The Detroit Post
Monday, 25 October, 2021

Is A Trumpet A Bass Instrument

Ava Flores
• Thursday, 19 November, 2020
• 13 min read

Richard Wagner's first intention for Her Ring DES Nibelungen was a bass trumpet in 13' Ex, based on the instruments he would have come across during his dealings with military bands. While it was argued during the late nineteenth century (Oskar Franz: Zeitschrift fur Instrumentenbau, 1884) that the instrument in question was actually pitched an octave higher, the instrument actually built by Moritz of Berlin on Wagner's personal instruction for the Munich theater (according to Zeitschrift fur Instrumentenbau, 1908) was pitched in 8' C with crooks for By and A and sounded one octave lower than written.

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The records of Moritz were not preserved, though a wide-bell bass trumpet with military-band proportions in 8' C with By and A crooks does make an appearance in their post-1900 catalog, while Gender Alexander of Mainz offered a narrow-bore model in either Ex or C. The model normally used today is in 8' C with four rotary valves, and is played by a trombonist owing to the size of the mouthpiece.

Duncan Wilson playing rotary bass trumpet in C with the BBC Symphony Orchestra Wagner wrote adventurously for his new addition to the brass section, exploiting open and muted effects, and extremes of range and dynamics. Its very distinctive timbre is easily identifiable and Wagner used this new and unique tone color extensively.

However, as with the Wagner tuba and the contrabass trombone, Wagner's other additions to the opera house orchestra for Her Ring DES Nibelungen, the bass trumpet has not become a regular member of the orchestral brass and is seen rarely. Salsa musician and trombonist Willie Colón plays a Get zen bass trumpet and can be heard improvising on the Mania label recordings Maestro Vida part 1 La Fiesta, Sierra Husband Guayama, Cruz and Colon Ambulate, Double Energy Candy Tu Sewers and Canines Del Solar DE Los Burritos Turn.

Up until late 2006, he played a traditional rotary valve bass trumpet made by Gear. Rash awn Ross, trumpet player touring with the Dave Matthews Band, who has also performed and recorded with the likes of Usher, Ludicrous, Macro Parker, Robert Randolph and Roy Hargrove regularly plays bass trumpet.

His equipment includes a silver-plated Get zen bass trumpet and a Mount Vernon B flat trumpet made by the Vincent Bach Corporation. The instrument also is known as the basstrompete in German, tomb bass in Italian and compete base in French.

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They are often designed in BB with music written in the treble clef a ninth above the actual pitch. The bass trumpet also is incredibly powerful, with a fortissimo on the instrument being equivalent of several regular trumpets or french horns.

The most recognized work featuring this instrument with great prominence is perhaps Her Ring DES Nibelungen by Richard Wagner. This work has the instrument double the regular trumpets but also requires frequent solo playing.

Other notable composers who have used the instrument are Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss and Arnold Schoenberg. Although this instrument is best known for its role in classical music, people also have used it in modern jazz and pop.

They began to be used as musical instruments only in the late 14th or early 15th century. They are played by blowing air through nearly-closed lips (called the player's embouchure), producing a “buzzing” sound that starts a standing wave vibration in the air column inside the instrument.

Since the late 15th century, trumpets have primarily been constructed of brass tubing, usually bent twice into a rounded rectangular shape. There are many distinct types of trumpet, with the most common being pitched in By (a transposing instrument), having a tubing length of about 1.48 m (4 ft 10 in).

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The use of rotary-valved trumpets is more common in orchestral settings (especially in German and German-style orchestras), although this practice varies by country. Each valve, when engaged, increases the length of tubing, lowering the pitch of the instrument.

The word “trump,” meaning trumpet,” was first used in English in 1300. The word comes from Old French troupe “long, tube-like musical wind instrument (12c.

), cognate with Provençal tomb, Italian tomb, all probably from a Germanic source (compare Old High German trump, Old Norse rumba trumpet “), of imitative origin.” Silver and gold-plated trumpet and its wooden mute from the tomb of Tutankhamen (1326–1336 BCE)The earliest trumpets date back to 1500 BCE and earlier.

The bronze and silver Tutankhamen's trumpets from his grave in Egypt, bronze Luis from Scandinavia, and metal trumpets from China date back to this period. Trumpets from the Oxus civilization (3rd millennium BCE) of Central Asia have decorated swellings in the middle, yet are made out of one sheet of metal, which is considered a technical wonder.

The Alpine was a straight trumpet 62 inches (1,600 mm) long, made of bone or bronze. Alpine contests were a part of the original Olympic Games.


