In this episode, Matt and I delve into the realm of the Bass Trumpet
While all played by the same performer, the Trumpet, Cornet, and Flugelhorn are all in different families of brass instruments and all have different sound qualities. Knowing the differences between the three instruments is essential for good band and orchestral writing.
The B-flat Trumpet, B-flat Cornet, and B-flat Flugelhorn all have the same range, but it’s a combination of bore structure and mouthpiece design that give these three instruments wholly different characters.
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”
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”
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
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”
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)”