Sunday Scales 20: Abblasen


Today’s exercise has it all: a living history, virtuosity combined with artistry and even a little detective-work thrown into the mix. We’re talking about the famous Abblasen call by Gottfried Reiche.

Gottfried Reiche is best known as Bach’s principal trumpet in Leipzig, whose apparent skill is deduced from the incredibly virtuosity of the trumpet parts Bach wrote for him. Reiche actually composed 122 “Abblasen” fanfares during his lifetime, but unfortunately they’re lost.

What we do have is a famous painting by E.G. Haussmann in which Reiche is depicted holding a scrap of paper – the music on that scrap of paper in the painting is legible enough that we have transcribed it to get the sole surviving “Abblasen” attributed to Reiche (really). That transcribed scrap of paper has been the theme song to CBS Sunday Morning for decades, played as recorded by Don Smithers on a baroque trumpet, then Doc Severinsen on a piccolo trumpet and currently Wynton Marsalis on a piccolo trumpet:

Here’s another recording, this time on baroque trumpet from Nate Mayfield:

We’ll close with the fanfare itself. Transpose it up, down, forward, backward, learn it in every key and by memory, slur it, tongue it, double tongue it… It’s a beautiful, living part of our history as trumpeters and a great challenge to play:

20 - abblasen

Sunday Scales 19: À la mode

Last week, we discussed translating major exercises to minor. Now we’ll go a step further and look at some exercises in the other modes.

To me, modes were just a bunch of Greek names I memorized during undergraduate music theory. I never practiced them and I never played them (as far as I knew). But modes are a great stepping-stone to jazz and world music and a wonderful challenge in the practice room.

Let’s take a moment to understand the modes. Continue reading

Sunday Scales 18: Minor misunderstandings

This week we’re going to talk about minor – I’m sure you know it’s important, but do you actually practice it? In my case, I never practiced it much for two reasons: first, most exercises and etudes are in major keys; and second, the three minor modes make it confusing to translate exercises to minor. So this week, we’re going to look at a few scale patterns from previous article and show what they might look like in various minor modes. Continue reading

Sunday Scales 15: Divide and conquer the chunks

Anthony Plog’s “fingering exercises and etudes” from his Method for Trumpet (see below) make for fun practicing. This week we’ll take a look at Vol. 2, Ex. 7:

15 - a - ex 7 full

At sixteen measures, this is on the longer side for a scale pattern. How are we going to memorize it? With two techniques. The first is already in this article’s title: “Divide and Conquer.”

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Sunday Scales 14: Mr. Gekker

Chris Gekker is one of my favourite trumpeters, for his many recordings as a soloist and with the American Brass Quintet (1 2 3), for his writings (see: one of my favourite articles about practicing trumpet) and for his book Articulation Studies.

Even though, as the title suggests, the book is intended to assist articulation, most of the exercises are built around scale patterns and many would work equally well slurred or tongued. Either way they are classics.

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