Types of Brass Instruments

An opera or an orchestra would be a real damp squib if it were not for the lovely and melodious labrosones. They add that extra zing to music concerts, with their distinct melody. Trumpets, saxophones, clarinets, etc. are categorized in it. These are basically those where the sound or the tone is generated by the air blown into the instrument by the player. The air blown goes into the resonator, which generates the distinct sound unique to each instrument. This resonator is tubular in shape and is made of brass.

Brass instruments have been a part of music history since ancient times. Let’s take a look at the various types in the contemporary and modern eras –

Valved Instruments

This type has a set of valves ranging between 3 and 4, and up to 7 in some. They are worked upon by the player’s fingers,creating additional tubing. Most of the modern instruments like the trumpet, French horn, euphonium, tuba, cornet, sousaphone, and the old saxhorn are valved.

The Seasoned Campaigner: Trumpet is the oldest and most popular brass instrument. It dates back to almost 1500 BC and is the most obvious choice for the classical and jazz musicians. It is made of a brass tubing, designed in an oblong shape. In fact, a trumpet can be categorized as classic instrument. The most common type of trumpet is the transposing one. Be it a music band or a traditional orchestra, trumpet reigns and how!

A la Bugle – Horn: The horn or the French Horn is another classic type, inspired from the natural horn. It consists of a whopping 12 feet of tubing, covered with a coil and has a flared bell. Horns typically have valves, that are operated by the left hand to direct the air into the tubing for a change of pitch. There are various types of horns like the natural horn, the double horn, the single horn, the March horn, the Wagner tuba, the Vienna horn, and so on. It is most often referred to as just the horn, and is a regular feature of an orchestra.

The Unassuming – Tuba: Tuba is perhaps the biggest of all. Its uniqueness is its low pitch. A tuba is played by vibrating the lips into a cupped mouthpiece. Interestingly, ‘tuba’ is the Latin word for a trumpet, and those who love it, will be happy to know that it is the latest entrant to the modern symphonic orchestra. Tuba often provides symphony for jazz music and was a part of it long before it was a part of the orchestra.

The Cousin of the Trumpet – Cornet: This one could be called the sibling or cousin of the trumpet, because of its similarity with trumpet. A cornet is more compact, has a conical bore, and a unique tone quality that is mellower than the trumpet. A concert band, brass band and symphonic repertoire, all have cornets playing a significant role when it comes to creating a harmony.

Slide Instruments

When you talk of this type, they appear to be a bit more complicated. They are made in such a way that a part of the instrument has to collide on to another, to create a symphony or harmony.

‘Reed’ the Lips – Trombone: It is an aerophone, where music is created when the player’s vibrating lips make the air column to vibrate. Its identified by its special telescopic slide, which is used to vary the length of the tube, to result in the pitch variation.

Woodwind Instruments

Flutes and saxophones primarily and traditionally fall in this category, but some of the variations are made of brass, especially, the saxophone.

Saxophone: Saxophone is almost as well-known as the trumpet, or may be even more. Sax, as it is simply called, has a single reed mouthpiece and is a conical-bored, transposing instrument. It is made of a conical tube of thin metal, flared at the tip, in the shape of bell. It, interestingly enough, has been named after its inventor, Adolphe Sax . Saxophones have carved a niche for themselves in military band music, as well as the popular music like jazz, rock and roll, blues, etc.

All the instruments are classified into different categories, pertaining to their design, the way they are played, redundancy, and their initial harmonic tone. Some others according to these criteria, are alphorn (wood), conch (shell), didgeridoo (wood, Australia), shofar (horn) and vladimirskiy rozhok (wood, Russia).

I opted to not elaborate these classifications and families, as it would have made this already long article even longer! So get a hold of at least one of these types, and go the symphonic way! Hopefully, people would not say that you are ‘blowing your own trumpet’!