to be more difficult, or is there no difference. On the Piano I play both hands and multiple lines of harmony, along with the melody. On the trumpet I am only playing one line of music whether it be melody or harmony. Is one considered to be more difficult musically, or is each difficult in it's own right. I am aware that string instruments like the violin do occasionally play 2 lines together, and organs and other keyboard and similar instruments play multiple lines at the same time.
  2. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    I am impressed by people who can play the piano well. I'm just about okay if I can play simple chords with my left hand while playing simple melodies with my right. Anything more complex and I'm lost - so I think my answer is that multi-line playing is harder all else being equal. I still find single-line violin playing harder than single-line trumpet (though I've not had formal lessons in violin, just what I've picked up from watching my son) which I put down to a left-hand/right-hand thing (as well as there being a 30+ year disadvantage).

  3. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    As a child, I played both piano and trumpet.

    The piano certainly has its challenges, but it doesn't choose to contend with intonation (just picks a bad one ;-)), and air control is not in the equation, whereas (IMHO) that's the major challenge to the trumpeter, at least to a certain level of proficiency.

    Having said that, composers tend to write music in some sort of proportion to the available skill levels on each instrument. This evens things out a lot. There are perhaps pieces that only a hundred or so performers in the world of either instrument can perform proficiently. Even a tyro composer like myself could write piano scores that required a two octave reach on both hands or trumpet music that required a buzz during inhale. Neither is possible, and is therefore pointless.

    So things even out at a level of difficulty that is challenging, but not overly so. And this negates the foundation of the question. Essentially you're comparing apples with oranges. There is no common basis for comparison at a purely technical level.

    This tends to suggest that the performers be judged on 'musicality' rather than technique. I actually don't subscribe to this. I take the view 'horses for courses'. You find your milieu, and that is incomparable with other milieux. Any pianist that objects will be invited to perform on the trumpet better than I can the piano. And then let's see where the balance of musicality lies.

    Cue Mendelssohn's wedding march.
  4. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    The common denominator is that both instruments require dedication and practice to become proficient.

    Regards, Stuart.
  5. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    I also play piano. I used to play a lot back in college, but picked it up again this year. I like Sethoflagos' comparison, and I agree that each is difficult in their own right.

    In addition, for fellow trumpet players looking to pick up some piano skills, I think that Jerry Coker's "Jazz Keyboard for Pianists and Non-Pianists" is a good place to start.

  6. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Play one on trumpet, and sing the other note - at the same time, + multi-phonics.

    It's easier on Bass Instruments ;-)
  7. Msen

    Msen Piano User

    Dec 28, 2011
    I live in the Horn
    I play trumpet and piano. Piano mostly to study harmony.

    Both instruments are easy and difficult on some aspects

    Sound production
    Easy on piano, hit a note and the note will come out. Hard on trumpet, we all know that

    Reading sheet music
    More difficult on piano, to lines, many notes played at the same time on both hands. Identifing chords will take some time
    Easier on trumpet

    Arrangement of notes on the instrument
    Piano has all the notes layed out one after the other. All notes are in front of you. Easier to figure out intervals
    On the trumpet this is more abstract.

    Ability to play fast and clean(for me)
    Easier on the piano

    Multi tasking
    Piano demands that you do different things with your two hands. It is as if your two hands must be commanded by two different brains

    On a final note, I thing that the piano is neccesary for all musicians that use harmony, this excludes drummers and rappers :) .
    It opens your mind and helps in figuring out chords and scales. When I thing of a chord I always think the keys on the piano.

    Plus it's a nice way to make your self have breaks when you practice the trumpet and you can play after hours when people sleep, with headphones
  8. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Not related to difficulty: To an audience on solo performances, one missed note on trumpet tends to be more exposed than one missed note on piano (especially if it is not the highest note of the chord for the piano). Ive seen a number of church choir pianists cover mistakes well. Of course, with multiple notes being played simultaneously on the piano, there is also a greater number of notes available for a clam. That said, I've always admired pianists for being able to handle two "handful" of notes at the same time.
  9. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    The piano and violin are far more difficult to play.
    You need all 10 fingers for the piano working as a complete unit. The violin, viola, and cello often require double and triple stops. Bow and finger techniques require intense practice. We worry about 3 or 4 valves.
    I recently watched a program about Jascha Heifetz. During a group lesson with his students, he has one of them to play a Gb minor scale two octaves in 10ths!
    Here is the link to Tchaikovski's Violin Concerto, the 3rd movement.
    Still considered extremely difficult.

    Go look at Liszt's Transcendental Etudes or Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto. Unbelievably difficult. Take a look.
    Lizst had to use 3 staffs on occasion to get the incredibly technical part readable. We don't have to worry about the left hand playing an entirely different rhythm than the right.
    Make a mistake on a Mozart piano concerto and everyone notices.
    Now lets look at a pipe organist. Not only just one keyboard to worry about and lets not forget the pedals. Both hands and feet can be busy at the same time.
    The trumpet is tough, but violin and piano require way more skills at the same exact moment than any brass instrument does.
    Rich T.
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I read the original post differently. I think the question is is it easier with one voice per stave compared to two or more voices per stave.

    I think when we struggle with notes at the beginning of our playing careers, we often can get confused when more than "just our note" is presented. Later on, playing from a score is actually quite easy and helps us get the big picture UNLESS we have to turn pages too often. Where it becomes challenging is with 2 voices per stave and the melodic lines cross. Second trumpeters often get carried away when they play higher than the first.....

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