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A Beginners Guide to the Baroque

Natural Trumpet
BY

ELISA KOEHLER

Trumpet players in the 17th and 18th centuries


enjoyed an exalted status socially as well as musically.
Poets lauded their artistry and painters captured their
likenesses on canvas. Even today, we marvel at the
great Baroque soloists like Girolamo Fantini, Gottfried
Reiche, and Valentine Snow, who tamed the valveless
natural trumpet and made it sing in the stratosphere.
Thanks to the brilliant work of trumpeters such as
Edward Tarr, Friedemann Immer, and Don Smithers,
the technique of playing the natural trumpet is not the
mystery it once was. The work of conductors such as
John Eliot Gardiner, Paul McCreesh, and Ton
Koopman has similarly done much to popularize and
promote the performance of early music on historic
instruments.
A quick glance at the bibliography for this article
will prove that publications devoted to the serious
study of the Baroque trumpet have mushroomed in the
past two decades. Most notably, Edward Tarrs landmark three-volume method, The Art of Baroque
Trumpet Playing, appeared in 1999-2000. Recent
advances in scholarship, instrument construction, and
pedagogy have created a veritable renaissance for the
Baroque natural trumpet. Never before has information on playing historic instruments been as accessible
as it is today. My purpose in this article is to consolidate resources and information that might be useful
for any trumpeter who wants to study the natural
trumpet, but doesnt quite know where to begin.
Benefits of Studying the Valveless Trumpet
Trumpeters who learn to play a valveless Baroque
instrument enjoy a host of benefits. They not only
develop a new awareness of the trumpets regal heritage, but they improve their overall musicianship and
technique on the modern trumpet as well. Playing the
natural trumpet forces a musician to focus on the
basics of sound production and fundamental techniques such as flexibility, range, note accuracy, articulation, embouchure strength, and breath control.1
Perhaps the greatest benefit is the enhancement of a

players aural skills. Since the natural trumpet


requires pinpoint accuracy in the slippery upper reaches of the overtone series, the ability to hear intervals
and pitch relationships is paramount. Like the human
voice and unfretted string instruments, the natural
trumpet is essentially a blind instrument that relies
on expert ear training for successful performance.
Those accustomed to performing Baroque music on
the piccolo trumpet particularly benefit from learning
to play the natural trumpet. They gain invaluable
insights into appropriate Baroque phrasing and articulation as well as the unique personalities of the natural trumpets registers (principale, middle, and clarino). Although the somewhat homogenized sound of the
piccolo trumpet is unable to reproduce the natural
trumpets ethereal clarino or the characteristic earthiness of its low register, acquaintance with an authentic sound ideal enriches any musicians performance.
Issues of Authenticity
One of the first steps on the road to playing the
Baroque trumpet is the acquisition of a suitable instrument. This can be a daunting process for the uninformed. Modern builders of historic brass instruments
usually model their trumpets after historic makers,
such as Ehe, Haas, and Bull, and it is important to
understand the differences between these models.2
Photos of several historic trumpets appear in the first
two volumes of Tarrs Art of Baroque Trumpet Playing
along with photos of modern reproductions. The definitive work on the subject is Robert Barclays Art of the
Trumpet-Maker. This book concerns the history of the
Nuremberg trumpet-makers of the 17th and 18th centuries and includes step-by-step instructions for building a trumpet.3 Understanding the basics of historic
instrument construction gives the trumpeter a fund of
knowledge from which to make an informed purchase.
Before going one step further down the path to
purchasing an instrument, issues of authenticity must
be confronted. Because the natural trumpet can only
produce notes of the harmonic overtone series, some of

Fig. 1. The harmonic overtone series in C. These notes are all playable by a natural trumpet. Darkened notes indicate partials that
are out of tune.