The Roche people of ancient Peru depicted trumpets in their art going back to CE 300. The earliest trumpets were signaling instruments used for military or religious purposes, rather than music in the modern sense; and the modern bugle continues this signaling tradition.

During this period, a vast body of music was written for virtuoso trumpeters. Many modern players in Germany and the UK who perform Baroque music use a version of the natural trumpet fitted with three or four vent holes to aid in correcting out-of-tune notes in the harmonic series.

As with all brass instruments, sound is produced by blowing air through closed lips, producing a “buzzing” sound into the mouthpiece and starting a standing wave vibration in the air column inside the trumpet. The player can select the pitch from a range of overtones or harmonics by changing the lip aperture and tension (known as the embouchure).

The mouthpiece has a circular rim, which provides a comfortable environment for the lips' vibration. Directly behind the rim is the cup, which channels the air into a much smaller opening (the back bore or shank) that tapers out slightly to match the diameter of the trumpet's lead pipe.

The dimensions of these parts of the mouthpiece affect the timbre or quality of sound, the ease of playability, and player comfort. Generally, the wider and deeper the cup, the darker the sound and timbre.

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Modern trumpets have three (or, infrequently, four) piston valves, each of which increases the length of tubing when engaged, thereby lowering the pitch. Used singly and in combination these valves make the instrument fully chromatic, i.e., able to play all twelve pitches of classical music.

The pitch of the trumpet can be raised or lowered by the use of the tuning slide. To overcome the problems of intonation and reduce the use of the slide, Resold Schalke designed the tuning-bell trumpet.

A trumpet becomes a closed tube when the player presses it to the lips; therefore, the instrument only naturally produces every other overtone of the harmonic series. The shape of the bell makes the missing overtones audible.

Trumpet in C with rotary valves bass trumpet is usually played by a trombone player, being at the same pitch. Bass trumpet is played with a shallower trombone mouthpiece, and music for it is written in treble clef.

Both C and By bass trumpets are transposing instruments sounding an octave (C) or a major ninth (By) lower than written. The historical slide trumpet was probably first developed in the late 14th century for use in Alta Capella wind bands.

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The bell is usually smaller than a standard trumpet and the tubing is more tightly wound to reduce the instrument size without reducing the total tube length. Its design is not standardized, and the quality of various models varies greatly.

It can have a tone quality and projection unique in the trumpet world: a warm sound and a voice-like articulation. Since many pocket trumpet models suffer from poor design as well as cheap and imprecise manufacturing, the intonation, tone color and dynamic range of such instruments are severely hindered.

The jazz musician Don Cherry was renowned for his playing of the pocket instrument. The herald trumpet has an elongated bell extending far in front of the player, allowing a standard length of tubing from which a flag may be hung; the instrument is mostly used for ceremonial events such as parades and fanfares.

Monte designed the trumpet in 1989 for jazz musician Art Farmer. It is a hybrid instrument with elements of trumpet and flügelhorn, sharing the three piston valve design and with a pitch of By.

They have the same length of tubing and, therefore, the same pitch, so music written for cornet and trumpet is interchangeable. Another relative, the flügelhorn, has tubing that is even more conical than that of the cornet, and an even richer tone.

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It is sometimes augmented with a fourth valve to improve the intonation of some lower notes. On any modern trumpet, cornet, or flügelhorn, pressing the valves indicated by the numbers below produces the written notes shown.

Within each overtone series, the different pitches are attained by changing the embouchure. Notes in parentheses are the sixth overtone, representing a pitch with a frequency of seven times that of the fundamental; while this pitch is close to the note shown, it is flat relative to equal temperament, and use of those fingerings is generally avoided.

This scheme and the nature of the overtone series create the possibility of alternate fingerings for certain notes. Alternate fingerings may be used to improve facility in certain passages, or to aid in intonation.

Extending the third valve slide when using the fingerings 1–3 or 1-2-3 further lowers the pitch slightly to improve intonation. Trumpet with “stone lined” straight mute inserted; below are (left to right) straight, walkway (Harmon), and cup mutes. Various types of mutes can be placed in or over the bell, which decreases volume and changes timbre.

Jazz, commercial, and show band musicians often use a wider range of mutes than their classical counterparts, and many mutes were invented for jazz orchestrators. Mutes can be made of many materials, including fiberglass, plastic, cardboard, metal, and “stone lining”, a trade name of the Hume's & Berg company.

