Contrabass Trumpets

Contrabass Trumpets

I only include these rare, and sometimes unique, trumpets for the sake of completeness.  There have been several instruments called a Contrabass Trumpet over the years.  Some of these are pitched in F below the regular Bass Trumpet, while others are a full octave lower than the Bass Trumpet.  The instrument in F is the equivalent of an Bass Tuba, while the one in C or B-flat is the same pitch as the Contrabass Tuba. Continue reading “Contrabass Trumpets”

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Bass Trumpet

Bass Trumpet

The Bass Trumpet, sometimes called a Tenor Trumpet, is pitched one octave below the standard B-flat or C Trumpet, and can be pitched in either key (B-flat or C).  Unlike the other members of the trumpet family, the Bass Trumpet is almost never played by a true trumpeter, but rather is usually played by a trombonist or a Euphoniumist.  Because of this, we should rethink some of the ways we have traditionally thought of writing for the Bass Trumpet. Continue reading “Bass Trumpet”

Alto Trumpet

Alto Trumpet

The Alto Trumpet is rarely seen anymore.  It is pitched in either E-flat or F a sixth or a fifth below the standard C Trumpet.  In many ways, it is the exact instrument that was used in the Nineteenth Century for their F Trumpet parts, but with a slightly bigger bore.  This bigger bore favors the lower notes.

There is one major piece in the orchestral literature that calls for the Alto Trumpet: The Rite of Spring.  Here, I am going to clear up a huge problem that every single orchestration book has gotten wrong.  Continue reading “Alto Trumpet”

C and B-flat Trumpets

C and B-flat Trumpets

The B-flat and C Trumpets are the standard trumpets seen.  In bands, the B-flat Trumpet is king, whereas the C Trumpet is much more common in the orchestra.  The C Trumpet is written at concert pitch, while the B-flat sounds a second lower than written.  In professional circles, the choice of B-flat versus C is completely dependent on the player.  If a player feels that the sound of a particular passage is better played on the C when it is written for the B-flat, then they play it upon the C.  In some regards, trumpet players completely disregard a composer’s intentions when it comes to instrument choice.  They have completely abandoned the old F Trumpet in favor of the smaller instruments, irrespective of the composers’ wishes for the bolder sound of the old instrument. Continue reading “C and B-flat Trumpets”

Sopranino Trumpets (D, E-flat, E, F, and G)

Sopranino Trumpets

There are a whole slew of trumpets pitched between the standard B-flat or C Trumpets and the Piccolo Trumpet.  These are the Sopranino Trumpets.  There are instruments pitched in G, F, E, E-flat, and D, all sounding above written pitch.  Like the interchangeable slides for the Piccolo Trumpets, several of these instruments are really just a single instrument like an F/G Trumpet or an E-flat/D Trumpet (the E Trumpet may be a third set of slides for either instrument, usually the F/G instrument).  Of these two instruments, the F/G Trumpet is far rarer, but most professional trumpet players will possess an E-flat/D.  The rare E Trumpet is generally only used for the Hummel Concerto, which was originally composed in E, but is usually performed in E-flat. Choice of which instrument to use is entirely up to the player.  Even with the best of intentions, a composer’s wish will usually go unheeded.  The player will simply choose the instrument which will make the passage easiest and give the best effect. Continue reading “Sopranino Trumpets (D, E-flat, E, F, and G)”

Piccolo Trumpet (B-flat and A)

Piccolo Trumpet

The Piccolo Trumpet is really two instruments in one.  All Piccolo Trumpets come equipped with devices that allow for the instrument to be pitched in either B-flat or A.  This is accomplished by means of different tuning slides and changeable bells.  The choice of B-flat or A depends wholly on the situation at hand.  When performing music of the Baroque era, players will most often use the A Piccolo Trumpet, as the majority of the music is in the key of D.  Most modern music will use the instrument in B-flat which is written one octave higher than the standard B-flat Trumpet.  Continue reading “Piccolo Trumpet (B-flat and A)”

Contrabass Tuba

Contrabass Tuba

Contrabass Tuba range

  • (Note: range does not include pedal notes)

We finally come to the bottom of the common band instruments, the Contrabass Tuba.  To most people, when we say tuba we are only referring to the Contrabass instrument, the Bass Tuba being an afterthought.

There are two sizes of Contrabass Tuba, the C and the B-flat.  The B-flat is used by students and amateurs, while the C is the instrument of choice for professionals.  To the bandestrator there should be no distinction between the two.  The sound and range will be identical.  Continue reading “Contrabass Tuba”