The trumpet is a popular brass instrument that is played in both bands and orchestras. The trumpet player produces tones by vibrating his or her lips and blowing into a cup-shaped mouthpiece. Notes on the trumpet can be changed by changing fingerings on the trumpet's three valves and by changing lip tension. Most modern bands use trumpets that are pitched in the key of B flat and have a tube of four and a half feet. This tube makes up the majority of the instrument.
Trumpets, which were first made from conch shells, have been used since ancient times as ritual instruments in many cultures. Silver and bronze trumpets with long straight tubes and flared bells still survive from ancient Egypt. Later, in medieval Europe several versions of the trumpet developed. Trumpets with long striahg tubes began to be replaced by shorter trumpets with curled tubes. At this time the tone of the trumpet was brilliant but it had a very limited note range. By the 1800s, instrument builders sought to build a trumpet that could playa full chromatic scale. This goal was accomplished in the 1820s by adding valves to the trumpet.
The French horn, or the orchestral horn, is a member of the brass family, and consists of a metal tube that is about twelve feet long. The tube is coiled into a circular shape which flares into a bell at the base of the instrument. A musician plays the French horn by vibrating his or her lips in funnel shaped mouthpiece. The musician can then change the pitch of the instrument by moving the three valves and by changing his or her lip tension. The valves are usually fingered with the musician's left hand while the musician places his or her right hand in the bell of the instrument to create additional pitches and variations in tone qualities.
The French horn was developed around the 1650s in France and is a large version of the smaller crescent-shaped horns that existed at the time. The French hunting horn produced about twelve tones or the natural harmonic series and entered the orchestra in the 1700s. By the 1750s, the horn gained greater flexibility when hand-stopping was developed. This is the procedure described above whereby the musician puts his or her hand in the bell of the instrument. It allowed the musician to alter the natural notes as much as a whole step higher or lower. However, the horn did not make its next evolutionary step until the 19th century when valves were added. This allowed the musician to alter the length of the tubing by depressing or releasing one or more of the three valves.
The trombone is a brass-wind instrument that is most typically used as the tenor voice in a brass section. It has a cup-shaped mouthpiece, a slide mechanism, and a nine foot tube that is folded to overlap in the center. Most trombones are made out of brass though some are sometimes nickel-plated. With the slide closed, the trombone produces the third B-flat below middle C as its fundamental note. Some orchestras also use bass trombones which have a lower fundamental note.
The early trombone, called a sackbut, was almost exactly identical to the modern trombone with a few exceptions. In the early trombone, the metal that was used to create the instrument was thicker and the bell of the instrument was narrower. This produced a softer, mellower tone which was favored in church and chamber music. The use of the trombone declined in the early 1700s except in town bands where they remained prevalent. However, toward the end of the 18th century, the trombone began to be used in the expanding military. It was during this period that the widely flared bell was added to the trombone. Early orchestral compositions with the trombone included Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Don Giovanni and Ludvig von Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. However, it wasn't until 1850 when the trombone was firmly established in the orchestra.
The euphonium is a member of the tuba family. It is also known as the tenor tuba and it is the most popular tuba instrument. It has three or four valves and is most commonly used in concert and marching bands. For a more complete description of how this instrument is played, see TUBA.
Tuba is the general name for several musical instruments which are the newest additions to the brass family. Tubas are the largest instruments in the brass family and also have the lowest pitch. The tuba, unlike most other brass instruments is held vertically when it is played. Sound is produced when the musician vibrates his or her lips into a cup shaped mouthpiece. Notes can then be changed when the musician changes his or her lip tension or fingering on the instrument's valves. The most popular type of tube is the baritone tuba, also known as the euphonium. This type of tuba usually has three or four valves and is most common in concert and marching bands. The upright tuba is usually used in symphony orchestras. This tuba has three to five valves and is generally larger than the baritone tuba. The three valve sousaphone is often used in marching bands. It wraps around the musician and has a flaring bell. In addition, in drum and bugle corps, the marching bugle tuba, a three-valve tuba, is often used.
The tuba was patented in 1835 by Friedrich Wilhelm Wieprecht (a Prussian bandmaster) and Johann Gottfried Moritz (a German builder). It was one of their several attempts to provide the wind band with a suitable valved, brass, bass instrument. There were several antecedents of the tuba, including the serpent (an s-shaped, cup mouthpiece wooden bass with finger holes) and the ophicleide (a keyed bass bugle).
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