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Trumpets in Bach’s Vocal Works
Part 5

Continue from Part 4

Reasons for 'poor' tromba playing

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 30, 2004):
Gabriel Jackson originally clearly stated:
>>If someone's playing is poor it is because their playing is poor, not because of the instrument is at fault, or because they are attempting to adhere to period practice.<<
I had responded with:
>>This according to you means that every aspect of sound created by a musician on a period instrument (or any other for that matter) is dependent solely upon the player.<<
GJ quickly responded with:
>>Just one of the many misrepresentations in your latest rant. This pernicious habit of distorting, misquoting and, basically, lying about the statements and opinions of others, and the attribution to people of views which are simply not held by them, is why it is impossible to discuss anything with you.<<
Please explain where I have misrepresented your position. I’m all ears and have an open mind for anything that begins to make some sense. Others on these lists are interested in gaining some wisdom from your personal insight into such a matter as this. Discussions should serve the purpose of bringing different viewpoints (yours as a musician and composer) regarding a very important subject: the performance practices used in performances (recorded or live) of Bach’s music. It would be important for others to find out why some people believe that a poor performance on a tromba (natural trumpet) could not be due to the imperfection of the instrument used, nor would it be due to currently accepted historically-informed, period practices of most HIP ensembles today. In lieu of such an answer (unless Papa responds after being ‘recreated’), your silence on this matter will speak volumes which the readers will have to imagine on their own.

PS: I have just read your response to the question asked about your opinions regarding non-18th century music.

Perhaps I should not be surprised about your view of Bach’s music (based in part upon an overemphasis on 'Affekt' which is common among many period groups):

GJ: >>Even Bach, for all the great dramatic thrust of his large-scale works like the Passions, articulates this through a series of closed forms - da capo arias etc. - which do not evolve within themselves, but are essentially static, exploring (with some considerable richness) a single affekt.<<
Now I know that you do speak superficially about these compositions, of which you have not recognized, as a result of insufficient study of Bach’s music:

1) the large-scale works (Passions, Oratorios, B-minor Mass) consist of pasticcios-parodies of earlier individual compositional movements – How can you expect a ‘Wagner-opera’ effect or a unified musical work with a unifying musical theme (Leitmotiv, or the equivalent) from this?

2) with some of the cantatas (not derived from other works or earlier cantatas), Bach does achieve a subtle coherency by means of musical links that would escape those who might simply hear the cantata only once (I have previously discussed this unifying musical technique between movements and this has been preserved by Aryeh Oron on his Bach Cantatas Website – you will have to find these references on your own.)

I am certain that I would be able to learn very much from you regarding pre-Bach music, but I already know that your assessment of Classic and Romantic music will not agree with my own. As far as your understanding of Bach's music, I am now somewhat better informed.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (May 31, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
"(I have previously discussed this unifying musical technique between movements and this has been preserved by Aryeh Oron on his Bach Cantatas Website – you will have to find these references on your own.)"
Thank you teacher.

Charles Francis wrote (May 31, 2004):
[To Gabriel Jackson] Note the emotive response of Mr Jackson when presented with a helpful factual statement.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (May 31, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
"with some of the cantatas (not derived from other works or earlier cantatas), Bach does achieve a subtle coherency by means of musical links that would escape those who might simply hear the cantata only once"
Much as you might wish it to be otherwise, this in no way conflicts with anything I said.

Charles Francis wrote (May 31, 2004):
[To Gabriel Jackson] Mr. Jackson here raises the wishes of another person. But his point is irrelevant as their is no way of knowing the minds of others.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (May 31, 2004):
Charles Francis writes:
"But his point is irrelevant as their is no way of knowing the minds of others."
Unless you are Thomas Braatz of course.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (May 31, 2004):
Charles Francis writes:
"Note the emotive response of Mr Jackson when presented with a helpful factual statement."
I'm not interested in your tired little double act, Charles.....

 

Limitations of Baroque Trumpets

Dale Gedcke wrote (June 2, 2004):
Philippe Bareille wrote:
<< What people who dislike period instrument cannot understand (and accept) is that Bach would have certainly composed very different music if he had our modern instruments at his disposal. >>
Charles Francis wrote:
< I don't think anyone here has indicated a dislike for "period instruments", as such. Rather, objections have been raised to splattering of notes, poor intonation, wrong notes, notes recognizably softer or louder than others and notes barely being audible above the choir in key passages. There has been some debate as to whether these artefacts are due to the failings of current instrument reconstructions (an option Mr. Braatz and myself have argued) or poor musicanship (a position certain other less generous souls have implied by their discourse). But I do think you are right: if Bach only had our modern historically reconstructed trumpet at his disposal, he might well have avoided the instrument completely. >

MY COMMENTS:

The Baroque (natural) Trumpet available to Bach certainly had its limitations. Because it had no valves, it could only produce the bell tones, somewhat like a modern Bugle. The Baroque Trumpet was approximately twice the length of the modern, valved trumpet. Thus it could produce the diatonic scale only above the written C on the treble clef. This was known as the "Clarino" range from C on the treble clef to approximately the F above the treble clef.

A number of composers wrote for this clarino trumpet range. The Trumpet Shall Sound in Handel's Messiah is a good example, as is Handel's Water Music and Royal Fireworks Music. Bach also wrote a number of compositions for the clarino trumpet (e.g., Brandenburg Concerto Number ?, and Abblassen). Playing in the clarino range required a lot of skill because the resonances are close together, and often not quite at the right pitch. The lip muscles have to be used to pull the notes into proper pitch. But, skilled and well-practiced musicians can make the Baroque trumpet sound every bit as good as a modern, valved piccolo trumpet in the clarino range. Examples are Ed Tarr and Niklas Eklund. See the excellent CD, "The Art of the Baroque Trumpet, Vol. 1" from the latter professional performer. Modern reproductions of the Baroque Trumpet also improve intonation by adding finger holes that can be covered or opened to improve the security and pitch of particular notes.

Few trumpeters in Bach's time could play well in the clarino range. Consequently, much of the Tromba (trumpet) music written by Bach and others of that era is straight-forward trumpeting on the treble clef (like a Bugle). In that mode the trumpet is typically not a solo instrument. It merely provides accompaniment when strong emphasis is needed in the score. Many composers used the trumpet in that latter mode. Beethoven is a good example.

Trumpets with valves were invented in the early 1800s, and gradually became popular over a period of about 50 years. Curiously, composers still fell into the habit of using the valved trumpet in the old Baroque trumpet accompaniment throughout the 1800s. See the scores for the symphonies by Brahms. In the early 1900s, vtrumpets began to assume more of a melodic or solo role on the treble clef in the music of contemporary composers.

