Trumpet Cornet - the Difference

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

  1. J. Jericho

    J. Jericho Fortissimo User

    Mar 16, 2011
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    François Georges Auguste Dauverné wrote such pieces for natural trumpet.
  3. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    Twenty-odd years ago I was principal 'trumpet' for a somewhat split-personality band that did both marching and concert work.

    At first I used my old Getzen 3xx trumpet for both (2nd and 3rd desks were often all cornets). This worked for most of the concert repertoire which revolved around some old swing numbers, songs from the shows medleys and typical wind band arrangements of light classical stuff etc. Mainly carrying the solo line where a 'trumpetty' sound was appropriate

    But for other numbers, especially the marches, a softer better blending sound was called for. I managed for a while with what I called my 'cornet embouchure' - hard to describe but maybe a slightly less focused aperture and less firm cheeks is how I remember it. I was never really happy with it, and eventually started borrowing the band's spare B&H Imperial cornet which came with a Wick 4 piece. Whole new ball-game. When I needed to carry a strong independent solo line I played the trumpet; when it was more tutti ensemble, I switched to cornet. Problem sorted.

    Based on this, and having come from an orchestral trumpet background, I've always seen trumpets and cornets as totally separate animals. However, this is based not on the geometry of the instrument (we never discussed such things in those days) but on what sound we expected to produce from them.

    It's been stated above, and the more I think about it the more it seems to hold true, that performer and instrument cannot be divorced. After all when an instrument is not being played, it's just a lump of brass. It isn't until a musician brings forth a sound from it that you can start to give it a meaningful name.

    So if someone claims there is no difference between trumpets and cornets, that seems to say far more about their approach to playing than it does about the instrument. Their approach is so strong and fixed that it overwhelms any subtle differences there may be in the design of the instrument and essentially, they may sound the same on anything.

    Looking back on the experiences I described earlier, what I was first attempting was to transform a Getzen 3xx trumpet into a cornet. In a way, if it had have been a success, it would no longer have been a trumpet, and me no longer a trumpeter. We would have become cornet. But for whatever reason that didn't happen. Me plus the B&H Imperial on the other hand did become cornet. More or less.

    An Arturo on the other hand could I'm sure take that Imperial and make it shout and scream like a Holton Ferguson. That doesn't say that both instruments are the same; that would be nonsense; it says that Arturo is a master of the dark arts and can perform magic.

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