Part of the brass family, the trumpet has the highest register of any of its family members. It’s also one of the oldest musical instruments, next to the flute, dating as far back as 1500 BCE.
The trumpet’s oblonged shape is created by brass tubing being bent. Then the trumpet player or trumpeter, using closed lips, blows air that then creates a buzzing sound. This buzzing sound then sends waves of vibrations into the trumpet through the air column. The trumpeter can change the pitch, choosing from a range of overtones or harmonics simply by adjusting the lip tension or “emboucher”. The circular rim on the mouthpiece of the trumpet is made specifically for this action. Both the trumpet and trombone have an oblong shape created from brass tubing that has been bent twice.
Being such an old instrument, the trumpet has a very interesting history. During medieval times, those that were allowed to be trumpeters were chosen through a very extensive selection processes. They were heavily guarded due to responsibility they held, providing important alerts to sections of the army.
There are several different types of trumpets, including the standard trumpet, the bass trumpet which is played similarly to a trombone, and the smallest of the family known as the piccolo trumpet.
The popularity of the trumpet grew enormously with the birth of jazz. Louis Armstrong was immensely famous in the 50’s for the sounds he could produce on his trumpet, as was Miles Davis who is considered one of the most influential trumpet players of the 20th century. The clear tone and vocals that Davis was able to create was all his own, no matter how many people tried to imitate him. Other famous trumpeters include Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, and Wynton Marsalis.
Trumpet Care Tips
The following care tips will ensure that your trumpet stays in excellent condition.
- Make sure you lubricate the trumpet’s valves.
- Grease the trumpet’s slides.
- Use your cloth to get ride of any excess oil and grease from the outside of the trumpet. Build up of oil and grease can corrode the metal of the instrument.
- Your trumpet’s valves should move easily when you play. Oil your valves at least a few times a week.
- When the trumpet is not being used, the safest place to store it is in its case!