There are highly-skill professional trumpet players and there are amateurs with varying degrees of skill. Virtually all current trumpet players are practiced on the Bb valved trumpet. Very few indulge in playing a reproduction of the Baroque trumpet. Therefore it should not be surprising that it is hard to find skilled Baroque trumpet players to perform Bach's Cantatas with period instruments. The Baroque trumpet is difficult to play and there are few skilled players available for local performances. One can expect to hear a few errors in the performance, if a highly skilled player like Niklas Eklund is not available for the gig. The issue is both the difficulty in playing a Baroque Trumpet, and the limited number of musicians who are skilled in playing the Baroque Trumpet.

Johan van Veen wrote (June 2, 2004):
Dale Gedcke wrote:
< Modern reproductions of the Baroque Trumpet also improve intonation by adding finger holes that can >be covered or opened to improve the security and pitch of particular notes. >
But in that case it can't be considered a 'period instrument' anymore. A copy is a copy; once you add something to the instrument it is an instrument 'built after' baroque models, not a copy.

Dale Gedcke wrote (June 2, 2004):
[To Johan van Veen]
MY COMMENTS:

Indeed! Period Instrument Purists complain that professional Baroque Trumpet performers cheat by using finger holes. The Professional Baroque Trumpet Performers just smile, because the finger holes allow them to deliver a superior performance.

As one might expect, the companies that are attempting to earn a living by manufacturing period instruments offer models with or without finger holes, so that they can sell to both factions. If you are interested in more information on those period instruments, visit http://www.matthewparkertrumpets.com/periodin.htm, http://www.goucher.edu/physics/baum/nattrump.htm, http://www.corno.de/schmid/deu-eng/naturhornmodelle.htm, and http://www.thein-brass.de/index_en.php.

I have not actually played a Baroque Trumpet. The closest I have come to that is a 2.4-meter plastic hose with my trumpet mouthpiece on one end, and a funnel on the other end (to act like the normal bell). If you try that crude model of a Baroque Trumpet, you will realize how difficult it must have been to play the real thing. Otherwise my knowledge is based on what I read and hear (second hand knowledge). Few trumpeters indulge in a bona fide Baroque Trumpet. The market demand is simply not great enough.

Dale Gedcke
Amateur Trumpeter

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 2, 2004):
Johan van Veen stated in regard to allowing reproductions of the Baroque Trumpet (whatever this latter term really means) to add finger holes to improve the security and pitch of particular notes (as Dale Gedcke had suggested):
>>But in that case it can't be considered a 'period instrument' anymore. A copy is a copy; once you add something to the instrument it is an instrument 'built after' baroque models, not a copy.<<
While I agree with Johan that such a modern modification should not be allowed if the instrument is to be an exact reproduction (‘copy’) of an older existing instrument, the question of practicality comes to mind here. Just where should the line be drawn between a ‘perfect,’ more authentic reproduction and one which serves the purpose of producing the music more easily?

The real question should be whether the timbre and playing style of the instruments is influenced by the finger hole innovation.

Using an analogy: would Johan, or anyone else for the matter, hear the difference between an exact harpsichord reproduction of a period instrument using actual quills from bird feathers and the same instrument using a modern quill replacement? Or how about using a modern quill replacement not made from bird feathers on an actual, existing museum instrument? Wouldn’t the sound quality be less authentic, perhaps even noticeably so to certain very discerning ears? The question here then is: does it really matter, if the normal listener, particularly one listening to a recording where the trumpeter can not be seen playing every note, has difficulty telling any difference between the sound emanating from an exact copy and one with the innovations?

Fortunately, in the case of harpsichords, there are numerous harpsichords, particularly good reconstructions available, with many already trained keyboard players waiting to shift their already existing talent in depressing the keys from one keyboard type to another (harpsichords, in this instance.)

The same, as Dale Gedcke stated (>>The issue is both the difficulty in playing a Baroque Trumpet, and the limited number of musicians who are skilled in playing the Baroque Trumpet.<<) is not true for the Baroque trumpet. Edward H. Tarr, in his article on the trumpet in the New Grove [Oxford University Press, 2004] relates specific information about the various attempts that have been made to accommodate the playing of Bach’s difficult trumpet parts by modifying trumpets and trumpet reconstructions in order to make them more easily playable. This has been done so that today’s listeners can at least get to hear the semblance of a Baroque trumpet sound rather than a soprano saxophone or some such lesser replacement [Casal’s 2nd Brandenburg recording, for instance.] However, the time has come for a greater effort to be expended in achieving what Johan has pointed out: an exact replica of a tromba (or other brass instruments) from Bach’s time and place. This is no easy task, but it is also not impossible. The Csibas in their book “Die Bleichblasinstrumente in J. S. Bachs Werken” [Merseburger, 1994] on p. 93 put it this way: “Schließlich müssen wir mit tiefer Bewunderung erkennen, daß der Instrumentenbau des Barock handwerkliche Meisterwerke von höchster Vollendung hervorgebracht hat, die nachzubauen unsere hochentwickelte Technologie nicht in der Lage ist. Nur die Rückbesinnung auf die Fähigkeiten unserer Vorfahren, nämlich handwerkliches Geschick, ein gutes Augenmaß, Liebe, Geduld und Zeit, wird Nachahmungsversuche mit Erfolg krönen.“ [„Finally we have to recognize with deep admiration that Baroque instrument makers {here referring, of course, specifically to brass instruments used during Bach’s lifetime in Leipzig} were able to create handmade masterpieces of the greatest perfection, of such perfection which our highly developed technology is still unable to replicate. Our attempts at imitating/recreating these instruments will only be crowned with success if we take into consideration {by looking back in time} the capabilities of our predecessors, specifically their skillful handiwork, their good eye for a sense of proportion, their love, patience and the amount of time which they dedicated to their endeavors.”]

The Csibas, on p. 88, see the innovation of creating and using finger holes on Baroque trumpets “das Anbringen von Löchern an Naturtrompeten…stellte, das größte Hindernis für weitere Forschung dar” [“creating finger holes on natural trumpets created the greatest hindrance for continuing research”] as a giant setback, a setback that kept many players and instrument makers from pursuing the ideal goal of an ‘exact’ replica which then would have to be mastered with considerable diligence and practice on an instrument that is extremely demanding.

