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Trumpets in Bach’s Vocal Works
Part 4

Continue from Part 3

OT: pussy-foot trumpets and basses
Pussy-foot trumpet sound for Bach?
Bach’s trumpets

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 26, 2004):
< If a full-voiced bass such as Nimsgern is used, this combination (orchestration by Bach) with/against trumpets and/or timpani works out well because the trumpets (trombae) do not feel that they need to hold back, but with many of the demi-voix bass voices that have been recorded with original instruments, the trombae are played so reticently (deliberately adjusting to the lower volume of these voices, or simply fortuitously unable to play these instruments at full volume) that the nobility of these instruments is lacking. >
The critic resists being labeled a "cynic" next to the dictionary definition, and yet he freely labels some of the best professional singers as "demi-voix" and "half-voice" as a way of dismissing them, not liking their work. I'd thought he got over that terminology last summer, finally. Guess not. Ah well.

I also wonder how he knows so surely what trumpet players feel when doing their jobs. Especially as they get paid the same for playing quietly as for playing loudly.

< They begin to sound like slightly louder oboi. The boldness of projection of such trombae is lacking. The differentiation in volume and characteristic timbre between these instruments become more and more negligible. >
And that's a problem...why, exactly? Except for at least one modern person not liking it, I mean. Where did Bach say he had to have a bold projection? That's a modern expectation, not necessarily his. Especially when a cynic focuses on what's "lacking" instead of the positive qualities of the sound. In my opinion, natural trumpets played quietly sound beautiful. And they blend very nicely with oboe, for example in the 2nd Brandenburg. Good thing Bach knew what he was doing.

>>The trombae were also played outdoors. [Remember that Gottfried Reiche died after inhaling too much torch smoke while playing a Bach cantata (BWV 215) outdoors!] <<
Well, that's interesting. Anyway, lots of people do lots of things outdoors. I've played harpsichord outdoors. I've heard violins played outdoors quite a bit. I was also playing once in an orchestra (indoors, if it matters) when the elderly timpanist had a heart attack, was taken over to the hospital, but died anyway; having nothing to do with the music, though, just really unfortunate timing, especially for him. So what?

>>It would be hard to imagine the same subdued manner of trumpet playing being used under these circumstances. Why would these trombae, corni da caccia, etc. suddenly assume a different manner of playing in a large church simply to accommodate the voices unless these voices were inferior and could not produce a fully sustained volume throughout a movement as necessary as is frequently the case today? <<
Why expect that these fine players had no expressive range whatsoever, which is the implication here? And why blame it on the singers, unless there is some ulterior motive of sticking MORE bad singers in there, which still wouldn't make it appreciably louder? What's the point? "Fully sustained volume" is a modern expectation, anyway. Some people like thing loud, some don't. Good players do whatever best suits the occasion, whether that's a "different manner of playing" or whatever.

There are so many critical assumptions here, all questionable, that the mind reels trying to keep track of them all. I'd rather just listen to the music and enjoy it for its positive qualities, myself. If somebody wants to revel in loud and noble trumpet playing, there's always the Janacek Sinfonietta and stuff like that.

>>Bach, however, was known to have at his disposal a very good bass singer in Leipzig. There would be no need for the tromba players to engage in any 'pussy-footing' when accompanying such a commanding voice.<<
So, a modern listener personally doesn't like the "pussy-footing" enough even to say it in a nice way, but just makes quiet control by fine instrumentalists sound like a negative thing. Maybe the sound seems effeminate or something, or whatever other reason there is for objection. Not "commanding" enough, whatever. Bass singers have to be commanding? Why? This isn't Wagnerian opera, y'know. Is it possible that Bach ever asked his "very good bass singer in Leipzig" to sing more quietly, and/or let his voice rise and fall dynamically within phrases? Or is flat-out loud pretty much it, as a musician's qualification for being good?

I remember also playing for a wedding once, where they also had a bagpiper playing INDOORS for part of the ceremony. *&*&%#%, that was loud. Louder than anything I could get from the organ, and that organ was designed appropriately for the room's size. I guess the bagpiper was good.

Regards,
A Concerned Musician

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 26, 2004):
Here are some quotations from the New Grove by Reine Dahlqvist and Edward Tarr (Oxford University Press, 2003):

>>Clarino [clairon, clarion etc.].

The high register of a trumpet; in its variant forms, the term also designates a kind of trumpet.

‘Claro’ and ‘clario’ are derived from clarus (Lat.: ‘clear’, ‘penetrating’, ‘loud’, ‘shrill’)<<

>>It is true that various German theorists, beginning with Mattheson (Das neu-eröffnete Orchestre, 1713/R), stated that ‘clarino’ was an Italian alternative for ‘tromba’.<<

>>Some composers, however, including J.S. Bach, simply called all the parts ‘tromba’. In only two works did he write Clarino 1, 2 and Principale: in the parts to the Missa (Kyrie, Gloria) of the B minor Mass and at the beginning of the first chorus of Cantata no.205 (but at other places in that work he wrote ‘trombe’). His copyists, however, labelled the trumpet parts ‘Clarino 1, 2’ and ‘Principale’ more frequently. Some composers and copyists called all parts ‘clarino’, even true principale parts.<<

>>There was already an important tradition of trumpet playing in Leipzig when Bach arrived there: his predecessors as Kantors of the Thomaskirche had thought well of the instrument, and J.C. Pezel had written and played some difficult trumpet parts. Bach composed much of his most splendid trumpet music for Gottfried Reiche, senior Stadtpfeifer until his death in 1734. But some of Bach’s most virtuoso parts were not written for Reiche: Cantatas 31, 63, 147a and 172 were composed in Weimar and the second Brandenburg Concerto was composed at Cöthen.<<

>>From about 1685 to 1800 three parts, two clarinos and one principale, became common; the best example of this kind of writing is Handel's ‘Dettingen’ Te Deum. If a fourth part was added, it had the same notes as the kettledrums and was called toccato, dugetto or the like. (Or, in the writing of Austrian composers, the two lower parts were called tromba 1 and 2 and the two upper parts clarino 1 and 2.)

