Playing the trumpet is a combination of how you move air through the instrument, the way you form your mouth.
The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player’s vibrating lips (embouchure) cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate. Nearly all trombones have a telescoping slide mechanism that varies the length of the instrument to change the pitch. Instead of a slide, the valve trombone has three valves like those on a trumpet.
The word trombone derives from Italian tromba (trumpet) and -one (a suffix meaning "large"), so the name means "large trumpet". The trombone has a predominantly cylindrical bore like its valved counterpart the baritone horn and in contrast to its conical valved counterparts, the euphonium and the orchestral horn. The most frequently encountered trombones are the tenor trombone and bass trombone. The E alto trombone became less common as tenor technique extended the upper range of that instrument, but is now enjoying a resurgence as the importance of its lighter sonority in many classical and early romantic works is appreciated. The most common variant, the tenor, is pitched in B, an octave below the B trumpet and an octave above the B tuba. Trombone music, along with music for euphonium and tuba, is typically written in concert pitch, although exceptions do occur, notably in almost all brass band music where tenor trombone is presented as a B transposing instrument.
A person who plays the trombone is called a trombonist or trombone player.
The trombone is a predominantly cylindrical tube bent into an elongated "S" shape. Rather than being completely cylindrical from end to end, the tube is a complex series of tapers with the smallest at the mouthpiece receiver and the largest just before the bell flare. The design of these tapers affects the intonation of the instrument. As with other brass instruments, sound is produced by blowing air through pursed lips producing a vibration that creates a standing wave in the instrument.
The detachable cup-shaped mouthpiece is similar to that of the baritone horn and closely related to that of the trumpet. It has the venturi: a small constriction of the air column that adds resistance greatly affecting the tone of the instrument, and is inserted into the mouthpiece receiver in the slide section. The slide section consists of a leadpipe, the inner and outer slide tubes, and the bracing, or stays. Modern stays are soldered, while sackbuts (medieval precursors to trombones) were made with loose, unsoldered stays (this remained the pattern for German trombones until the mid-20th century).
The 'slide', the most distinctive feature of the trombone (cf. valve trombone), allows the player to extend the length of the air column, lowering the pitch. To prevent friction from slowing the action of the slide, additional sleeves were developed during the Renaissance, and these stockings were soldered onto the ends of the inner slide tubes. Nowadays, the stockings are incorporated into the manufacturing process of the inner slide tubes and represent a fractional widening of the tube to accommodate the necessary method of alleviating friction. This part of the slide must be lubricated frequently. Additional tubing connects the slide to the bell of the instrument through a neckpipe, and bell or back bow (U-bend). The joint connecting the slide and bell sections is furnished with a ferrule to secure the connection of the two parts of the instrument, though older models from the early 20th century and before were usually equipped with friction joints and no ancillary mechanism to tighten the joint.
The adjustment of intonation is most often accomplished with a tuning slide that is a short slide between the neckpipe and the bell incorporating the bell bow (U-bend); this device was designed by the French maker François Riedlocker during the early 19th century and applied to French and British designs and later in the century to German and American models, though German trombones were built without tuning slides well into the 20th century. However, trombonists, unlike other instrumentalists, are not subject to the intonation issues resulting from valved or keyed instruments, since they can adjust intonation "on the fly" by subtly altering slide positions when necessary. For example, second position "A" is not in exactly the same place on the slide as second position "E." Many types of trombone also include one or more rotary valves used to increase the length of the instrument (and therefore lower its pitch) by directing the air flow through additional tubing.
Like the trumpet, the trombone is considered a cylindrical bore instrument since it has extensive sections of tubing, principally in the slide section, that are of continuous diameter. This contrasts with conical bore instruments like the cornet, euphonium, and tuba, whose only cylindrical tubing is in the valve section. Tenor trombones typically have a bore of 0.450" (small bore) to 0.547" (large or orchestral bore) after the leadpipe and through the slide. The bore expands through the backbore to the bell, which is typically between 7" and 8½". A number of common variations on trombone construction are noted below.
When the sackbut returned to common use again in England in the 18th century, Italian music was so influential that it was known as the "trombone", although other countries used the same name throughout the instrument's history, viz. Italian trombone and German Posaune. The 17th century trombone was built in slightly smaller dimensions than modern trombones, and had a bell that was more conical and less flared.
The instrument was used extensively across Europe from its appearance in the 15th century to a fading out in most places across the mid-late 17th century. It was used in outdoor events, in concert and in liturgical settings. The groups varied from alta capella, wind ensembles, with voices, and the first 'orchestra'-type ensembles in religious settings like St Mark's Basilica in Venice in the early 17th century. Famous composers writing for the trombone in this period include Giovanni Gabrieli and his uncle Andrea Gabrieli, Claudio Monteverdi and Heinrich Schütz. There are also some solo pieces written specifically for trombone in the early 17th century.
During the later Baroque period, Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel used the trombone on a few occasions; Bach used it in combination with the cornett to evoke the stile antico in some of his many cantatas and Handel used it in the Dead March from Saul, Samson, and Israel in Egypt, all of which were examples of a new oratorio style, popular during the early 18th century.
