Why so many differently pitched Trumpets?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpet guy, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. Trumpet guy

    Trumpet guy Forte User

    Feb 9, 2008
    Recently, a friend asked me why there are so many trumpets of different keys and I could not come up with any reasonable answer. So now I pose this same question here. what is there purpuse of there being trumpets available in almost every key in the Bb scale from low F up to a D Picc.
  2. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vidin, Bulgaria
    Reason for using different keyed trumpets can be very different - ease of playing, playing in a comfortable keys, different sound etc.
    Before the invention of the keys and valves any trumpet could play only in one key. This is partly the reason for keeping all trumpets in different keys even after valves were invented but the most popular became trumpets B flat and C. All others are considered more or less "specialty" trumpets. Then we have all those cornets, bugles, flugels, melophones, flumpets, frumpets and all kind of trumpet novelties which all produce more or less different sounds.
  3. Trumpet guy

    Trumpet guy Forte User

    Feb 9, 2008
    yes but why keep all the keys there even after valves came? It seems like no one uses a the high F, G, and A trumpets or the C and D piccs. Why not just faze all those out and keep the Bb, C, D, Eb, picc and bass trumpets since those are the ones used most.

    (I think I might have missed some)
  4. DanZ_FL

    DanZ_FL Pianissimo User

    Jun 16, 2009
    Clearwater, Florida
    I don't think it's "hurting" any of the manufacturers of the less popular key trumpets to make them. The tone, attack, etc. of all the different key instruments adds to the variety of sound possible.

    It's got to be easier to create a multitude of different key trumpets than, say, clarinets or bassoons. Just shorten/lengthen pipe mostly.
  5. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vidin, Bulgaria
    That's why I said that they were "specialty" trumpets. If you wanted to play, for example, a baroque piece in C (like J.S. Bach Cantata 51) with a modern trumpet (not a nat) best would be a G trumpet. You can try on a C trumpet, but it will be difficult...That's why we still keep all those different trumpets
  6. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    When I get hired to play the halleluiah Chorus,
    the part is written for D trumpet.
    If I play first, I could use a D trumpet but most likely will use a Picc. in A.
    It's way easier to play on the Picc and too hard for me on B-flat. The B-flat also wouldn't have the right sound.

    If I'm playing second, I like to use the D trumpet so I will blend well with the guy playing first. I could do it on C trumpet too.
    If I played it on B-flat It would work but there would be a big difference between the first part and the second. On B-flat it's in the key of E. On the D trumpet it's in C. I don't like playing in E and the guy on first (playing A picc.) is in F so tuning would be hard.

    This is just one example. The music literature is filled with examples like this.
  7. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    We have all these trumpets so that we can die with the most "toys" Seriously, when you have a career in classical music you will understand.
  8. ChopsGone

    ChopsGone Forte User

    Jan 26, 2009
    Northern California
    This is a question you can answer for yourself, if you know the basics of transposition. List every trumpet fundamental you can - Bb, C, D, and so on. List every key in which music is written. For each composition key, run through the list of trumpets and see what key you would end up having to play in to do that piece on that instrument. Some of the combinations are a lot more comfortable to play than others, aren't they? That's not saying you can't play any specific piece on any specific keyed trumpet if you must, but some of the combinations really suck. Others can result in a poor tonal match, such as a very thin tone, that's all out of character for the music.

    OK, to go a tiny bit further: look at the range of notes to be played. Aren't there cases where a different keyed trumpet would make it easier to cover that range? Or, rather than easier, simply possible to play? Come on, you know the answers, don't you?
  9. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    We have instruments in many keys for the same reason a painter has different brushes, or a golfer different clubs, or a fisherman different lures, or.....
  10. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    I case I break one? :)

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