The principale player had to develop a strong and blasting tone (Ger. schmettern: ‘to blast’). He also had to excel in the use of double and triple tonguing, regarded by many as the noblest aspect of trumpet playing.<<

>>For playing in the clarino register [Johann Ernst] Altenburg [1734-1801] exhorted imitation of the human voice and gave examples of unequal tonguing, practised throughout the Renaissance and Baroque periods on all wind instruments.

Altenburg's father, Johann Caspar Altenburg (b Alach, nr Erfurt, 1689; d Weissenfels, 1761), presumably a descendant of the 17th-century church musician Michael Altenburg, served as court and chamber trumpeter for three successive dukes of Weissenfels (1711–46) and also performed in many other German courts (1731–3). According to his son's Versuch, which includes a full biography of him, he was especially praised for his playing in the high register.<<

End of the quotations from the New Grove.

Speaking of the tromba in Bach’s time:

J. E. Altenburg reflecting on the sound-quality of the tromba in his book which looks back to the quickly dying art of tromba playing as exemplified by his father:

„…daß man bey diesem heroischen musikalischen Instrument der Naturdurch die Kunst nur in etwas zu Hülfe kommen könnte.“ J. E. Altenburg, 1767

„…that, by means of artistry/skill, one would be able to help nature along just a bit in playing this heroic, musical instrument.” [The reason he gives for writing this book.]

hell strahlender Klang der Tromba” [the brightly beaming sound of the tromba]

from a description of the tromba sound as compared to the horn from the Csibas’ book on “Die Blechblasinstrumente in J. S. Bachs Werken” (Merseburger Press, 1994.)

J. G. Mattheson, from his “Neu-eröffnetes Orchestre” (Hamburg, 1713) p. 267:

Die lieblich-pompösen Wald-Hörner sind bey jetziger Zeit sehr en vogue kommen, so wohl was Kirchen als Theatral und Cammer-Music anlanget, weil sie theils nicht so rüde von Natur sind, als die Trompeten, theils auch weil sie mit mehr Facilité können tractieret werden. Die brauchbarsten haben F und mit den Trompeten aus dem C gleichen Ambitus. Sie klingen auch dicker und füllen besser aus als die schreienden Clarinen, weil sie um eine ganze Quinte tiefer stehen.“ [“The pleasantly pompous ‚Waldhörner” = Corni, are presently very much in vogue both in performing church as well as theater (opera) music, because they are not as crude-sounding by nature as the trumpets (trombae) are and because they can be played more easily than the latter instruments. The most useful horns are in F and share the same range with the trumpets (trombae) in C. They (the horns) have a fuller sound and fill out the harmonies better than the ‘screaming/shrill/penetrating’ clarions (high trombae) because they are a whole fifth lower in pitch.”]

Notice how the trumpets are described here in comparison with the horns: they have a cruder, unpolished sound which in the highest range borders on ‘screaming/strongly penetrating.’ And yet they are being used in performing church music in the first quarter century of the 1700s! Despite all of this, we have the doubters and ‘nay-sayers’ who would opt for the ‘pussy-footing’ sound created by certain HIP trumpeters who are trying to sell us a different bill of goods based on their own imaginations. Why should we trust such musicians who might be basing their information on different cultures/countries and different playing traditions which are not German and not what Bach would have heard and for which he would have composed his glorious music?

Benjamin Mullins wrote (March 26, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
<SNIP>
< Speaking of the tromba in Bach’s time:

J. E. Altenburg reflecting on the sound-quality of the tromba in his book which looks back to the quickly dying art of tromba playing as exemplified by his father:

„…daß man bey diesem heroischen musikalischen Instrument der Natur durch die
Kunst nur in etwas zu Hülfe kommen könnte
.“ J. E. Altenburg, 1767
„…that, by means of artistry/skill, one would be able to help nature along just a bit in playing this heroic, musical instrument.” [The reason he gives for writing this book.]

hell strahlender Klang der Tromba” [the brightly beaming sound of the tromba]

from a description of the tromba sound as compared to the horn from the Csibas’ book on “Die Blechblasinstrumente in J. S. Bachs Werken
(Merseburger Press, 1994.)
<SNIP>

Notice how the trumpets are described here in comparison with the horns:they have a cruder, unpolished sound which in the highest range borders on‘screaming/strongly penetrating.’ And yet they are being used in performingchurch music in the first quarter century of the 1700s! Despite all of this, we have the doubters and ‘nay-sayers’ who would opt for the ‘pussy-footing’ sound created by certain HIP trumpeters who are trying to sell us a different bill of goods based on their own imaginations. Why should we trust such musicians who might be basing their information on different cultures/countries and different playing traditions which are not German and not what Bach would have heard and for which he would have composed his glorious music? >

Fundamental prerequisites for a clarino player are that he:
(1) Knows how to produce a pure, clear, and pleasant tone....

-Some Rules-

Every [trumpeter] who wants to play with other instruments must:

(2) Seek to express well the singing character of the slow movements, and to execute properly the ornaments which occur. Long notes must be sustained with moderation and be skillfully joined to one another. It is well known that the human voice is supposed to serve as the model for all instruments; thus should the clarino player try to imitate it as much as possible, and should seek to bring forth the so-called cantabile on his instrument.

(6) Not always play with the same loudness or softness, but rather [in a manner] appropriate to the expression or character [of a] given [movement], and [in the case of vocal music], of its accompanying text. As is well known, there are sundry degrees of loudness and softness in music, [and these] are indicated by certain letters and words, such as...

(7) Differentiate as to where and what he plays. One can play more vigorously when playing with many instruments or in the open air than [when one is] with a small group or in a room, in which case the tone must be moderated.

-------
The above excerpts are taken, verbatim, from Chapter 11 (On Clarino Playing and the Style of Execution Required Thereby) of 'Trumpeters' and Kettledrummers' Art' by Johann Ernst Altenburg (1795)
English translation by Edward H. Tarr


Benjamin Mullins wrote (March 26, 2004):
All quotations below are taken, verbatim, from:

'Trumpeters' and Kettledrummers' Art'
by Johann Ernst Altenburg (1795)
English translation by Edward H. Tarr

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 27, 2004):
Benjamin Mullins’ quotations from Edward H Tarr’s translation of Johann Ernst Altenburg’s „Versuch einer Anleitung zur heroischmusikalischen Trompeter- und Paukerkunst“ [Halle, 1795] [„An attempt to give instructions regarding the heroic, musical art/skill of trumpeters and timpanists”], the English title of which has been simply reduced to „Trumpeters' and Kettledrummers' Art“ emphasize the remarkable flexibility and control which the trumpeters in that part of Germany where Bach lived had achieved.

