Arban method

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Arban's world-renowned method
Arban's world-renowned method for the cornet (1879)
Front cover of the 1879 edition
AuthorJean-Baptiste Arban
Original titleLa grande méthode complète de cornet à piston et de saxhorn par Arban
SubjectMusical Instruments: Studies and exercises, Cornet music, Trumpet music
Genresheet music

The Arban Method, titled with some variation over the years as Arban's World Renowned Method for the Cornet and Arban's Complete Celebrated Method for the Cornet (French: La grande méthode complète de cornet à piston et de saxhorn par Arban), is a complete pedagogical method for students of trumpet, cornet, and other brass instruments. The original edition was published by Jean-Baptiste Arban sometime before 1859 and has been reissued by multiple publishers, with notable revisions made by T.H. Rollinson published in 1879 by J.W. Pepper, Edwin Franko Goldman published in 1893 by Carl Fischer, and Claude Gordon published in 1982 also by Carl Fischer. It contains hundreds of exercises ranging from basic to advanced compositions, with later editions also including a selection of popular themes as solos and duets by various composers, and several original compositions by Arban including his famous arrangement of Carnival of Venice.[1]



In the Introduction J. B. Arban covers the range of the cornet (trumpet). He also details alternate fingerings and describes the use of the tuning slide. Arban states his opinion that the mouthpiece should be two-thirds on the lower lip and one-third on the upper. Arban then stresses the proper "attack" technique. He uses the "tu" pronunciation, which in French is said with the tongue in the "tee" position. Arban concludes with proper breathing technique (see diaphragmatic breathing).[2]: 5–9 

I. First Studies[edit]

Arban then begins his method with a focus on tone (Studies 1-10). The next studies (11-50) familiarize the student with fingerings, develop their range, and instill a habit of precision in attacking the notes. In the next section, which is devoted to syncopation, goes from a simple quarter-half-quarter rhythm to a sixteenth-eighth-sixteenth repeated rhythm. Next, Arban focuses on the dotted eighth-sixteenth and eighth-double sixteenth rhythms. He ends the First Studies with 10 studies on the 6
meter.[2]: 11–36 

II. Playing Methods: Slurring or Legato Playing[edit]

Professor Arban devotes the next section of his vast method to slurring or legato playing. He begins with simple slurs that are accomplished by the variation of valves. He suggests pronouncing "taw-ee" while playing.[2]: 39  The editor recommends adding little more air on the top note. (Such a technique is also needed to accomplish trills.)[2]: 39  Arban devotes half of this whole section, though, to lip slurs. He concludes this section with a series of advanced studies combining slurred and staccato playing.

III. Scales[edit]

A chromatic scale exercise from Arban's Method.

Arban's series on scales includes studies of major, minor, and chromatic scales, as well as numerous variations thereof. Arban admits to giving minor scales "limited treatment," but Gordon refutes this by citing the nonexistence of "limits on the use of the Trumpet and Cornet."[2]: 57 

IV. Ornaments[edit]

Next, Arban teaches the student the various ornaments that can be played on a trumpet or cornet. He details the simple appoggiatura, grace note (short appoggiatura), portamento, double appoggiatura, the turn, the trill, and the mordent. Arban concludes the fourth section by combining the various ornaments and integrating them into various tunes.

V. More Advanced Studies[edit]

The "more advanced studies" include studies on intervals; broken octaves and tenths; triplets; the four-sixteenth rhythmic figure; major and minor arpeggios; the dominant seventh arpeggio; and cadenzas.

VI. Tonguing[edit]

Next, Arban focuses on triple tonguing, double tonguing, and fanfare tonguing. Arban uses various "tu-ku" pronunciation combinations, and Gordon subsequently replaces these with "tee-kee" combinations.[2]: 153  In his studies on double tonguing, Arban includes a score of studies in which he combines double tonguing with slurs occurring on various beats and within them.[2]: 183–187 

The Art of Phrasing: 150 Classic and Popular Melodies[edit]

The Art of Phrasing was written by Arban in 1866, but was never added to the original French edition of the Method. These songs and duets first appeared in the American Edition of the Arban Method published by the Jean White Company in 1872. This new version added 28 duets entitled 28 Recreations, 32 Melodies, and 100 Art of the Phrasing songs. J.W. Pepper and Carl Fischer also added the Art of Phrasing to their Arban Methods in the late 1800s.

