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    Heroic Art of Trumpet and Timpani

     The natural trumpet is an instrument with no holes (if those of the mouthpiece and the bell are excluded!), or keys, or pistons, and the sounds are produced only by means of the air column that puts into vibration the instrumentalist’s lips. The notes obtained in this way, in a rather limited number, are natural harmonics (or also called partials) of the fundamental sound. Some of them must be adjusted so as to adapt themselves to the “temperament” of the other instruments. Sounds beyond natural or fictitious harmonic ranges, which do not exist in the instrument’s native chord, could have been obtained depending on the instrumentalist’s abilities.

    The combination of trumpets and timpani is not very typified by ancient and modern discography. 

    Nevertheless this combination is the most important in the city life starting from the High Middle Ages until the early 1800s.  From the Middle Ages to the Baroque Age we find many documentations regarding the use of wind instruments during ceremonies, entertainment, and concerts. The first traces of this practice goes back already to the 13th century. From that moment, these performances were handed on uninterruptedly until the classic age when the trumpet and reed instrument players participated in various appointments of the municipal ceremony. The tradition of the trumpets and timpani ensemble became the symbol of the grandeur and power of the ruling classes and city communities.

    With the 17th century the trumpet progressively carved out a musical court role, before joining it, then breaking away from the service for ceremonial functions. The widening of the acoustic range and the qualitative improvement, due also to the use of new metallic alloys, the direct contact with court musicians, gave the impulse to insert this instrument – that seemed to be limited to using the single harmonic sounds – into the music of churches and entertainment of the ruling classes. The main evidence of this new era comes from Girolamo Fantini, the major trumpeter of the Grand Duke Ferdinand II in Florence. With his Modo per imparare a sonare di tromba of 1638 he dedicated himself almost entirely to compositions for trumpet and continuous bass, introducing his instrument to the world of “cultured” music.




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