the pitches, or partials, are inherently out of tune. The


most problematic partials are the 11th (F) and the 13th
(A). The 11th partial is too sharp for F and too flat for
F-sharp while the 13th partial renders a rather flat A.
See Fig. 1.
Trumpet players in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries corrected these intonation problems
by lipping, or note bending.4 This technique was also
applied to occasional non-harmonic tones such as Bnatural (by lowering the 8th partial), C-sharp (by lowering the 9th partial), and F-sharp (by raising the
notorious 11th partial). Around 1960, Otto Steinkopf
devised a system of three vent holes for a natural
trumpet built by the German maker Helmut Finke
that rendered the fickle 11th and 13th partials in tune.
Steinkopf was also a pioneer in the revival of the
Renaissance cornetto and he perhaps found inspiration for the vent hole system from his experience with
that hybrid wind instrument.5 Later, the British trumpeter Michael Laird devised a four-hole system that
increased the stability of many pitches and offered
additional solutions to intonation problems.6 Although
vent holes made the natural trumpet safer to play,
they altered the sound slightly. The resulting compromise instruments would not have been used by trumpeters 300 years ago and could hardly be called natural. In an attempt to clarify terms for these instruments, it is becoming accepted practice to refer to
trumpets without holes as genuine natural trumpets
and to label vented instruments as Baroque trumpets.
With this in mind, it must be emphasized that the
use of vent holes is only a modern convenience, but it
is often deemed necessary for professional players.
Performing on an instrument without the vent hole
system pays dividends in terms of authenticity and
sound, but it presents a daunting challenge when modern audiences expect flawless intonation in equal temperament and pinpoint accuracy. Although the number
of musicians who play the Baroque trumpet exclusively has risen sharply in recent years, the vent hole system is favored by professional trumpeters who primarily play the modern trumpet because the technique of
playing a vented trumpet is more secure.
Using an appropriate mouthpiece is another consideration when approaching the natural trumpet.
Most players get started by using their modern mouthpieces with natural trumpets, but an adapter is usually needed to fit the shank into the larger leadpipe.
Authentic Baroque mouthpieces possess a wider cup
diameter, larger, flatter rims, a sharper bite, and a
longer, thicker shank. The longer shank encases a
tapered backbore that compensates for the lack of
taper in the leadpipe. These dimensions affect the
sound and facilitate the practice of lipping. A shallower mouthpiece does not necessarily aid high register
playing due to the expanded dimensions of the natural
trumpet.
The selection of a mouthpiece is a highly personal

issue, but players should seek to balance concerns of


comfort with those of authenticity. A musician just
beginning to play the natural trumpet may prefer to
use his or her familiar modern mouthpiece at first and
then switch to an authentic mouthpiece once acquainted with the feel of the instrument. Some makers provide instruments with tapered leadpipes that accept
modern mouthpieces, but many do not.7 See Fig. 2.
Although some professional players occasionally use
modern mouthpieces, such compromises are made for
enhanced security in the service of an historically

Fig. 2. A natural trumpet by Andrew Tomes (UK) pitched in D


(modern pitch) compromised with a tapered leadpipe and vent
holes. An adapter for a modern mouthpiece and tapered tuning
bit may also be used with this trumpet. With these additions, the
instrument should be labeled as a Baroque trumpet and not as a
natural trumpet. This instrument is a modern reproduction of a
trumpet built by the Nuremberg maker, Johann Leonard Ehe III, in
1746.

informed performance.
Historians rightfully contend that the use of vent
holes, tapered leadpipes, and modern mouthpieces borders on the heretical, but quibbling over equipment is
not the primary concern of the beginning natural
trumpet player. All musicians should begin by playing
a natural, unvented trumpet with a familiar mouthpiece. Like any style tradition, the conflict between
theory and practice in the 20th century Baroque
revival rages on, and these issues must be confronted
when a player purchases a professional instrument
and seeks to perform in public.8 Any musician embarking on the study of the natural trumpet must respect
authentic performance practices and strive to serve
them as closely as possible. An instrument with vent
holes does improve accuracy, but the added security
can lead to overblowing and inappropriately harsh
articulations if aesthetic standards are not observed,
especially in the early learning stages.
Finding an Instrument
The Historic Brass Society is the best source of
information about current makers of natural trumpets
and authentic mouthpieces. The most recent compilation of makers was published in the Summer 2001
Historic Brass Society Newsletter.9
The purpose of this article is not to recommend
specific brands of instruments; however, a sampling of
current makers includes Robert Barclay (Ottawa),
Rainer Egger (Switzerland), Keavy & Vanryne
(Reading), Ewald Meinl (Germany), Andrew Naumann

(USA), Frank Tomes (London), and Geert Jan van der


Heide (Netherlands).The authoritative source of information on the Internet is David Baums Natural
Tr u m p e t R e s o u r c e We b S i t e , l o c a t e d a t
http://www.goucher.edu/physics/baum/nattrump.htm10;
this site includes links to information on current
Baroque trumpet makers, scholars, study programs,
and performers.
Used natural trumpets occasionally appear at professional music stores and Internet auction sites, such
as eBay. Although it is possible to build a natural
trumpet out of parts of discarded modern B-flat trumpets, it is a challenge to accurately replicate the dimensions of an authentic instrument this way.11
Homemade natural trumpets are useful for starting
out, but a professional-quality instrument will be necessary for serious study.
Most natural trumpets come with sections that
may be assembled to render an instrument playable in
a number of different keys. These sections are the corpus (main body of the trumpet), crooks (curved tuning
slides), and yards (pipes with or without vent holes
that connect the crook to the corpus). It is important to
note that these sections are not soldered together and
are freely adjustable to improve intonation and flexibility. See Fig. 3. Instruments may also come with
leadpipe extensions for tuning purposes called bits.
See Figs. 4 & 6. Some modern compromise instruments come with an adjustable leadpipe to facilitate
tuning. Depending on the maker, natural trumpets are
usually available in the keys of D (modern pitch,
A=400 Hz), Db (Baroque pitch, A=415 Hz), C (modern
pitch), and Cb (Baroque pitch C). Fig. 5, shows a trumpet pitched in D (modern pitch) with crooks and yards

