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Brass Instruments

A Brass Instrument produces sound by vibrating air. The players vibrate their lips by buzzing them against the mouthpiece whilst the instrument takes this sound and amplifies it in a ‘tubular resonator’ or the pipes that curl around the instrument. Valves control the pitch of the instrument, by opening and closing certain sections to change the length. The player can also modulate the instrument by buzzing their lips harder or softer.


In the Brass Instrument family the Trumpet stands as one of the oldest and most versatile instruments. Ancestors of the trumpets were horns, often made from wood, metal or even animal horns. They were often used to sound alarms or as a call to arms as the bright sound of a trumpet would carry very far. Modern trumpet design added much more flexibility to the instrument thanks to curling of the pipes, which if you stretched them out would result in a pipe over six feet long!


The French Horn is another prominent Brass Instrument that has a firm place in Orchestral Music. Developed some time in the 1600s it was initially used as a hunting horn, thanks to its ability to be played both soft and loud. The French Horn plays melody, harmony and rhythm in a Orchestral setting, making them extremely versatile instruments.


The Trombone is the only Brass Instrument that doesn’t use valves, instead it utilises a slide action to make its music. Seven different slide positions allow for the pitch to be modulated and Trombones traditionally play harmonies in an Orchestral setting. Last of the most popular Brass Instruments is the Tuba. This low sounding and large instrument anchors the whole Orchestra thanks to its huge and rich sound. Tubas are large, going from 9 to 18 feet and the larger they are, the lower they play. There is usually only one Tuba per Orchestra and it requires a huge amount of lung capacity to play the Tuba in a professional setting.

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