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Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:37 pm
by Langley
Picked up a genuine copper 1891 Royal Mail Post Horn for £25 last weekend. Wondering just how wrong for Mediaeval Trumpet... For one thing, got brass Royal Arms which have English, Scottish and Irish segments so would have to stop people looking too closelya t that. Are there any known Mediaeval (15th C) trumpet calls surviving? Loads of drums on battlefields but only time I heard a trumpet the call which wafted over the Tewkesbury field I expected it to bring the 5th Cavalry over the hill with John Wayne in the lead...

Re: Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:52 pm
by Tamsin Lewis
As far as I know medieval trumpets are long, straight and valveless - so quite a different shape from a posthorn.
Karen Larsdatter has some good images here http://www.larsdatter.com/musicians.htm if this helps.
Very little if anything has survived in the way of written fanfares from the medieval and renaissance periods, although a few examples can be reconstructed from battle type music and songs
eg The Tan ta ra bits in 'keep well your ray' http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/ravenscroft ... ur_ray.pdf or the opening of Welkes' 'Tan tara cries Mars' http://www2.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Tan ... s_Weelkes)
There are far more of these but I can't think of them off the top of my head...

Re: Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:57 am
by guthrie
Look up the Billingsgate trumpet, found in the Thames, dating from the 1300's or so. It was long, well over a metre, straight, and made in 3 parts which came apart. So a post horn is totally wrong in every way, probably down to the metal involved.
Sorry.
I would like to get more trumpets on the battlefield myself, but didn't have time and energy at Kentwell to experiment with making brass tubes.

Re: Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:47 pm
by Thor Ewing
I use a replica of the Billingsgate trumpet.
It's loud - very loud. It's also surprisingly tuneful. It's a really beautiful musical instrument.
I'll post a link to a soundfile or video, when I manage to get one uploaded.
We use it mainly for fanfares - particularly when we play for jousting. Trumpets - and professional trumpeters - were a regular part of medieval fighting units, along with shawm players and nakerers - the nakers (pronounced "knackers") are a kind of small kettledrum which hang as a pair below the belt.
Best, Thor

Re: Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:46 pm
by Langley
Err - this Post Horn is long (1m10cm - 43 inches in old money), straight and valveless. I have to take it apart to get it in the car. I call it a Post Horn because it says Royal Mail on it... Looks like the illustrations I have seen of mediaeval trumpets. Lady L is thinking of making a couple of sets of arnourial ahhievements to dangle off it, one Royal and on in our own livery to add to the illusion. Thanks for the pointers everyone. All I have to do not is practice - it does not have a modern mouthpiece but the brass original and it is a b****r to sound and even our Simon who can play anything you blow through was struggling. Please be prepared to respond to the strangled squawk on the field!

Re: Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:05 am
by Thor Ewing
Here's us playing at the joust at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McSihoTlMOE

Best wishes,
Thor

Re: Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Fri May 04, 2012 8:48 pm
by count-of-henneberg
Thor Ewing wrote:Here's us playing at the joust at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McSihoTlMOE

Best wishes,
Thor
Yes, very tuneful. Am sure I was there (always go to the jousts at Leeds for at least 1 day). Used to play brass when a child, would like to try my hand (eh, ok lips) at a horn like that again. What size mouthpiece do you use? The last time I tried on my trumpet I couldn't get a note but a larger mouthpiece seemed easier somehow. I'd have thought you could get plenty of requests to do such fanfares, especially in kit. I'll look at getting hold of one myself, just will need someplace soundproofed or isolated to practice.

Re: Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:22 pm
by ancientbrass
Hi all,

For those of you who might be interested, I'm a maker of historical brass instruments (built according to historical techniques and based as closely as possible on surviving originals and/or iconography).

This winter and spring I'll be producing medieval straight trumpets (busines) based on the Billingsgate instrument in the Museum of London.

The original has a built-in, conical mouthpiece which is more or less a simple widening of the first segment of tube. Other options for medieval mouthpieces are a conical, built-up sheet metal mouthpiece as found on the Guitbert (1442) trumpet from Limoges, or a two-piece Renaissance mouthpiece as was in use until the early 17th century, with a wide U-shaped cup, sharp throat, and large backbore.

For effective busine mouthpieces (based on my experience) I'd recommend a cup diameter of around 19-22 millimeters and a midsize throat, unless the instrument will primarily be used to play pedal note drones, in which case a Renaissance trombone mouthpiece (such as the original from Schnitzer in Nice, or the Nürnberg mouthpiece in Verona) is appropriate.

A modern-type mouthpiece even on a historically-produced trumpet will not even approach a historical sound color.

Re: Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:09 pm
by guthrie
I'm very interested, although I suspect that one would cost more than I could afford. We need more trumpets at medieval and Tudor events.
I read up on the making of trumpets, even thought of giving it a go, but eventually ran out of steam given the equipment and expertise required.

Is there any chance you could document your work with some photos etc? THen post it here, on a website of your choice, or I have a blog with plenty of room...

Re: Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:16 pm
by saracen
Ancient brass, that sounds really interesting - do you have a website or something? would like to keep in touch.
Not so long ago I acquired a very lovely, and quite old (though not medieval! - it's just an old replica) s-shaped trumpet which I am getting to grips with this winter. I've been playing on a baroque trumpet for a while to get me started. My s-shape has a really beautiful warm tone - and it's loud! - which accords nicely with my partner's shawm. I'm looking forward to playing it at numerous jousts and tournaments this summer, it looks spot-on for the 15th century.

Re: Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 5:00 pm
by fifer
Yes I too would welcome more info from ancientbrass on this! Very enigmatic!

Re: Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:43 pm
by ancientbrass
Hi all, sorry for the long wait for a response.

Long story short: https://woodbrass.wordpress.com/2014/04 ... r-busines/

I also have built a late-Medieval slide trumpet based on a range of historical information; an S-trumpet is on the list of things for the future, probably based on Marcian Guitbert, 1442.

Best regards from the Black Forest,
Nathaniel

Re: Mediaeval Trumpet

Posted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 1:09 am
by frances
As for the curled-up horn, like a Roman Cornu, these appear quite frequently in drawings. But these tend to be of Biblical and fantasy topics depicting 'ancient times'.

I think that the busines is an up-and-coming instrument as I am beginning to see them around at outdoor events this year. Folded trumpets are depicted a lot in ensembles, probably because they are more practical when playing in a group where there is very little space!