Fig. 4. A natural trumpet by Frank Tomes (UK) pitched in D (modern pitch) with additional crooks, shanks, and tuning bits for the
keys of B-flat, C, and D which is playable in modern pitch
(A=440), and Baroque pitch (A= 415).

Fig. 5. A trumpet by Andrew Naumann (USA) pitched in D


(modern pitch) with additional crooks and yards with vent holes
for the keys of Db, C, and Cb.

Fig. 3. A natural trumpet pitched in D (modern pitch) by Andrew


Naumann (USA) dissembled to show how the corpus, tuning
slide, and yard fit together. A wooden block wrapped in cord
serves as a brace and provides a suitable hand grip for the trumpet. This modern reproduction of an instrument by Ehe features
two 20th century additions: an adjustable leadpipe and an
Amado water key.

in Db, C, and Cb, respectively.


Once the decision is made to purchase a natural
trumpet from a professional maker, there are many
considerations to be factored into the final selection.
The box below lists some of the factors to consider
when selecting an instrument. As with any trumpet,
price and playability determine most purchase decisions, but care must be taken to select an instrument
that boasts a high degree of historic authenticity.
Purists rightfully contend that no valveless trumpet
employing vent holes is authentic, but other factors
such as bell size, metal alloy, and workmanship may be
faithfully reproduced on modern compromise instruments.
Material for Study
Until very recently, beginning study material for
the natural trumpet was not readily available. There is
no shortage of Baroque literature. The great works of
Bach and Handel, however, are hardly appropriate for

What to Consider When


Purchasing a Natural Trumpet
Historic Models
Which historic model does the maker follow?
(Ehe, Haas, Bull, etc.)
Mouthpiece
Does the maker offer a selection of Baroque
mouthpieces?
Will a modern trumpet mouthpiece fit into the
leadpipe or will an adapter be needed?
Keys & Pitch
In which key(s) is the trumpet pitched? (C, D,
Cb, Db, Bb, etc.)
Vent Holes or No Holes
Does the trumpet come with yards with vent
holes? Are yards without holes also available?
Tuning Aids
Are tuning bits or an adjustable leadpipe available for the trumpet?
Case
Is a case available? If not, an alto trombone gig
bag is a good fit for the natural trumpet. A
padded camera tripod bag is another option.
Additional padded storage for crooks, yards, and
mouthpieces will also need to be improvised for
most cases and bags.
The British company, Brass Bags, manufactures custom natural trumpet gig bags
(home.clara.net/weswarren/more4.htm).

anyone just starting to play the instrument. With the


publication of Edward Tarrs new method in 1999, The
Art of Baroque Trumpet Playing, trumpeters finally
received a wonderful source of beginning exercises,
repertoire, and advice for learning to tame the natural
trumpet from a 20th century perspective.12 Before the
publication of Tarrs method, those desiring to study
the natural trumpet gleaned exercises from historic
methods like those of Fantini (1638), Altenburg (1795),
and Dauverne (1857), and traveled to study with great
teachers like Friedemann Immer, Michael Laird, or
Edward Tarr himself.
No book can replace the guidance of a good teacher,
but Tarrs method presents an overview of all the
important historic methods (Bendinelli, Fantini,
Altenburg, etc.) and their exercises along with his own
practice material. Valuable information on practice
techniques, ensemble intonation, and the proper execution of trills is also included. Tarrs method does not
discuss vent hole systems, but everything else related

