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 Post subject: Re: Mystery instrument on "Whispering" - Paul Whiteman acous
PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:36 am 
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Victor V
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Henry wrote:
Somewhere I remember seeing a photograph of Armstrong with a slide trumpet, which is essentially a soprano trombone. But the player has to have a trained embouchure to play it, whereas the slide whistle merely requires that the player blow into the instrument. In either case, one needs a good ear to play in tune!


Interestingly (and slightly off-topic), the concept of the slide trumpet goes back to the Middle Ages, although it was a much different instrument. I quote David Munrow in Musical Instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance:
The player could steady the mouthpiece against the lips with one hand and slide the whole instrument in and out along the mouthpipe with the other...... in practice [it] must have been pretty difficult to handle. Since the mouthpipe is a single tube, not a double one, each slide position is roughly twice as long as that of the modern tenor trombone.... The moving section is so much heavier than the slender mouthpipe that an over-hasty return to first position can knock the player's teeth out.


Now we see why the trombone was invented... ;)

Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Mystery instrument on "Whispering" - Paul Whiteman acous
PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:50 pm 
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Victor V
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Too bad Mr. Munro doesn't have the slightest idea what he's talking about. When he says "mouthpipe," he means "slide tube"---big difference! In all of the photos of slide trumpets I've seen, the slide is a tube that's doubled back on itself, just as in the tenor trombone (also in the alto and bass, but not in the contrabass, trombones; that one has a slide that is doubled back on itself twice, and is very unwieldy to play. It's called for in, for example, the Wagner "Ring" cycle). And because the trumpet is playing on higher partials of the harmonic series than the trombone, the positions are actually closer together than on a trombone, not farther apart. This is true also for the alto trombone. Simple acoustical facts.

Before the invention of the valve, and its application to trumpets and horns, the trombones were unique among the brass instruments in their ability to play a complete chromatic scale. Valveless brass can only play notes in the harmonic series of the fundamental, like a bugle. There are gaps in the harmonic series, but the trombone slide enables the player to change fundamentals easily and rapidly, thus covering the entire playable range of notes and filling in the gaps in one series with notes available in another. There is also considerable overlap (duplication) of pitches thus obtained, and these alternate position notes may be used to facilitate otherwise awkward shifts in rapid passages. Owing to their inherent nobility of sound, as well as their ability to play the complete chromatic range of tones, trombones were the instruments of choice to double the vocal parts in choral music. Hear the Mozart Requiem for a superb example of this usage.

As they used to say in the car commercial, ask the man who owns one!


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 Post subject: Re: Mystery instrument on "Whispering" - Paul Whiteman acous
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:36 am 
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Victor V
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Joined: Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:17 am
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Location: Where there's "hamburger ALL OVER the highway"...
Henry wrote:
Too bad Mr. Munro doesn't have the slightest idea what he's talking about. When he says "mouthpipe," he means "slide tube"---big difference! In all of the photos of slide trumpets I've seen, the slide is a tube that's doubled back on itself, just as in the tenor trombone (also in the alto and bass, but not in the contrabass, trombones; that one has a slide that is doubled back on itself twice, and is very unwieldy to play. It's called for in, for example, the Wagner "Ring" cycle). And because the trumpet is playing on higher partials of the harmonic series than the trombone, the positions are actually closer together than on a trombone, not farther apart. This is true also for the alto trombone. Simple acoustical facts.

Before the invention of the valve, and its application to trumpets and horns, the trombones were unique among the brass instruments in their ability to play a complete chromatic scale. Valveless brass can only play notes in the harmonic series of the fundamental, like a bugle. There are gaps in the harmonic series, but the trombone slide enables the player to change fundamentals easily and rapidly, thus covering the entire playable range of notes and filling in the gaps in one series with notes available in another. There is also considerable overlap (duplication) of pitches thus obtained, and these alternate position notes may be used to facilitate otherwise awkward shifts in rapid passages. Owing to their inherent nobility of sound, as well as their ability to play the complete chromatic range of tones, trombones were the instruments of choice to double the vocal parts in choral music. Hear the Mozart Requiem for a superb example of this usage.

As they used to say in the car commercial, ask the man who owns one!


Since no examples of the medieval instrument are extant, we have to rely on paintings and miniatures of the period. e.g. Memling's Najera Triptych. There the playing position is clearly shown: one hand holding the mouthpiece, and the other grasping the rest of the instrument. No double slide is seen.

As for the positions, I stand by my statement. A single slide requires twice the distance between positions as a double slide: and the early slide trumpet was most likely not played in the upper partials, but in its lower register.

Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Mystery instrument on "Whispering" - Paul Whiteman acous
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:28 pm 
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Victor V
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How do you know the instrument depicted is a slide trumpet? Couldn't one as easily assume that it is merely a straight (i.e, one-piece) horn? As for the Memling painting, the hand positions are precisely where one would expect them to be in order to balance the weight of an instrument of that configuration, whether one-piece or otherwise (yet not allowing for much further arm extension in any case). IOW, the painting proves nothing about the type of trumpet, yet suggesting more probably a one-piece (i.e., non-slide) trumpet. So it is for other depictions of angel consorts (and these are numerous). How can one infer motion from a static depiction?

As for the distance between positions on a slide horn, this will be determined by where on the harmonic series it is being played, as well as length of the tube (see below). If lower, then indeed positions are farther apart. If higher, then closer together. How can one be certain, from the historical record, which applied? Can we cite medieval examples of extant notated music specifically indicated for trumpet? One of the earliest (very late medieval/early Baroque) examples of specific instrumentation is found in Monteverdi's "L'Orfeo Favola in Musica" of 1607, but there the type of trumpet is not specified (see the Denis Stevens edition [Novello, 1968], p. iv, for a brief elaboration of this topic). It should be mentioned that a slide mechanism cannot fill all of the wide gaps in the lower end of the harmonic series. This is why brass instruments generally play on the higher partials, relatively speaking. But we don't have enough evidence, either in the written records or by way of an unbroken performance tradition, to say who was playing what and how, at least as far as the early periods are concerned.

Distance between slide positions is determined by overall (total) length of the pipe, and which harmonics are involved. There are still wide gaps between the fundamental and the first three partials (gaps of an octave, perfect fifth, and perfect fourth, respectively. Only above harmonic seven do the intervals between adjacent harmonics become approximate major seconds: on a fundamental of C, for example, 8:7 = c:bflat, 9:8 = d:c, 10:9 = e:d, and those are of different "sizes", becoming increasingly closer together in pitch as one ascends the series. This family of simple, super-particular ratios (so-called Pythagorean tuning) give us the pitches used in music, but not without modifications beyond the scope of this discussion. (Following usual practice, I consider harmonic series numbering to begin with 1 = fundamental.)


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