The use of the trombone in the Classical era was mostly limited to Austria, where the repertoire of trombone solo and chamber literature has its beginnings with composers such as Leopold Mozart, Georg Christoph Wagenseil, Johann Albrechtsberger and Johann Ernst Eberlin who were featuring the instrument, often in partnership with a voice.
Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart used the trombones in a number of their sacred works, including two extended duets with voice from Mozart, the best known being in the Tuba Mirum of his Requiem. Mozart also used trombones in several of his operas. The inspiration for many of these works is thought due to the virtuosic players in the courts at Vienna and Salzburg, including Thomas Gschladt and several members of a family named Christian.
The trombone retained its traditional associations with the opera house and the Church during the 18th century and was usually employed in the usual alto/tenor/bass trio to support the lower voices of the chorus, though Viennese court orchestra Kapellmeister Johann Joseph Fux rejected an application from a bass trombonist in 1726 and restricted the use of trombones to alto and tenor only, which remained the case almost until the turn of the 19th century in Vienna, after which time a second tenor trombone was added when necessary.
The construction of the trombone changed relatively little between the Baroque and Classical periods with the most obvious feature being the slightly more flared bell.
The first use of the trombone in a symphony was in 1807 in the Symphony in E by the Swedish composer Joachim Nicolas Eggert 1, although the composer usually credited with its introduction into the symphony orchestra was Ludwig van Beethoven, who used it in the last movement of his Symphony No. 5 in C minor (1808). Beethoven also used trombones in his Symphony No. 6 in F major ("Pastoral") and Symphony No. 9 ("Choral").
Many composers were directly influenced by Beethoven's use of trombones, and they became fully integrated in the orchestra by the 1840s. Early to mid 19th-century composers such as Franz Schubert, Franz Berwald, Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Richard Wagner, Hector Berlioz, Gioacchino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi, Franz Liszt, and Charles Gounod, included trombones in their operas, symphonies and other orchestral compositions.
The 19th century also saw the erosion of the traditional alto/tenor/bass trombone trio in the orchestra. While the trombone trio had been paired with one or two cornetts during the Renaissance and early Baroque periods, the disappearance of the cornett as a partner and eventual replacement by oboe and clarinet did not fundamentally alter the raison d'être for the trombones, which was to support the alto, tenor and bass voices of the chorus (typically in an ecclesiastical setting), whose harmonic moving lines were more difficult to pick out than the melodic soprano line. The introduction of the trombones into the orchestra, however, allied them more closely with the trumpets and it did not take long for an additional tenor trombone to replace the alto. The Germans and Austrians held on to the alto trombone somewhat longer than the French, who came to prefer a section of three tenor trombones until after the Second World War. In other countries, the trio of two tenor trombones and one bass became standard by about the mid 19th century.
By the time the trombone gained a footing in the orchestra and opera, trombonists were no longer usually employed by a cathedral or court orchestra, and so were expected to provide their own instrument. Military musicians were provided with instruments, and instruments like the long F or E bass trombone remained in military use until around the First World War. However, orchestral musicians adopted the trombone version with the widest range that they could easily apply to any of the three trombone parts that typically appeared in scores—the tenor trombone. The appearance of valve trombones in the mid-19th century did little to alter the make-up of the orchestral trombone section; though it was ousted from orchestras in Germany and France, the valve trombone remained popular almost entirely to the exclusion of the slide instrument in countries such as Italy and Bohemia, and composers such as Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Bedřich Smetana, and Antonín Dvořák scored for a valve trombone section.
Especially with the ophicleide, or later the tuba subjoined to the trombone trio during the 19th century, parts scored for the bass trombone rarely descended as low as parts scored before the addition of either of these new low brass instruments. Only in the early 20th century did it regain a degree of independence. Experiments with different constitutions of the trombone section during the 19th and early 20th centuries, including Richard Wagner's addition of a contrabass trombone in Der Ring des Nibelungen and Gustav Mahler's and Richard Strauss' occasional augmentation by adding a second bass trombone to the usual trio of two tenor trombones and one bass trombone, have not had any lasting effect; the majority of orchestral works are still scored for the usual mid- to late-19th-century low brass section of two tenor trombones, one bass trombone and one tuba.
Trombones have been a part of the large wind band since its inception as an ensemble during the French Revolution of 1791. Over the course of the 19th century various wind band traditions were established, including military bands, brass bands (primarily in the UK), town bands (primarily in the US), and circus bands. Some of these groups, especially military bands in Europe, made use of rear-facing trombones, where the bell section pointed behind the player's left shoulder.
These different wind bands all played a limited repertoire with few original compositions that consisted mainly of orchestral transcriptions, arrangements of popular and patriotic tunes, and feature pieces for soloists (usually cornetists, singers, and violinists). A notable work originally for wind band is Hector Berlioz's 1840 Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale, which uses a trombone solo for the entire second movement.
Toward the end of the 19th century, trombone virtuosi began appearing as soloists in American wind bands. The most notable was Arthur Pryor, who played with the Sousa Band and later formed his own.
