The Piccolo's 4th 4th

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpetmike, Oct 28, 2006.

  1. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

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    The more I am playing piccolo, the more I am becoming puzzled with why the 4th valve on a piccolo takes you down a 4th - can anyone shed any light on why this particular tuning was chosen?

    From what I can see, the note that the 4th valve is most commonly used for is a bottom F (written), why not just have the 4th valve the length of a 5th, meaning that this note would require just the 4th valve?
    This would also mean that the low C (that is required in Messiah and Seraphim, to name but two) would be more accessible.

    I can understand that the 4th valve gives alternative fingering further up the instrument, but with most of the professional level piccolos now having a mobile third valve slide (and some having mobile first slides) is this as necessary as it once was? After all - we are all now accustomed to using these slides on the bigger instruments.

    Just interested in whether anyone has any historical information as to why this is the case.
    Why don't we have a 4th valve tuned to a 5th?
     
  2. patdublc

    patdublc Pianissimo User

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    I've wondered the same thing. Perhaps one of the manufacturers or experts on early picc design could chime in and tell us some more.

    pat
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    There are many instruments with a 4th valve of a fourth. 4 valved euphonium, 4 valved tuba, the valve on a trombone is also a fourth. It allows you to use similar fingerings of an octave up: F is normally 1-low F 1+4, E is 1+2, low E 1+2+4 and so forth. If the instrument has a good pedal tone, you can use the whole lower octave. I have a Getzen 4 valve flugel that lets me play trombone parts with ease. I just add the 4th valve, everything else stays the same.
     
  4. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

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    I can understand the logic of having similar fingering in each octave, but would it really be beyond the scope of the mental ability of trumpeters to cope with something different?
    On the trombone, the valve is often used as an alternative to having to go from one end of the slide to the other at great speed - not just to give the player extra notes.

    On the larger instruments (tubas, euphoniums) the 4th valve is essential for intonation - especially on non-compensating instruments - triggers are not fitted as standard, so some other way of tuning (written) D and C# was needed.
    We have mobile slides - we can get those notes in tune without the need for alternative fingering.

    I guess it would be too much to ask us all to change over now - we are all used to having a 4th valve that does a 4th - too much thinking is not good for trumpeters:lol:
     
  5. Clarino

    Clarino Mezzo Piano User

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    Why not ask Leigh MacKinney to make the fourth valve a Fifth when you order a picc? You would certainly have a unique instrument then, and you could report to us how well it works.:cool:
     
  6. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

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    If he ever gets the piccolo out of the prototype stage, I may suggest it as an additional piece of piping - it may only be useful for a few pieces, but it might be worth considering.
     
  7. Albert Castillo

    Albert Castillo Pianissimo User

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    Hi,
    I agree with Rowuk

     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010
  8. Albert Castillo

    Albert Castillo Pianissimo User

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    Ah,interesting is to see the video of Wynton Marsalis with Kathleen Battle.
    Wynton changes the 4th slide longer for the Haendel, when he wants to play the low C (A).
     
  9. B15M

    B15M Forte User

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    I think it's done that way just because it always was, and that's a bad reason.
    I think your on to something and I would go for it if I could get the slide.
     
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I have a 3 valve picc with an extension for the 3rd slide of a fourth or a fifth. I never use the fifth. I don't think the C-major Bach cantatas sound right on the picc. My G trumpet has a darker sound that blends with the soloist better. The natural trumpet sounds the best though!
    I use my Selmer D trumpet on those few low bars in the Bach christmas oratorio. Bach wrote the low notes on purpose and I wouldn't want to transpose them up. "Mighty Lord, powerful King, dearest Saviour, O how little do you value earthly treasures". The low notes are the disdain of these earthly treasures. Bach uses the "raw" tone of the natural trumpets low register as a contrast to the very regal tone in the upper octave. The modern piccolo with its very even tone in all octaves doesn't provide this contrast.
    If you are having a new picc built, why not get the additional slide. There are a lot of modern works that could maybe benefit!
     

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