The Study

This study focuses on whether or not I am able to learn the keyed trumpet using only primary sources, namely the instrument itself, and any repertoire that was performed on it.

My original concept was to learn the instrument as comprehensibly as possible, so as to be able to play anything I liked from simple melodies to complex studies. However, this has proven to be a somewhat nave idea as limited time and other commitments, have so far prevented me from fully discovering the instrument in this way.

To compensate, and to provide as much detailed research as possible, I have taken to learning specific repertoire, notably the Haydn trumpet concerto. This has allowed me to develop a good sense of the instrument, its strengths, weaknesses and characteristics, without devoting my entire playing time to its improvement.

Why Am I Interested In This?

The keyed trumpet is a bridging instrument, filling the gap between the natural trumpet and the instrument we know today. Its limited use and restricted appeal at a time when trumpet playing was itself in decline, have led many to overlook the instrument. Yet I really wanted to discover more about it.

Essentially, I want to know not only what it is like to play, but what it was like to encounter a brand new instrument at the forefront of technological invention.

Throughout my research I have been very keen to recreate the sound that the keyed trumpet makes, the kind of attack produced when playing, investigate the kind of ornaments available and discover the physical characteristics and boundaries of the instrument.

Furthermore, as I started this research, I knew that I wanted to find and explore my limits as a performer and musician. I wanted to look at how much the instrument shapes how I play, and how much I have to work, to produce the effect I want myself. Throughout this study, I am trying to build up my knowledge of the instrument, whilst documenting the development of my relationship to it.

On a personal note, I am very intrigued by the particular challenge of discovering an instrument that very few people are aware of. Few players have taken an interest in the keyed trumpet, and fewer still been able to master it enough to perform on it.

Immediately, several questions became apparent. Am I really able to learn the instrument using only primary sources? Is it actually possible to recreate the experience of the first performers? And is my approach to learning truly the best way to go about it?

After some initial research in literature concerning the history of brass instruments, I was able to visit Crispian Steele-Perkins to talk through what I was hoping to achieve with the project and look more specifically at my ideas.

The most obvious obstacle to the development of my study, was obtaining an instrument for long enough to learn to it. To overcome this, Steele-Perkins put me in contact with David Edwards, who in addition to having made a keyed trumpet, is also extremely knowledgeable on the subject. Discover more