Among the interesting points raised by Mullins’ quotations from Tarr’s translation:

1) a cantabile, singing style [I have actually heard some HIP cantata recordings in which the HIP trumpeter on a natural trumpet breaks off in the middle of a series of long notes, not because of lack of breath, but rather because the conductor and/or player believed that the necessary affect demanded short two- or three-note phrases. Bach had not indicated any phrasing breaks of this type in the score – it was a chorale melody that was suspended over the voice and remaining orchestra.]

2) degrees of loudness [As a trumpeter typically intones a chorale melody, his playing should exhibit gradual increases and decreases in volume over the course of each chorale line and a general connection between the words being sung (or thought by the congregation) should also be detectable.]

3) differentiate as to where and what the trumpeter plays [This would make clear why Crispian Steele-Perkins would play more softly (at less than full volume) in a room setting when demonstrating his reconstructed instruments than he would in a large concert hall or church. If he claims, however, that his instrument can only produce musical sounds at this diminished, lower level of volume, then, perhaps, he may not have solved the problem of making and playing Bach’s music as it must have been heard: elegant, noble, heroic, some expressive flexibility, and the ability to soar above the other instruments and voices in the ensemble. Certainly a church setting would place greater demands upon the trumpet than a demonstration in a small room or hall would, otherwise the appropriate glorious, dignified effect of this instrument would be lost.]

4) appropriate to the expression or character [of a] given [movement], and [in the case of vocal music], of its accompanying text [In 2/3 of the 36 Bach arias and/or recitatives with trumpet(s), the choice of voice is a bass (only 5 for tenor and 7 for duets and trios of varvoices. In case any one is counting the items below, some of the BWV numbers omitted are by other composers or the complete text is not available – only the incipits are. An appropriate interpretation of the text (only paraphrases/summaries of the complete texts are given below) would call upon the glorious aspects of which a trumpet should truly be capable:

Tromba I only:

BWV 10/5: God of the Old Testament; birth of the Savior; God’s word is full of grace and truth

BWV 43/5: O Thrones, place the laurel wreath of the victor upon Christ’s head

BWV 70/2: A new day is beginning; be shocked and startled when everything comes crashing down around you, for Christ will come to get you

BWV 70/9: The last sound of the trumpet; the Day of Judgment has come and hell has opened its portals

BWV 70/10: Make a loud exploding and crashing sound, for Heaven and Earth are being smashed to bits

BWV 75/12: Strong faith and love

BWV 76/5: Take me away from everything that leads me astray, I want to revere Christ as the light of Reason

BWV 90/3: Because of your sinfulness, o sinners, you must suffer horrors even in the holy places and temples which will turn into a houses of murderers

BWV 103/5: Let me see my Jesus again; o what incomparable joy!; take my heart as a sacrifice

BWV 110/6: Wake up! Sing joyful songs of praise to the Lord!

BWV 127/4: When the last trumpets will sound and destroy [to the point of complete destruction by means of this sharp, destructive sound {“zerschmettert” is used here; it is a word (“schmettern” is the base) frequently used to describe the loudest, sharpest that a trumpet can make, sometimes equated with ‘blaring’} heaven and earth and the Last Day of Judgment will arrive, then, Jesus, be my spokesman so that I will not experience eternal death

BWV 128/3: Stand up and with a bright, sound/noise declare to everyone that Jesus is sitting on my right

BWV 137/4: From Heaven above the Almighty is raining down upon you streams of love

BWV 145/5: Don’t ever forget that your savior is alive; let this be the firm foundation upon which your belief is based

BWV 147/9: I want to sing about Jesus’ miracles! Through the sacred fire (Holy Spirit/Ghost) he will powerfully force into the correct path my weak flesh and mouth/tongue

BWV 248/I/8: Great majestic Lord and powerful King

Tromba da tirarsi I:

BWV 5/5: Shut up, you hordes of Hell, you won’t make me afraid

BWV 19/5: Stay with me angels and guide me {3 of the 6 lines of text end with an apostrophe! while the tromba suspends the famous chorale above the rather agitated tenor part} Teach me to sing properly your great song of praise {‘Holy, holy art thou’}

BWV 20/II/1: Wake up before the last trumpet sounds and the Last Day of Judgment arrives

BWV 46/3: I could already see the thunderstorm approaching from afar, but now the lightning is visible and the countless sins of mankind threaten to ignite as a lightning bolt of revenge and cause your downfall

BWV 77/5: [This is the aria with the infamous interpretation that the tromba player should, or has the right to make numerous mistakes – the occasional wrong or out-of-tune notes – because the text supposedly calls for this:] My body is so full of imperfection, and, although I often have the will to do things right, the way God wants things to be, I nevertheless seem to lack the opportunities to do so

BWV 185/1: O Flame of Love and Merciful Basis of Eternal Love, melt me down to the core; stimulate and move my heart so that I might practice mercy and kindness

Tromba I, II

BWV 175/6: Let my ears be opened for Jesus has promised to eliminate the devil and death; he wants to give all Christians who follow him and bear his cross great mercy and a full life

Tromba I, II, III

BWV 71/5: Through your great and mighty power, you maintain our borders, for peace must shine here when killing and the storms of war are present elsewhere. Through your mighty power, you have brought about healing/salvation when your crown and scepter are moved into action.

BWV 130/3: The old dragon is consumed with envy and continuously considers how he might bring more harm to us; he would gladly destroy what is God’s; he will even resort to trickery because he never has a moment to rest.