to natural trumpet study can be found within its three


volumes. Those interested in learning to use the vent
hole system will find useful information in Michael
Lairds BrassWorkBook for Natural Trumpet.13
Although it is certainly possible to gain a working
knowledge of the valveless trumpet from these fine
books, it is vital to seek out the tutelage of a professional natural trumpet player, especially in the early
stages.
Once a working fundamental technique is within
reach, a wealth of literature awaits the natural trumpeter. Thanks to the pioneering work of Edward Tarr,
Ludwig Gttler, and others, reliable printed editions of
Baroque trumpet repertoire are readily available. In
the realm of orchestral and ensemble repertoire, it is
advisable to begin with the works of Henry Purcell
before moving on to the music of Handel and Bach.
Purcells works do not pose the same challenges in
terms of endurance and range, and are usually scored
for two trumpets. Pieces like the Ode on St. Cecilias
Day and The Fairy Queen, with their egalitarian part
writing and playful, imitative passages, provide
rewarding practice material for two natural trumpeters working together. Purcells complete trumpet
music, as well as the music of Bach and Handel, is published in collected editions by Musica Rara. This repertoire belongs in every trumpeters library.
One of the major challenges in ensemble playing is
intonation, and this problem is compounded by the
unequal temperament of the harmonic overtone series
produced by natural trumpets. With that in mind, a
welcome reprieve from the isolation of the practice
room may be found in playing ensemble literature as a
section with fellow Baroque trumpet enthusiasts, if
possible.14 When approaching the major works of Bach
and Handel it is beneficial to begin by playing the
lower parts before moving up into the clarino register
and the solo arias. In the realm of solo literature,
Purcells works are a good starting point. Other suitable solo pieces for the beginning natural trumpeter
are the sonatas for trumpet and organ by Fantini and
Viviani, and the suites in D major by Handel and
Jeremiah Clarke.
Beginning to Play
When trumpeters approach a valveless instrument
for the first time, they are often unsure of quite how to
hold a natural trumpet. Depending on the maker and
type of instrument, the natural trumpet is usually held
primarily with the left hand, like the modern trumpet.
There is often an ornamental ball (sometimes called
the boss) or a brace made of a wooden block wrapped
with cord that serves as a suitable handgrip. The right
hand grasps the parallel tubing on the other side of the
trumpet or just simply hangs at the players side. If the
instrument employs the vent hole system, the right
hand would then manipulate the holes.15 The manner
of holding a long natural trumpet may take consider-

able adjustment for the new player. Although the


instrument is much lighter than the modern trumpet,
the longer arm extension and stretched hand position
can be fatiguing at first. As with any new skill, short
practice sessions on a regular basis are advisable to
avoid overuse injuries and undue strain.
Once a workable posture has been found, the player can concentrate on making music. One thing that
will strike any musician during the first few encounters with the natural trumpet is that it will not
behave! New players often experience a sense of disorientation caused by the lower fundamental of the
natural trumpets harmonic series, the unequal temperament of those harmonics, and the response of a
longer, untapered leadpipe. Careful practice with the
aid of an electronic tuner helps to clarify reference
pitches and, with time, the ear, the lungs, and the
embouchure remember the physical reflexes that
accompany specific intervals and patterns. Even the
most accomplished modern trumpeter will need to
spend some extended time working on basic triadic
exercises in the low register to develop an acquaintance with the feel of the natural trumpet.
It must be emphasized that vent holes should not
be used when first learning to play the Baroque trumpet. Most of the initial work will be in the principale
register with pitches that would not benefit from nodal
venting, and it is important for the player to become
familiar with the unique characteristics of the natural
trumpet. Musicians must resist the impulse to correct the out-of-tune notes in order to play in equal
temperament. Once given the permission to blow
freely, players will discover that the natural trumpet is
far more flexible and resonant when youre not battling nature, so to speak. Exploring the natural tendencies of the overtone series yields insights that aid
future intonation work, such as the pronounced flatter
pitch of the lower register, the relative stability of the
tonic triad (C, E, and G), and the malleability of the
7th, 11th, and 13th partials (B-flat, F+/-, and A).
Following an honest appraisal of the pitch tendencies of the natural trumpet, the real work begins.
Careful practice on long tones, flexibility studies like
those of Schlossberg and Irons, and target practice on
isolated pitches builds a strong foundation for a reliable technique. The studies found in the first volume of
Tarrs method, the natural trumpet exercises of
Dauverne,
and
the
warm-ups
in
Lairds
BrassWorkBook for the Natural Trumpet are highly
recommended. Trumpeters familiar with James
Stamps note bending exercises and Carmine Carusos
endurance routines will find that these studies are
especially beneficial for learning lipping technique and
developing strength and accuracy on the natural trumpet.
If a player wishes to learn the vent hole system,
the proper positioning of the yard with the holes is
essential. A good way to check the positioning of the

