The trumpet is amongst the oldest of instruments known to man. Of course, it has undergone some pretty fundamental changes in its long life.
For most of its history, the trumpet was a fairly simple tube, often coiled for practical, ergonomic purposes, but lacking any keys or other devices for changing the pitch of the note being played. This was accomplished solely by altering the vibration of the lips in the cupped mouthpiece. Altering lip pressure in this way produces a series of harmonic pitch intervals which are natural to the length of trumpet being played. At the lower register this gives a bugle-like capability. As the pitch rises, the harmonics become closer together, so that it is possible, on a long natural trumpet, to play melismatic passagework. This was exploited in the baroque era by the skill of a series of celebrity “clarino” trumpet players. However, even in the hands of such skilled players, the trumpet could only play in its major natural key.
In the late 18th century the trumpet was fitted, briefly, with keys which rotated and allowed the vibrating column of air to be extended, lowering the pitch and “filling in” the intervals between its harmonics. The key system was soon discarded because it impaired the tone of the instrument, but in giving the trumpet a fully chromatic voice it pointed the way to the future and was soon superseded by the reciprocating valve system we see on the modern instrument. Modern manufacturers have now overcome he limitations of the keyed, rotary trumpet, and a significant number of rotary trumpets is now made to support the extensive interest in the virtuoso tradition of mid 18th century Germany.
Today, the orchestral trumpet is typically a transposing instrument in Bb. It seems likely that this convention arose through the raising of Renaissance and Baroque pitch to modern (A = 444Hz) pitch, causing trumpets built to traditional dimensions to be “left behind”. Although C trumpets are now readily available, the Bb trumpet has remained the most common register due to a preference for its warm tone within the larger orchestra. Trumpets in D, E, Eb and F are also available, making high-pitched coloratura passagework easier to perform, while yielding a brighter, more brilliant sound.
At Music Mart, we carry a fine selection of trumpets in all keys, including from these respected manufacturers:
Yamaha is a trusted name in instrument making. They make trumpets in all the keys, including heraldic and rotary keyed designs.
Suzuki make two series of Bb trumpet – the Concertino and the Master Class. They are ergonomically designed for balance and ease of playing, and feature copper/nickel valve casings for extra strength and accuracy.
J. Michael is another Japanese manufacturer that has carved a reputation for itself as a maker of student trumpets, providing quality at a very reasonable cost.
To learn more about our range of trumpets, give us a call on (08) 9250 2015 or send an email enquiry.