In the Romantic era, Leipzig became a centre of trombone pedagogy. The trombone began to be taught at the new Musikhochschule founded by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Later, the Paris Conservatory and its yearly concours would also contribute to trombone education. At the Leipzig academy, Mendelssohn's bass trombonist, Karl Traugott Queisser, was the first in a long line of distinguished professors of trombone. Several composers penned works for Quiesser, including Ferdinand David (Mendelssohn's concertmaster) who wrote in 1837 the Concertino for Trombone and Orchestra, Ernst Sachse and Friedrich August Belcke, whose solo works all remain popular today in Germany. Queisser almost single-handedly helped to reestablish the reputation of the trombone in Germany and began a tradition in trombone playing that is still practised there today. He championed and popularised Christian Friedrich Sattler's new tenorbass trombone during the 1840s, leading to its widespread use in orchestras throughout Germany and Austria.
Sattler had a great influence on trombone design. He introduced a significant widening of the bore (the most important since the Renaissance), the innovations of Schlangenverzierungen (snake decorations), the bell garland, and the wide bell flare—features still found on German-made trombones today that were widely copied during the 19th century.
The trombone was further improved in the 19th century with the addition of "stockings" at the end of the inner slide to reduce friction, the development of the water key to expel condensation from the horn, and the occasional addition of a valve to increase the range of the tenor and bass trombones. Additionally, the valve trombone came around the 1830s shortly after the invention of valves, and was in common use in Italy and Austria in the second half of the century.
In the 20th century the trombone maintained its important place in the orchestra with prominent parts in works by Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Maurice Ravel, Darius Milhaud, Olivier Messiaen, Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Rachmaninov, Sergei Prokofiev, Ottorino Respighi, Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, William Walton, Jean Sibelius, Carl Nielsen, Leoš Janáček, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and Béla Bartók.
With the rise of recorded music and music schools, orchestral trombone sections around the world began to have a more consistent idea of a standard trombone sound. British orchestras abandoned the use of small bore tenors and G basses in favor of an American/German approach of large bore tenors and B basses in the 1940s. French orchestras did the same in the 1960s.
During the first half of the century, touring and community concert bands lost their popularity in the United States and were greatly reduced in number. However, with the development of music education in the public school system, high school and university marching bands and concert bands became ubiquitous in the US.
A typical concert band trombone section consists of two tenor trombones and one bass trombone, but using multiple players per part is common practice, especially in public school settings.
In the second half of the century, new composers began giving back to the trombone a level of importance in solo and chamber music. Pieces such as Edgard Varèse's Octandre, Paul Hindemith's Sonata, Charles Wuorinen's Trombone Trio and Luciano Berio's Sequenza V led the way for lesser-known composers to build a wider repertoire. Popular choices for recital music today include Stjepan Sulek's Vox Gabrieli, Jacques Casterède's Sonatine and Jean Michel Defaye's Deux Danses. Some well known trombone concertos from this period include works by Pascal Dusapin, Derek Bourgeois, Lars-Erik Larsson, Launy Grøndahl, Nino Rota, Christopher Rouse and Henri Tomasi. Jan Sandström composed two concertos to be performed by Christian Lindberg, his Trombone Concerto No. 1 (1990) is called Motorbike Odyssey or Motorbike Concerto. In 1995-6, Johan de Meij wrote his T-Bone Concerto for trombone and concert band. Artists such as Mark Hetzler have recorded works from Berg, Webern, and Stravinsky transcribed from other instruments (such as oboe, clarinet and strings) to show the difficulty, versatility and range of solo music the trombone can handle very sensitively.
Despite the public's waning interest in classical, then jazz music, the trombone has remained a relevant instrument, though not always a prominent one. Nearly all flavors of jazz have used one or more trombones throughout the century. Originating in the Caribbean, salsa and ska music almost always incorporates a horn section including trombones. Rock bands with horn sections are relatively less common, but make for a distinctive sound in groups such as Chicago; Blood, Sweat & Tears; and Tower of Power. In the 1970s and 1980s, groups in the New Orleans brass band tradition began adding elements of funk, hip hop, and bop to their repertoires, but kept the instrumentation of sousaphone, trombones, and trumpets. In the Christina Aguilera song "Candyman", there are trombone slides throughout the song. The Christina Aguilera song, "Nasty Naughty Boy", the Colbie Caillat song, "You Got Me", the Beyonce song "Countdown", the Norah Jones song "Sinkin' Soon", the Crystal Bowersox song "Home", the Fiona Apple song "Window", the Duffy song "Keeping My Baby", and the I Dream Of Jeannie theme used since the second season, also feature a trombone.
Numerous changes in construction have occurred during the 20th century, including the use of different materials, increases in mouthpiece, bore and bell dimensions, new valve types and different mute types. The use of computer modeling in trombone manufacturing has allowed for better sonic construction and more consistency between individually produced instruments of the same model.
Today, the trombone can be found in wind ensembles/concert bands, symphony orchestras, marching bands, military bands, brass bands, and brass choirs. In chamber music, it is used in brass quintets, quartets, or trios, or trombone trios, quartets, or choirs. The size of a trombone choir can vary greatly from five or six to twenty or more members.
Trombones are also common in swing, jazz, merengue, salsa (e.g., Jimmy Bosch, Luis Bonilla, and Willie Colón), R&B, ska (e.g., Don Drummond), and New Orleans brass bands.
