Natural trumpet

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Clairon (signal trumpet)

Natural trumpet is a trumpet that is not equipped with valves , keys (see keyed trumpet ) or intonation compensation holes for changing the pitch and therefore can only produce the notes of the natural series . For the physics of sound generation, see the article upholstered pipe .

Natural instruments are documented in a large number of ancient peoples such as Egyptians , Greeks , Etruscans , Romans , Celts and Teutons . The instrument was also used in Asia. a. in India , China and Tibet . Typically, natural trumpets were used in ancient times, especially for liturgical and military occasions. Natural horns do not differ from natural trumpets in terms of tone generation. The distinction between more cylindrical trumpets and more conical horns is blurred for European instruments made of metal and is generally unsuitable for natural tone instruments.

History of natural trumpets in Europe

In the late Middle Ages the busine in its elongated form (straight trumpet) was mainly used for military or court purposes. The art of bending metal pipes, which was known in ancient times, was lost by this point and was not rediscovered until around 1400, just before the beginning of modern times . Since then, natural trumpets have mostly had a sinuous shape.

Design in the 17th and 18th centuries

Baroque trumpet (replica)

During this time, the early baroque, slightly projecting bell (e.g. Nagel) developed into the projecting high baroque bell (e.g. Haas). A large number of preserved instruments from the 17th and 18th centuries are of a construction that was mainly used in German-speaking areas: two identical cylindrical tubes, which are connected to the bell by two cylindrical (180 degree) bends. The connections were plugged in, not soldered, but reinforced by forcing. One of the bows was connected with a wire through a small hole in the bell. The bell and leadpipe were connected with a cord through a wooden block. There is a knob on the bell, which is not soldered on either (it is therefore not recommended to hold the instrument by it!). In Nuremberg in particular, which at that time had assumed a leading position in metalworking across Europe, famous trumpet manufacturers were established - such as Hainlein, Ehe, Haas, to name a few. These supplied farms across Europe. In England its own design was created, which differs greatly from the German in terms of design. The tubes are held together by an enlarged knob that is firmly attached to the bell. Examples of English instrument makers would be Bull, Winkins, Hofmaster. At this time, natural trumpets were tuned with set pieces and crooks.

Style of play

Until then, natural trumpets were mainly used as a signaling instrument in military use. However, they began to be integrated into art music . Most of the music at the beginning was elevator music , which was played by a trumpet and timpani ensemble. At the beginning of the 17th century, for example with Bendinelli, this was still improvised, later it was notated in full (for example Charamela Real). Early examples of concert music can be found in Fantini (1600–1675), who wrote various baletto, brando, saltarello, capriccio , corrente and sonatas . These pieces are accompanied by a figured figured bass . However, due to its enormous challenges and the sometimes unorthodox use of the wind instruments, Bach's music still has a certain special position in the repertoire today. Clarin playing experienced its last heyday in Vienna , where the notated pitch range was expanded to the 24th natural note (Trumpet Concerto in D by Michael Haydn (1737–1806)).

Historical names of the notes in Fantini
grade Fantini
C. Sotto Basso.
c Basso.
G Vurgano.
c Striano
e toccata
G quinta

The natural tone series is a sequence of tones which have a mathematical ratio of 1: 2: 3: 4: 5 ... to each other and can be produced on the natural trumpet. This results in the sequence C, c, g, c 1 , e 1 , g 1 , b 1 (low), c 2 , d 2 , e 2 , f 2 or f sharp 2 (11th natural tone, hovers between f 2 and f sharp 2 ), g 2 , a 2 (deep), b 2 (deep), h 2 , c 3 etc. These natural tones are formed in the body and transmitted to the instrument with the help of lip vibration.

In the Baroque period , trumpet techniques were generally divided into two blowing techniques, which at the same time divide the instrument into two registers: principal and clarin bubbles.

Principal bubbles
contains the deep register and developed from the field piece (signal bubbles).
According to Johann Ernst Altenburg: “The principal or principal blower is never blown alone, but is actually the lowest voice in four-part pieces that are usually called lifts, (...) therefore the principal has to introduce the bass part and a middle part too. He is called principal because he leads the whole trumpet choir with the principal or main notes ”.
Clarin bubbles
starts from the 8th natural tone.
Johann Ernst Altenburg: "We understand by clarin or by a clarin part roughly what the discant is among the singing voices, namely a certain melody, which is mostly blown in the double-bowed octave, therefore high and bright."

The 7th, 11th, 13th and 14th natural notes pose a great challenge to a clarinist. In the musical context, these must be driven in the right direction by the clarinist - "Improvement of impure sounds". An important aspect in the training to become a clarinist was the articulation theory. An early example of this can be found in Modo per imperare a sonare la Tromba by Girolamo Fantini . Similar to other wind instrument schools, the notes are provided with syllables of articulation. Johann Ernst Altenburg: “Some passages have to be pushed, while others have to be pulled or dragged . It is not possible to determine all cases where the pushing off or pulling is required - because one must try to learn the proper application of these different types of presentations from good players and singers alike. "

At the end of the 18th century a rapid change in trumpet technique began. More and more people are looking for a way to modulate, and one would also like to melodically open up the low register of the trumpet. This change ultimately led to the valve (around 1815) through experiments with stoppers or flap systems . The mobility demonstrated by the cornet meant that trumpets were also made shorter. Nevertheless, natural trumpets were used in orchestral literature well into the 19th century.

Today natural trumpets are mainly used to play music from the Baroque period, especially in connection with historical performance practice . Jean Francois Madeuf has been teaching clarin at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel since 2001.

More natural trumpets

Historical trumpets
  • Buki - metal trumpet made in Georgia
  • Carnyx - trumpet with animal head of the Iron Age Celts
  • Chazozra - an Israelite trumpet
  • Cornu - a Roman bugle
  • Lituus - an Etruscan horn instrument
  • Lure (war trumpet) - a Germanic bronze age trumpet used in cult
  • Scheneb - an ancient Egyptian trumpet
Today's trumpets
Info about the audio file
Vuvuzela with sound sample
  • Alphorn - the well-known Swiss national symbol
  • Bazuna - wooden trumpet in Kashubia in northern Poland
  • Bhankora - straight copper trumpet in the Garhwal region of northern India
  • Büchel , short Swiss wooden trumpet with folded music tube
  • Dung - natural trumpets in Tibetan Buddhist ritual music, including the long trumpet Dungchen
  • Fakürt - wooden trumpet in Hungary
  • Kakaki - a West African trumpet
  • Karna - straight, mostly long metal trumpet in India and Central Asia
  • Kombu - in South India, Shringa in North India, S-shaped or in a semicircle curved metal trumpets
  • Nafīr - historical metal trumpet in the Orient, which still occurs in Morocco and Malaysia
  • Tirucinnam - straight brass trumpet in South India, which is the only one to be blown in pairs by a musician
  • Trembita - wooden trumpet in the Carpathian Mountains
  • Trumpet - natural trumpets mainly used as effect or noise instruments
  • Trutruka - long bamboo trumpet of the Mapuche in South America
  • Vuvuzela - a South African horn
  • Waza - trumpet made from Berta's calabashes in Sudan and Ethiopia


  • Cesare Bendinelli: Tutta l'arte della Trombetta . 1614
  • Girolamo Fantini : Modo per imperare a sonare la Tromba . 1638
  • Johann Ernst Altenburg : An attempt at a guide to the heroic musical trumpeter and timpanist art . Hall 1795


  • Edward H. Tarr : The Trumpet . Hallwag, Bern 1977
  • Friedel Keim : The Trumpeter Paperback . Schott Musik International, Mainz 1999

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Curt Sachs : Reallexicon of musical instruments. Berlin 1913, p. 189
  2. Altenburg, p. 83
  3. Altenburg, p. 92
  4. Altenburg, p. 95
  5. Altenburg, p. 73
  6. Altenburg, p. 97