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Semibaroque trumpet

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Hello everyone and everybody!

Here's my suggestion to build a trumpet with traits from both the baroque and the modern instruments, which I call semibaroque trumpet here under.


The baroque trumpet plays about as high as the usual trumpet or even the piccolo one, but its tube is about twice as long, so the musician plays a given note height on a mode twice as high. Higher modes are spaced closer, which enables more notes since there are no valves.
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barocktrompete (more languages there)

It isn't usually a natural trumpet, though. Hole(s) in the narrow branches pull the pitch slightly to improve some notes and create new ones. Other holes leave a mode untouched and dampen its close neighbours to help the musician sound the desired one.

The instrument could be manufactured in the baroque era and was quite usable, but it isn't chromatic at the lower notes, and has a solid reputation of difficulty. As an example, the musician lips the 11th mode up or down to sound both close semitones. Also, I suppose (but did not hear!) that the notes shifted by a side hole are muffled.

Valves made the modern instrument, chromatic, easier, that has but eradicated the baroque one. Accepting fewer natural tones, it is much shorter.

These instruments sound differently. On the highest and lowest notes, the valved trumpet changes its timbre and its intonation is less stable, even more so on the piccolo trumpet, supposedly because the present tube is so short. Also, both Perinet and usual rotary valves muffle the sound, as claim slide trombone players, who attribute it to angles and narrow curves resulting in the air column. In fact, a bass trumpet differs from a trombone mainly by its valves, a valve trombone too, and they sound differently.

A convincing comparison there
search also "Alison Balsom" and others for nice records on the baroque trumpet.

At least baroque music sounds and looks better on the baroque trumpet, which is difficult and now rare.


I propose to make the semibaroque trumpet as long as the baroque one and with mode holes, but add for easier and chromatic playing two valves designed more recently for the slide trombone to keep the sound quality.


On this example, the musician operates with his right hand at usual position the valves that can reside just before the bell, and with his left hand the mode keys that let place the mode holes optimally on the second and first branches. Disassembling looks possible.

Hagmann and Miller valves offer small deflections of big radius
Designs of Lätzsch and Kanstul valves seem unpublished.

The many modes and two valves achieve a chromatic scale down to A on a C instrument here


The semitone and fulltone extensions combine to <0.3% accuracy, not demanding a compensator, but the first G# uses the too low 7th mode. To correct by 1.8%, a compensator slide must move by 2*24mm. Maybe a side hole long and wide enough can replace it.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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Baroque trumpets and natural horns used even in Beethoven's symphonies:
at 6:34, 7:42, 7:59, 8:45, 14:57, 26:06, 47:48 etc.

If I see properly, the HR Sinfonieorchester afforded specialists to sound the baroque instrument for Beethoven's symphonies. Most orchestra don't.

A much easier semibaroque trumpet, with two valves, would need some reasonable adaptation time for the easy Beethoven scores, and avoid the difficult specific techniques of intonation correction. More orchestra could then use instruments close to the original ones.

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Instead of valves, the semibaroque trumpet could get short slides with adjusted stops to add the three semitones. Having only turns with big radius, the instrument would keep precisely the baroque trumpet's sound. Easy glissando, vibrato and quarter-tones are secondary benefits.

On the sketch, three slides lower the note by a semitone each for perfect intonation and a compensator slide raises the 7th mode. The fingerings could be: 1R lower by one semitone, 1R+2R by two, 1R+2R+3R by three, and 4R compensates. 2R+3R+4R is easier than 1R+2R+4R for G#.


The semitone slides move a lot, estimated at 79mm, 84mm and 88mm, so levers multiply the buttons' displacement. This requires easy movement. Alternately, 3R and 4R could operate the third semitone together, and RTh the compensator.

The musician could also move less a semitone slide, and then no compensator is needed. Or a fourth semitone slide could replace the compensator, but apparently it doesn't ease playing and it takes room from the mode holes. Tuning must also be done somewhere, for instance at the compensator.

The first branch can host mode holes too. Several small holes provide higher losses than a big one. Short narrow holes too, but they might lose efficiency at fortissimo. Keyworks reach the optimum locations. Pressing few keys is easier than releasing few.

Being more folded, this instrument is easier to carry than a baroque trumpet, and it doesn't need to disassemble for the transport, but the aspect is less authentic and spectacular. If the slides are easy enough, stronger leverage can move a proximal fulltone slide, operated for instance by 2R, 3R and 4R together while 1R operates the distal semitone slide. Partial use of the slide would compensate the 7th mode, and then the trumpet would be folded only twice like a baroque one, which also frees room for the mode holes.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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More opportunities to hear the baroque trumpet, played by Justin Bland here, wow:
rRC1uN7r1mI and oeX8P0cqbUc on Youtube
The modern trumpet can't imitate this sound desired by the composer and desirable. Incentive to build the semibaroque trumpet.

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I proposed here on Mar 31, 2019 a construction with three slides and a compensator, but instead the semibaroque trumpet could have four semitone slides and no compensator. I see only advantages:

  • The too low 7th mode isn't needed any more.
  • The 4th mode joins chromatically the 3rd mode.
  • The instrument is easier to play without a compensator. Trills get easier too.


The construction with a fourth slide is acoustically as good as with a compensator. I kept a natural C instrument on the fingerings chart as precedently, and now the 3rd mode reaches a semitone lower than a modern Bb trumpet, but I feel wiser to shorten the tube to reach only the low end of the baroque repertoire and ease the highest notes.

The general shape of Mar 31, 2019 remains, including mode holes with keys at the left hand. One loop shorter and one longer could look better and give more room to mode holes. The slide at 4R, which serves little for high notes, could be the last before the bell if this simplifies the mode holes.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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Compare again the piston piccolo with the baroque trumpet on Nathaniel Mayfield's website, both on Reiche's Fanfare

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