What we will need, in addition to exact replicas/copies, are truly dedicated trumpeters who can develop the necessary stamina and skill for playing the instrument. Here are a few snippets from Tarr’s biographies of a few great trumpeters [again from the New Grove] who played Bach’s music exceptionally well, albeit not necessarily on an exact copy of an instrument from Bach’s time:

>>[Adolf] Scherbaum [1909-2000] was already well known as a sbefore World War II. By rigorous training he developed unusually strong diaphragm and cheek muscles for sustained playing in the high register. Thus equipped, he played a leading part in the European revival of the trumpet as a solo instrument in Baroque music, and he was the first to use a piccolo B trumpet for D trumpet parts. He toured throughout the world, as a soloist and with his own Baroque ensemble, and made many recordings, including several of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no.2 (which he performed more than 400 times). For a few years, from 1971, he advised the firm of Scherbaum & Göttner (his son, also called Adolf, was one of the owners), which made trumpets with detachable bells, and mouthpieces in three parts, to allow great flexibility of timbre and pitch. Scherbaum's instruments are now in the Bad Säckingen Trumpet Museum.<<

Maurice André 1933-
>>This [winning competition in 1963] was the start of an unprecedented international career as a soloist. In particular, he achieved great success through the use of the four-valved piccolo B /A trumpet, made under his supervision by Selmer. In 1967 he succeeded Sabarich at the Paris Conservatoire, where he taught until 1978. Maurice André combines the gifts of endurance, range and musicality with the charisma of the true soloist.<<

>>Friedemann Immer (b Duisburg, 8 April 1948). German trumpeter. He studied first with his father, and later with Freiherr Heinrich von Senden. After briefly turning to medicine, mathematics and physics he studied the trumpet from 1978 to 1984 with Walter Holy at the Hochschule für Musik, Cologne. In 1976 he began to specialize in the Baroque trumpet, an instrument on which he has given numerous performances worldwide and made more than 80 recordings. He has performed Bach’s Second Brandenburg Concerto more than 200 times, and recorded it eight times on period instruments. He was the first to record Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto on a keyed trumpet (1987, under Hogwood). In 1984 he was appointed to teach at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, and in 1993 began to teach at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam. He founded the Trompeten Consort Friedemann Immer in 1988, and he has also made editions of little-known trumpet repertory.<<

Endurance, rigorous training, strong diaphragm and cheek muscles, proper/flexible use of embouchure, etc,. these are only a few of the important characteristics to describe the Bach trumpeter of the future. What we need now, along with all the traits of excellence in playing, are some truly accurate copies of these instruments (without the innovations that derive from the period after 1750.)

Johan van Veen wrote (June 2, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz]
A couple of points.

a) What annoys me mosyt is not the fact that instruments with 'innovations' are used, but the fact that this is not always admitted openly. What I am opposed to is a lack of honesty. If instruments are used which are 'modified' in certain ways in comparison to the originals whose copies they are supposed to be, this should be told to the listeners (in particular in the sleeve notes of CD recordings. I don't like what the Germans so eloquently call 'Etikettenschwindel'.

b) To what extent someone does hear the differences between a 'real copy' and a 'modified copy' depends on his familiarity with the instrument. I can imagine that people who are familiar with trumpets do recognize the difference more clearly and easily than others. But even so, I am pretty sure that most listeners who are used to listen to period instrument performances, are able to hear the difference once they have heard the 'original'. That doesn't mean they always know what causes the difference, but the fact that there is a difference, could well be noticed.

In the 1970's the Collegium aureum made a large number of recordings. The sound of the orchestra, which claimed to play on period instruments, was very different from the sound other period instrument ensembles produced. Several reasons for this have been mentioned, for instance the venue where the recordings were made (the Cedernsaal of Schloss Kirchheim had a large reverberation which tended to obscure the details), but there have always been doubts in regard to the claim that real period instruments were used. Another factor could be that period instruments were played with 20th-century playing technique. Whatever the reason for the differences in sound may have been, they were clear to most listeners.

c) Does it matter? To me it does. For me a HIP performance means that the interpreters try to come as close to the intentions of the composer as possible, and to realise them as faithfully as possible. Since I believe there is a close connection between the intentions of the composer and the instruments he required in his score, it is the task of the interpreters to use instruments which are as faithful to the ones the composer was familiar with.

(This doesn't exclude the possibility that an alternative has to be found, when we don't know what the original sounded like or nobody is able to play it in a remotely acceptable way. But what is acceptable is a subjective matter, of course.)

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 3, 2004):
Johan van Veen stated:
>>a) I don't like what the Germans so eloquently call 'Etikettenschwindel'<<.
I fully agree! I would like very much to know as much as possible about the instrument (and for keyboard instruments the temperament used.) This means finding out who made the copy/reconstruction, when, and specifically upon which instrument the latter is based. The type of instrument descriptions used in the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt Bach cantata series seemed to be a step in the right direction, but I suspect there were problems with ‘Etikettenschwindel’ even there when the 17th century violins listed as made by Jakobus Stainer, Domenico Montagnana, etc. where the listening public is led to believe that these instruments have been handed down over generations almost unchanged in every way. There is no mention of the major modifications that these instruments must have undergone. In the same ‘complete’ listings, as many as 5 trumpeters are listed as playing the ‘natural trumpets’ made by Meinl & Lauber, Geretsried, in 1972 and 1975. (We don't know who plays which instrument - this is important, isn't it?) I guess, however, it really does not matter much here who is playing which trumpet which may have been a reconstruction/copy of an unknown original which is not named. How about another listing: “Tromba naturale” “after Gottfried Reiche by Meinl & Lauber,” etc.? In this case is the reader/listener supposed to believe that the instrument makers, Meinl & Lauber, actually measured, personally examined/analyzed an instrument made or played by Gottfried Reiche and based their copy upon it? No, because this is ‘Etikettenschwindel’ pure and simple. All that the instrument makers did was look at the famous painting of Gottfried Reiche by E G. Haußmann, the same painter who did Bach’s famous portrait, and then tried to make an instrument that looked a little like the one on the painting. Besides imitating the general shape and size of Reiche’s trumpet, how much authenticity did they really accomplish here? Perhaps these instrument descriptions were just the beginning indications (the ‘tip of the iceberg’) of the slightly suspect methods used by early HIP groups to create among their listeners and record buyers an aura of faith in the authenticity of their endeavor?

Johan:
>>b) I am pretty sure that most listeners who are used to listen to period instrument performances, are able to hear the difference once they have heard the 'original'. That doesn't mean they always know what causes the difference, but the fact that there is a difference, could well be noticed.<<
How can these listeners (who, you claim, are used to listening to period instrument performances and can hear the differences because they have heard the ‘original’) tell the difference between good and bad playing, authentic and non-authentic instruments, excellent copies and poorly-made copies, if everything that they have heard played is either ‘natural t’ with subtle or not-so-subtle innovations/modifications or inaccurate ‘natural trumpet’ reconstructions/copies which are played with extreme difficulty by possibly some otherwise rather good trumpeters on more modern or modified instruments? The answer, unless the listener has an abiding faith in what the HIP groups have produced over the past 40 or so years, is that such listener can not really know this since truly accurate copies have not yet been made. How can a comparison be made with an instrument that has not yet been faithfully copied? It is arrogance that will blind a listener or performer to believe that this miracle has already been accomplished. What we have recordings of thus far are performances of Bach’s difficult trumpet music played

1) by excellent, experienced trumpeters who play on an instrument of choice utilizing modifications never dreamed of in Bach’s time and place – these can range from piccolo trumpets to some close approximations of period instruments, albeit with some ‘fudging factor’ like ‘finger holes,’ Scherbaum’s reconstructions, or something similar.