vented yard with the system is by playing the open C5


(3rd space C, or C'') and the G above, and compare the
tuning with the last hole covered and then open again.
If the vented yard is positioned correctly, the pitches
will match when played with the hole open and as well
as closed. If the open-hole C or G does not match the
closed-hole C or G, the yard should be adjusted back
and forth to find the proper placement. Depending on
the particular design of the instrument, the back-bow
(tuning slide closest to the mouthpiece) and the leadpipe (or tuning bits) may need to be adjusted to ensure
proper yard positioning and tuning.
Incidentally, vent holes are not numbered uniformly by all makers. The numbering system used by
Michael Laird, the creator of the four-hole system, is
based on the fingers used to manipulate the holes (e.g.
T, 2, 3, 5) rather than their sequential order (1, 2, 3,
4).16 Lairds numbering system works as follows: T=
thumb (the first hole), 2 = index finger (the second
hole), 3 = 2nd or 3rd finger (the third hole), and 5 =
pinky, or little finger (the fourth hole). The three-hole
system is similar, but omits the third hole (e.g. T, 2, 5)
from the previous list. The stretch of the hand required
by the four-hole system is often uncomfortable at first,
and the woodwind-like fingering technique can be
rather disorienting for players accustomed to piston
valves. Initial fingering technique should focus primarily on using the thumb to adjust the 11th partial F
and then build from there.
On a more practical note, the manner of emptying
excess moisture from the natural trumpet also
deserves comment. Some makers include Amado water
keys on their instruments, but this is not always the
case, and historic instruments certainly did not have
them. The best method to use is very similar to that of
the French horn; turn the trumpet end over end and
allow the water to drip out of the leadpipe. With
Baroque trumpets with vent holes, the water can simply escape through the thumb hole.
Ideas for Serious Study
If a musician seeks to play the natural trumpet
professionally, it is important to seek out a reputable
teacher and devote considerable energy to perfecting a
reliable technique, studying appropriate performance
practice, building range, and learning the repertoire.
It should be remembered that trumpeters in the
17th and 18th centuries usually studied the instrument in a two-year apprenticeship which often
involved daily lessons with a master teacher. If the
vent hole system is used, dedicated work on fingering
technique is also required. Listening to recordings of
Baroque trumpet soloists and period instrument performances is especially important. Attending live performances is even better. A good source of information
on active early instrument groups is the Period
Instrument Performing Ensemble [PIPE] web page
(http://gfhandel.org/bleissa/pipe/). The site lists infor-

mation on groups all over the world and includes performance schedules, when available.
Aside from the physical challenges of playing the
valveless trumpet, the study of appropriate Baroque
performance style should be an ever-present task. The
primary differences between modern performance traditions and those of the 17th and 18th centuries concern intonation, improvisation and ornamentation,
articulation (especially unequal tonguing patterns), a
heightened emphasis on strong vs. weak beats, and a
more bel canto sound ideal.17 Luckily, several good references have recently been published that provide
sound advice for those new to Baroque performance. In
1999, Cambridge University Press instituted a new
series devoted to performance practice, Cambridge
Handbooks to the Historical Performance of Music. The
first volume in this series, The Historical Performance
of Music: An Introduction, by Colin Lawson and Robin
Stowell, delivers precisely what its title offers: a valuable overview of the major issues involved in performing early music.18 Similarly, Doningtons classic
Baroque Music: Style and Performance. A Handbook is
a fertile source of information.
Although modern research is useful, there is no
substitute for reading the original historic treatises.
Most are available in good English translations.
Thanks to the efforts of Edward Tarr, Igino Conforzi,
and others, the trumpet treatises by Bendinelli,
Fantini, and Altenburg are all available. Although
Fantini and Alternburg provide enlightening comments on articulation, ornamentation, and trills, perhaps the most useful source of information on Baroque
music performance was written by a flutist who also
played the trumpet, Johann Joachim Quantz.19
Quantzs early training as a town musician required
him to acquire passable proficiency on a variety of
instruments and, in addition to the flute, he was an
accomplished violinist and oboist as well.
Consequently, Quantzs treatise is a veritable gold
mine of information on all aspects of musical performance in the first half of the 18th century.
Many professional valveless trumpeters today take
a page out of Quantzs book and double on the cornetto, the premier wind instrument of the Renaissance.
This not only presents new repertoire, but it emphasizes the subtle articulations and phrasing of early
Baroque wind playing. It is beyond the scope of this
article to discuss cornetto playing, but the curious will
find a wealth of knowledge in Jeremy Wests excellent
method book, How to Play the Cornett.20 Wests book is
available along with inexpensive resin cornetti on his
web site (www.jeremywest.co.uk). Since the cornetto is
a hybrid instrument that requires a trumpet
embouchure and woodwind fingering technique, it is
advisable to spend some time studying the recorder
before approaching the cornetto.21 Soprano (descant)
recorders are readily available and provide an enjoyable break from trumpet playing with the instruments