The most frequently encountered trombones today are the tenor and bass, though as with many other Renaissance instruments, the trombone has been built in sizes from piccolo to contrabass.
Trombones are usually constructed with a slide that is used to change the pitch. Valve trombones use three valves (singly or in combination) instead of the slide. The valves follow the same schema as other valved instruments-the first valve lowers the pitch by 1 step, the second valve by 1/2 step, and the third valve by 1-1/2 steps.
Some slide trombones have one or (less frequently) two rotary valves operated by a left-hand thumb trigger. The single rotary valve is part of the F attachment, which adds a length of tubing to lower the instrument's fundamental pitch from B to F. Some bass trombones have a second trigger with a different length of tubing. The second trigger facilitates playing the otherwise problematic low B.
The pedal tone on B is frequently seen in commercial scoring but much less often in symphonic music while notes below that are called for only rarely as they, "become increasingly difficult to produce and insecure in quality" with A or G being the bottom limit for most trombonists.
As with all brass instruments, progressive tightening of the lips and increased air pressure allow the player to move to a different partial in the harmonic series. In the first or closed position on a B trombone, the notes in the harmonic series begin with B2 (one octave higher than the pedal B1), F3 (a perfect fifth higher than the previous partial), B3 (a perfect fourth higher), D4 (a major third higher), F4 (a minor third higher), A4 (a minor third higher than the previous partial; this tone (the "seventh partial (sixth overtone)") is always 31 cents, about one sixth of a tone, flat of the twelve-tone equal temperament minor seventh, "however it can be brought into tune by an adjustment of the slide," it may be avoided and played in an alternate position, though it has been the practice in Germany and Austria to play the note in position, see harmonic seventh and just intonation), B4 (a major second higher), C5 (a major second higher), D5 (a major second higher), E (a minor second higher, but almost exactly a quarter tone higher than it would be in twelve-tone equal temperament), F5 (a major second higher). Very skilled players with a highly developed facial musculature can go even higher than this, to G5, A5, B5 and beyond.
In the lower range, significant movement of the slide is required between positions, which becomes more exaggerated on lower pitched trombones, but for higher notes the player need only use the first four positions of the slide since the partials are closer together, allowing higher notes in alternate positions. As an example, F4 (at the bottom of the treble clef) may be played in first, fourth or sixth position on a B trombone. The note E1 (or the lowest E on a standard 88-key piano keyboard) is the lowest attainable note on a 9' B tenor trombone, requiring a full 2.24 m of tubing. On trombones without an F attachment, there is a gap between B1 (the fundamental in first position) and E2 (the first harmonic in seventh position). Skilled players can produce "falset" notes between these, but the sound is relatively weak and not usually used in performance.
Joseph Fröhlich, in 1811, described the modern system of seven chromatic slide positions rather than four diatonic ones, and a tenor trombone in B rather than A. For ease of comparison (for example, in the old system contemporary 1st-position was considered "drawn past" then current 1st), the following chart may be helpful:
The trombone is one of the few wind instruments that can produce a true glissando, by moving the slide without interrupting the airflow. During a trombone glissando, the slide direction must not change or the sound breaks. Every pitch in a glissando must have the same harmonic number, and a tritone is the largest interval that can be performed as a glissando.
'Harmonic', 'inverted', 'broken' or 'false' glissandos are those that cross one or more harmonic series, requiring a simulated or faked glissando effect.
Trills, though generally simple with valves, are difficult on the slide trombone and are easiest between notes a second or a third apart in the same harmonic series, and most convincing above the first octave and a half of the tenor's range.
Unlike most other brass instruments in an orchestral setting, the trombone is not usually considered a transposing instrument. Prior to the invention of valve systems, most brass instruments were limited to playing one overtone series at a time; altering the pitch of the instrument required manually replacing a section of tubing (called a "crook") or picking up an instrument of different length. Their parts were transposed according to which crook or length-of-instrument they used at any given time, so that a particular note on the staff always corresponded to a particular partial on the instrument. Trombones, on the other hand, have used slides since their inception. As such, they have always been fully chromatic, so no such tradition took hold, and trombone parts have always been notated at concert pitch (with one exception, discussed below). Also, it was quite common for trombones to double choir parts; reading in concert pitch meant there was no need for dedicated trombone parts.
Trombone parts are typically notated in bass clef, though sometimes also written in tenor clef or alto clef. The use of alto clef is usually confined to orchestral first trombone parts intended for the alto trombone, with the second (tenor) trombone part written in tenor clef and the third (bass) part in bass clef. As the alto trombone declined in popularity during the 19th century, this practice was gradually abandoned and first trombone parts came to be notated in the tenor or bass clef. Some Russian and Eastern European composers wrote first and second tenor trombone parts on one alto clef staff (the German Robert Schumann was the first to do this). Examples of this practice are evident in scores by Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich. Trombone parts may contain both bass and tenor clef or bass and alto clef sections.
An accomplished performer today is expected to be proficient in reading parts notated in bass clef, tenor clef, alto clef, and (more rarely) treble clef in C, with the British brass band performer expected to handle treble clef in B as well.
