Archive for May, 2010

Herald Trumpets

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Well, it’s been a busy couple of weeks (when is it not busy?), so I thought I’d post some arranger-relevant information, or basic trivia, for anyone who’s interested.

Earlier this year, I answered a request for info on one of the many wonderful ensembles at TUSAB, and possibly the most well-known: The US Army Herald Trumpets. I figured it was worth sharing.

In the Army Band, we use the heralds many times to supplement pieces that have big trumpet flourishes at the beginnings and ends of pieces, the John Williams “1984 Olympic Fanfare” being a perfect example. Other times, the ensemble performs by itself with a field snare/rope drum as its only accompaniment, like any White House engagements.  At the most recent Midwest Band clinic, they performed with the assistance of a timpani, but that was a special occasion, and this occurs more in a concert setting than the usual ceremonial role they play.

The US Army Herald Trumpet ensemble (as far as scoring) instrumentation is as follows (excluding percussion):

1 Eb Trumpet

3 Bb Trumpets

2 Tenors (range like a tenor trombone)

1 G Bass (also, like a tenor trombone)

Most ceremonies will use this ensemble x 2 for a somewhat antiphonal effect, or just for the added power.

As far as specific ranges, the only idiosyncratic instrument (I find) is the G-Bass. Its function as the bass of the ensemble is really of a bass trumpet, and should be treated as such. It is not nearly capable of the role or range of, say, a bass trombone, or tuba; it;s more like a TENOR tuba, if nothing else. For the rest, you just score them as you would for any trumpet or tenor trombone. How to double or voice is pretty much up to your imagination. As far as their actual use, the Army uses them, like I said, in the beginning and ends of pieces, and in short fanfares. This is partly because holding a banner at the end of a long metal tube can get a little tiring, but also because it tends to be more impactful to use them sparingly. There is a specific cue for the impressive visual – unison sweeping motion that precedes their entrance in an orchestral or concert band piece.

If you want to hear the ensemble in action, there are high quality recordings on the Army Band Website: