Natural Trumpet Pointers is the first part of Mike's GUT  or Grand Unified Theory of Historically- informed/inspired Performance Practice (HIPP).

Mike's GUT will get bigger as time goes on; an ever-expanding project presenting tried-and tested methods for those interpreters of Rhetorical music interested in experiencing how composers might have conceived their music and heard it performed.

The approach is relatively simple. Firstly remove instrument designs that did not exist at the time and work with what's left, applying advice from original sources. The natural trumpet is by far the most challenging instrument in terms of technical adjustment by the player, and the least compatible with current HIPP practices. That's why it's the best place to start.

If you own a copy of Natural Trumpet Pointers, and have informed us, you will have priviliged access to videos and other material via a log-in.

More soon.....


Mike Diprose
Part of Mike's GUT


In some aspects, the historical trumpet is easier to play; for instance, "playing by ear" is simple because no fingers are involved; and there are "built-in" ornaments and "click" articulations. Not using fingers means having no physical reference to pitch, such as keys, fingerboards, holes or strings. In this sense, it is the most similar to what historical sources describe as the "perfect" instrument to which the others should aspire; the voice.

FROM GROUND TO SOUND, everything in-between is interconnected when we play the natural trumpet. It's best if everything works together. There's a lot of playing ahead. Let's set off in a good direction.

Since the HIPP movement got going in the 20th century, a set of guidelines on playing the historical natural trumpet has been needed. This method aims to meet that need.
Although modern technique can be largely transferred to the postmodern "Baroque trumpet" with nodal vent-holes, developed (for this pragmatic reason) after WWII, another approach is needed for the historical one.

This method incorporates elements of musical education from the time; some Yogic breathing techniques for concentration and versatility of support; valued advice from informed colleagues and teachers; observation of students and findings distilled from many years of my own experimentation and performing experience. For me, performing has included some very unpleasant situations. I hope this method helps you avoid these and the numerous technical dead-ends into which one can be distracted.

Hundreds of years ago composers wrote for the natural trumpet knowing what it would sound like; so playing it to a high standard is not impossible!
Some dedication and a structured approach can bring satisfying progress. When it all goes well, one cannot replicate the rapture of being totally absorbed in beautiful music. Words fail me trying to describe this but having a clear conscience - not deceiving oneself or the audience about what you're doing - is part of it.

The sooner you start, the sooner you find out for yourself!

The first five phases are purely technical exercises. Do these every day, before other playing if possible.
Rather than trying to unlearn facets of modern technique that interfere with playing the historical trumpet, we make a new path. The process is mindful observation through mindless repetition.
At the beginning you only need 10-15 minutes. Then have a break and do your normal practice.
There are not many written-out notes. Those that are written can be easily memorised and adapted as suggested with minimal thought. This is to help concentration on posture and other physical sensations, connecting the "inner ear" to pitches without the distraction of reading notes.

Spend at least a week on each phase; longer if necessary. Make sure each exercise can be done well before moving on. This is time well invested in a future of good habits. It's all to prepare physically and mentally for the later phases, which address how to approach learning repertoire and perform it to the best of your ability.

How you use phases 6-10 will depend on how much time is available and how serious you are about playing the natural trumpet.

These phases contain less physical instruction; they outline various ways to approach repertoire using the technical directions from Phases 1-5.The idea is that you learn to apply these methods when preparing other pieces.

Some information on performance practice is included.

Phase 10 contains "case-studies", summarising the application of these approaches to specific pieces. The Appendix contains more information.

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