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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Price: $103.95

Paperback 198 pp.
halftones, line figures, tables, 186 mm x 246 mm



Publication date:
April 1999

Imprint: OUP UK

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The Art of the Trumpet-Maker

The Materials, Tools, and Techniques of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries in Nuremberg

Robert Barclay

Series : Early Music Series, 14

This is a study of the manufacture of brass instruments, particularly the trumpet, in Nuremberg during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The book begins with a brief history of the instrument and the city where it was made, and an introduction to the changes in style, shape, and ornamentation which occurred over more than two hundred years. The techniques of extraction and purification, and the chemical and physical structure of the metals are discussed, especially in relation to the use of authentic materials in reproductions. A separate chapter deals with solders for brass and silver and their use in the workshop. The tools and workshop facilities are identified and detailed using contemporary illustrations and examples from the author's workshop. The longest chapter, which is highly illustrated, deals with the techniques of fabrication as practised today, and draws parallels between them and historical practice. The book concludes with a discussion of the philosophy, ethics, and practicality of using historical instruments or accurate facsimiles in modern performance.

Readership : Musicians, organologists, musicologists, instrument makers, students of the history of technology.


  • `engaging study gives the interested reader a clear understanding of the Renaissance and Baroque trumpet maker's art and cultural milieu ... Clearly written, with a complete index and a helpful bibliography, this valuable book is recommended for both undergraduate and graduate collections.'
    M. Meckna, Choice Nov.93
  • 'approaching the problems from the fresh viewpoint of the instrument-maker, Robert Barclay has added his voice to the increasing chorus of concern ... It is a sensible and also a persuasive voice. This book is to be highly recommended for its important, and unique, contribution to our better understanding of the natural trumpet itself and also for identifying many issues that require and merit further enquiry and investigation.'
    Peter Downey, Music and Letters, Vol. 74, No. 2, May 1993
  • 'presented with the utmost clarity, and one rarely feels that anything is left unexplained ... an altogether splendid book'
    Henry George Fischer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Notes, September 1993
  • 'A detailed account of the workshop and its equipment leads naturally into the techniques for which the tools were designed. All this is presented with the utmost clarity, and one rarely feels that anything is left unexplained ... excellent work ... An altogether splendid book.'
    Henry George Fischer, Notes, September 1993
  • 'most excellent and elegantly written book ... Read, digested, and understood, it will enable any aspiring craftsman to acquire the necessary skills and experience to make trumpets to the same standards as those achieved by members of the trumpet-making dynasties of Nuremburg.'
    Jeremy Montagu, FOMRHI Quarterly, No. 68, July 1992
  • `an impressive and fascinating work...Barclay's investigations are impressive. A measure of common sense no doubt contributes to his success...Barclay's implicit reminder that we must not confuse evolution with progress is especially valuable to the modern trumpet world. As compelling as Barclay's written argument is, his own instruments provide strong proof of a more tangible sort: those familiar with his trumpets experience the truth in his observations.'
    ITG Journal

Introduction; The instrument and its history; The metal; Solders and fluxes; The workshop; The techniques; Conclusion

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Robert Barclay is Senior Conservator, Ethnology, Canadian Conservation Institute, Ottawa.

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