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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001333.txt from 1999/01

From: "Kevin Fay (LCA)" <>
Subj: [kl] Trumpet v. Cornet
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 17:31:50 -0500

Roger Shilcock wrote re the use to Trumpet v. Cornet in New Orleans (early

<<<All a bit off-clarinet, but no doubt there was a status difference,

Sorry to take this off-topic, but there seems to be some interest. I dabble
a bit as a trumpet player, and have some knowledge.

At the turn of the century, there was quite a bit of difference between the
standard cornet (think Herbert Clarke) and trumpet (think pea-shooter).
Right around the time that jazz was getting off the ground, however,
advances were made in trumpet technology that led to its usage.

King Oliver played cornet--for him, the only choice; he needed the big bore
for the necessary volume. Louis Armstrong similarly started on cornet, and
was known for that until he got to Chicago to play in Oliver's band. Once
in Chicago, he acquired a Henry Jay cornet that was quite remarkable--one
could actually switch back and forth from cornet to trumpet by replacing the
removable lead-pipe assembly! (This is much the same as the "new" Edwards
trumpets made by Getzen--nothing is new). Perhaps to distinguish his sound
from Oliver, Louis found himself using the trumpet leadpipe more and more.

The bands kept getting bigger and louder, so it got to the point where the
cornet/trumpet guy couldn't just blast their way over the rest of the group.
The solution for Louis was to play the trumpet, with it's edgier tone,
higher--and the road to Maynard Ferguson was charted. Louis used medium
bore trumpets the rest of his life (typically a Selmer 19A).

Over the next half-century, the designs of trumpets and cornets became much
more similar. Bore sizes were identical. While a trumpet is nominally
cylindrical, it is conical aft of the valve section--the only real
difference now is in the leadpipe/tuning slide. (The bore of some trumpets
in the leadpipe is decidedly conical, too--see the Callet Jazz, for example)

A good player now can make a trumpet "sound like a cornet" and vice versa
through mouthpiece selection alone.


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