In brass band music, the tenor trombone is treated as a transposing instrument in B and reads the treble clef (while the bass trombone uses the bass clef in concert pitch, as in orchestral music). This puts the notes in exactly the same staff position as they would be if the music were written in a (non-transposing) tenor clef, although the key signature and some accidentals must be adjusted. This is no mere coincidence, for brass bands used to employ a section of alto, tenor and bass trombones in the early to mid-19th century, later replacing the alto with a tenor trombone, all the while notated in the corresponding clefs. Eventually, in the early 20th century, musicians decided to replace the tenor clef with the transposing B treble clef to aid new starters to integrate more quickly and effectively into the brass band—though the bass trombone, then in G, remained notated in concert pitch bass clef. (Company bands used B and E treble clef notation for many instruments in the band to allow players to more easily switch instruments when personnel changed.)
A variety of mutes can be used with the trombone to alter its timbre. Many are held in place with the use of cork grips, including the straight, cup, harmon and pixie mutes. Some fit over the bell, like the bucket mute. In addition to this, mutes can be held in front of the bell and moved to cover more or less area for a wah-wah effect. Mutes used in this way include the "hat" (a metal mute shaped like a bowler) and plunger (which looks like, and often is, the rubber suction cup from a sink or toilet plunger), a sound featured as the voices of adults in the Peanuts cartoons.
Trombone bells (and sometimes slides) may be constructed of different brass mixtures. Some believe that materials affect tone quality and timbre. The most common material is yellow brass (70% copper, 30% zinc), but other materials include rose brass (85% copper, 15% zinc) and red brass (90% copper, 10% zinc). Some manufacturers offer interchangeable bells. Tenor trombone bells are usually between 7 and 9 inches in diameter, the most common being sizes from 7½ to 8½ inches. The smallest sizes are found in small jazz trombones and older narrow-bore instruments, while the larger sizes are common in orchestral models. Bass trombone bells can be as large as 10½" or more, though usually either 9½ in or 10 in diameter. The bell may be constructed out of two separate brass sheets or out of one single piece of metal and hammered on a mandrel until the part is shaped correctly. The edge of the bell may be finished with or without a piece of bell wire to secure it, which also affects the tone quality; most bells are built with bell wire. Occasionally, trombone bells are made from solid sterling silver.
Some trombones have valves instead of a slide (see valve trombone). These may be rotary valves, piston valves, or disc valves. Disc valves are modern versions of a valve invented in the 1820s that was discarded in favour of the rotary and the Périnet (piston) valve.
More often than not, tenor trombones with an F attachment, or trigger, have a larger bore through the attachment than through the 'straight' section (the portion of the trombone through which the air flows when the attachment is not engaged). Typically, for orchestral instruments, the slide bore is 0.547" and the attachment tubing bore is 0.562". A wide variety of valve attachments and combinations are available. Valve attachment tubing usually incorporates a small tuning slide so that the attachment tubing can be tuned separately from the rest of the instrument. Most B/F tenor and bass trombones include a tuning slide long enough to lower the pitch to E with the valve tubing engaged, enabling the production of B2. Whereas older instruments fitted with valve attachments usually had the tubing coiled rather tightly in the bell section (closed wrap or traditional wrap), modern instruments usually have the tubing kept as free as possible of tight bends in the tubing (open wrap), resulting in a freer response with the valve attachment tubing engaged.
Some trombones are tuned through a mechanism in the slide section rather than via a separate tuning slide in the bell section. This method preserves a smoother expansion from the start of the bell section to the bell flare. The tuning slide in the bell section requires two portions of cylindrical tubing in an otherwise conical part of the instrument, which affects the tone quality.
Common and popular bore sizes for trombone slides are 0.500", 0.508", 0.525" and 0.547" for tenor trombones, and 0.562" for bass trombones. The slide may also be built with a dual bore configuration, in which the bore of the second leg of the slide is slightly larger than the bore of the first leg, producing a step-wise conical effect. The most common dual bore combinations are 0.481"-0.491", 0.500"-0.508", 0.508"-0.525", 0.525"-0.547", 0.547"-0.562" for tenor trombones, and 0.562"-0.578" for bass trombones.
The mouthpiece is a separate part of the trombone and can be interchanged with similarly sized trombones from different manufacturers. Available mouthpieces for trombone (as with all brass instruments) vary in material composition, length, diameter, rim shape, cup depth, throat entrance, venturi aperture, venturi profile, outside design and other factors. Variations in mouthpiece construction affect the individual player's ability to make a lip seal and produce a reliable tone, the timbre of that tone, its volume, the player's subjective level of comfort, and the instrument's playability in a given pitch range.
Mouthpiece selection is a highly personal decision. Thus, a symphonic trombonist might prefer a mouthpiece with a deeper cup and sharper inner rim shape in order to produce a rich symphonic tone quality, while a jazz trombonist might choose a shallower cup for brighter tone and easier production of higher notes. Further, for certain compositions, these choices between two such performers could easily be reversed.
Instruments made mostly from plastic, including the pBone and the Tromba plastic trombone, emerged in the 2010s as a cheaper and more robust alternative to brass.
