Trumpet A Trumpet Brass Other Names Range F#3-C6 (written) Clefs Treble Transposition In Bb: sounds a tone lower than written
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BC. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a “buzzing” sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air column inside the instrument. Since the late 15th century they have been constructed of brass tubing, usually bent twice into a rounded oblong shape.
There are several types of trumpet; the most common is a transposing instrument pitched in B♭ with a tubing length of about 148 cm. Earlier trumpets did not have valves, but modern instruments generally have either three piston valves or, more rarely, three rotary valves. Each valve increases the length of tubing when engaged, thereby lowering the pitch. A musician who plays the trumpet is called a trumpet player or trumpeter.
See more: c trumpet range
The standard trumpet range extends from the written F♯ immediately below Middle C up to about three octaves higher. Traditional trumpet repertoire rarely calls for notes beyond this range, and the fingering tables of most method books peak at 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 and more recently Wayne Bergeron. It is also possible to produce pedal tones below the low F♯, which is a device commonly employed in contemporary repertoire for the instrument.
The most common type is the B♭ trumpet, but low F, C, D, E♭, E, G and A trumpets are also available. The C trumpet is most common in American orchestral playing, where it is used alongside the B♭ trumpet. Its slightly smaller size gives it a brighter, more lively sound. Because music written for early trumpets required the use of a different trumpet for each key — they did not have valves and therefore were not chromatic — and also because a player may choose to play a particular passage on a different trumpet from the one indicated on the written music, orchestra trumpet players are generally adept at transposing music at sight, sometimes playing music written for the B♭ trumpet on the C trumpet, and vice versa.
The smallest trumpets are referred to as piccolo trumpets. The most common of these are built to play in both B♭ and A, with separate leadpipes for each key. The tubing in the B♭ piccolo trumpet is one-half the length of that in a standard B♭ trumpet. Piccolo trumpets in G, F and C are also manufactured, but are rarer. Many players use a smaller mouthpiece on the piccolo trumpet, which requires a different sound production technique from the B♭ trumpet and can limit endurance. Almost all piccolo trumpets have four valves instead of the usual three — the fourth valve lowers the pitch, usually by a fourth, to assist in the playing of lower notes and to create alternate fingerings that facilitate certain trills.
Timbre and Tone
In the low register the tone is darker, yet remains full. This register tends to project poorly and suffer from intonation problems. The middle register, more widely used, has a brighter tone colour and better projection. The middle register also benifits from better dynamic control and intonation. The high register is harder to produce softly, but is more brilliant and penetrating. The higher the notes the harder to control the instrument becomes, with a more shrill and peircing tone.
The most common type is the B♭ trumpet, but low F, C, D, E♭, E, G and A trumpets are also available. The C trumpet is most common in American orchestral playing, where it is used alongside the B♭ trumpet. Its slightly smaller size gives it a brighter, more lively sound. Because music written for early trumpets required the use of a different trumpet for each key — they did not have valves and therefore were not chromatic — and also because a player may choose to play a particular passage on a different trumpet from the one indicated on the written music, orchestra trumpet players are generally adept at transposing music at sight, sometimes playing music written for the B♭ trumpet on the C trumpet, and vice versa. The smallest trumpets are referred to as piccolo trumpets. The most common of these are built to play in both B♭ and A, with separate leadpipes for each key. The tubing in the B♭ piccolo trumpet is one-half the length of that in a standard B♭ trumpet. Piccolo trumpets in G, F and C are also manufactured, but are rarer. Many players use a smaller mouthpiece on the piccolo trumpet, which requires a different sound production technique from the B♭ trumpet and can limit endurance. Almost all piccolo trumpets have four valves instead of the usual three — the fourth valve lowers the pitch, usually by a fourth, to assist in the playing of lower notes and to create alternate fingerings that facilitate certain trills. Maurice André, Håkan Hardenberger, David Mason, and Wynton Marsalis are some well-known piccolo trumpet players. Trumpets pitched in the key of low G are also called sopranos, or soprano bugles, after their adaptation from military bugles. Traditionally used in drum and bugle corps, sopranos have featured both rotary valves and piston valves. The 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. The most common keys for bass trumpets are C and B♭ . Both C and B♭ bass trumpets are transposing instruments sounding an octave (C) or a major ninth (B♭) lower than written. The modern slide trumpet is a B♭ trumpet that has a slide instead of valves. It is similar to a soprano trombone. The first slide trumpets emerged during the Renaissance, predating the modern trombone, and are the first attempts to increase chromaticism on the instrument. Slide trumpets were the first trumpets allowed in the Christian church. The pocket trumpet is a compact B♭ trumpet. 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. Unfortunately, since many pocket trumpet models suffer from poor design as well as cheap and sloppy manufacturing, the intonation, tone color and dynamic range of such instruments are severely hindered. Professional-standard instruments are, however, available. While they are not a substitute for the full-sized instrument, they can be useful in certain contexts. The herald trumpet is a B♭ trumpet with an elongated bell extending far in front of the player. Due to its showy appearance, this type of trumpet is mostly used for ceremonial events such as parades and fanfares. There are also rotary-valve, or German, trumpets, as well as alto and Baroque trumpets. The trumpet is often confused with its close relative the cornet, which has a more conical tubing shape compared to the trumpet’s more cylindrical tube. This, along with additional bends in the cornet’s tubing, gives the cornet a slightly mellower tone, but the instruments are otherwise nearly identical. They have the same length of tubing and, therefore, the same pitch, so music written for cornet and trumpet is interchangeable. Another relative, the flugelhorn, has tubing that is even more conical than that of the cornet, and an even richer tone. It is sometimes augmented with a fourth valve to improve the intonation of some lower notes.