2) by less experienced trumpeters who occasionally might ‘do a gig’ using an unfamiliar ‘natural trumpet’ (a creative, or sometimes not even very creative reproduction of an original instrument based upon a few specs, like a painting in a museum) upon which they practice for a few weeks or months before performing/recording ‘an authentic version’ of Bach’s glorious trumpet music [in the mind of the HIP adherent many performance flaws will be excused because there is a strong belief (almost religious at times) that this type of performance is as good as it gets since this is the genuine ‘flavor’, mistakes and all, once heard by Bach when Gottfried Reiche played these same trumpet parts.]

Johan:
>>c) Does it matter? To me it does. For me a HIP performance means that the interpreters try to come as close to the intentions of the composer as possible, and to realise them as faithfully as possible. Since I believe there is a close connection between the intentions of the composer and the instruments he required in his score, it is the task of the interpreters to use instruments which are as faithful to the ones the composer was familiar with.<<
I fully agree! (That’s two out three statements by Johan that I can agree with – the planets must be in a special alignment today!) The only quibble here is with how you might interpret “it is the task of the interpreters to use instruments which are as faithful to the ones the composer was familiar with.”

Past experience has made me lose some of my trust (see “Etikettenschwindel” above) in the interpreters whose motivation and commitment to this music may understandably be less than what I might expect: these are musical artists who, as Dale Gedcke pointed out, have to do other things (play different types of brass instruments in differing situations) in order to make a living. We can not automatically assume that just because a trumpeter is a member of a period instrument group, or even more specifically, a HIP ensemble dedicated specifically to playing Bach’s music appropriately, that such a trumpeter has the necessary experience and attitude towards devoting an almost inordinate amount of time to practicing and perfecting playing technique; nor can we automatically assume that the instrument maker has invested the necessary time and dedication to create a truly worthy replica of an original instrument. Add to this the preconceived notions of certain HIP conductors and/or musicologists who would tell such a player: “You’re doing just fine! Keep it up! I like the quaint, occasionally completely out-of-tune notes with the strange attacks that you create. This makes the music sound 'sooo authentic,' plus we can infer to the audience that Gottfried Reiche probably would have sounded just like that because you are playing on someone’s approximate idea of what the original instrument was like!”

Thus we can see here how all three elements (a trumpeter who temporarily does a Bach gig, an instrument reconstruction which still has not accurately reproduced/copied the original instrument upon which it is supposed to be based, a HIP milieu of misinformation and preconceived notions/theories not sufficiently grounded in reality) unwillingly/unwittingly conspire to create something that never really existed but something which wishes itself to be taken very seriously upon faith without explaining honestly and clearly why it is doing certain things in a certain way. Let the listener be wary of this combination of elements, particularly when the claim of unquestionable authority in matters of period performances and historically-informed performance styles is invoked.

Kenneth Edmonds wrote (June 3, 2004):
Thomas Braatz translated:
[„Finally we have to recognize with deep admiration that Baroque instrument makers {here referring, of course, specifically to brass instruments used during Bach’s lifetime in Leipzig} were able to create handmade masterpieces of the greatest perfection, of such perfection which our highly developed technology is still unable to
replicate. Our attempts at imitating/recreating these instruments will only be crowned with success if we take into consideration {by looking back in time} the capabilities of our predecessors, specifically their skillful handiwork, their good eye for a sense of proportion, their love, patience and the amount of time which they dedicated to their endeavors.”]
I would have to take somewhat of an issue over this statement. Using the technology of any decade, we would still not be able to craft a natural trumpet without ventholes that plays in tune. We can't even create a modern valved trumpet that plays in tune!!

The fact remains that due to the nature of the harmonic series, there are those partials that are out of tune. See: http://www.music.sc.edu/fs/bain/atmi98/examples/os/ for some background info. Partials number 7 and 11 are the most out of tune and were frequently used by Bach in his works w/trumpet. The 7th partial alone has been used by baroque composers to represent 3 different notes! (Ex: In the key of D major: B, C and C#)

This requires great manipulation on the part of the trumpet player to play these notes somewhere close to in tune. This manipulation of the lips and airstream will greatly affect the tone of the notes played as any modern day trumpet player can tell you. So even if we were able to go back in time to Bach's era, we would not find a trumpet that plays in tune with an even tone throughout the registers. Of course, this is assuming that the physical laws of the harmonic series are the same today as they were over 150 years ago.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 3, 2004):
Ken Edmonds stated:
>> Using the technology of any decade, we would still not be able to craft a natural trumpet without ventholes that plays in tune.<<
According to the Csibas in their book “Die Blechblasinstrumente in J. S. Bachs Werken” [Merseburger, 1994], this statement is not at all true. They have examined and catalogued every note on every brass instrument that Bach has written for, they are fully aware of the harmonic series involved and give numerous details. They also contend that there should be no ‘extreme lipping’ in order to get a note in tune. They have presented a solution (not involving ventholes or finger holes, nor pistons, nor numerous extensions that need to be replaced continually during the playing of a movement), a solution which they document and explain. It allows the instrument to be a truly faithful copy of the original.

The use of the tromba tirarsi (with slide) just as Bach knew it is specified for numerous chorale movements, but the ‘pure trombae’ do not make use of such a slide. Bach knew exactly which instrument he was writing for and did not include such ‘difficult, practically unplayable notes’ for high trumpet/clarino parts.

KE: >> Of course, this is assuming that the physical laws of the harmonic series are the same today as they were over 150 years ago.<<
No, these phylaws, to be sure, have not changed, but trumpeters and instrument makers have been taking ‘short cuts’ along the way. These short cuts have allowed us to hear some close approximations of Bach’s glorious brass music, but this has, at the same time, prevented us from creating these true copies of the original instruments (as my translations of the Csibas’ statements yesterday clearly stated.)

Dale Gedcke wrote (June 2, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote about the difficulties in reproducing in today's performances the same trumpet sounds that Bach would have experienced with his trumpeter, Gottfried Reiche.

And Ken Edmonds commented, "........ This requires great manipulation on the part of the trumpet player to play these notes somewhere close to in tune. This manipulation of the lips and airstream will greatly affect the tone of the notes played as any modern day trumpet player can tell you. So even if we were able to go back in time to Bach's era, we would not find a trumpet that plays in tune with an even tone throughout the registers. Of course, this is assuming that the physical laws of the harmonic series are the same today as they were over 150 years ago."

MY COMMENTS:

As an amateur trumpet player aspiring to improve my performance on Bb, C, D and Eb trumpets and the Bb/A piccolo trumpet, I have listened to a lot of recordings of famous trumpet players on jazz, classical and Baroque music in an attempt to learn whatever I can from the masters. What I have noted is that there are discernable differences in tone as well as style among the different musicians, in spite of the fact that the basic key of the trumpet is the dominant factor in establishing the tone quality. Some of this can be ascribed to different bell tapers and different materials used in the construction. Although that still leaves some affect on tone that can be ascribed to the individual player.

I suspect that few people who listen to trumpet performances consciously notice these subtle differences in tone, .... just as I am not so alert to slight differences in tone among violins or saxophones. For that reason, the cadre of people who can discern the subtle differences between different renditions of the Baroque Trumpet is probably not large. Those who can detect the differences are in a special group that focuses intently on that issue. That same elite group can probably separate the issues of playing technique from the construction quality of the trumpet.

