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Brass question from a drummer (be afraid...)


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So I was watching some orchestral works performed by the Berlin Philharmonic last night and noticed that the high brass were all using rotary system trumpets. Now this may seem bit naïve, but what are some of the differences between a rotary setup vs a piston setup? Now I am not talking the obvious about mechanics, but more the sound. The rotary seemed a bit..smoother or rounder. Less articulate and "attacky." But I am curious what some of the other more subtle differences are from a players perspective.

Again, this a question from a drummer...but an educated one (I actually tune things to a specific pitch before whacking them with a stick,) so my knowledge of brass instrumentation besides the basics needed for music in college is limited. Plus I lost a LOT of brain cells in the 1990's.  

Thanks!

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, OldSnareDrummer said:

Shhhh. You broke the code. Giving away our secret to supreme drum corps insight over horn players. 

I know LOL. I often tell my students that I only get logical thoughts when the 2 remaining brain cells I have swimming around in my brain collide. Usually, even if they do, it's more like they just rub together and create warmth. I'm pretty sure that's why Britt says that I just randomly smile for no reason. 

Edited by Weaklefthand4ever
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2 hours ago, Weaklefthand4ever said:

So I was watching some orchestral works performed by the Berlin Philharmonic last night and noticed that the high brass were all using rotary system trumpets. Now this may seem bit naïve, but what are some of the differences between a rotary setup vs a piston setup? Now I am not talking the obvious about mechanics, but more the sound. The rotary seemed a bit..smoother or rounder. Less articulate and "attacky." But I am curious what some of the other more subtle differences are from a players perspective.

Again, this a question from a drummer...but an educated one (I actually tune things to a specific pitch before whacking them with a stick,) so my knowledge of brass instrumentation besides the basics needed for music in college is limited. Plus I lost a LOT of brain cells in the 1990's.  

Thanks!

I love this question.

Reviewing Black Dyke Band videos, it seems that a portion of their instrumentation is from musicians using older brass instruments....yet so smooth, so fluid. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/9/2021 at 9:48 AM, Weaklefthand4ever said:

So I was watching some orchestral works performed by the Berlin Philharmonic last night and noticed that the high brass were all using rotary system trumpets. Now this may seem bit naïve, but what are some of the differences between a rotary setup vs a piston setup? Now I am not talking the obvious about mechanics, but more the sound. The rotary seemed a bit..smoother or rounder. Less articulate and "attacky." But I am curious what some of the other more subtle differences are from a players perspective.

Again, this a question from a drummer...but an educated one (I actually tune things to a specific pitch before whacking them with a stick,) so my knowledge of brass instrumentation besides the basics needed for music in college is limited. Plus I lost a LOT of brain cells in the 1990's.  

Thanks!

Actual answer - to get exactly that smooth and round sound you noticed. It's prefered by a lot of European orchestras - esp German, and for rep which calls for that sound. An article:

https://www.curtis.edu/news-folder/spring-2019/sarah-jessen/

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Rotaries are generally darker and more fluid - more "Teutonic."  The C trumpet used in most American orchestras descended from the French and is generally a brighter approach.  Things are more homogenized than they used to be, however.  Many orchestral sections will pull out rotaries for the German composers.  British orchestras traditionally use Bb trumpets.  Brass band cornet playing is an entirely different beast.  Phil Smith, retired principal of the NY Phil, learned to play in a Salvation Army brass band has such a beautiful singing quality to his sound.

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