Contemporary music for the trumpet makes wide uses of extended trumpet techniques.
- Flutter tonguing: The trumpeter rolls the tip of the tongue to produce a ‘growling like’ tone. It is achieved as if one were rolling an R in the Spanish language. This technique is widely employed by composers like Berio and Stockhausen.
- Growling: Simultaneously humming while playing a note creates two sets of vibrations which interfere with each other and create a characteristic ‘growling’ sound. Utilized by many jazz players, not to be confused with flutter tonguing, where the tongue is 100% responsible for creating the sound desired.
- Double tonguing: The player articulates using the syllables ta-ka ta-ka ta-ka
- Triple tonguing: The same as double tonguing, but with the syllables ta-ta-ka ta-ta-ka ta-ta-ka.
- Doodle tongue: The trumpeter tongues as if saying the word doodle. This is a very faint tonguing similar in sound to a valve tremolo.
- Glissando: Trumpeters can slide between notes by depressing the valve halfway or changing the lip tension. Modern repertoire makes extensive use of this technique.
- Vibrato: It is often regulated in contemporary repertoire through specific notation. Composers can call for everything from fast, slow or no vibrato to actual rhythmic patterns played with vibrato.
- Pedal tone: Composers have written for two and a half octaves below the low F#, which is at the bottom of the standard range. 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 an systematic expansion on his lessons with Herbert L. Clarke. The technique was pioneered by Bohumir Kryl.
- Microtones: Composers such as Scelsi and Stockhausen have made wide use of the trumpet’s ability to play microtonally. Some instruments are adapted with a 4th valve which allows for a quarter-tone step between each note.
- Mute belt: Karlheinz Stockhausen pioneered the use of a mute belt, worn around the player’s waist, to enable rapid mute changes during pieces. The belt allows the performer to make faster and quieter mute changes, as well as enabling the performer to move around the stage.
- Valve tremolo: Many notes on the trumpet can be played in several different valve combinations. By alternating between valve combinations on the same note, a tremolo effect can be created. Berio makes extended use of this technique in his Sequenza X.
- Noises: By hissing, clicking, or breathing through the instrument, the trumpet can be made to resonate in ways that do not sound at all like a trumpet. Noises sound a 1/2 step higher than they are notated, and often require amplification to be heard.
- Preparation: Composers have called for the trumpet to be played under water, or with certain slides removed. It is increasingly common for all sorts of preparations to be requested of a trumpeter. Extreme preparations involve alternate constructions, such as double bells and extra valves.
- Singing: Composers such as Robert Erickson and Mark-Anthony Turnage have called for trumpeters to sing during the course of a piece, often while playing. It is possible to create a multiphonic effect by singing and playing different notes simultaneously.
- Split tone: Trumpeters can produce more than one tone simultaneously by vibrating the two lips at different speeds. The interval produced is usually an octave or a fifth.
- Lip Trill or Shake: By rapidly varying lip tension, but not changing the depressed valves, the pitch varies quickly between adjacent harmonics. These are usually done, and are more straightforward to execute, in the upper register.
The repertoire for the natural trumpet and cornetto is extensive. This music is commonly played on modern piccolo trumpets, although there are many highly proficient performers of the original instruments. This vast body of repertoire includes the music of Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Bach, Vivaldi and countless other composers. Because the overtone series doesn’t allow stepwise movement until the upper register, the tessitura for this repertoire is very high. Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto was one of the first for a chromatic trumpet, a fact shown off by some stepwise melodies played low in the instrument’s range. Johann Hummel wrote the other great Trumpet Concerto of the Classical period, and these two pieces are the cornerstone of the instrument’s repertoire. Written as they were in the infancy of the chromatic trumpet, they reflect only a minor advancement of the trumpet’s musical language, with the Hummel’s being the more adventurous piece by far. In 1827, François Dauverné became the first musician to use the new F three-valved trumpet in public performance. In the 20th century, trumpet repertoire expanded rapidly as composers embraced the almost completely untapped potential of the modern trumpet.