About one year ago, I became curious to hear how a Baroque Trumpet sounded when played by an expert. One good-quality recording was enough, because this was not going to be a big comparative research project on Baroque Trumpet players or the various reconstructions of Baroque Trumpets. So, I purchased the CD, "The Art of the Baroque Trumpet" by Niklas Eklund. Eklund is a very accomplished Baroque Trumpet player, having worked on it since he was very young. But, he uses a trumpet with finger holes, .... a practice that purists deride.

Here is what I noticed in that CD:

1) In the lower range (on the treble clef), the tone Eklund produces is thicker than what one typically achieves with a Bb/A piccolo trumpet.
2) In the clarino register (the octave above the treble clef), the tone of his Baroque Trumpet sounds very similar to that of a piccolo trumpet. Of course the normal modern Bb, C, and D trumpets also sound pretty similar in tone in that upper register.
3) Eklund can do lip trills every bit as fast and precise as one can execute valve trills on a piccolo trumpet. However, there is a slightly different sound to a lip trill versus a valve trill. It is hard to describe that difference, but you can recognize it when you hear it. Most trumpet players have experienced the difference in sound between a lip trill and a valve trill.
4) Eklund does an excellent job of bringing every note into tune with his lip muscles. Anyone experienced in playing a Bach C trumpet with a 25H leadpipe has had to learn how to do this same feat. Even Bb valved trumpets require a minor amount of this adjustment on some notes.
5) The precision of attack on the notes in the upper register is not as crisp as one experiences with a piccolo trumpet. The attack on each note sounds more like what one detects with a French Horn. There is an occasional minor bobble in establishing the pitch. There is a good reason for the similarity with the French Horn. Both the Baroque Trumpet and the French Horn have roughly twice the length of a valved trumpet. This places the natural resonances very close together and lowers the resonant efficiency above the treble clef. That makes it more difficult to cleanly attack the correct pitch.

As has been often pointed out, playing above the treble clef with a Baroque trumpet with acceptable performance is extremely difficult. It requires a skilled player. On the other hand, the modern 4-valve piccolo trumpet makes good performances possible above the treble clef for even amateur trumpeters. I have great awe for the skills of the trumpeters J. S. Bach employed.

Dale Gedcke
Amateur Trumpeter

Kenneth Edmonds wrote (June 3, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] I am a little unclear with your statement below. This solution you mention from the Csibas' book for playing normally out of tune partials in tune, is it the use of the tromba tirarsi? or another solution which is not specified by you?

Thomas Braatz wrote:
< They also contend that there should be no ‘extreme lipping’ in order to get a note in tune. They have presented a solution (not involving ventholes or finger holes, nor pistons, nor numerous extensions that need to be replaced continually during the playing of a movement), a solution which they document and explain. It allows the instrument to be a truly faithful copy of the original. The use of the tromba tirarsi (with slide) just as Bach knew it is specified for numerous chorale movements, but the ‘pure trombae’ do not make use of such a slide. Bach knew exactly which instrument he was writing for and did not include such ‘difficult, practically unplayable notes’ for high trumpet/clarino parts. >
What is the instrument specified for the Credo of the B Minor Mass? (I really do not know or remember. I have played the work using Baerenreiter parts, but I do not remember the specific indication. Baerenreiter's website only indicates 3 Trumpets in the scoring.)

The opening solo uses the the 7th partial as a written B-flat, the 11th as both the written F and F#, along with the 13th and 14th partials in quick succession. The solo ends on the 18th partial. While not being the hardest or highest of Bach's works for trumpet, this falls into the category of high/clarino parts, does it not?

Thomas also wrote:
< No, these physical laws, to be sure, have not changed, but trumpeters and instrument makers have been taking ‘short cuts’ along the way. These short cuts have allowed us to hear some close approximations of Bach’s glorious brass music, but this has, at the same time, prevented us from creating these true copies of the original instruments (as my translations of the Csibas’ statements yesterday clearly stated.) >
Since instrument makers are making natural trumpets without the use of vent holes today, what other short cuts have they taken?

Dale Gedcke wrote (June 3, 2004):
Ken Edmonds quoted Thomas Braatz, and responded:
"What is the instrument specified for the Credo of the B Minor Mass? (I really do not know or remember. I have played the work using Baerenreiter parts, but I do not remember the specific indication. Baerenreiter's website only indicates 3 Trumpets in the scoring.)
The opening solo uses the the 7th partial as a written B-flat, the 11th as both the written F and F#, along with the 13th and 14th partials in quick succession. The solo ends on the 18th partial. While not being the hardest or highest of Bach's works for trumpet, this falls into the category of high/clarino parts, does it not?"

MY COMMENTS:

The attached Excel spreadsheet was posted to the BachCantatas web site in October 2003, and one should still be able to find it there. For the convenience of Ed and Thomas, I have attached file to a copy of this e-mail sent directly to their inboxes. For the rest of you, you will have to find it on last year's posting to the web site.

The spreadsheet shows the notes produced by a Baroque (natural) trumpet (without finger holes), ..... provided the taper of the bell and the taper of the leadpipe and mouthpiece have been perfectly constructed to produce resonances that are an integer multiple of the basic frequency at 73.42 Hz, the so called first partial. Actual constructions of trumpets during Bach's era, and today can easily fall short of this criteria for perfection.

The chart also shows the deviation of the resonant frequency from the desired frequency for the note. Check the frequency errors in cents for the notes Ed mentions above (obviously written for a D trumpet). The 7th partial Bb is low by 31 cents. The 11th partial is essentially a quarter tone (50 cents) below F# and a quarter tone above F natural. Both Handel and Bach wrote music that required the player to bend the 11th partial down to F natural and also up to F# in the same composition.

The 13th and 14th partials are respectively high by 41 cents and low by 31 cents. When played in rapid succession, as Ed has mentioned, the trumpeter must quickly change from bending the note lower (by almost a quarter tone) to bending it higher on the next note. That's not easy to do successfully!

The 18th partial is pretty high up in the stratosphere, and not easy to hit.

As Ed hinted, this is tough music to play well on a Baroque trumpet.

Thomas: What did the Czabas propose as a better construction to diminish these difficulties?
SIDE ISSUE: The deviations in the chart are by comparison to the even temper scale. It would be interesting to consider the tuning standard that Brad Lehman claims Bach preferred.

<<Baroque D Trumpet Resonances 10-7-03.xls>>

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 4, 2004):
Regarding the technical questions asked by Ken Edmonds and Dale Gedcke:

The NBA for BWV 232 [MBM] lists Tromba I, II, III for all the mvts. calling for trumpets

The Csibas specify that these three Trombae in D play in mvts. 4, 6, 11, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 21, and 24 but not mvt. 6 measures 1-7 which are played by a Clarino in D [the notes sounded here are c2, d, f ]

I do not understand why this distinction between the Clarino in D vs. Tromba in D is made for this short passage at the beginning of the Et resurrexit. My guess would be that the playing of the notes would be facilitated or that the brighter timbre of the Clarino instrument would be desired. I do not see where Bach called for this change in the score/parts.