relaxed embouchure and gentler airflow. Recorder fingerings are not identical to those of the cornetto, but
the fingering technique is the same, and the switch
from recorder to cornetto is not difficult for trumpet
players accustomed to transposing. Finally, since the
human voice was (and remains) the model for all wind
instruments, taking private voice lessons further
enhances the musicianship of any instrumentalist.
Back to the Future
Playing the valveless trumpet and other early
brass instruments clarifies the artistic heritage of
brass playing and demonstrates that the fundamentals of good trumpet playing are timeless.
Furthermore, the rapid rise in the performance of
early music on period instruments is a cultural phenomenon that has impacted performances on modern
instruments in addition to invigorating classical
music-making in general. The cultural historian
Jacques Barzun wisely observes that:
The recent interest in playing old music with the
instruments of its own day has shown the difference it
makes not merely in dynamics but in meaning. The
absence of certain timbres and the presence of others
affect the force and the atmosphere of the passage and
dispose of the idea that a note is a note whether played
on the kettledrum or the ocarina. Also of our time, the
retreat from the 19C orchestra and the popularity of
chamber music, partly due to economic reasons, have
arisen from the feeling that Romanticist passion is
pass.22
A topic that most definitely is not pass is the controversy over the use of vent holes on the natural
trumpet. The battle between purists and practitioners
has at times created a rancorous partisan atmosphere.
Brilliant scholars such as Robert Barclay object strenuously to the use of vent holes, while great artists like
Michael Laird have furthered the art and built audiences for the Baroque trumpet by employing vent holes
in countless fine performances and recordings. See
Figs. 5 & 6). Although the purists rightfully voice the
conscience of authenticity, the overwhelming majority

Fig. 6. A trumpet by Frank Tomes (UK) pitched in D (Baroque


pitch) compromised with a tapered leadpipe and vent holes
along with crooks and vented yards to render the instrument
playable in the key of C in both modern pitch (A=440), and
Baroque pitch (A=415). With the use of tuning bits and additional vented yards (not pictured) the trumpet is also playable in
Classical pitch (A=430).

of professional Baroque trumpeters currently play


vented instruments. Advocates of authentic performance traditions, though are beginning to gain
momentum.
Perhaps the best approach to adopt for a trumpeter new to the world of historic performance is one of
humility and curiosity. We live in what I believe is a
new golden age of trumpet playing. Ever since I first
heard Edward Tarrs early recordings, I have been fascinated by the regal beauty of the natural trumpet, but
had no way to find an instrument or learn how to play
one. Now things have changed. The Historic Brass
Society was founded in 1989, and has encouraged more
trumpeters to play the natural trumpet. The first
International Altenburg Competition for Baroque
Trumpet Soloists was held in 1995, and the second took
place in November 2001. Playing the natural trumpet
requires great discipline and strength, but its enormous dividends are well worth the effort. If you are one
of those musicians who has always wanted to play the
natural trumpet, but never thought it was possible, I
sincerely hope that this article has provided useful
information you can use to make your dream a reality.
All photographs courtesy of Elisa Koehler.
Bibliography

tromba [1638]. Edited by Igino Conforzi, Bologna: Ut


Orpheus Edizioni, 1998.
Quantz, Johann Joachim. On Playing the Flute [1752].
Second Edition. Translated with notes and an introduction by Edward R. Reilly, Boston: Northeastern
University Press, 2001.
Study Material
Bach, J. S. Complete Trumpet Repertoire. Three
Volumes. Edited by Ludwig Gttler, Monteux: Musica
Rara, 1971.
Blmel, Christian, ed. Original Duets from Old
Trumpet Methods. Kln: Mark Tezak Verlag, 1985.
Handel, G. F. Complete Trumpet Repertoire. Four
Volumes. Edited by Robert Minter, Monteux: Musica
Rara, 1974.
Laird, Michael. BrassWorkBook for Natural Trumpet.
Essex: BrassWorks, 1999.
Plunkett, Paul. Technical and Musical Studies for the
Baroque Trumpet. Herrenberg-Kuppingen: Musikverlag Spaeth/Schmid, 1995.
Purcell, Henry. Complete Trumpet Repertoire. Edited
by John King, Monteux: Musica Rara, 1975.

Historic Methods
Altenburg, Johann Ernst. Essay on an Introduction to
the Heroic and Musical Trumpeters and Kettledrummers Art [1795]. Translated by Edward H. Tarr,
Nashville: 1974.
Bendinelli, Cesare. The Entire Art of Trumpet Playing
[1614]. Translation and Critical Commentary by
Edward H. Tarr, Nashville: The Brass Press, 1975.
Dauvern, Franois Georges Auguste. Mthode pour la
trompette [1857]. Paris: Editions I.M.D. Diffusion,
1991.
Dauvern, Franois Georges Auguste. Mthode pour la
trompette [1857]. Complete English Translation by
Gaetan Chenier, Ruby Miller Orval, Rebecca Pike, and
Jeffrey Snedeker, Historic Brass Society Journal 3
(1991): 179-261.
Fantini, Girolamo. Method for Learning to Play the
Trumpet [1638]. Translation and Critical Commentary
by Edward H. Tarr, Nashville: The Brass Press, 1975.
Fantini, Girolamo. Modo per Imparare a sonare di
tromba [1638]. Facsimile, Nashville: The Brass Press,
1978.
Fantini, Girolamo. Modo per Imparare a sonare di