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The Harmon mute is made of metal (usually aluminum or copper) and consists of a “stem” inserted into a large chamber. Using standard technique, the lowest note is the written FM below middle C.

There is no actual limit to how high brass instruments can play, but fingering charts generally go up to the high C two octaves above middle C. Several trumpeters have achieved fame for their proficiency in the extreme high register, among them Maynard Ferguson, Cat Anderson, Dizzy Gillespie, Doc Severance, and more recently Wayne Bergeron, Thomas Ranch, James Morrison, Jon Faddish and Arturo Sandoval. It is also possible to produce pedal tones below the low FM, which is a device occasionally employed in the contemporary repertoire for the instrument.

This technique is widely employed by composers like Beria and Stockhausen. Growling : Simultaneously playing tone and using the back of the tongue to vibrate the uvula, creating a distinct sound.

This is a very faint tonguing similar in sound to a valve tremolo. Glissando : Trumpeters can slide between notes by depressing the valves halfway and changing the lip tension.

Modern repertoire makes extensive use of this technique. Vibrato : It is often regulated in contemporary repertoire through specific notation.

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Extreme low pedals are produced by slipping the lower lip out of the mouthpiece. Claude Gordon assigned pedals as part of his trumpet practice routines, that were a systematic expansion on his lessons with Herbert L. Clarke.

Some instruments feature a fourth valve that provides a quarter-tone step between each note. The jazz musician Ibrahim Maalox uses such a trumpet, invented by his father to make it possible to play Arab madams.

By alternating between valve combinations on the same note, a tremolo effect can be created. Beria makes extended use of this technique in his Sequence X.

Preparation : Composers have called for trumpeters to play underwater, or with certain slides removed. It is increasingly common for composers to specify all sorts of preparations for trumpet.

Extreme preparations involve alternate constructions, such as double bells and extra valves. However, lip-trills and shakes usually involve the next partial up from the written note.

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For example, sustaining a middle C and humming a major 3rd “E” at the same time. The player puffs up the cheeks, storing air, then breathes in rapidly through the nose while using the cheeks to continue pushing air outwards.

In early jazz, Louis Armstrong was well known for his virtuosity and his improvisations on the Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings, and his switch from cornet to trumpet is often cited as heralding the trumpet's dominance over the cornet in jazz. Dizzy Gillespie was a gifted improviser with an extremely high (but musical) range, building on the style of Roy Eldridge but adding new layers of harmonic complexity.

Gillespie had an enormous impact on virtually every subsequent trumpeter, both by the example of his playing and as a mentor to younger musicians. Davis' phrasing and sense of space in his solos have been models for generations of jazz musicians.

Cat Anderson was a trumpet player who was known for the ability to play extremely high with an even more extreme volume, who played with Duke Ellington's Big Band. Maynard Ferguson came to prominence playing in Stan Kenton's orchestra, before forming his own band in 1957.

He was noted for being able to play accurately in a remarkably high register. Anton Wading developed in the 1790s the first successful keyed trumpet, capable of playing all the chromatic notes in its range.

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Joseph Haydn's Trumpet Concerto was written for him in 1796 and startled contemporary audiences by its novelty, a fact shown off by some stepwise melodies played low in the instrument's range. ^ Edward Carr, The Trumpet (Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press, 1988), 20–30.

Fanfares and Finesse: A Performer's Guide to Trumpet History and Literature. ^ Borden, David D.; Began, Clifford; Page, Janet K. (January 20, 2001).

^ Essay 2013, p. 125: “plastic (fiberglass): not as forceful as the metal mute, a bit darker, but still penetrating” ^ Joseph Wheeler, “Review: Edward H. Carr, Die Compete The Gal pin Society Journal, Vol. Technical Studies for the Cornet, C. Carl Fischer, Inc. ISBN 0-8258-0158-3.

“Merry Fran quin and His Contribution to the Art of Trumpet Playing” (PDF). ^ “Miles Davis, Trumpeter, Dies; Jazz Genius, 65, Defined Cool”.

At the first performance of the new concerto in Vienna in 1800 a trumpet melody was heard in a lower register than had hitherto been practicable.” The art of the trumpet -maker: the materials, tools, and techniques of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Nuremberg.

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The trumpet and trombone : an outline of their history, development, and construction (2nd ed.). You can't be timid with a trumpet : notes from the orchestra (1st ed.).

Trumpet Playing Articles by Jeff Purple, protégé of Claude Gordon Trumpet Players' International Network is the oldest and largest email list with members from all parts of world.

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