Wednesday, January 29, 2014


"People compose for many reasons: to become immortal;
  because the pianoforte happens to be open; because they
  want to become a millionaire; because of the praise of
  friends; because they have looked into a pair of beautiful
  eyes; for no reason whatsoever."
AUTHOR: Robert Schumann
"People create art for varied reasons.
  For everyone the reason is different."

C MAJOR RV. 537 OPUS 46 NO. 1
Performed by Maurice Andre and Neville Marriner

Baroque Trumpet

Baroque Trumpet and Crooks
Natural Trumpet (top) Vs. Modern Valved Trumpet

Bach to Basics

By Elizabeth Jin
September 1, 2002

Natural trumpets. Trumpets made out of dirt and weeds?
Wrong. They're made out of brass like any other trumpet.

"A natural trumpet is essentially a trumpet without valves,
" Bryan Proksch, a graduate student in musicology, or the
study of the history of music, explains. He sits up straight
and reaches for his trumpet case. The instrument that comes
out of the case looks nothing like a modern trumpet—it is
almost twice as long and has no valves.

On a modern trumpet, the three valves are connected to thin
pieces of tubing. These little tubes connect to the larger tube
that makes up the horn. However, the little tubes remain
closed until the player presses a valve, which opens the
passageway to a tube, elongating the path that the air travels.
The longer the air path, the lower the sound that comes out of
the horn. Proksch compares the phenomenon to blowing
across a Coke bottle. The less liquid you have in the bottle,
the longer the "air path," and the lower the resulting sound,
because more air passes through it.

By using a combination of valves, a modern trumpeter can
produce every note on a musical scale. The natural trumpet
has no valves; instead, through subtle adjustments in lip
tension, a natural trumpeter produces the notes of a harmonic
scale, a set of selected tones that are "fixed by nature."

Proksch jumps up and grabs the telephone on his desk. He
shakes the phone cord, creating a series of waves. "Imagine
that one wave is equal to the note created using the smallest
amount of lip tension. On a C scale—a series of eight notes
beginning and ending with C—that note is C," he explains. He
then shakes the cord harder and the waves double in frequency.
The next note on the harmonic scale is "double" a C, or the C
an octave higher. Shaking the cord even harder—the equivalent
of adding more lip tension—creates a wave that is a fifth of the
frequency of the original wave.

The natural trumpet evolved from the signaling trumpet, a single,
straight tube about 47 inches long with a flared end. Aptly
named, the signaling trumpet's splendid sound could be heard
at great distances and was useful in military battles and royal
fanfares. The natural trumpet performed similar functions as the
signaling trumpet; however, instrument makers folded its 88
inches of tubing to make it more convenient to carry on military
campaigns and to court functions.

The trumpet's function would have remained military if not for an
important event in the trumpet's history: its acceptance into art
music in the 17th century. The natural trumpet flourished during
this time, with eminent composers such as J. S. Bach and
Johann Schelle writing pieces in which trumpets led the melody.
Valentine Snow was one such natural trumpeter for whom Handel
wrote most of his music; Snow was also a composer, and Proksch
recently edited a set of his natural trumpet duets, which was
published by Brass Press.

Yet by 1770, composers such as Beethoven and Mozart had
ushered in a more complex musical sound with several key
changes in one piece. A natural trumpeter must change the
instrument's mouthpiece in order to change keys. The
impracticality of this requirement reduced the trumpet's role
to opening flourishes and climaxes until the valve trumpet was
invented around 1815. Unlike the natural trumpet, it can change
keys without changing the mouthpiece and is easier to play in
tune because it requires less lip tension.

Despite the pleasing, clear tone of the modern valve trumpet,
Proksch insists that it is not what Bach and his contemporaries
intended their robust and somewhat unrefined trumpet parts to
sound like. Proksch's desire to play these pieces properly
prompted him to learn how to play the natural trumpet. Better yet,
he decided to make one. Even better, he decided to recruit other
natural trumpeters in the hopes of creating a natural trumpet
ensemble. Last spring, along with two undergraduate music
majors, Derek Bittner and Edward Jakuboski, Proksch obtained
a grant from the university to build six natural trumpets. Professor
Leslie Leupp from the School of Visual Arts, the Department of
Metal Arts, and Engineering Services assisted in the project by
donating their facilities and materials.

"Making a natural trumpet is a lot simpler than you might think,"
Proksch says. Humming a Bach concerto, he riffles through
some sheet music on the piano and finds scrap paper to draw
on. "First," he says, "you cut a big sheet of brass." This piece
will become the bell of the trumpet. He sketches a pattern of a
trumpet bell that is about a yard long and looks as if it has been
run over by a truck. He continues, "Next, cut out the pattern and
make teeth marks along the two long sides." The two sides will
eventually be connected; the interwoven teeth create a stronger
fit than if two straight sides were simply welded together. Now,
fold the pattern in half lengthwise and open it slightly at one end
to fit on a mandrel, a big piece of curved steel. Finally, hammer
out the bell into its proper curved shape.

Smaller brass tubes make up the rest of the natural trumpet. The
joints are pressure-fitted by tapering the end of one tube slightly
and expanding the end of the other. A discovery in tube bending
shortly before the 1400s allows the brass to be curved. Brass has
a melting point of 1083 degrees C, while lead melts at 327 degrees
C. Consequently, lead melts and cools more quickly than brass.
Filling a straight piece of brass tubing with liquid lead allows the
brass to bend but not melt. After bending the tubing, the cooled
lead is melted again and removed. Today, because lead is
poisonous, trumpet makers use an alloy made of bismuth, which
melts even before water boils.

By making the trumpets and forming an ensemble to play pieces
from the 17th century, Proksch hopes to restore the natural trumpet
to its rightful role. "The reason we are interested in the natural
trumpet is more than purely historical," Proksch insists. "It actually
sounds better than the modern trumpet. If you want to hear music
the way Bach heard it, you at least have to have the right instrument."

Bryan Proksch is a master's degree student in musicology in the
School of Music within the College of Arts and Architecture, 233
Music Bldg. I, University Park, PA 16802; 814-863-4421; Derek Bittner and Edward Jakuboski are
undergraduate students, both majoring in music. The natural
trumpet project is funded by an undergraduate research grant
from the College of Arts and Architecture.



a.  Orchestration
b.  FIRST SOUNDS (without fingers)
1.  Echo Warm-Up
a.  Good versus Bad Sounds
1)  Breathing
2) Articulation

1.  MAJOR SCALES (1 8va): G, D, A
a.  Slurring 2 notes
a.  Bow Proportions
a.  Bow Proportions