Tarr, Edward H. The Art of Baroque Trumpet Playing,


Vol. I: Basic Exercises. Mainz: Schott, 1999.
Tarr, Edward H. The Art of Baroque Trumpet Playing,
Vol. II: Method of Ensemble Playing. Mainz: Schott,
2000.
Tarr, Edward H. The Art of Baroque Trumpet Playing,
Vol. III: A Beautiful Bouquet of the Finest Fanfares.
Mainz: Schott, 2000
Books and Articles
Baines, Anthony. Brass Instruments: Their History and
Development. London: Faber, 1980.
Barclay, Robert. The Art of the Trumpet-Maker. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1992.
Barclay, Robert. A New Species of Trumpet: The
Vented Trumpet in Context. Historic Brass Society
Journal 10 (1998), 1.
Barzun, Jacques. From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years
of Western Cultural Life. New York: HarperCollins,
2000.
Collins, Tim. So, How Many Holes is a Baroque
Trumpet Supposed to Have? Historic Brass Society
Newsletter Issue 9 (Summer 1996): 11-15.

Donington, Robert. Baroque Music: Style and


Performance. A Handbook. New York: Norton, 1982.

Trumpets by Andrew Naumann


http://members.aol.com/andrewn26/index.html

Herbert, Trevor and John Wallace, ed. The Cambridge


Companion to Brass Instruments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Christopher Monk Instruments


www.jeremywest.co.uk/cmi.html

Lawson, Colin and Robin Stowell. Historical Performance of Music: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Menke, Werner. History of the Trumpet of Bach and
Handel. Translated by Gerald Abraham, Nashville:
The Brass Press, 1985.
Nussbaum, Jeffrey. A Survey of Baroque Trumpet
Makers Worldwide. Historic Brass Society Newsletter
Issue 14 (Summer 2001): 12-19.
Owens, Frank J. Creating a High School Baroque
Trumpet Ensemble. M.M. thesis, Towson University,
2000.
Smithers, Don L. The Music and History of the
Baroque Trumpet before 1721. 2nd ed. Carbondale and
Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press,
1988.

About the Author: Elisa Koehler is the Director of


Orchestral Activities and Trumpet Instructor at
Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, and the
Artistic Director/Conductor of the Frederick Orchestra
in Frederick, Maryland. Koehler performs with the
Lyric Brass Quintet, the Handel Choir of Baltimore,
and the Orchestra of the 17th Century. Dr. Koehler
holds degrees from the Peabody Conservatory and the
University of Tennessee, and has studied at the
Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute. The author
thanks the following for their kind assistance: David
Baum, Stanley Curtis, Kris Engle, Flora Newberry,
Frank Owens, and John Thiessen.
Endnotes
1

Frank J. Owens. Creating a High School


Baroque Trumpet Ensemble (M.M. thesis,
Towson University, 2000), 5 8.

Daniel J. Leavitt. The Trumpet Workbook.


Teachers Guide. (Aurora, CO: West Wind Music
Company, 1996), 83. Leavitt wisely refers his
readers to the Historic Brass Society for more
information and advises that they become very
familiar with the various manufacturers of the
past and the history of mechanical inventions.

Robert Barclay, The Art of the Trumpet-Maker


(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 9. Barclay has also led annual summer workshops along
with Richard Seraphinoff in which participants
spend an entire week following the procedures
outlined in his book to build authentic natural
trumpets (without vent holes) that they take
home with them at the end of the week. The cost
of the workshop is usually less than half the cost
of a new instrument. For more information on
these workshops, consult the link for Robert
Barclay on David Baums Natural Trumpet
R e s o u r c e We b S i t e , w h i c h i s l o c a t e d a t :
http://www.goucher.edu/physics/baum/nattrump.htm

Edward Tarr, The Trumpet (Portland: Amadeus


Press, 1988), 11-14 and 85-90.

Anthony Baines, Woodwind Instruments and


Their History, 3rd ed. (Mineola, NY: Dover, 1991),
262.