BWV 172/3: O Holiest Trinity, great and honorable God, come into our hearts, we implore you [the 3 trombae obviously symbolize the Trinity]

BWV 215/8: Let us sing and honor your anniversary, this at a time when the French threaten us with war (thunder and lightning, sword and fire). We can be grateful that we have you as a protector (powerful god of protection)

Tromba I, II, III + Corno I, II

BWV 205/2: Sound the alarm (with trumpets) and pull your forces together (for the Coronation of August III. Performed February 19, 1734)

Tromba I, II, III, IV

BWV 119/4: You, dear City of Leipzig and its people, should recognize the proof by virtue of all the good things that have happened here. All this could not have happened without God’s help and the wise rule of our leaders. So be ready, dear people, to express your faithful gratitude, for if you remained silent, the city walls would have to break out in songs of thanks and praise.

I have not even taken in account yet all the glorious mvts. with chorus and orchestra, but this short list should suffice for a reader to come to a decision about what the tromba means to Bach as he employs it in his instrumentation.

All of these texts, if Bach’s music is properly performed, do not call for the reticent trumpet playing that is often heard in HIP recordings. It would be a misinterpretation of Altenburg to assume that he insisted upon such soft, fuzzy-sounding tromba playing with occasional missing or weak notes that are expected to be excused ‘because the trumpeter is playing on a reconstruction of a natural trumpet and this is what they are supposed to sound like.’ Nonsense! An even greater affront to the present day listener (not to mention Bach’s music itself) is the fact that, in some HIP recordings, the crowning fugal entry in a choral movement which has been building up to this point is not even audible! A listener without a score would miss this highpoint simply because there is a mistaken notion floating about in HI circles that trumpets should be equal in volume to an oboe or a recorder. Certainly, as Altenburg sensibly points out, the trumpet may need to adjust the volume of the instrument according to the playing circumstances, but not to the point of losing the prime characteristics which set this instrument apart from all others: a penetrating clarity bordering on shrillness at times but without blaring when powerful notes in the mid and low ranges are needed. In a church setting with the type of texts indicated above, it would be a mistake to allow the trumpet parts ‘to go under’ when all the other players and singers are performing at the same time. Some HI trumpeters playing on reconstructions of natural tromba instruments have opted for easier playing standards that generally create a softer sound and require less effort to achieve. The Csibas in their book “Die Blechblasinstrumente in J. S. Bachs Werken” (Merseburger Press, 1994) believe that a new generation of young instrumentalists will attain, with much dedication anpractice, a higher level of performance on these reconstructed instruments, than that which has hitherto been possible with such reconstructions. It is a combination of proper hardware and a lot of sweat and tears that will bring about results that are worthy of this instrument and worthy of Bach’s use of it in his compositions.

PS: Soprano saxophones, a couple of clarinets, a garden hose played by Dennis Brain, perhaps even bagpipes or a Moog synthesizer can easily replace trombae; however, in this instance, I am speaking of the ideal circumstances that those conductors who seriously wish to present in a recording a reasonably authentic sounding performance of Bach’s music should attempt to achieve.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 27, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] In fewer and more forthright words: you PREFER it loud.

And, you'll talk down everyone who likes something else because we're all morons; everyone who likes HIP, or does HIP, is misguided and wrong and you must have your way. Anybody who doesn't have the same goals as you is simply wrong; you'll shout them down with cries of "Nonsense!" to your last breath.

That's pretty much an "affront to the present day listener (not to mention Bachâ?Ts music itself)".

But hey. Your preferences are your preferences. I wish you'd state that more directly.

Regards,
A Concerned Musician

Gabriel Jackson wrote (March 27, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote: < I am speaking of the ideal circumstances that those conductors who seriously wish to present in a recording a reasonably authentic sounding performance of Bach’s music should attempt to achieve. >
Since your requirements for a satisfactory Bach performance are so detailed, multifarious, and dogmatic, and since those requirmeents are so rarely (if ever?) met due to the ignorance, incompetence and willfulness of so very many performers and conductors, why don't you take up conducting yourself, as you clearly know exactly how this music should be performed, instead of offering contemptuous dismissal after contemptuous dismissal of the efforts of others?

Robert Sherman wrote (March 27, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] I share Thomas' concern at the HIP trumpet (Hollywood-HIP with finger-holes, actually, but let's not get into that) playing where "in some HIP recordings, the crowning fugal entry in a choral movement which has been building up to this point is not even audible!" I was so depressed when this happened in a live performance of the bm - the Dona Nobis Pacem in particular - by the Washington Bach Consort that I've since refused to go to concerts by this otherwise admirable group.

Getting a large dynamic range out of a HIP or Hollywood-HIP trumpet, which as Thomas correctly points out is most desirable, is difficult because the long tube and small bore of these instruments create high resistance. If Thomas or anybody else knows the bore sizes generally used in Bach's original instruments, I'd like to hear what they are. For reference, modern Bb trumpet bores range from about .445" (small jazz band) to .465" (major symphony orchestra with very strong player).

Benjamin Mullins wrote (March 27, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
<SNIP>

Among the interesting points raised by Mullins’ quotations from Tarr’s translation:

1) a cantabile, singing style [I have actually heard some HIP cantata recordings in which the HIP trumpeter on a natural trumpet breaks off in the middle of a series of long notes, not because of lack of breath, but rather because the conductor and/or player believed that the necessary affect demanded short two- or three-note phrases. Bach had not indicated any phrasing breaks of this type in the score – it was a chorale melody that was suspended over the voice and remaining orchestra.] >
I don't understand your point.

<SNIP>
3) differentiate as to where and what the trumpeter plays [This would make clear why Crispian Steele-Perkins would play more softly (at less than full volume) in a room setting when demonstrating his reconstructed instruments than he would in a large concert hall or church. If he claims, however, that his instrument can only produce musical sounds at this diminished, lower level of volume, then, perhaps, he may not have solved the problem of making and playing Bach’s music as it must have been heard: elegant, noble, heroic, some expressive flexibility, and the ability to soar above the other instruments and voices in the ensemble. Certainly a church setting would place greater demands upon the trumpet than a demonstration in a small room or hall would, otherwise the appropriate glorious, dignified effect of this instrument would be lost.] >
Mr. Steele-Perkins never claimed that he or his instrument was only ever capable of 'producing musical sounds at a diminished, lower level of volume'. Indeed, that same evening he play very loudly at times! To me, his playing was elegant, noble, and heroic. He demonstrated repeatedly the instrument was capable of much more than some expressive flexibility. He made it sing.