German trombones have been built in a wide variety of bore and bell sizes. The traditional German Konzertposaune can differ substantially from American designs in many aspects. The mouthpiece is typically rather small and is placed into a slide section with a very long leadpipe of at least 12"-24". The whole instrument is often made of gold brass, and its sound is usually rather dull compared with British, French or American designs. While their bore sizes were considered large in the 19th century, German trombones have altered very little over the last 150 years and are now typically somewhat smaller than their American counterparts. Bell sizes remain very large in all sizes of German trombone and a bass trombone bell may exceed 10" in diameter. Valve attachments in tenor and bass trombones were traditionally engaged via a thumb-operated rotary valve, using a leather thong rather than a metal lever. While older models with this feature are still found, modern variants use the metal lever. As with other German and Austrian brass instruments, rotary valves are used to the exclusion of almost all other types of valve, even in valve trombones. Other features often found on German trombones include long water keys and snake decorations on the slide and bell U-bows.
Most trombones played in Germany today, especially by amateurs, are built in the American fashion, as those are much more widely available and thus far cheaper.
French trombones were built in the very smallest bore sizes up to the end of the Second World War and whilst other sizes were made there, the French usually preferred the tenor trombone to any other size. French music, therefore, usually employed a section of three tenor trombones up to the mid-20th century. Tenor trombones produced in France during the 19th and early 20th centuries featured bore sizes of around 0.450", small bells of not more than 6" in diameter, as well as a funnel-shaped mouthpiece slightly larger than that of the cornet or horn. French tenor trombones were built in both C and B, altos in D, sopranos in F, piccolos in high B, basses in G and E, contrabasses in B.
In recent years, several makers have begun to market compact B/C trombones that are especially well suited for young children learning to play the trombone who cannot reach the outer slide positions of full-length instruments. The fundamental note of the unenhanced length is C, but the short valved attachment that puts the instrument in B is open when the trigger is not depressed. While such instruments have no seventh slide position, C and B natural may be comfortably accessed on the first and second positions by using the trigger. A similar design ("Preacher model") was marketed by C.G. Conn in the 1920s, also under the Wurlitzer label. Currently, B/C trombones are available from many manufacturers, including German makers Günter Frost, Thein and Helmut Voigt, as well as the Yamaha Corporation.
Trombones in slide and valve configuration have been made by a vast array of musical instrument manufacturers. For the brass bands of the late 19th and early 20th century, prominent American manufacturers included Graves and Sons, E.G. Wright and Company, The Boston Musical Instrument Company, E.A. Couturier Co., Ltd., H.N. White Company, J.W. York, and C.G. Conn, Ltd.. In the 21st century, leading mainstream manufacturers of trombones include F.E. Olds, Vincent Bach, King Musical Instruments, Conn, F.A. Reynolds, Yamaha Musical Instruments and Jupiter Band Instruments.
On brass instruments the mouthpiece is the part of the instrument placed on the player's lips. The mouthpiece is a simple circular opening that leads, via a semi-spherical or conical cavity, to the main body of the instrument.
Mouthpieces vary to suit the tone of the instrument. Lower instruments also have larger mouthpieces, to maximize resonance (see pitch of brass instruments). Also, mouthpieces are selected to suit the embouchure of the player, to produce a certain timbre, or to optimize the instrument for certain playing styles. For example, trumpet and trombone mouthpieces are usually semi-spherical whereas French horn mouthpieces are conical.
The mouthpiece has a large effect on instrument sound. Major effects are due to the shape of the cup, shape of the throat, and the inner rim diameter. In addition, players often choose a mouthpiece that complements their playing styles. In general, brass players who concentrate on the upper range prefer a mouthpiece with a narrow bore, and players who emphasize the lower range prefer a wider bore.
Makers commonly construct mouthpieces from one of two types of material, with different costs, properties, and features. Metal mouthpieces can be plated with some other metal. Some of the following assertions, especially those regarding the effect of plating on tone color, are questioned by many players and specialists.][
Mouthpieces have traditionally been formed of solid brass. These are almost always then plated in some other metal, because many people are mildly allergic to raw brass, and because raw brass tarnishes rapidly.
Plastic mouthpieces are usually made of Lexan plastic, and are often available in various colors. They are durable and don't chip or dent as do metal mouthpieces. Less expensive than metal mouthpieces, players commonly use them when playing outdoors—particularly marching brass players—because they have a short "warm-up" time. Some players feel plastic mouthpieces have an inferior tone quality and feel compared to metal.][
Recent additions to the mouthpiece world include stainless steel and titanium. They are relatively rare, produced by few manufacturers. Some players feel stainless steel and titanium mouthpieces provide advantages over the classic brass mouthpiece, including, anecdotally, a more centered feel and sound,] [ as stainless steel and titanium do not absorb as many vibrations as brass,][ they require much less care, etc.—but they are much more expensive. (Titanium mouthpieces cost up to $400 each.)
Silver plating is common on all brass mouthpieces because it is cost-effective and good in terms of tone quality. It is also moderately germicidal. Silver plating is not as comfortable or as expensive as gold, but has properties and qualities that some feel facilitate certain styles of playing] [. Some believe that silver plate provides a clearer, darker sound than gold] [ and is good for styles of playing that require clarity and projection. Silver-plate is less expensive than gold, but requires more maintenance because it tarnishes easily. Slightly tarnished silver-plate can be polished back to its brightness with silver polish.