The notes sounded in all the other mvts. by the Trombae are:

c1, e, g, b-flat, b, c2, d, e, f, f#, g, a b-flat, b, c3, d

Shifting perspective away from the MBM:

The Csibas explain the need to ‘lip’ up or down on certain notes of the natural tone series, but they believe that this ‘lipping’ in order to make the note sound ‘in-tune’ should be minimal, that is, the instrument (Tromba) should be constructed in such a way that excessive ‘lipping’ is unnecessary (quite obviously the tone production suffers greatly if such a technique is pushed to an extreme in order to make a natural trumpet play in tune.) This presupposes that the instrument used is truly an exact copy of an original instrument with the addition of a single factor explained below.

Here is a quick summary of the main points in their research:

The “Leipziger Stadtpfeifer” [Leipzig City Pipers – Gottfried Reiche was one of them], in contrast to the Court Trumpeters who had a higher status, had developed great skill and facility in playing the ‘Tromba da tirarsi” [the trumpet with a slide which made it possible to play all chorale melodies with ease – a feat not to be equaled by the Court Trumpeters on their ‘fanfare’-type trombae. The Court trumpeters used ‘Setzstücke’ – a series of fixed length extensions which were solely used for changing the pitch of a tromba – let’s say from C to D etc.] The slide-trumpet [Tromba da tirarsi], which Bach called upon frequently for playing along with/reinforcing the chorale melody in the cantatas, gave the city pipers the idea that they might improve the intonation/playability of the Trombae as well without the frequent sliding back and forth required by the Tromba da tirarsi: they could do this by including a single, approximately 20 cm. long extension/slide assuming a fixed position between the mouthpiece “Mundstück” and the “Mundrohr” [this must mean the tube or pipe that comes directly out from under the cup of the mouthpiece – I am sorry, that I do not have the technical term available for this.] This extension is only half as long as the slide extension used in the Tromba da tirarsi. With the help of this extension, all the notes, even the ‘untrue’ natural tones called for in Bach’s Tromba parts can be played “sauber” [“cleanly.”] “ohne besondere Mühe” [“without any special effort" – very slight ‘lipping’ up or down will still be necessary, but not attempting to force a note a quarter or a half tone higher or lower]

An endoscopic examination of an original Tromba in D built by J. J. Schmidt of Nürnberg around 1730 revealed the traces of the pushing/pulling of this type of slide (such a slide of this type has never been found/recovered.) These traces inside the tromba extend only for about 21 cm. Because a slide of this type had not been previously considered by players and instrument makers, this fact may have contributed to the less than desirable results that have been heard in many period instrument performances.

Interesting historical research by the Csibas has also uncovered some mention/discussion of such a single length extension being used for Trombae in the 18th century..

Gabriel Jackson wrote (June 4, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
"The Csibas explain the need to ‘lip’ up or down on certain notes of the natural tone series, but they believe that this ‘lipping’ in order to make the note sound ‘in-tune’ should be minimal, that is, the instrument (Tromba) should be constructed in such a way that excessive ‘lipping’ is unnecessary (quite obviously the tone production suffers greatly if such a technique is pushed to an extreme in order to make a natural trumpet play in tune.) This presupposes that the instrument used is truly an exact copy of an original instrument with the addition of a single factor explained below."
But the harmonic series cannpt be changed (!), so the various partials that do not correspond to pitches in the equally tempered scale will always have to be dealt with. How can the instrument be constructed to defy the laws of physics?

Kenneth Edmonds wrote (June 4, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< they could do this by including a single, approximately 20 cm. Long extension/slide assuming a fixed position between the mouthpiece "Mundstück" and the "Mundrohr" [this must mean the tube or pipe that comes directly out from under the cup of the mouthpiece - I am sorry, that I do not have the technical term available for this.] This extension is only half as long as the slide extension used in the Tromba da tirarsi. With the help of this extension, all the notes, even the 'untrue' natural tones called for in Bach's Tromba parts can be played "sauber" ["cleanly."] "ohne besondere Mühe" ["without any special effort" - very slight 'lipping' up or down will still be necessary, but not attempting to force a note a quarter or a half tone higher or lower] >
I would like to see this technique put into place so that we could see if this was a practical solution. The trumpet player would have to hold the main part of the instrument with one hand and place the other by the mouthpiece. Since some notes in the harmonic series are flat and others are sharp, the player would have to hold this 20 cm. slide somewhere in the middle for partials that are in tune. Then they would have to move the entire instrument to adjust the pitch of those out of tune partials.

I'm a little wary that no instrument has ever been recovered with such a slide and that only one instrument from that time period has ever been found with any evidence of such a feature.

JohReese wrote (June 4, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] Two questions:

Is the piccolo Bb trumpet an octave above a regular Bb?

Also...it's been discussed here that the Baroque trumpet was twice as long as today's valved trumpets. Is this referring to the length of the tube? If so, wouldn't it sound an octave lower?

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (June 4, 2004):
[To John Reese] God knows I am no expert in wind instruments, but as far as length goes, couldn't it be that the fundamental would then be an octave lower, so that they'd be using higher partials to produce the same notes than one would use on a modern valved trumpet? Does this make sense to anyone among us who really knows?

John Reese wrote (June 4, 2004):
All this talk of the limitations of Baroque trumpets brings to mind an interesting trivia question.

In the Gloria from the B minor Mass, and the opening movements from cantatas BWV 11, BWV 147, and BWV 148, the primary melodic theme is defined by the limitations of the trumpet.

Any others?

John Reese wrote (June 4, 2004):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] I think you're right. That does makes sense, when you explain it that way.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (June 4, 2004):
[To John Reese] The first and last movements of the Magnificat.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (June 4, 2004):
[To John Reese] :)

Kenneth Edmonds wrote (June 4, 2004):
[To John Reese]
1) The Bb piccolo trumpet is an octave higher than the standard Bb trumpet of today.