Certainly, in a large church he would likely play louder than he did in that class room, but that does not mean he would do so to the detriment of the singers or other instrumentalists. Whether or not a church setting would place greater demands upon the trumpet than a demonstration in a small room or hall is a question you would have to ask a Baroque trumpeter. Anyway, how one defines elegant, noble, heroic, glorious, and dignified is purely subjective and personal.

< 4) appropriate to the expression or character [of a] given [movement], and [in the case of vocal music], of its accompanying text [In 2/3 of the 36 Bach arias and/or recitatives with trumpet(s), the choice of voice is a bass (only 5 for tenor and 7 for duets and trios of various voices. In case any one is counting the items below, some of the BWV numbers omitted are by other composers or the complete text is not available – only the incipits are. An appropriate interpretation of the text (only paraphrases/summaries of the complete texts are given below) would call upon the glorious aspects of which a trumpet should truly be capable:
<SNIP>
I have not even taken in account yet all the glorious mvts. with chorus and orchestra, but this short list should suffice for a reader to come to a decision about what the tromba means to Bach as he employs it in his instrumentation. >
The appropriate expression or character of a piece of music does not depend solely on the dynamic level at which it is played. Any good musician will tell you that.

< All of these texts, if Bach’s music is properly performed, do not call for the reticent trumpet playing that is often heard in HIP recordings. It would be a misinterpretation of Altenburg to assume that he insisted upon such soft, fuzzy-sounding tromba playing with occasional missing or weak notes that are expected to be excused ‘because the trumpeter is playing on a reconstruction of a natural trumpet and this is what they are supposed to sound like.’ Nonsense! >
To assume that that was Altenburg's intention would be nonsense. But then so would assuming trumpets must always play loudly or that Bach expected them to do so. It is clear from Altenburg's description of his father's abilities, and elsewhere, that playing softly in the upper register was not just some parlor trick, but an important and valued quality in a trumpeter.

< An even greater affront to the present day listener (not to mention Bach’s music itself) is the fact that, in some HIP recordings, the crowning fugal entry in a choral movement which has been building up to this point is not even audible! A listener without a score would miss this highpoint simply because there is a mistaken notion floating about in HI circles that trumpets should be equal in volume to an oboe or a recorder. >
That kind of anticlimax could be very disappointing and unsatisfying. My point (as well as Altenburg's and Steele-Perkins') is not that trumpets "should" be equal in volume to an oboe or a recorder all the time, but that they can, and should be, some of the time. Brandenburg Concerto No.2 is a perfect example.

< Certainly, as Altenburg sensibly points out, the trmay need to adjust the volume of the instrument according to the playing circumstances, but not to the point of losing the prime characteristics which set this instrument apart from all others: a penetrating clarity bordering on shrillness at times but without blaring when powerful notes in the mid and low ranges are needed. >
Exactly! Trumpets should play loudly when they need to, but only when they need to. "...a time to keep quiet and a time to speak... a time for war and a time for peace." (Lines I'm sure Bach must have read often.)

< In a church setting with the type of texts indicated above, it would be a mistake to allow the trumpet parts ‘to go under’ when all the other players and singers are performing at the same time. >
I absolutely agree!

< Some HI trumpeters playing on reconstructions of natural tromba instruments have opted for easier playing standards that generally create a softer sound and require less effort to achieve. The Csibas in their book “Die Blechblasinstrumente in J. S. Bachs Werken” (Merseburger Press, 1994) believe that a new generation of young instrumentalists will attain, with much dedication and practice, a higher level of performance on these reconstructed instruments, than that which has hitherto been possible with such reconstructions. It is a combination of proper hardware and a lot of sweat and tears that will bring about results that are worthy of this instrument and worthy of Bach’s use of it in his compositions. >
They are right! In fact, I hope to be such a instrumentalist, if only in an amateur capacity. A lot of sweat and tears are involved. Why, just today I literally experienced both of those! The natural trumpet (I do not use vent holes) is a strange instrument. The performer is expected to produce music that is, at times, soft, delicate, and fragile; at other times, pompous, frightening, earth-shattering! As if that weren't enough, he or she is expected to accomplish this by smashing his/her lips into a little cup, taking a deep breath, and blowing into a simple, eight-foot length of tubing! And yet, the instrument itself is really quite delicate. The metal comprising the bell is so thin. Trying to play this bit of plumbing is one of the hardest things I have ever attempted.

This will be my last posting regarding this subject. In fact, this will be my last posting all together. After a long absence I came back to this group hoping to, once more, immerse myself in Bach's music. Unfortunately, it appears the friendly atmosphere that once existed (remember Harry Steinman?) was lost long ago. It's too bad really, this list used to be such fun!

"...a time for war and a time for peace."

Johan van Veen wrote (March 27, 2004):
[To Benjamin Mullins] You should know by now that Mr Braatz picks and chooses from historical documents only that which he thinks he can use to support his personal preferences, which have turned into ideological preferences.

With the comment below all he wants to say is that for him 'cantabile' is the same as 'legato'. Only he knows why the former necessarily indicates the latter.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 27, 2004):
Bob Sherman asked:
>>If Thomas or anybody else knows the bore sizes generally used in Bach's original instruments, I'd like to hear what they are.<<
Here are some technical details (measurements given in mm. and not inches) of a selection of historic tromba/corno mouthpieces as given by Anthony Baines in “Brass Instruments: Their History and Development” Dover, 1976-1993 various editions, p. 125 of 1993 edition; and by the Csibas in their book “Die Blechblasinstrumente in J. S. Bachs Werken” Merseburger Press, 1994, p. 77:

The measurements are given in the following order 1) maximum diameter 2) cup diameter 3) throat diameter 4) depth 5) total length 6) end bore 7) maker 8) date/time frame:

