Music Forum

Brief – Cornett Gustavo Gargiulo

1. Play with love, play with devotion. Thoughts about a heart-spoken

2. Progressive exercise. Customise yourself your improvements.

3. Repertoire in Class attached.

Brunelli: Varii Esercitii – 1614

When approaching for the first time an instrument representative of the Renaissance and early Baroque, as is the Cornetto, I think that there is nothing more appropriate than understanding the philosophical and aesthetic ideals of music and the arts of the moment. In summary, put us in context.

The human voice has been the sound ideal to be followed by both theoretical and practical musicians of the Renaissance and the Baroque. Silvestro Ganassi tells us that “just as the worthy and perfect painter imitates all the things created by nature with the variation of colors, in the same way [the worthy and perfect musician], with the wind and string instruments, he can imitate the expression of the human voice. (La Fontegara, Venice, 1535)

Così come il degno & perfetto dipintor imita ogni cosa creata ala natura con la variation di colori, così con tale instrumento di fiato e corde potrai imitare il proferire che fa la humana voce.
(Like the painter imitates all created things and the nature by the middle of colors, on same way the wind and string instrument can imitate the pronunciation of human voice.)

Eighty-five years later Francesco Rognoni writes: The voice is nothing other than the instrument to express the emotions of the soul, more than mere speech. (Selva di Varii Pasaggi, Venice, 1620).

Following the same line Marín Mersenne, wise French Renaissance, author of “Harmonie Universelle” (1638) writes that the expression of the passions of the soul in the song is a necessity: “one must consider, understand and express the meaning and intention of each word, in such a way that each one achieves the effect of which he is capable, which happens particularly when the composer himself is moved by the feeling that he wishes to express in the spirit of the audience (…) Like a speaker, who has more power before the auditorium, when he feels touched by his message. “

On doit bien considérer, comprendre, et exprimer le sens, et l’intention des paroles, et du sujet, afin de l’accentuer et de l’animer en telle sorte, que chaque partie face tout l’effet dont elle est capable ; ce qui arrive particulièrement lors que le Compositeur est luy mesme frappé du sentiment qu’il désire imprimer dans l’esprit de ses auditeurs, (…) comme il arrive que l’orateur a plus de puissance sur son audience, quand il se sent esmeu et entièrement persuadé de ses raisons.

The cornetto is one of the instruments most concerned in it, if not the most, since vocality is its most praised characteristic, as will be seen in the next chapter referring to sources and chronicles. 

Following these lines, the objective of this lines is to invite cornetto students to build a technique based on the need and raison d’être of the music that concerns us: that of communicating feelings.

This work will lay its foundations in the search for the emission of a harmonic sound and, taking into account the importance of the said Renaissance ideals, study the historicist articulation from the beginning, building up a “heart-spoken” technique.

Some technical principles


Objective: To assimilate sound production as a balance between air flow, muscular support of the lips and diaphragmatic support.

Little amount of air, little lip muscle, gradually increasing concentration of air, quantity, temperature (warm air) and bodybuilding of the lip.


The air is transformed into sound. Following the ancient philosophic ideas, te resonances of harmonies are eternal, so, as a picture, just imagine at emission of one sound, that you’re appropriating for an instant a stuck of harmonies of the spheres, and when stoping playing, your last note will remain.

To put this imagine in physical side of technique, is the challenge. Basic exercise of emission towards principles of historical articulation.

    1. “Haaaaa” only air, from zero point to focus the clean emission, looking for just support and tension. The sound can / should come late.
    2. “Aaaaaa” Once the clean emission point has been achieved, make the sound impulse come from the diaphragm only. Assimilate your speed and intensity needed.Achieve a firm and effective emission from the diaphragm
    3. “AaaaAaaaAaaa …” Once obtained the emission from the diaphragm, on the same sound, accentuate, always from the diaphragm metric accents (every 2,3,4 times) taking care not to interrupt the line of sound. This causes awareness of points of tension and relaxation of the diaphragm musculature, these inflections of sound will be the basis for a conscious articulation.
    4. “TaaaAaaAaa …” In this instance, accompany the impulse of the diaphragm with a “t”, gradually transforming this muscular support, in an articulated phrase, on a note first, joint degrees, then..

The objective of this exercise is to find the “heart of sound”, using a progressive air flow, both in its speed and in its “temperature”, privileging a sound rich in harmonics and the consonance of the articulation over the volume.

Conceive the action of the diaphragm as the basis of a clean emission as well as the basis of the articulation. Once the support of the diaphragm has been mastered, on that basis, apply the following exercises, destined to gradually apply the main historical articulations: 

The articulation in primary sources

We find an ancient testimony in the Annali of Quinto Ennio, considered the first Roman epic author. In this book, as its title indicates, it tells, year by year, the history of Rome.

The author describes the sound of the trumpet “al tuba terribili sonitu tarantantara dixit”.
Although, the context is military, the characteristics of the onomatopoeias present resemble those that Girolamo Fantini exemplifies in his “Mode per imparare a suonare la tromba”.

The air is exited from the lungs, passes through the larynx, and then passes under the action of articulators and resonators of the vocal tract.

The function of the respiratory system is identical to the speech process, but considerably higher in amount of air and muscular control

The difference occurs in the larynx and vocal tract.

The air passes through the vocal cords before coming into contact with the GENERATOR (tongue and embouchure o), while the vocal cords must remain open so as not to produce “secondary sounds”.

in the vocal tract, CONSONANTES and VOCALES are formed while playing.

The function of the ARTICULATORS is similar in the instrument and in the speech, only their possibilities are reduced.

The labial consonants P B W F are excluded from their use in articulation The nasal M N where the air is diverted to the nose, are also usually not considered.
The fricasivas Z S produce an incomplete closure of the air, not precise for attacks.

Only T D R K C G L remains useful in our practice.

Treaties dedicated to the practice of improvisation give us some rules on articulation.
Ideal imitation of the human voice in the divisions (gorgia), melismatic passages

Atriculaciones en tratados italianos del s. XVI
Simple Compuestas
Ganassi, 1535 T T T T D D D D Drita: te che te che ta cha ti chi da cha di chi Drita: tere tere tara tiri Roverza, Gorgia lere lere lara liri loro luru
Cardano, 1546 Teche teche Thara there Lere
Dalla Cassa, 1584 Te te te te de de de de Teche, teche Dretta tere, tere Riverza, gorgia ler, ler der, der ler, ter,ler,ter,ler
R. Rognoni, 1592 Te te te te de de de de Ler ler ler ler der ler der ler ter ler ter ler
G.M. Artusi, 1600 Te te te te de de de de Te che te che Dritta tere tere Riverza, gorgia ler, ler der, der ler, ter,ler,ter,ler
F. Rognoni Taeggio, 1620 Dritta te te te te Te che te che Dritta tere tere Riversa le re le re te re le re de re de re

Exercise to practice historical articulation

(first only air and diaphramal support, then articulation)

… after playing…



From Puglia, Italy…

Prepare 500 ml of vegetable-broth tin large saucepan over medium heat.

Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm.

Melt a bit butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.

Add shallots-onion and sauté until tender, 5/6 minutes. Add rice (1/2 cup per person) ; stir 1 minute. Add white wine and stir until evaporated,

Add 1 1/2 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed,

frequently. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, should take normally 18/20 min.

Stir in withe cheese. Stir in fresh mint, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Season risotto with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.

Ideal to combine with gambas and withe fresh wine.

(recipe from La Puglia, learned in Cavalli’s Giasone at Martina Franca Opera Festival)

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