The smallest member of the trumpet family is the piccolo trumpet. It has a pitch that is one octave higher than the standard B-flat trumpet. The popular piccolo trumpets are designed to play in either B-flat or A.
This works by using a separate lead pipe for each of the keys. There are other piccolo trumpets designed to play on F, G, and C, but they are rare.
The physical difference between the piccolo trumpet and the regular trumpet is that the tubing of the B-flat piccolo trumpet is half the length of a standard B-flat trumpet. This makes the air travel through the tubing faster to produce a high-pitched and bright tone.
Some people often confuse the piccolo trumpet for a pocket trumpet – well, judging from its size one can easily assume it is the common pocket trumpet. However, the piccolo is nothing like the pocket trumpet in pitch, tone, and size.
TYPES OF PICCOLO TRUMPETS
There are different types of piccolo trumpets, and we would only touch a few of them.
The B-flat piccolo trumpet is known as a transposing instrument. It sounds more like a minor seventh tone higher than written – it is a minor seventh you would hear for every tone you make. However, the piccolo trumpet gives the player a degree of freedom. It is rarely written for specific purposes, and most players use it to cover high materials wherever appropriate.
The Soprano trumpet that plays D is also popularly known as the Bach trumpet. It was invented in the 1890s by Victor Mahillon; the Belgian instrument maker. The purpose of inventing this instrument was to play high trumpet parts in Bach and Handel music.
The modern piccolo trumpet allows players to play extremely difficult trumpet parts of Baroque music with ease. Baroque music includes Back’s second Brandenburg concerto and B-minor Mass. The first person to specialize in the repertoire of the piccolo trumpet was Adolf Scherbaum. He was the first to discover new Baroque works, as he made original transcriptions at that time. It was later developed by Maurice Andre, who further developed the modern piccolo repertoire. He played this instrument for over 50 years.
HOW DOES THE PICCOLO TRUMPET SOUND?
One common challenge for beginner wind instrument players is blowing the instrument to make a sound – trust me, this was my biggest challenge!
However, the sound production technique is no different from the B-flat trumpet. There are differences in the air pressure, and the tonguing is very different. This is the reason why players have to use a shallower mouthpiece for this instrument.
Another thing that affects the sound is the number of valves. The piccolo trumpet has four valves instead of three. The fourth valve reduces the pitch to a fourth and now widens the low range. However, it gives room for alternate fingerings and an improved intonation for some notes.
This makes soloing more dynamic and versatile. This is something the standard trumpet does not have, but it does not affect its popularity either way.
You may also be interested in reading all about another great type of trumpet called the Pocket Trumpet.
There are many more types of trumpets which you can read about in this comprehensive and detailed post. So, if you are looking for your first piccolo trumpet or want another trumpet type, read on.