I played the trumpet couple of years in high school and getting back again. I stumbled across this in some notes. I can understand how it can be played on piano or guitar but is there any way it is also relatable to trumpet (b flat trumpet)?

the only understanding I can think of is that it is for two trumpet playing. But I am confused as I have also found in 'solo trumpet' notes.

enter image description here

  • 1
    By itself, you're right, two simultaneous notes in a "solo trumpet" part doesn't make sense. Some additional context might help. For example, could you post the top of the page -- where the title, composer, "solo trumpet" and other information is provided?
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 5:11
  • I picked this just for an example but thought that I was seeing it quite often
    – mrakoplas
    Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 5:17

1 Answer 1


That is one of the standard ways of writing wind instruments within a classical orchestra score.

Traditionally, wind instruments in the classical-age orchestra are paired, and, depending on the edition, single notes with single stems could be considered in two ways with the following convention:

  • played by the first part if no specification is given in the whole piece (or its premise/introduction);
  • played by both only whenever "a 2" (from Italian "a due", as in "both two players") is written;

In well written, explicit parts, unison notes are written with both up and down stems whenever the note has to be played by both musicians.

It's also up to the conductor, as always, to decide whether an explicitly written (or unspecified) "solo" part should be played by both musicisians.

In this specific case, without any further context, I'd say that the first B has probably to be played by both trumpeters, but you should better look for any indication in the beginning of the piece, the conductor's score or even the traditional performing practice (if it exists, otherwise ask to the composer/arranger/copyst/fellow player/conductor/teacher).

  • This is a tremendous knowledgeable answer. Thank you I used this picture as an example without context but having it in several pieces. But used this picture as a simplifying as I wanted general answer relatable to trumpet (wind instruments) which you provided
    – mrakoplas
    Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 5:23
  • You're very welcome. Btw two important considerations (that I should have probably had specified in the answer): 1) I'm not a trumpet (nor wind instrument) player, and professional players aroundbh here could probably and rightfully give you a more precise answer based on their experience and historic knowledge on their instrument's notation; 2) people that write scores are human, they might do mistakes or make wrong assumptions: don't assume what I wrote as an absolute rule, since in music, as with any art, there's any :-) For instance, some write first part solo notes using up stems only. Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 5:50

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