68 Duets for Two Cornets[edit]

As in his other sections, Arban progresses from simple pieces to more challenging ones.

# Arban's Title Composer (if given)
1 Sacred Song "Portniansky" (Dmitry Bortniansky)
2 Russian Hymn
3 Cradle Song Carl Maria von Weber
4 Melody
5 Melody
6 Melody Saverio Mercadante
7 Adeste Fideles
8 God Save the Queen / America
9 Air by Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
10 Air by Gretry André Grétry
11 Noel Ancien
12 Air by Beethoven Ludwig van Beethoven
13 Arabian Song
14 Serenade André Grétry
15 La Romanesca
16 Romance from "Joseph" Étienne Méhul
17 Romance Jacques de Gouy
18 Noel Ancien
19 March Jacques de Gouy
20 Song of Master Adam
21 Le Souvenir
22 Richard of the Lion Heart André Grétry
23 The Two Savoyards
24 Silent Sorrow Samuel Webbe
25 Melody
26 The Lion Hunt Saverio Mercadante
27 L'Elisir D'Amore Gaetano Donizetti
28 I Would That My Love Felix Mendelssohn
29 Prayer to the Virgin Saverio Mercadante
30 Spanish Royal March
31 March of Two Misers
32 Melody
33 Country Wedding
34 Bivouac Song
35 Birthday Festival
36 Melody
37 German Song Friedrich Wilhelm Kücken
38 Richard of the Lion Heart André Grétry
39 March Jacques de Gouy
40 Tic e Tic e Toc
41 Carnival of Venice
42 Nel Cor Piu Giovanni Paisiello
43 Bolero Jacques de Gouy
44 Norma Vincenzo Bellini
45 Melody
46 Last Rose of Summer
47 Evening Prayer Saverio Mercadante
48 Cavatina from "Somnambula" Vincenzo Bellini
49 Austrian National Hymn Joseph Haydn
50 Freischutz Carl Maria von Weber
51 French Air
52 Burning Fever André Grétry
53 L'Elisir D'Amore Gaetano Donizetti
54 Air from "Somnambula" Vincenzo Bellini
55 Wind and Wave
56 Tyrolienne
57 Italian Air
58 Alpine Horn Heinrich Proch
59 The Hermit Michel Lambert
60 Freischutz Carl Maria von Weber
61 Flower of Damascus Saverio Mercadante
62 Waltz from "Puritani" Vincenzo Bellini
63 Prayer from "Moses" Gioachino Rossini
64 Siege of Rochelle Michael William Balfe
65 Hail! Star of Mary Heinrich Proch
66 The Two Friends "Laurent"
67 Martha Friedrich von Flotow
68 The Fox Hunters

14 Characteristic Studies[edit]

Before his final 12 fantasias, Arban provides 14 challenging characteristic studies. His concluding remarks preceding these are as follows:

Those of my readers who…want to attain…perfection, should…try to hear good music well interpreted. They must seek out…the most illustrious models, and…purify their taste, verify their sentiments, and bring themselves as near as possible to that which is beautiful.[2]: 283 

These passages are challenging and are longer than all of the previous sections' pieces. Each is a full page long (in the platinum edition), and they crescendo in difficulty as they progress; the fourteenth study is two pages long and the only piece in this section in 12

Characteristic Studies
No. Tempo Marking Written Keys Meter Subdivision
1 Allegro moderato quarter note = 96 C major, E major, D major, and G major common time Sixteenth note
2 Legato quarter note = 120 E major and E major common time Sixteenth note and Eighth note
3 Moderato quarter note = 86 C major, F major, D major, and G major common time Sixteenth note triplet and Sixteenth note
4 Allegretto quarter note = 88 E minor, G major, C major, A minor, and A major 2
Sixteenth note triplet and Sixteenth note alternation
5 Allegro quarter note = 104 C major 2
Sixteenth note triplet and Sixteenth note alternation
6 Moderato quarter note = 76 F major and D major 6
Sixteenth note
7 Allegro quarter note = 104 C major, A major, and B major 2
Sixteenth note triplet and Eighth note
8 Allegro moderato quarter note = 104 D minor and F major common time Sixteenth note
9 Allegro quarter note = 124 B major common time Sixteenth note
10 Allegro quarter note = 124 G minor, C minor, and D major common time Sixteenth note
11 Allegretto quarter note = 96 C major, A major, and D major common time Sixteenth note
12 Allegro moderato quarter note = 100 F minor, D major, and C major 3
Sixteenth note
13 Allegro non troppo quarter note = 96 C major 2
Sixteenth note triplet
14 Legato chromatique quarter note = 76 C major and F major 12
Sixteenth note and Thirty-second note