2) The fundamental note of a modern Bb trumpet is an octave higher than that of a Baroque trumpet in Bb. The harmonic series of a Baroque trumpet in C would allow one to play the following notes starting on an octave below Middle C: C, G, C, E, G, Bb, C, D, E, F#, G, Ab, Bb, B, C, C#, D, etc. To sound an octave lower, the length of the tubing would have to be 4 times the length of the modern trumpet. This is possible, but I don't think the trumpet parts would have the brilliance that I believe Bach intended them for. They would sound more like natural horns, which Bach usually used for other purposes. (i.e. Brandenburg No. 1)

Dale Gedcke wrote (June 4, 2004):
John Reese and Cara Thornton wrote:
John Reese: << I think you're right. That does makes sense, when you explain it that way. >>
Cara T: < God knows I am no expert in wind instruments, but as far as length goes, couldn't it be that the fundamental would then be an octave lower, so that they'd be using higher partials to produce the same notes than one would use on a modern valved trumpet? Does this make sense to anyone among us who really knows? >

MY RESPONSE:

Consider the modern D trumpet and the Baroque D trumpet and compare the length of the tubing. The valveless Baroque trumpet length is twice the length of the modern, valved D trumpet. In the latter case we are talking about none of the valves being pushed down. The valves are in the UP position. Consequently the base pitch of the Baroque trumpet is a full octave below the fundamental pitch of the modern, valved D trumpet. That means the Baroque trumpet plays about a factor of two higher in the partials (i.e., the order of the resonance). That is what enables the Baroque trumpet to approximately reproduce the diatonic scale from the written C on the treble clef to slightly more than an octave above that C. This is the clarino range. Because the Baroque trumpet is being played at such a high multiple of its base pitch, the efficiency of producing resonances is much lower than for a modern trumpet played in the same octave above the treble clef. This adds to the difficu!
lty of playing the Baroque trumpet in the clarino range.

What is meant by resonant efficiency? Its a measure of how much energy is emitted from the bell to create the sound the audience hears versus how much energy is reflected back toward the mouthpiece to support the resonance. Studies show that as the pitch rises in the second octave above the base frequency the fraction of the energy that is emitted versus reflected increases. At a high enough pitch there is so little reflected energy that the trumpet essentially becomes a megaphone. When there is little reflected energy to support the resonance, the trumpet becomes difficult to play.

Now compare the modern Bb "mezzo" trumpet (popular in jazz and concert bands) to the Bb piccolo trumpet. The piccolo trumpet is half the length of the mezzo trumpet. That dramatically improves the resonant efficiency of the piccolo trumpet compared to the mezzo trumpet in the octave above the treble clef. That's one of the reasons that the piccolo trumpet is so much easier to play (compared to the mezzo) in the octave above the treble clef. The other reason is that the piccolo resonances are twice as far apart compared to the resonances on the mezzo trumpet in that upper octave. This makes it easier to hit the desired note with secure precision. I currently play a Bb mezzo, a C mezzo and a Bb/A piccolo trumpet. And the piccolo is an order of magnitude easier to play in the upper register.

Given the difficulty of playing the Baroque trumpet in the clarino range, one has to be in awe of the skill Bach's trumpeter, Gottfried Reiche, had.

Dale Gedcke wrote (June 4, 2004):
Ken Edmond wrote:
"I would like to see this technique put into place so that we could see if this was a practical solution. The trumpet player would have to hold the main part of the instrument with one hand and place the other by the mouthpiece. Since some notes in the harmonic series are flat and others are sharp, the player would have to hold this 20 cm. slide somewhere in the middle for partials that are in tune. Then they would have to move the entire instrument to adjust the pitch of those out of tune partials.
I'm a little wary that no instrument has ever been recovered with such a slide and that only one instrument from that time period has ever been found with any evidence of such a feature.
Ken Edmonds"

and Thomas Braatz wrote:
".... they could do this by including a single, approximately 20 cm. long extension/slide assuming a fixed position between the mouthpiece "Mundstück" and the "Mundrohr" [this must mean the tube or pipe that comes directly out from under the cup of the mouthpiece - I am sorry, that I do not have the technical term available for this.] This extension is only half as long as the slide extension used in the Tromba da tirarsi. With the help of this extension, all the notes, even the 'untrue' natural tones called for in Bach's Tromba parts can be played "sauber" ["cleanly."] "ohne besondere Mühe" ["without any special effort" - very slight 'lipping' up or down will still be necessary, but not attempting to force a note a quarter or a half tone higher or lower]
Thomas Braatz"

MY COMMENTS:

1) "Mundstück" is clearly "mouthpiece" and I suspect "Mundrohr" [mouth pipe] is what is referred to today as a 'leadpipe'. The mouthpiece has a taper on its shank which inserts into a taper on the receiver soldered to the leadpipe. The leadpipe is the first section of tubing in the trumpet. It has a taper that is designed to lower the resonant frequencies of the partials in the top octave to match the desired pitch. Note that a pipe of constant diameter has resonances at even integer multiples of the fundamental frequency (i.e., 2, 4, 8, 16, ....), whereas what is needed is even and odd integer multiples (i.e., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,....). How do you build a trumpet that meets the latter requirement? You include a tapered bell to lift the lower frequencies into conformance with the desired series of resonances, and use a slightly tapered leadpipe to lower the upper frequencies into conformity with the desired resonant series.

2) The suggestion from the Czibas still sounds an awful lot like the Tromba da Tirarsi. There are period instrument manufacturers who make such reproductions today. See for example: http://www.corno.de/schmid/deu-eng/naturhornmodelle.htm, and http://www.matthewparkertrumpets.com/periodin.htm. When the St. Louis Brass Quintet presents a concert, they typically include a humorous session on the origin of brass instruments, starting with Conch shells, moving through the Tut Tomb Trumpet, and finally adding a slide to the Tut to mock up a Tromba da Tirarsi. They demonstrate just how difficult it is to play with a slide between the mouthpiece and the leadpipe. One player holds the bell of the trumpet on his shoulder and the player on the mouthpiece steps back and fourth to adjust the slide to hit the desired notes. This is an exaggeration, due to the range of notes they are covering. But the Tirarsi scheme had much of that same difficulty. Later on, the slide trombone was developed. That put the slide in a much more manageable section of the instrument.

I conclude that most of what was available in Bach's time is currently available from period instrument manufacturers.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (June 4, 2004):
Cara Emily Thornton wrote:
"God knows I am no expert in wind instruments, but as far as length goes, couldn't it be that the fundamental would then be an octave lower, so that they'd be using higher partials to produce the same notes than one would use on a modern valved trumpet? Does this make sense to anyone among us who really knows?"
Well it certainly makes sense to me....

Charles Francis wrote (June 4, 2004):
Dale Gedcke wrote:
< Given the difficulty of playing the Baroque trumpet in the clarino range, one has to be in awe of the skill Bach's trumpeter, Gottfried Reiche, had. >
For information, Gottfried Reiche died shortely after an important cantata performance under Bach's direction. In Johann S. Riemer's Ms. Chronik preserved in the Stadtarchiv, Leipzig, for Wednesday, Oct. 6, 1734, there is the following report:
"On precisely this day the highly skilled and most artistic musician and Stadtpfeifer, Herr Gottfried Reiche, the Leucopetra-Misnicus and senior member of the municipal company of musicians in this place, suffered a stroke as he was going home and dropped dead in the Stadtpfeifer-Allee not far from his house where he was taken. The reason for this was on account of the enormous strain he suffered the night before while blowing [the trumpet] for the royal music, his condition having been greatly aggravated from the smoke given off by the torch-lights." http://abel.hive.no/trumpet/bach/reiche/

I believe the cantata in question was BWV 215: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV215.htm

