Curved pipes in a cornet

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by bardsandwarriors, Jul 20, 2006.

  1. Why do the curves give it a softer tone?

    Or do they?
  2. Hello,

    I assume you mean compared with a tumpet?

    I think the difference is that Trumpets (and Trombones) have a cylindrical bore, until the last little bit where the bell flares out, and Cornets (and Rain Catchers generally) have a conical bore, gradually increasing in size throughout the length of the tubing... Hence the two types of instruments give different sounds (with the Trombone sound being superior of course!!!).

    I'm sure someone will tell us if I'm wrong!!
  3. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    I thought they were there so it didn't end up being 8 foot long :oops:
  4. Kevin - thanks, I knew about that. But cornets are much more curved and tangled, as well as being conical. I read somewhere that the crook cornet is softer/warmer/ or something than the 'long' cornet, because it has more curves. Have I remembered that wrong?

    Otherwise, why aren't trumpets more curved, or cornets straighter? There must be a reason for all that chicanery ;)
  5. Don't know then...

    Is it like playing open notes on alternate valves, where the extra resistance the air meets alters the sound? This can be quite noticeable on trombones with a F trigger, if you play concert F in 1st or with the trigger. Maybe that's to with harmonic ranges!

    I don't know...
  6. Dave 2nd2nd Cornet

    Dave 2nd2nd Cornet Active Member

    They don't when i'm playing them!;)
  7. Incognito

    Incognito Member

    The reason they are curly is that the leadpipe is longer than a trumpet one so you could not make it all straight (not easily anyway).
    The british style cornets have shorter bells and more tubing onthe leadpipe side of the instrument.
    However, I am not convinced it makes much of a difference.
    It would be interesting to do a blind testing between an old imperial cornet and my King SIlversonic long model. It sounds like that style of older cornet even though its a US style long model.
    A lot of it is down to the mouthpiece.
  8. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Anyone tried a 'pocket trumpet'? Do they sound 'softer' (whatever that might mean)? Plenty of curves in one of those... My guess is that extra bendiness only makes it sound a little more constipated (='softer'??), and increases the risk of certain notes having bad tuning. How quickly the bore of the instrument tapers is a very much more important factor.

    I wonder if some confusion between bore effects and long/shortness arises because some models of long cornet have a less conical bore? (That's just a guess - I don't know if they do or not)
  9. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    One thing I thought, was that with the radius of the curved sections in a cornet being greater than that of the curved sections in a trumpet, the sound would thus be mellowed - hence the exact same pitch, but significant difference in tone.

    I may be wrong, but I'd hazzard a guess at that being a significant influencer of sound.
  10. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    This is a question I have seen/heard asked a few times elsewhere and I have yet to hear a perfect answer.
    If it were the curve of a cornet that gave it the sound, a long model cornet would sound more trumpet like - which it does (good theory so far), but a trumpet with a shepherds crook would sound more cornet like, which it doesn't (ah, problem).

    The actual differences between the pipe construction of cornets and trumpets are much more similar than they used to be - there is an excellent discussion on this on one of the other forums, I will try to find it, but it might take some time.

    One theory that I think has a large possibility of being true is that the attitude of the player has a lot more to do with what comes out of the other end than what instrument they are holding (or what mouthpece they are playing, which is yet another discussion).
    How many times have you ever heard someone playing a cornet and remarked (or heard someone remark) "they sound like a trumpeter" (not as a positive comment). Or in the orchestral world the reverse has definitely been heard "they're a cornet player" (again, not as a compliment). This could just be that someone has their way of playing and the act of putting a different instrument in their hands is not enough to change the sound they are producing.
    Speaking purely personally, I find switching between cornet and trumpet (and flugel, soprano, piccolo etc) is much more a question of changing mental gear than changing equipment.

    I wish I could find the article I am looking for - I will return at some point in the future.
  11. Hells Bones

    Hells Bones Active Member

    There is also the point where a Trumpet is known to screech in the heavens, (apparently One Trumpet player goes up to a Super D, can't remember his name, something Marcellus? but I know that Mark Gilbanks plays at least to a Super Bb when the need calls for it)
    But is it possible to do so on a cornet?
    I heard Alan Morrison smacking top D's out on a Sop not long ago in a Brass Ensemble arrangement of Arrival of the Queen of Sheba (written for Picc Trumpet)
    Your Thoughts?
  12. Fendall

    Fendall Member

    This is a pet topic of mine, the difference between cornets and trumpets. These are distinct and obvious in the B flat models, but my focus has always been the difference between soprano cornets and E flat trumpets.

    My limited research has revealed to me that cornets are meant to be 2/3rds or 67% conical/33% cylindrical, and trumpets 50%/50%. However, to make the E flat trumpet, they typically remove cylindrical length, making it over 60% conical.

