The wimpy modern "trumpet" vs the mighty contra-alto

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by gsmonks, Mar 8, 2016.

  1. gsmonks

    gsmonks Piano User

    For those of you who have heard me harp on endlessly about the modern Bb trumpet vs the contra-alto, I've finally tracked down two recordings which perfectly illustrate the difference:

    Listen to the opening fanfare from this modern recording using 3 modern "trumpets":

    Then listen to this old 1959 recording using 3 f contra-alto trumpets:

    When I use words like thin and puling to describe the modern trumpet, this is what I'm talking about.
  2. Dalecon

    Dalecon New Friend

    Feb 26, 2016
    Not on topic, but can't send you a PM, are you from anywhere near Gravelbourg?
  3. limepickle

    limepickle Piano User

    Aug 30, 2013
    Dallas, TX
    The contra-alto definitely has a more primal horn sound, but I think that a huge part of the difference is that in the modern recording, they are trying to play the fanfare very clean and proper. In the older recording, they are more aggressive and brassy.

    I would not describe the modern trumpet as thin. The core of the sound is still solid, but the characteristic of the sound is more mellow.
  4. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Go to 4:50 on this, and listen to them side by side.... I keep thinking, I would love to grab a bass trumpet and blow them off.

    I don't think it's fair to compare the 2, but certainly there are certain tunes that "fit" that F contra-alto better.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I don't consider a well played modern Bb, C or D/Eb trumpet sound to be wimpy. I am also not sure of the term contralto in this context. The deep F trumpet was made more or less in two versions. The standard trumpet in F and an additional F/Eb alto trumpet with a different bore and bigger mouthpiece. The former was used for soprano parts and can be considered a transition instrument between the natural and modern trumpets. It has a bore and bell size more or less identical to the rotary Bb trumpets that followed it. The latter was an instrument used in germanic marching bands for the horn parts as well as being specified for 3rd trumpet in some russian symphonic music. It had a larger bore and bigger bell.

    The F trumpet (not contralto) has much of the character of a natural trumpet as it is primarily narrow cylindrical bore and played in the third and fourth octaves. The contralto F was played in the second and third octaves and was considerably more mellow from approach.
  6. gsmonks

    gsmonks Piano User

    The distance from Gravelbourg to Regina is about the same as the distance from Regina to here. It's about a 5-hour drive from here.
  7. gsmonks

    gsmonks Piano User

    The difference is that the contra-alto plays like a double-length instrument like the Horn. Contra-altos, especially in sections, with lively acoustics, get that characteristic "rolling" sound, as do "French" Horns, and all double-length (natural) instruments.

    The modern trumpet, which is a type of cornet, produces a thin, simple wave-form by comparison.
  8. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe
  9. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe
  10. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe

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