I'm imagine some HIP-purists will feel such health risks are a fair price to pay for a historically reconstructed performance. At the same time, I suspect more astute trumpeters will avoid historically reconstructed instruments along with cigarettes and other health hazards.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 4, 2004):
After analyzing all of Bach’s trumpet parts, the Csibas came to the following conclusion:
Alle Stimmen, die mit Tromba oder Clarino bezeichnet sind und entweder Tirarsi-Töne enthalten oder Transponieren erforderlich machen, wurden ausschließlich auf der Tromba da tirarsi ausgeführt, ohne daß es eines ausdrücklichen Hinweises bedurft hätte. Alle übrigen J. S. Bachschen Stimmbezeichnungen sind unbedingt als verbindliche Instrumentationsvorschriften zu betrachen.“
[„All the parts that were specifically designated {by Bach}to be played upon a ‚tromba’ or ‚clarino,’ and which parts contained notes which had to be played {could only be played} on a slide-trumpet {‘tromba da tirarsi’} or which required transposition, were then exclusively played on the ‘tromba da tirarsi’ {slide-trumpet}, without it being necessary {on Bach’s part} to designate more specifically which instrument was to be used All the remaining parts {designated by Bach as for ‘tromba,’ or ‘clarino’} are to be restricted solely to those instruments {no substitution by a ‘tromba da tirarsi’ is allowed.”]

A paraphrase from the Csibas’ book:
Bach designated BWV 77/5 as to be played by a ‘tromba’ while the outer, chorale mvts. clearly carry the designation for ‘tromba da tirarsi.’ Was Bach telling his trumpeter to give up the ease of playing the ‘tromba da tirarsi’ for this extremely difficult solo trumpet part in an aria, a part that has led some period instrument players to declare it unplayable as it is written and to declare that Bach must have intended to make the trumpeter struggle through this part in order to underline the text of the aria “Ach, es bleibt in meiner Liebe lauter Unvollkommenheit” [“O, a lot of imperfection still remains in my {ability to} love?”] This solo part could easily have been played on a ‘tromba da tirarsi’ using a slide capacity of up to 14 cm. (the slide would only have to be moved within the 14 cm. range.) This type of slide, when used with a natural trumpet, ‘tromba,’ would be able to allow the ‘tromba’ to play this aria with much greater ease than it could otherwise. [The latter situation probably would not have been tolerated by Bach.]

The Csibas speculate that Bach’s ‘tromba’ players would not have viewed this short ‘slide-extension’ the same way as they did that of the ‘tromba da tirarsi’ where the slide was fully doubly as long as the extension used in the ‘tromba.’ What was gained in applying the short extension to the ‘tromba’ was a greater ease for playing the instrument at faster tempi than the 'tromba da tirarsi' could. [I speculate that the timbre, the amount of brilliance, would have been superior in the 'tromba' as well.] The Csibas describe the manner of playing the ‘tromba da tirarsi’ as “schwerfällig” [“clumsy, awkward, slow, dull, heavy”] in comparison with the ‘tromba,’ which, when the correction for the natural tone series is made, will allow a player to play BWV 77/5 on the natural trumpet, ‘tromba,’ with much greater ease. Only a movement/a sliding of the extension up to 13.5 cm is needed when playing the c# 2.

Dale Gedcke stated:
>>I conclude that most of what was available in Bach's time is currently available from period instrument manufacturers.<<
I think that solid evidence for this is lacking, if you are referring to f.

Why would the trumpeter for Suzuki’s Bach Collegium Japan still be trying to make his own instrument for one of the recordings of Bach’s cantatas made only a few years ago.

Recently, I saw an article on William Scarlett, retired trumpeter, who had played for many years alongside of Adolph (“Bud”) Herseth in the Chicago Symphony. I am certain that Mr. Scarlett during his long career as trumpeter had also played a number of Bach’s ‘tromba’ parts publicly. The article shows him working on his hobby: making trumpets. Why would he be making trumpets when he could be buying, trading, and collecting them from the various trumpet makers around the world?

Why did Adolf Scherbaum (check the biography that I had shared recently) spend the last years of his life trying to make trumpets that could play Bach’s music better? Could he not have left this type of activity to the expert brass instrument makers who had spent an entire lifetime perfecting their craft?

Why do the Csibas devote the entire final chapter in their book to “Making copies of Baroque instruments” and then give the reader the information needed for making one’s own ‘tromba?’

Dale Gedcke wrote (June 4, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz]
MY COMMENTS:

Well, we may not have everything exactly like it existed in Bach's era, but from what I have seen, there are lots of people enthused about making reproductions of period instruments, and they have covered the full spectrum pretty well on the trumpet side. I am sure there will be lots of people popping out of the woodwork with yet another attempt at some different version of an historical trumpet. That appears to be human nature.

When I started into playing trumpets again as a 60-year-old after setting aside my old Bb for more than 35 years, I approached the venture with a different perspective and with broadened opportunities. Having been an engineer, physicist, and marketing manager, I approached the endeavor with an intense interest in the phys, manufacturing and history of the trumpet. Simultaneously, the Internet made finding all that information much more efficient.

In that searching for information, I discovered that throughout the history of the trumpet, there seems to be no end to the number of people who want to build trumpets. Even today there must be in excess of 20 companies (large and small) manufacturing trumpets of various types. Some of them are making decent profits, some aren't.

Why do so many people obsessively want to build their own brand of trumpet when there already is a plethora of suppliers? Who knows for sure? I can only chalk it up to human nature, because I saw the same phenomenon in my own industry, instrumentation for nuclear spectrometry. There were lots of overly optimistic start-ups who folded after 5 to 15 years.

That same phenomenon could be observed in the personal computer business 10 years ago. A lot of optimists who thought they could make it big time did not survive.

The trumpet manufacturing business is somewhat different, because the individual manufacturers seem to stay in business at least for the lifetime of the principal designer.

I don't think it necessarily means that we cannot duplicate fairly closely the instruments used in Bach's time. But, I also observe that there are so many variables that affect the playing quality of a trumpet (brass alloy, work hardening, aging, tubing thickness, diameter profile, all the details of the mouthpiece: backbore taper, throat diameter, cup depth, cup profile, rim diameter, rim thickness, rim profile; etc. ....) that we will never know when we have exactly duplicated what Gottfried Reiche played and how that sounded. But, in the meantime, we are living in a period of time when there are lots of options for us to try. Probably a lot more so than in Bach's era.

All I can say is let's understand and enjoy the tremendous diversity of options available to us!

Thomas: I appreciate you looking up the information in the book by the Czibas and translating it for us. Please continue. It is interesting to hear their perspectives from a book that is hard to access.

Robert Sherman wrote (June 6, 2004):
Thomas is right on this. What Ed Tarr calls the Baroque trumpet (and I call Hollywood HIP) with finger holes is not a historical instrument.

I'm a bit bewildered, though, by the idea that the genuine historical trumpets, and by implication exact copies of them, will play in tune with clean attacks, even scale, wide dynamic range, etc. If this were true, there would surely be recordings of such performances on such instruments. But I've heard none.

 

Continue on Part 6

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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