Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The trumpet is a brass instrument. It is the highest in register, above the tuba, euphonium, trombone, sousaphone, and french horn. A person who plays the trumpet is sometimes called a trumpeter, less commonly a trumpeteer, and more often a trumpet player.
The trumpet is made of brass tubing bent into a rough spiral. Although the bore of the trumpet is said to be mostly cylindrical, it is formed from a complex series of tapers, the smallest being at the mouthpiece receiver, and the largest being at the throat of the bell, before the flare for the bell begins. (Careful design of these tapers is critical to the intonation of the instrument.) Sound is produced by blowing air through closed lips so as to produce a "buzzing" effect through vibration, which creates a standing wave of vibrating air and metal in the trumpet. The trumpet player can select the pitch from a range of overtones or harmonics by changing the air speed and lip tension. Valves change the length of the tubing, lowering the pitch of the instrument. Three valves make the trumpet fully chromatic, allowing the player to play in all keys.
Relationship to other brass instruments
The trumpet is related to the cornet and flugelhorn though it is technically in a different family to both of their two separate families. The cornet and flugelhorn are both more conical in the shape of the bore rather than cylindrical, and have more mellow tones, but are in the same pitch range. The piccolo trumpets play about one octave higher than the regular trumpets. There are also rotary-valve, or German, trumpets, as well as bass, alto and Baroque trumpets. The modern trumpet evolved from earlier non-valved instruments, such as the Baroque trumpet now used by original instruments ensembles, the cornett or cornetto (not to be confused with the modern cornet), and the Scandinavian lur.
Types of Trumpets
The trumpet is (usually) a transposing instrument, and comes in many keys. The most common is the B♭ trumpet, followed by the C, E♭, and D trumpets. In many countries, including the United States and much of Europe, the (non-transposing) C trumpet is nowadays the standard orchestral instrument. The B♭ trumpet's range extends from the written F# (sounding E) immediately below middle C, up to about two and a half octaves higher: the usually accepted "top" note is a written C (sounding B♭), though slightly higher notes are occasionally called for, and extremely high notes may be heard played by jazz and other specialist trumpeters. Arturo Sandoval, Dizzy Gillespie & Maynard Ferguson are good example of artists with extreme range that are blessed with so called natural chops (lips).
The piccolo trumpet is built usually in B♭ and A with leadpipes for each key. G, F and even high C piccolo trumpets exist but are much less common. A smaller mouthpiece is used on a piccolo trumpet. The tone is metallic and clean. Because of the smaller mouthpiece size, the player's embouchure is affected much more severely than when playing a regular trumpet; endurance is often limited to very short periods of playing per day. Many piccolo trumpets have four valves instead of the usual three: the fourth valve takes the instrument down in pitch, usually but not always by a fourth, to allow the playing of lower notes which are otherwise hard to obtain on a three-valve instrument. Among its best-known exponents are Maurice Andre, Wynton Marsalis and Hakan Hardenberger .
The first trumpets reputedly came from Egypt, and were primarily used for military purposes (Joshua's shofar, blown at the battle of Jericho, would come from this tradition) like the bugle as we still know it, with different tunes corresponding to different instructions. In medieval times, trumpet playing was a guarded craft, its instruction occurring only within highly selective guilds. The trumpet players were often among the most heavily guarded members of a troop, as they were relied upon to relay instructions to other sections of the army. Eventually the trumpet's value for musical production was seen, particularly after the addition of valves (after about 1800), and its use and instruction became much more widespread.
Today, the trumpet is used in nearly all forms of music, including classical, jazz, blues, pop, ska, and funk. Among the great modern trumpet players are Maurice André, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Jon Faddis, Maynard Ferguson, Adolph "Bud" Herseth , Wynton Marsalis, Philip Smith, and Doc Severinsen.
See 20th century brass instrumentalists for a more comprehensive list.
A highly praised and often-used method of introductory instruction is found in Jean-Baptiste Arban's Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet (Cornet Or E-flat Alto, B-flat Tenor, Baritone, Euphonium and B-flat Bass in Treble Clef).
Copies of the text can be purchased now (copyright 1982 by Carl Fisher, Inc.) but include much of the unmodified original text from the 1894 edition. Given the mastery exhibited in the text, it seems likely that later editions may have only detracted (very slightly) from the original, so as to secure ongoing copyright protection.
As with all musical instruments, there are physical challenges to playing the trumpet. The knowledge of operating the instrument is called technique. Almost all aspects of technique are controversial, since different people have different problems to overcome, and different successes to celebrate.
Several important aspects of technique:
- Proper breathing. Breathe from the diaphragm. That is, use the muscles in your lower abdomen to push a steady, full column of air up through the mouthpiece. There does not have to be a huge volume of air (which might make a very loud sound), but it has to be full so that the lips vibrate constantly.
- Strengthen the embouchure (muscles of the face). Some commonly accepted ways to do this are:
- Lip slurs: playing exercises that change notes without changing the fingering. This forces all of the work to come from the facial muscles and changes in breathing.
- Tonguing exercises: playing exercises that have many notes started with a sharp definition produced by the tongue. Tonguing a note is a large change in the embouchure and air, which requires the development of control to execute properly.
- Practicing on the mouthpiece: playing exercises on the mouthpiece only, without the trumpet. Without the resonating chamber of the rest of the instrument, the pitch may vary much more freely. To be able to play something requires (again) development of control. Also, this may reduce the amount of pressure one can apply.
- Reducing pressure. To play higher notes on the trumpet requires compression of the embouchure (the muscles of the face and lips), as well as air pressure to provide the energy for the vibration of the lips. One way to compress the lips is to press the mouthpiece firmly onto them. This pressure usually has bad long-term consequences. Blood cannot flow into the lips, so they become stiff and swollen, unable to vibrate. Also, the other muscles necessary to play without pressure are not sufficiently developed.
- 03-10-2013 05:06:04
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