    On the Xeno soprano cornet review thread, you will note that I compare my YTR6610S trumpet to the new Xeno. My trumpet is 64% conical, on the face of it (without more accurate measuring equipment) i.e. a cornet by definition, and the Xeno is only 55%, i.e a trumpet by definition. Between the bell and valve casing, the diameters along the length are identical, the only difference being how they are bent, the Xeno having a more gradual bend.

    Because I play the trumpet with a cornet mouthpiece, the two instruments feel nearly identical to play, but there is a brightness and 'ring' to the Xeno soprano, and ever so slightly, there is less flexibility in the note, whereas the trumpet sounds slightly darker, but slightly more flexibility.

    Considering the similarities, I would suggest that the longer gradual bends on a cornet give the feel of the notes being very distinct and easier to nail, but the shorter sharper bends of a trumpet give greater flexibility in the note, but the notes feel a lot 'closer together' so that you can easily mispitch.
  13. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    There are trumpet parts that are written into the Gods (I am assuming that your use of "Super C" is the C that is 1 1/2 octaves above the stave - more commonly referred to by trumpeters as "Double C" (allowing for "triple" notes beyond this range) and there are many others who go this high in solos "because they can" - if you want to hear some truly outrageous high note playing check out - these guys specialise in extreme high playing - be warned, your computer speakers will NOT like these guys;)
    Is it possible to go that high on a cornet?
    Are parts written up there?
    Does it sound like a traditional cornet when taken to the extreme high register?
    General instrument range is increasing and certain composers are starting to use what is now playable (check out the soundtrack to The Incredibles - some stunning high playing on there) but I don't think that extreme range cornet playing will become too common - no need for everyone to panic yet about not being able to hit triple z:wink:

    Still looking for the right article, btw.
  14. Fendall - I am slightly confused by your explanation. You say that your Xeno soprano (55% conical) is brighter and less flexible, and your trumpet (64% conical) is darker and more flexible. This would fit with the theory that the conical bore makes a darker sound, with more flexible and less easily nailed notes.

    I could understand this - perhaps the varying bore introduces harmonics and impurities into the notes, which make it sound less piercing, but easier to shift from one note to another (in theory: because the harmonic of the 'other' note is already present, to some extent, in the note you are already playing, so a slight shift of emphasis by the lips will lock onto the other harmonic and produce that note instead).

    But in the next paragraph, you seem to say the opposite. I'm probably not reading it properly!
  15. Fendall

    Fendall Member

    Sorry, it is a bit confusing, a cornet pipe curves more gradually, whereas a trumpet has 'quick' curves, and then lengths of straight pipe. So even though the Xeno is more cylindrical, it curves gradually and constantly (al a cornet). And this to me (gradual long curves), seems to make a cornet sound like it does, more than the conical/cylindrical tubing thing. If anything, conical tubing does nothing more than affect tuning, and make it feel like you're blowing into a bag of sand.
  16. Jacob Larsen

    Jacob Larsen Member

  17. Thanks Fendall, that makes a little more sense! But how do you square trhat theory with the fact that both instruments contain very tight curves within the valves, and in the valve tubing?

    Perhap tight corners have no effect, and only the long, rounded make the essential difference?

    eg. what is the difference in tone and playability between a trumpet with valves, and a fanfare trumpet (with no curves or valves)?

    It's interesting what you say about the bag of sand aswell :D That could make the notes less nailable and more melifluous. Like trying to drink a McWompey's milkshake through the straws that they give you. When you exert a lot of pressure, that pressure can more easily be diverted into one note or another - ?
  18. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  19. starperformer

    starperformer Member

    it's very difficult to isolate any single factor in an instrument's 'sound' when in fact trumpets and cornets vary subtely in several ways. this might be stating the obvious, but the overall 'sound' that comes out of either is far more complicated than any of the above arguments suggest.

    some factors (mostly inter-dependent and -related)
    * bore, and tapering of bore, especially in the leadpipe and bell
    * machining tolerances while creating the above
    * materials used for various bits, how they are treated and how they are held together
    * shape of the instrument
    * mouthpiece used (very important)
    (* who is playing it)

    all of these will have at least some effect on overtones/harmonics, intonation, resistance, air speed and volume, perceived playing 'feel', range.

    i would guess that the shape (curvature) of an instrument will have more of an effect on resistance than anything else, and resistance in turn will have an effect on the way a player plays - but the other factors mentioned above will all be affected.

    in discussion of bore taper, for example, the "55% conical" stat is basically so oversimplified as to be meaningless, because
    * there are so many variables that even keeping the same taper but moving the taper around the instrument would have drastic effects
    * no satisfactory measurement methodology has ever been invented for this (least of all, measuring the outside of the tube!)

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