12 Celebrated Fantasies and Airs Varies[edit]

In addition to the eleven fantasias (fantasies) for B-flat cornets, there is one for the A cornet ("Fantasie and Variations on Acteon"). Arban's celebrated composition "Fantasie and Variations on The Carnival of Venice" is the eleventh fantasia in the list.

No. Arban's Title Concert Key Structure
1 Fantaisie and Variations on a Cavatina from Beatrice di Tenda by V. Bellini B major Introduction, Theme, Var. I, Var. II, Var. III and Finale I, and Finale II
2 Fantaisie and Variations on Actéon D major Introduction (in D minor), Theme, Var. I, and Finale
3 Fantaisie Brillante B minor Introduction, Theme, Var. I, Var. II, and Var. III
4 Variations on a Tyrolean Song B major Introduction (in F major), Theme, Var. I, Var. II, Var. III., Var. IV, and Rondo
5 Variations on a song Vois-tu la neige qui brille (The Beautiful Snow) E major Theme, Var. I, Var. II, Var. III, and Finale
6 Cavatina and Variations B major Introduction (in F major), Theme, Var. I, Var. II, and Var. III
7 Air Varié on a Folk Song: The Little Swiss Boy B major Introduction, Theme, Var. I, Var. II, Var. III (in G major), and Var. IV et Finale
8 Caprice and Variations E major Introduction (in B major), Theme, Var. I, Var. II, and Var. III
9 Fantaisie and Variations on a German Theme E major Introduction (in B major), Theme, Var. I, Var. II, Var. III, and Finale
10 Variations on a favorite theme by C.M. von Weber E major Introduction (in B major), Theme, Var. I, Var. II, Var. III, and Var. IV (in B major)
11 Fantaisie and Variations on The Carnival of Venice E major Introduction, Theme, Var. I, Var. II, Var. III, and Var. IV
12 Variations on a theme from Norma by V. Bellini B major Introduction (in E major), Theme, Var. I, Var. II, and Finale


Dated Commentary[edit]

The original text by Arban reflects the misconceptions and opinions common among musicians at the time of publication. Manufacturing limitations on period cornets shaped Arban's opinions of the instrument's limitations in regards to rhythmic complexity, range, intonation, and tuning with the use of crooks. Explanations of sound production rely on tension in the lips and do not reflect the modern understanding of turbulent flow within brass instruments. Annotated versions of the text will contradict Arban's opinions based on modern instrument capabilities and knowledge.

Deficient Coverage[edit]

The First Studies suggest a development of high end of range and endurance beyond the capabilities of most novice players.[3] A warm-up routine is not outlined. The extreme high register is not explored, nor are techniques for more modern music genres included, such as improvisation for jazz. Scale exercises over the minor keys are few in number and only cover diatonic and chromatic scales.


  1. ^ Gates, Charles R. (1992). An examination of Jean Maire's edition of J.B. Arban's Grande méthode complète pour cornet à pistons et de saxhorn (c.1859) and its contribution to modern trumpet pedagogy, with suggested augmentations of Maire's edition based on identification of requisite technical skills inherent in trumpet performance. Columbus: Ohio State University. OCLC 30720266. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-06.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Arban, Jean-Baptiste (2005). Arban's Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet Platinum Edition. Carl Fischer Music. ISBN 9780825858529.
  3. ^ Bolvin, Eric. The Arban Manual. Eric Bolvin Music Studios. p. 2.

External links[edit]

Media related to Jean-Baptiste Arban's Method for Cornet at Wikimedia Commons