Some players believe gold-plated mouthpieces on brass instruments creates a fuller, richer tone that can also be somewhat darker timbre.] [ For people allergic to silver, this is the best (but not cheapest) way to play a brass instrument without discomfort. Gold does not tarnish, and subsequently requires little maintenance apart from regular washing with soap and water. The extreme price of gold, however, means that the plating is usually relatively thin and thus fragile, and can even be worn away with use.
Each mouthpiece company uses a different labeling system. A larger number can mean a larger or smaller mouthpiece depending on the company. Likewise, the letters mean different things depending on the company. Even if companies appear to share marking systems it may be that same-marked mouthpieces from different manufacturers are different, although usually the differences are relatively small; there is no universally-recognized industry standard.
The tuba is the largest and lowest-pitched brass instrument. Sound is produced by vibrating or "buzzing" the lips into a large cupped mouthpiece. It is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid-19th century, when it largely replaced the ophicleide. Tuba is Latin for trumpet or horn. The horn referred to would most likely resemble what is known as a baroque trumpet.
A person who plays the tuba is known as a tubaist or tubist. In the United Kingdom a person who plays the tuba in an orchestra is known simply as a tuba player; in a brass band or military band they are known as a bass player.
Prussian Patent No. 19 was granted to Wilhelm Friedrich Wieprecht and Johann Gottfried Moritz (1777–1840) on September 12, 1835 for a "basstuba" in F1. The original Wieprecht and Moritz instrument used five valves of the Berlinerpumpen type that were the forerunners of the modern piston valve. The first tenor tuba was invented in 1838 by Carl Wilhelm Moritz (1810–1855), son of Johann Moritz.
The addition of valves made it possible to play low in the harmonic series of the instrument and still have a complete selection of notes. Prior to the invention of valves, brass instruments were limited to notes in the harmonic series, and were thus generally played very high with respect to their fundamental pitch. Harmonics starting three octaves above the fundamental pitch are about a whole step apart, making a useful variety of notes possible.
The ophicleide used a bowl-shaped brass instrument mouthpiece but employed keys and tone holes similar to those of a modern saxophone. Another forerunner to the tuba was the serpent, a bass instrument that was shaped in a wavy form to make the tone holes accessible to the player. Tone holes changed the pitch by providing an intentional leak in the bugle of the instrument. While this changed the pitch, it also had a pronounced effect on the timbre. By using valves to adjust the length of the bugle the tuba produced a smoother tone that eventually led to its popularity.
Adolphe Sax, like Wieprecht, was interested in marketing systems of instruments from soprano to bass, and developed a series of brass instruments known as saxhorns. The instruments developed by Sax were generally pitched in E and B, while the Wieprecht "basstuba" and the subsequent Cerveny contrabass tuba were pitched in F and C (see below on pitch systems). Sax's instruments gained dominance in France, and later in Britain and America, as a result of the popularity and movements of instrument makers such as Gustave Auguste Besson (who moved from France to Britain) and Henry Distin (who eventually found his way to America).
An orchestra usually has a single tuba, though an additional tuba may be asked for. It is the principal bass instrument in symphonic and military bands, and those ensembles generally have more. It serves as the bass of the brass section and of brass quintets and choirs (though many small brass ensembles will use the euphonium or bass trombone as the lowest voice), as well as reinforcement for the bass voices of the strings and woodwinds, and as a solo instrument.
Well known and influential parts for the tuba include:
Concertos have been written for the tuba by many notable composers, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Edward Gregson, John Williams, Alexander Arutiunian, Eric Ewazen, James Barnes, Martin Ellerby, Philip Sparke, Kalevi Aho, Arild Plau, Simon Proctor, James Woodward, Victor Davies, Josef Tal and Bruce Broughton. Joseph Hallman's Concerto for tuba and chamber orchestra was written for and premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra's tubist, Carol Jantsch in May 2007.
Tubas are also used in concert bands, marching bands, drum and bugle corps, and in many jazz bands (see below). In British style brass bands, both E and B tubas are used and are normally referred to as basses.
Tubas are found in various pitches, most commonly in F, E, C, or B. The main tube of a B tuba is approximately 18 feet long, while that of a C tuba is 16 feet, of an E tuba 13 feet, and of an F tuba 12 feet. The instrument has a conical bore, meaning the bore diameter increases as a function of the tubing length from the mouthpiece to the bell. The conical bore causes the instrument to produce a preponderance of even-order harmonics.
A tuba with its tubing wrapped for placing the instrument on the player's lap is usually called a concert tuba or simply a tuba. Tubas with the bell pointing forward (pavillon tournant) instead of upward are often called recording tubas because of their popularity in the early days of recorded music, as their sound could more easily be directed at the recording instrument. When wrapped to surround the body for marching, it is traditionally known as a hélicon. The modern sousaphone, named after American bandmaster John Philip Sousa, resembles a hélicon with the bell pointed up and then curved to point forward. Some ancestors of the tuba, such as the military bombardon, had unusual valve and bore arrangements compared to modern tubas. During the American Civil War, most brass bands used a branch of the brass family known as 'Saxhorns', which by today's standards have a narrower bore taper than tubas (being the same as true cornets and baritones, but being distinct from trumpet, euphoniums and others with wider or narrower (or no) bore tapers). Starting around the time of the start of the Civil War, Saxhorns manufactured for military use in the USA were commonly wrapped with the bell pointing backwards over the player's shoulder, and these were known as "over-the-shoulder saxhorns", and they came in all sizes from cornets down to E basses. However, the E bass, even though it shared the same tube length as a modern E tuba, has a narrower bore and as such cannot be called by the name 'tuba' except as a convenience when comparing it to other sizes of Saxhorn.
