Writing for Orchestra Part 11- The Trumpet

We have come to the brass part of the orchestra now and I am glad to briefly talk about one of its most colorful members: the trumpet. I remember in my conservator days when Maestro Musgrave gave me my first assignment which was to write a simple fanfare for trumpet and I rose to the occasion the best I could. I still remember the piece quite well even to the point where I could probably reproduce the whole score by memory if I have to; however, I am sure that I have it in my archives. Anyway, what can I say about the trumpet? It is probably the most well known brass instrument next to the trombone and is wquite flexible. When I was studying how to write for it, it blew my mind that it was what one would call a transposing instrument. That means that if one sees the note D on the score, then one would hear C. There's a funny anecdote about how John Lennon and Beatles producer George Martin had a mild argument because John wanted to hear the brass play certain notes and couldn't understand why he was hearing different notes. Maestro Martin explained that the brass were transposing instruments. Of course, John thought it was weird and I must admit that sometimes, I agree with him!:) However, that is how they are made. Now about the trumpet, it has the highest register in the brass family. The B-flat trumpet is the most commonly used out of the different versions of the instrument. I mentioned my favorite group, The Beatles, before. They used the instrument quite exquisitely in "Penny Lane". Originally, an English Horn ( not a brass instrument) was used for the solo but one day, Paul McCartney mentioned to Maestro Martin that he heard a terrific trumpet solo in one of J. S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. He was told that that was a Bach (or piccolo) trumpet, which is smaller in stature than a conventional trumpet and is in A. Naturally, it has a higher pitch than even a B-flat trumpet. It was played by David Mason, the same gentleman who played in the Bach piece Mr. McCartney heard (Incidentally, it was Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No.1). This may have been one of Pop music's introductions to the instrument. The trumpet has a flexible range, dynamic sound, and incredible versatility. It can also be plaintive if it it is scored that way. All one has to do is hear a few Miles Davis recordings to hear it. Originally, I had a flugelhorn play the countermelody for "With All Of My heart". I loved the way it sounded in Dan Fogelberg's classic "Longer". A flugelhorn is also in B-flat like a regular trumpet bout its conical bore is wider and the sounder is wider as well. Among the greatest trumpeters I can think of besides Miles Davis are Louis Armstrong, Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard and Maurice Andre. Ok, thanks for reading! BKT:)

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