Edward H. Tarr, The trumpet before 1800 in


The Cambridge Companion to Brass Instruments
ed. Trevor Herbert and John Wallace (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1997), 100-101. The
Steinkopf-Finke trumpet was a coiled trumpet
patterned after the Jdgertrompete held by

Smithers, Don and Klause Wolgran and John Bowsher,


Playing the Baroque Trumpet. Scientific American,
Vol. 254, No. 4, April 1986, 105-108.
Tarr, Edward H. The Trumpet. Translated by S. E.
Plank and Edward Tarr, Portland: Amadeus Press,
1988.
West, Jeremy with Susan Smith. How to Play the
Cornett. London: JW Publications, 1997.
Web Sites
The Historic Brass Society
http://www.historicbrass.org
The Natural Trumpet Resource Web Site
http://www.goucher.edu/physics/baum/nattrump.htm
The Natural Trumpet Discussion List
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/naturaltrumpet
The Period Instrument Performance Ensembles [PIPE]
Web Page
http://gfhandel.org/bleissa/pipe/
Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute
http://www.oberlin.edu/con/summer/bpi/
Trumpets by Rainer Egger
www.eggerinstruments.ch/home.htm

Gottfried Reiche in his famous portrait painted by


E. G. Haussmann. Michael Lairds four-hole system was employed on a traditional long, singlefolded trumpet.

17

Edward H. Tarr, The trumpet before 1800 in


The Cambridge Companion to Brass Instruments
ed. Trevor Herbert and John Wallace (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1997), 96-98.
Musicians interested in a total immersion
approach to Baroque performance practice may
attend the two-week Baroque Performance
Institute at Oberlin College (web address
http://www.oberlin.edu/con/summer/bpi/) held each
summer. Master classes in natural trumpet are
offered as well as classes in ornamentation,
Baroque dance, and most other period instruments.

One such maker is Keavy & Vanryne (Reading,


England).

Tim Collins, So, How Many Holes is a Baroque


Trumpet Supposed to Have? Historic Brass
Society Newsletter Issue 9 (Summer 1996), 11-15.
See also Robert Barclay, A New Species of
Trumpet: The Vented Trumpet in Context. Historic Brass Society Journal 10 (1998), 1.

Jeffrey Nussbaum, A Survey of Baroque Trumpet


Makers Worldwide. Historic Brass Society Newsletter Issue 14 (Summer 2001), 12-19.

18

Colin Lawson and Robin Stowell. Historical


Performance of Music: An Introduction. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

10

Dave Baum is a Professor of Physics at Goucher


College and builds his own trumpets. I am indebted to Dr. Baum for his enthusiastic support of my
efforts in learning to play the natural trumpet
and for his inspirational devotion to the instrument.

19

11

Owens, Creating a High School Baroque Trumpet Ensemble, 9-21. Frank Owens provides a
detailed description of the procedure he followed
for building natural trumpets this way. Information on authentic 18th-century procedure is
found in Barclays Art of the Trumpet Maker, 102168.

Johann Joachim Quantz. On Playing the Flute


[1752]. Second Edition. Translated with notes and
an introduction by Edward R. Reilly (Boston:
Northeastern University Press, 2001), xii-xiii, 27.
Quantz was skilled enough on the trumpet to
receive offers for professional positions following
his apprenticeship.

20

Jeremy West with Susan Smith. How to Play the


Cornett. (London: JW Publications, 1997).

21

The Trapp Family Singers. Enjoy Your Recorder.


(Sharon, CT: Magnamusic Distributors, 1954).
Since the soprano (descant) recorder is often used
as a tool for rudimentary music education, many
beginning recorder methods cover material at too
slow a pace for the trained musician. That is not
the case with this excellent method by the
Austrian musical family of The Sound of Music
fame. Although the soprano recorder is popular
with students, the alto (treble) recorder pitched in
F is the authentic solo recorder favored by
Baroque composers. For example, the solo flauto
dolce part in Bachs Brandenburg Concerto No. 2
was written for the alto recorder.

22

Jacques Barzun. From Dawn to Decadence: 500


Years of Western Cultural Life. (New York:
HarperCollins, 2000), 547.

12

Paul Plunketts book, Technical and Musical


Studies for the Baroque Trumpet, published by
Musikverlag Spaeth/Schmid in 1995, was the first
modern method for the natural trumpet, but its
length (32 pages) and coverage are certainly not
on the same scale as Tarrs 3-volume work. The
book often refers the reader to exercises in
Dauvernes method and so works well as a companion to that book.

13

Michael Laird, BrassWorkBook for Natural


Trumpet. (Essex: BrassWorks 1999) 5, 9-14, 20.
Lairds book also includes an appendix by
Crispian Steele-Perkins that lists instrument
makers.

14

Edward H. Tarr. The Art of Baroque Trumpet


Playing, Vol. II: Method of Ensemble Playing.
(Mainz: Schott, 2000). This volume includes valuable resultant tone intonation exercises for two
and three trumpets along with a wealth of literature and helpful text. The third volume of Tarrs
method, A Beautiful Bouquet of the Finest
Fanfares, provides more fine ensemble literature.

15

Musicians who play authentic natural trumpets


without vent holes sometimes strike a dramatic
pose with their right hands on their hips to highlight this technique.

16

Laird, BrassWorkBook for Natural Trumpet, 5, 9.