Version Française

Arthur H. Benade
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, Ohio

It is not an easy matter to begin the writing of a chapter on the acoustics of a wind instrument for a book that is devoted to the history of the instrument*. The problems of intelligibility can be difficult because we are in a territory where art, mechanical technology, and science are intertwined. However, these separate aspects may become more understandable if we travel back and forth between them, alternating descriptions of musical phenomena with their acoustical bases and accounts of scientific researches, sometimes starting with the historical origins of present day ideas and sometimes using our current understanding as a basis for reviewing the labors of past workers.

The general shape of this chapter is strongly influenced by the vividly expressed precepts of the distinguished French acoustician, Henri Bouasse, who opened his two-volume work on wind instruments1 with a chapter that is instructively entitled "La science et 1'archéologie." From the opening epigraph onward Bouasse warns us to go to the original sources, both scientific and aesthetic, and to strive always to keep our speculations within the bounds of the established knowledge of our time. To this end I have tried in this chapter to describe only those things that are within the realm of my direct personal observation, whether it is a matter of literary sources, musical phenomena, or scientific observation and calculation.

The chapter deals with the tone production process in the trumpet and with the general relation of the shape of the air column to the tone and to the musical response of the musical instrument to which it belongs. There is a continual alternation in this part of the chapter between descriptions of the practical behavior of the trumpet in the hands of a musician and the related acoustical concepts as they might be studied in the laboratory. Sometimes one of these is used for the vehicle for introducing a new concept or phenomenon, and sometimes the other. In similar fashion the history of some of these concepts is sprinkled through the rest of the discussion at points where it might become intelligible, or at points where it might itself serve as the entry door through which we may pass on our way to a new topic.

Trumpet Acoustics
Acoustical Preliminaries
The "Water Trumpet"-- An Analog to What Happens inside a Trumpet
The Function of the Player's Lips
The Function of the Pipe and Bell--Inside the Air Column
The Cooperation Needed for Musical Results
The Baroque Trumpet
The 'Internal' Spectrum of the Modern Trumpet
The 'Internal' Spectrum of the Baroque Trumpet
Relation of Internal to External Tone Color Spectrum
The Menke Trumpet
The Problem of Clean Attack
Mahillon in Retrospect
Bibliographic Notes

* Note by Virginia Benade: This was written as a chapter for a book, edited by Edward H. Tarr, on the history of the trumpet, to be published by Batsford, London. For several reasons the planned book did not materialize, though AHB sent his manuscript to Tarr June 8, 1973. W. T. Cardwell was to have been co-author of this chapter, though the two parts were planned to have been separate. Sometime later, after the book plans were cancelled, AHB made minor changes in the manuscript, adding some more headings and removing references to Cardwell as co-author.

Note by Joël Eymard: I translated this document into French in May, 2002 and published it on my Web site "Tout sur la trompette" with the permission of Virginia Benade who owns all the copyrights. Illustrations are original drawings by the author.