This section will introduce 24-div playing in reference to the first sixteen studies in the
24 Microtonal Studies
(pp. 9-31). The initial studies are written for a standard, 3-valvetrumpet in C or B flat. Although it would be possible to progress more rapidly throughthe early studies with a 4-valve, 24-div instrument, it is strongly recommended that atleast some of the studies are attempted on a conventional 3-valve instrument. Mosttrumpeters will discover both benefits to the ear and technique in undergoing this proc-ess. As the studies progress a 4-valve, 24-div instrument will be found to producemuch more accurate, fluent and more immediate results.These are progressive studies and, while all are designed to be challenging, the last fouror five require a player with considerable experience and ability to play them well. Evenwith a 4-valve trumpet, these pieces demand a very sure technique and acute auralawareness.There is, however, much here to benefit the serious player of more modest technicalability. Practice, following the advice offered, will lead to rapid developments in hearingand co-ordination which will benefit conventional 12-div playing as well as laying thefoundations for a microtonal technique. These techniques can be embedded into a con-ventional course of study, if necessary over an extended duration, with the assistance of a sympathetic and careful teacher. Composers are advised to work closely with players.
QUARTER-TONES ON A CONVENTIONAL 3-VALVE TRUMPET
The trumpet has in-built intonational characteristics which we can use to our advantage tocreate microtonal possibilities. Pitch on the trumpet is produced by lip vibration. The tube,when activated, creates pitches from the harmonic series, so these are not equally tem-pered. Also, the valves are in reality not strictly ‘in tune’ despite the fact that fingerings areoften described as interchangeable (in other words, different fingerings which use differentcombinations of valves are said to produce the same results although, in reality they donot). This is a concept trumpeters will be familiar with and why they have to subtly adjustcertain pitches to make them properly in tune.To recap, trumpet valves lower the fundamental by a tone (in the case of the first valve); asemitone (in the case of the second valve) or one and a half tones (in the case of the thirdvalve). However, the more valves that are added, the sharper the relative pitch becomes.So although valve 1 + 2 would appear to equal valve 3, in reality 1 + 2 are sharper. Finger-ings using all three valves are very sharp, sometimes by as much as a quarter-tone.As one means of compensating for this, trumpets are fitted with slides (sometimes called ‘pitch adjusters’ or ‘triggers’) which flatten the pitch only. The first valve slide (1VS) canlower the pitch by up to a quarter-tone and the 3rd valve slide (3VS), by a semitone, or alittle more, depending on the pitch and the instrument.Additionally, trumpeters are taught to alter pitch by using the lip, jaw or tongue, as a meansto adjust any given pitch so it is ‘in tune’ in any given context. In the case of C quarter-flatbelow middle C, there is no alternative but to use the jaw to lower the C because, as anopen pitch (with no valves) the triggers cannot be used. Naturally, in writing for the 3-valvetrumpet this is a pitch to approach with care.
Quarter-Tones – 1 of 12