29.8 | 18 | 4.5 | 7.5 | (90) | ? | W. M. Ehe | Beginning of 18th century (shallow cup)
28 | 18 | 4.5 | 13 | 95 | ? | M. Hainlein | End of 17th century (deep cup)
21 | 16 | 4 | 7.8 | 98 | ? | M. Leichambschneider | 1725 (shallow cup and very narrow lip 2.5)
27.6 | 18.5 | 3.8 | 8 | 87 | 10 | J. L. Ehe | 1746 (shallow cup with flat lip – no rounding)
29. 4 | 19.5 | 4 | 9.8 | 92 | 9 | E. J. C. Haas | Beginning of 18th century (medium depth)
31 | 16.8 | 3.9 | 6.5 | 104 | 7.9 | Anonymous | End of 17th century (shallow cup)
32 | 20 | 6 | 11.6 | 96 | 8 | Anonymous | Beginning of 18th century (deep cup)
28 | 18 | 5 | 9.8 | 102.3 | 9.4 | Anonymous | Middle of 18th century (medium depth)

Here, in comparison, is some additional information on bore sizes and mouthpieces of 20th century trumpets as related by Edward H. Tarr in his article on Western trumpets in the New Grove (Oxford University Press, 2003):

>>During the early 20th century small-bore instruments were popular in countries in which piston valve trumpets were used. The Conn 22B, widely used in American symphony orchestras, had a bore of 11.12 mm. The Thibouville-Lamy C trumpet, played in France before and just after World War I, had a bore of 11.2 mm, whereas that of the contemporary French Besson Bb trumpet, the prototype of modern American trumpets, was 11.61 mm. In the 1930s in the USA, after World War II in England and after about 1960 in France, larger-bore trumpets were introduced in symphony orchestras to balance the larger volume of tone produced by the horn and trombone sections, which had already adopted large-bore instruments. Typical bore measurements of Bb trumpets in use today are: Vincent Bach medium large, 11.66 mm; Bach large, 11.74 mm; Schilke, 11.1 to 11.89 mm; and Yamaha, 10.5 to 11.76 mm. The most popular rotary-valve trumpets throughout most of the 20th century were the smaller-bore model (10.9 mm) used in Vienna and Dresden and made by Heckel, later Windisch, then Meyer, all of Dresden, and the larger-bore model (11.2 mm) used in Berlin and made by Josef Monke of Cologne. At the end of the 20th century a host of new names – Adaci, Baumann, Egger, Ganter, Kröger, Kürner, Lechner, Meyer, Peter, Scherzer, Syhre, Thein and Yamaha – were vying for the favour of players. American and German trumpets differ in other aspects of construction, which account for the characteristic difference in their sound and response. Besides their generally larger bore, American trumpets have more conical tubing than German ones; the bell is smaller; the mouthpiece cup medium large as compared with the German very large; and the beginning of the mouthpipe small (9.5 mm) as compared with the German (10 mm).

Although mouthpieces were also standardized at the beginning of the 20th century, they vary widely in width and form of rim, shape and depth of cup, and width of throat, so that the selection of a proper mouthpiece is still an individual matter. Some mouthpieces have a ‘double cup’, the shoulder between cup and throat being constructed to include a smaller second cup between it and the throat proper. A short cylindrical section in the throat increases the sureness of attack but tends to make the upper register out of tune.<<

Tarr comments as follows on the trumpets of Bach’s time:

>>The ‘chamber’ or ‘concert trumpeter’ increasingly distinguished himself from the members of the trumpet corps, and performed sonatas, concertos and church music with the court or municipal orchestras. During the century two styles of trumpet playing developed. Altenburg referred to them (pp.14 and 23) as ‘Feldstück-‘ or ‘Prinzipalblasen,’ and ‘Clarinblasen,’ comparing them directly to techniques used by the ancient Hebrews and known as ‘teruah’ and ‘tekia’: Luther translated these as ‘schmettern’ and ‘schlecht blasen’ [readers should be reminded here that ‘schlecht’ is not used in its modern German sense but rather means ‘plain/simple’] respectively, and the King James Bible as ‘blowing an alarm’ and ‘blowing’. The former style was deemed appropriate for military signals and for the ‘outdoor’ music of the trumpet corps; the latter, softer style was associated with solo playing in the clarino register. In 1619 Praetorius advised that the trumpet group be separated from the other musicians when called on to play in church, so not to drown them out. Altenburg wrote that a ‘concert trumpeter is [often] spared the weekly playing at table, because through the blaring he would spoil the delicate and subtle embouchure [needed] for clarino [playing]’.<<

and

>>There was already an important tradition of trumpet playing in Leipzig when Bach arrived there: his predecessors as Kantors of the Thomaskirche had thought well of the instrument, and J.C. Pezel had written and played some difficult trumpet parts. Bach composed much of his most splendid trumpet music for Gottfried Reiche, senior Stadtpfeifer until his death in 1734. But some of Bach’s most virtuoso parts were not written for Reiche: Cantatas 31, 63, 147a and 172 were composed in Weimar and the second Brandenburg Concerto was composed at Cöthen.<<

And also:

>>Extant Baroque trumpet mouthpieces differ from modern ones in several ways. Their rims were flatter and wider, and there was a sharp edge between cup and throat. The throat, or bore, had a larger diameter, 4 to 6 mm. The shank was often longer and had a larger outside diameter. The sharp edge between cup and throat not only lent brilliance to the tone and enhanced the precision of the instrument’s response, but in combination with the wide bore it also made it easier for trumpeters to ‘lip’ the out-of-tune partials into tune, or even to produce usable notes between the partials, a technique that is difficult if not impossible on a mouthpiece with a V-shaped cup, such as that of a horn. (Playing in tune was perhaps the most important prerequisite for the acceptance of the trumpet into ensembles of strings in the early 17th century.) As with the modern mouthpiece, a shallow cup facilitated playing in the high or Clarino register; a deeper, wider one was more suitable for low or Principale playing.

Throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries the form of the trumpet remained the same, although it is possible to distinguish between early, middle and late Baroque bell flares, as the bell throat became progressively narrower. The best-known Nuremberg instrument-making families were Schnitzer, Neuschel, Hainlein, Kodisch, Ehe and especially Haas. The leading English makers of the time were William Bull, John Harris and, later, William Shaw. In Germany and England the standard pitch was D or Eb, and the instrument was crooked down to play in lower keys. Independently of one another, both Mersenne (1636–7) and Altenburg (1795) gave the tube length as 224 cm (seven ‘pieds,’ or four ‘Ellen’), which would yield a pitch slightly lower than modern D. Fine tuning was effected by inserting tuning-bits (short prepared lengths of tubing) between the mouthpiece and the instrument or crook. A number of composers, including J.S. Bach, J.L. Bach, Telemann and Endler also wrote for the shorter F trumpet, called variously ‘clarino piccolo,’ ‘tromba piccola’ or ‘kurze Trompete.’<<

The Csibas, in their book on the brass instruments used in Bach’s compositions (Merseburger Press, 1994), disagree with Tarr on the use of numerous tuning bits (these are very short extensions between the mouthpiece and the remainder of the instrument) in Bach’s instruments. At most only a single additional bit might have been used when necessary.

Continuing with Tarr’s summary:

>>The period between about 1720 and 1780 saw both the zenith and the decline of the Baroque trumpet.<<

After that come further changes/improvements/inventions which do not directly concern the natural-type trumpets used in Bach’s time: Keyed and stop (with or without tuning slides in the U-form) trumpets.

>>The superiority of the valve system over other methods of making trumpets (and horns) chromatic became clear during the 19th century. The advantage of valves over keys was homogeneity of tone (though perhaps not with the first valved instruments): the advantage over the slide was facility.<<

>>Rotary and piston type valves were developed in the 19th century and are still used today in modern orchestras and solo playing of many types.<<

Also of interest to Bach connoisseurs are the early attempts to create modernized versions that could make Bach’s music more playable:

>>After the introduction of the Bb valve trumpet in the mid-19th century, even higher instruments were produced. The D trumpet, only half as long as the Baroque D trumpet, seems to have been used in works of Bach and Handel by 1861 in Brussels, and in Germany from about 1885; it appeared in England in a straight form in 1892 and was subsequently folded back on itself like a Bb trumpet. Several 20th-century composers have made use of the D trumpet (the instrument they intended had a narrower bore and a more penetrating tone than the kind generally made today); they include Ravel (‘Boléro’), Stravinsky (‘Rite of Spring,’ ‘Petrushka,’ ‘Symphony of Psalms’), Britten (‘Peter Grimes’) and Peter Maxwell Davies (Sonata for D-trumpet and piano). Today, such orchestral parts are increasingly played on the piccolo trumpet in Bb or A. The first piccolo trumpet in G was made by F. Besson for a performance by Teste of Bach’s ‘Magnificat’ in 1885. Besson subsequently constructed high trumpets in F/Eb and Eb/D. The piccolo Bb was originally developed by Sax (as ‘petit Sax-horn suraigu en ut ou en si b’) in 1849 for the première of Berlioz’s ‘Te Deum,’ but was subsequently forgotten until 1905 or 1906, when Alexander of Mainz built one which A. Goeyens of Brussels used for performance of Bach’s second Brandenburg Concerto, a work he had first performed in 1902 on a small F trumpet. (T. Charlier had been the first to perform this work on a high G trumpet, in 1898.) The first modern player to adopt the piccolo Bb for D trumpet parts was Adolf Scherbaum, for whom Leistner of Hamburg constructed one with three different bells in 1951. Scherbaum & Göttner, Schilke, Yamaha, Adaci and J. Monke have even made piccolo C trumpets, and Schilke has had an order for a piccolo D trumpet. A hindrance to making such tiny trumpets – besides the obvious acoustical difficulties – is the extreme shortness of the second valve slide, which is already of compromise length on the piccolo C trumpet and cannot be pulled out. The illustration given shows some of the great variety of shapes in which the piccolo Bb trumpet is made.

Although England was slow to adopt the Bb or C trumpet, by the 1970s a number of English players were among the most progressive in using an Eb trumpet in place of the Bb or C. Unfortunately this involved the loss of a certain fullness of tone, as at the beginning of this century when the Bb trumpet – called the ‘trumpetina’ in England – replaced the long F trumpet.

A revival of the natural trumpet of the Baroque period took place in the 20th century. In 1931 Alexander of Mainz built three low-pitch D trumpets (a'= 415) after an original by J.J. Schmied (Pfaffendorf, 1767) for the Hoesch Collection (now dispersed); these were tested in concerts of the Kammermusikkreis Scheck-Wenzinger, but with no particular success. Another design built by Alexander, in 8' pitch with two double bends and two valves, was presented by Werner Menke in 1934. In 1960 Otto Steinkopf, working with the instrument maker H. Finke, devised a trumpet with two vent holes and a transposing hole which not only correct the intonation of the 11th and 13th partials but also improve accuracy by artificially increasing the distance between the partials in the fourth (and fifth) octave. For example, when the hole covered by the ring finger of the right hand is opened, only the 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th and 16th partials can be sounded, the intervening odd-numbered ones being cancelled out. Walter Holy, first trumpeter of the Capella Coloniensis, used this instrument with great success in works of Bach and others. The Steinkopf-Finke trumpet was built in coiled form like the instrument held by Gottfried Reiche in the famous portrait by E.G. Haussmann (probably painted in about 1727). Meinl & Lauber (now E. Meinl) and Rainer Egger, working from 1967 with E.H. Tarr, produced trumpets both with and without the three holes after Hans Hainlein (1632), J.L. Eh(ii) (c1700), J.L. Ehe (iii) (1746) and W.W. Haas; Michael Laird has since collaborated with various London makers on a model with four holes. Trumpets with vent holes should not be termed ‘natural’ (Tarr proposes the neutral term ‘Baroque trumpet’). A class for both natural and vented trumpets was set up at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in 1973 and the instrument subsequently began to be taught in many institutions, notably in Cologne, Göteborg, London, Trossingen and Lyons.<<

Some additional trumpet terminology:

‘Cracking’ = hitting another note besides the one desired

‘Natural trumpet’ = a trumpet without vent holes or transposing holes

‘Baroque trumpet’ = a trumpet with vent holes (this is not an instrument based on the existing trumpets from Bach’s time; it can be compared with the ‘Bach bow’ used by some violinists for playing Bach’s solo sonatas and partitas for violin)

Hope this helps!

