Trumpet Cornet - the Difference

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpetsplus, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    It took me a few years to completely change over from cornet to trumpet.
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    thanks for the clarification. I agree with you. I think where some get stuck however, is on how bows are made. On the cornet, the bows are conical - on many, even the tuning slide is different on the top and bottom. If we think about the old Bach Vindabona, we had a similar bow on the tuning slide AND the respective mellowness of the sound - even for a trumpet.

    I don't think that the quantity of bows makes so much difference, it is really the proportion of tapered to straight pipe.

    In spite of criticism to the contrary, the distance of the bell to the ear DOES make a substantial difference. The servo consisting of the sound returning to the ear/brain is a very sensitive feedback loop. The immediacy of the attack, leakage of sound through the bell all change the way that our brains tell the lips to compensate. Trumpets with the bell brace close to the valve block or with "thinner" bells do similar things to our brain. I firmly believe that how the player hears themselves is the biggest difference in trumpet design.

    For the physics geeks: the higher proportion of tapered tube changes the way that the standing wave gets back to our lips. The resonance of a tube is based on length, on irregular shapes on volume and on tapered devices on horn theory. A cornet has a longer (tapered) leadpipe and a shorter bell. That also changes the behaviour of the braces.
  3. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    Here are thoughts on cornet/trumpet from one of the greatest players ever and one of last century's greatest composer and orchestrators.
    Both of these thoughts are taken from Tim Kent's notes on his time with Herseth as teacher and colleague.

    Differences between cornet and trumpet - there is none due to modern methods of construction. Most of sound difference is due to bends in tubing, rather than conical vs. cylindrical bores.

    Stravinsky pieces - in world premieres of many of his works, Stravinsky said that cornets need not be used because of little difference between them and trumpets.

    Just some food for thought as there has been some very intelligent commentary here.

    Rich T.
  4. J. Jericho

    J. Jericho Fortissimo User

    Mar 16, 2011
    Speaking of physics geeks, can anyone explain how a sound wave is affected by the various crooks and bends? I imagine the sound waves reflecting off any change in direction forced by bends, but sound wave illustrations of bells seem to show nodes and antinodes in a symmetrical pattern. I have not seen any illustrations of what happens in the various slides, though.
  5. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    Thanks Rowuk
    This feedback to the player is our number 1 criterion in design.
  6. Culbe

    Culbe Forte User

    Jul 25, 2014
    I am confused. Everything seems to contradict.
    The flugelhorn. Is the flugelhorn mellow because of the conical bore? That seems obvious. (But is it;-)) It has less curves. Perhaps this statement was already dismantled. If the cornet is more mellow because of were the valves are located, farther down, the flugelhorn's valves are closer to the beginning of the leadpipe than a trumpet's! Please! I don't get it! :oops::dontknow:
  7. gordonfurr1

    gordonfurr1 Forte User

    Aug 2, 2010
    North Carolina
    Bose claimed little effect from the folding of the wave guide in their wave systems. Whether hype or not, not sure. I would expect that bends greater than ninety degrees would exhibit SOME increased reversion backwards to the player...less than ninety degrees I wouldn't expect much. If it was a tremendous amount, pocket cornets might well explode in your mouth on long, intense passages.:-o
  8. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    I'll suppose this is in reference to the amount of conical vs. cylindrical tubing, which I would agree with. The Stravinsky quote would be hard to nail down, since cornets and trumpets had been doing a courtship dance through most of their early history. The first "modern" valved trumpets were just longer cornets, and there was little difference in the sound. As trumpets evolved, they became much brighter-sounding and had more carrying power, so many cornets went that way, too, so as not to become extinct. Now, the differences between the two seem to be more pronounced, since cornets are more desired as a tool for some types of music. There are cornets, and then there are cornets.
  9. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    That is the wonder that is brass instrument design!

    We can surmise and attempt to extrapolate, but the only proof of result is by doing it. We can set up mechanical devices to create standing waves.....

    But the only way to discover how an instrument will play is by assembling and playing it.

    There is no computer model that will accurately predict how a trumpet will play when x or y is changed.

  10. FireandAir

    FireandAir Pianissimo User

    Aug 12, 2014
    A strange question: what was the original motivation for the creation of the trumpet? If cornets and trumpets don't sound substantially different (taking mouthpieces and player technique into account), then that still leaves the issue of why they were made in the first place. It was my understanding, although I'm not sure where I got this idea from, that it's easier to hit the high notes reliably on a trumpet -- that the higher partials are more distinct, whereas the cornet carries more risk of splitting a note up there.

    If this isn't the case, and there isn't a predictable tonal difference, then what was the motivation for redesign? Why did someone look at a cornet and think, "Naah, that needs to change?" I mean FWIG, cornets were the default high brass instrument in pretty much all ensembles for some time, including orchestras. Somebody had to be unhappy with them and believe that this new way of making them would solve the problem.

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