Persona Digital Persona Digital


  • Trumpet and Flugelhorn

    The trumpet is an exciting instrument that for several decades has shared the limelight with the saxophone as the most popular solo instrument in jazz, big band and ballad instrumentals. I first developed my interest in the trumpet listening to a symphony orchestra playing classical music. JS Bach used the trumpet to create drama and excitement - the horns of his day were 8 feet long, with a mouthpiece at one end and a bell on the other. This range of the natural trumpet is determined by the bore and length of the cylinder and the vibrations of the players lips. Natural notes are the tonic, 5th, 1st octave, 2nd 5th and 2nd octave. An expert player could manage to play other notes on a baroque trumpet with difficulty. The trumpet has evolved by modifications of its bore, different styles of coiling, and by adding features that produced a fully chromatic instrument. Anton Weidinger invented the valve trumpet, a fully chromatic instrument and Hadyn wrote the first trumpet concerto, performed by Weidinger in 1800.

    The modern Bb trumpet with three valves and a range greater than 2 octaves is an evolved species that is in use world wide. Trumpets of the same design can be found with different root pitches; the C trumpets are the most common. The piccolo trumpet with 4 valves is a recent innovation, created to play the higher register pieces found for example, in Bach's composition - it is fully chromatic.

    Strad Bach Trumpet

    Peter Bach's Stradivarius Bb Trumpet

    Peter Bach designed and manufactured trumpets in the US beginning in the 1930s. His Bb and C trumpets became the symphony standard through the 1950s. His designs continue to be made by Selmer. Among trumpeters there is much discussion about the right trumpet to use in different situations, the best models and the best manufacturers. When I was a young trumpeter, I heard that Bach trumpets were best, but I couldn't afford one. I did prefer Bach mouth pieces and found one that improved the quality of the sound I produced on a less expensive instrument. I was interested to review Bach's Trumpets for sale and found ads for the Stradivarius version asking $2800.00 USD. A mouth piece could be bought for $100.00.

    Range and Fingering

    The 3 valve Bb trumpet retains the set of open notes of natural trumpets ( noted as 0 fingering below). The ascending open sequence is a 2 octave range is C,G,C,E,G,C. The notes below the root C are not very useful. It is possible to play higher into the third octave, but beyond winning competitions with other players, the highest notes are often not musically meaningful and may annoy audiences.


    The flugelhorn is similar to Bb trumpets and cornets. It has three piston valves and responds to the same fingering. The tone is richer and more mellow. It most effective in a lower register than the trumpet. The flugelhorn's appeared in jazz and popular music, and appears occasionally in orchestral writing. Miles Davis, for example played the horn in 2 albums, Miles Ahead and Sketches of Spain.

    My Proteus 2500 Trumpet/Flugelhorn

    I played the trumpet in my earlier life and have an affectionate relationship with the intrument. I can no longer play the real instrument but have evolved a wonderful brass instrument in my Proteus 2500 that satisfies all my trumpet expectations. I imagine I am playing the instrument with the timbres, intonation and articulation as I use the keyboard to play. I am always delighted with the super trumpet capability of the Proteus/Stephen collaboration.

    Louis Armstrong, a trumpet player, became one of the most famous jazz musicians of the 20th century. Armstrong recorded "What a Wonderful World" a thoughtful, optomistic ballad that shows the trumpet's romantic ability.

    My Performance of Wonderful World

    Trumpeter and composer Miles Davis had a marvelously productive career. He attracted the most talented jazz musicians many of whom went on to create evolving expressions of jazz as the most technically advanced and, for some, the most appealing music of the 20th century. I recorded several famous Miles' tunes. The most demanding trumpet performance was Decoy written by Robert Irving featuring a Miles improvisation. The title piece Decoy of the 1983 album Decoy is credited to Irving and, for me, became an anthem piece that expresses a special kind of articulate, virtuoso anger. The trumpet solo calls out for liberation

    My version of Decoy

    There has been a succession of great trumpet players. A recent master is the acclaimed trumpeter Chris Botti. I have chosen a wonderful performance with a Botti and violinist Lucia Micarelli duet. They performed the moving "Emmanuel" in Botti's PBS special CHRIS BOTTI IN BOSTON on PBS (2009)

    The following link to a You Tube Video displays the best in musical performance - an impeccable duet with two very talented, dignified and attractive performers. Chris is among the best trumpet players that ever existed. For a successful pop star, Lucia is an exquisite violinist - a very talented musician.

    Chris Botti and Lucia Micarelli Emmanuel

    See Scotty Barnhart .The World of Jazz Trumpet: A Comprehensive History and Practical Philosophy. Hal Leonard December 2005. ISBN-13: 978-0634095276