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 27, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Here are some technical details (measurements given in mm. and not inches) of a selection of historic tromba/corno mouthpieces...
(...)
Here, in comparison, is some additional information on bore sizes and mouthpieces of 20th century trumpets...
(...)
Extant Baroque trumpet mouthpieces differ from modern ones in several ways...
(...)
The Csibas, in their book on the brass instruments used in Bach’s compositions (Merseburger Press, 1994), disagree with Tarr...
(...)
Also of interest to Bach connoisseurs are the early attempts to create modernized versions that could make Bachâ?Ts music more playable:...
(...)
Hope this helps! >
Lots of information there, some of it interesting, although none of it really affects my enjoyment of the music one way or another.

Now, for some musical and practical perspective: Mr Braatz, have you ever played a trumpet? Or accompanied a trumpeter, or composed or conducted anything for trumpet(s)? These are forthright questions, deserving forthright and brief answers.

Robert Sherman wrote (March 28, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thanks, this is good stuff. Tarr is a fine trumpeter and writes accurately. Still, I'd be interested to see the bore sizes of original Bach trumpets (as opposed to the mouthpiece info, which is interesting but a different matter).

Ken Edmonds wrote (March 28, 2004):
Benjamin Mullins wrote:
< This will be my last posting regarding this subject. In fact, this will be my last posting all together. After a long absence I came back to this group hoping to, once more, immerse myself in Bach's music. Unfortunately, it appears the friendly atmosphere that once existed (remember Harry Steinman?) was lost long ago. It's too bad really, this list used to be such fun!

"...a time for war and a time for peace." >
I too am a trumpet player who recently re-joined this list after a long absence for the same reasons as you. I do remember Harry Steinman and had the privilege of attending a performance with him of the B Minor (BWV 232) with Boston Baroque. (As a side note, Friedemann Immer was playing the 1st part. He was absolutely incredible!) I too was dismayed to see level of tension on the list (and Bob Sherman sounds like the same Bob Sherman I remember from over 4 years ago.) However, I'm going to stick it out for a little while to see how it goes.

p.s. Is anyone out there going to the Andreas Scholl concert in Boston this Friday? Unfortunately, he's not singing any Bach, but I'll still be there.

Robert Sherman wrote (March 28, 2004):
[To Ken Edmonds] Good to hear from you again. And yes, I still believe that if God had meant us to play HIP trumpets he wouldn't have invented valves (joke). Did you ever get the Marriner bm recording we discussed?

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 28, 2004):
Bob Sherman responded: >>Thanks, this is good stuff. Tarr is a fine trumpeter and writes accurately. Still, I’d be interested to see the bore sizes of original Bach trumpets (as opposed to the mouthpiece info, which is interesting but a different matter)<<
When Tarr speaks of the bore sizes of trumpets, in the paragraph I included beginning with >>During the early 20th century small-bore instruments were popular in countries in which piston valve trumpets were used<<, he gives the bore sizes of the instruments and not just the mouthpieces. These range from 10.5 to 11.89 mm. As you probably remember from the article you have just read, he also distinguishes in bore sizes between American-made and German-made instruments. The conical variation between the two types is quite notable. This means that simply knowing the bore size of a trumpet is insufficient for adequately describing the differences between American-made and German-made or between natural and ‘unnatural’ [Baroque] trumpets.

The Csibas have a chapter entitled “On the Reconstruction of Baroque [Brass] Instruments” pp. 88-93, in their book on Bach’s brass instruments “Die
Blechblasinstrumente in J. S. Bachs Werken” (Merseburger Press, 1994.) In it there is a description of the materials that a trumpet maker needs in order to achieve ‘almost historical quality’ in the resulting instruments:

Brass piping procured from the metal-making firm Schulz KG in Nürnberg

a) for the mouthpiece a brass rod MS [Mensur?] 58 [in mm.?]

b) for the body and bell a brass sheet MS 72 soft and 0.45 mm. thick + brass piping MS 72 soft with a thickness of 0.5 mm

The inner diameter (bore) will vary between 9.8 and 10.3 mm and the hammering and bending will stretch the metal. The diameter of the bell will be between 96 to 112 mm.

Hope this helps!

Robert Sherman wrote (March 29, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thanks again. More good stuff, and corresponds to what I expected. The bore diameter of the natural (or as I've been calling it, true-HIP) trumpet is somewhat smaller than that of a small-bore modern trumpet. With overall length about twice as long (or about three times as long as that of a modern piccolo trumpet) this will, other things being equal, produce high resistance which helps with endurance but limits the fortissimo. Traditionally it's been believed that small bores made it possible to play softer pianissimos, but more recent findings point in the opposite direction. I've always found that a larger bore extends dynamic range in both the loud and the soft direction, at the price of increasing fatigue. I think this is now the consensus among trumpet players and makers, although Ken may have some other thoughts to offer on this.

Ken Edmonds wrote (March 29, 2004):
[To Robert Sherman] Certainly a larger bore trumpet enables one to play louder, but I'm not so sure about softly. Wouldn't the greater column of air you have to produce to fill the larger bore cause you to play louder? That has been my experience.

Robert Sherman wrote (March 29, 2004):
[To Ken Edmonds] That's the traditional theory. But when I tried the full line of trumpets at the Schilke factory, I was surprised by how much easier it was to play very softly on the extra-large bore instruments. This was the opposite of what I'd expected. I remarked on that, and the Schilke people agreed that this was their experience also. But they warned me, correctly, that the XL bore "really takes it out of you." In retrospect, this is consistent with what my original teacher, Seymour Rosenfeld of the Phila.Orch, told me when I was too young to really understand it. Basically his view was that if you want to play well, use a large bore. If you have to play long, then go smaller as needed.

How does this reconcile with the popularity of the Conn 22B small-bore in symphony orchestras in the 1930s and 1940s? Beats me. Maybe they didn't use as much dynamic contrast then. When I was a teenager in Phila in the 1950s, the 3rd and 4th trumpets in the Phila Orch used medum-bore (.453") Bach Bb instruments for almost everything. It's impossible to imagine anyone holding a symphony job with that equipment now.

 

Continue on Part 5

Trumpets in Bach’s Vocal Works: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Baroque D Trumpet Resonances | Bach's Compositions using trumpets or horns with timpani

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