Most music for the tuba is written in bass clef in concert pitch, so tuba players must know the correct fingerings for their specific instrument. Traditional British-style brass band parts for the tuba are usually written in treble clef, with the B tuba sounding two octaves and one step below and the E tuba sounding one octave and a major sixth below the written pitch. This allows musicians to change instruments without learning new fingerings for the same written music. Consequently, when its music is written in treble clef, the tuba is a transposing instrument, but not when the music is in bass clef.
The lowest pitched tubas are the contrabass tubas, pitched in C or B, referred to as CC and BB tubas respectively, based on a traditional distortion of a now-obsolete octave naming convention. The fundamental pitch of a CC tuba is 32 Hz, and for a BB tuba, 29 Hz. The CC tuba is used as an orchestral instrument in the U.S., but BB tubas are the contrabass tuba of choice in German, Austrian, and Russian orchestras. In the United States the BB tuba is the most common in schools (largely due to the use of BBb sousaphones in high school marching bands) and for adult amateurs. Most professionals in the U.S. play CC tubas, with BBb also common, and many train in the use of all four pitches of tubas.][
The next smaller tubas are the bass tubas, pitched in F or E (a fourth above the contrabass tubas). The E tuba often plays an octave above the contrabass tubas in brass bands, and the F tuba is commonly used by professional players as a solo instrument and, in America, to play higher parts in the classical repertoire (or parts that were originally written for the F tuba, as is the case with Berlioz). In most of Europe, the F tuba is the standard orchestral instrument, supplemented by the CC or BB only when the extra weight is desired. Wagner, for example, specifically notates the low tuba parts for "Kontrabasstuba," which are played on CC or BB tubas in most regions. In the United Kingdom, the E is the standard orchestral tuba.
The euphonium is sometimes referred to as a tenor tuba and is pitched in B, one octave higher than the BB contrabass tuba. The term "tenor tuba" is often used more specifically to refer to B rotary-valved tubas pitched in the same octave as euphoniums. The "Small French Tuba in C" is a tenor tuba pitched in C, and provided with 6 valves to make the lower notes in the orchestral repertoire possible. The French C tuba was the standard instrument in French orchestras until overtaken by F and C tubas since the Second World War. One popular example of the use of the French C tuba is the Bydło movement in Ravel's orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, though the rest of the work is scored for this instrument as well.
Larger BBB subcontrabass tubas exist, but are extremely rare (there are at least four known examples). The first two were built by the Gustav Besson in BBB, one octave below the BB Contrabass tuba, on the suggestion of John Philip Sousa. The monster instruments were not completed until just after Sousa's death. Later, in the 1950s, British musician Gerard Hoffnung commissioned the London firm of Paxman to create a subcontrabass tuba in EEE for use in his comedic music festivals. Also, a tuba pitched in FFF was made in Kraslice by Bohland & Fuchs probably during 1910 or 1911 and was destined for the World Exhibition in New York in 1913. Two players are needed; one to operate the valves and one to blow into the mouthpiece.
In addition to the length of the instrument, which dictates the fundamental pitch, tubas also vary in overall width of the tubing sections. Tuba sizes are usually denoted by a quarter system, with 4/4 designating a normal, full-size tuba. Larger rotary instruments are known as kaisertubas and are often denoted 5/4. Larger piston tubas, particularly those with front action, are sometimes known as grand orchestral tubas (examples: The Conn 36J Orchestra Grand Bass from the 1930s, and the current model Hirsbrunner HB-50 "Grand Orchestral," which is a replica of the large York tubas owned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra). Grand orchestral tubas are generally described as 6/4 tubas. Smaller instruments may be described as 3/4 instruments. No standards exist for these designations, and their use is up to manufacturers who usually use them to distinguish among the instruments in their own product line. The size designation is related to the larger outer branches, and not to the bore of the tubing at the valves, though the bore is usually reported in instrument specifications. The quarter system is also not related to bell size, at least across manufacturers.
Tubas are made with either piston or rotary valves. Rotary valves, invented by Joseph Riedl, are based on a design included in the original valve patents by Friedrich Blühmel and Heinrich Stölzel in 1818. Červeny of Graslitz was the first to use true rotary valves, starting in the 1840s or 1850s. Modern piston valves were developed by François Périnet for the saxhorn family of instruments promoted by Adolphe Sax around the same time. Pistons may either be oriented to point to the top of the instrument (top-action, as pictured in the figure at the top of the article) or out the front of the instrument (front-action or side-action). There are advantages and disadvantages to each valve style, but assertions concerning sound, speed, and clarity are difficult to quantify. German players generally prefer rotary valves while British and American players favor piston valves — the choice of valve type remains up to the performer.
Piston valves require more maintenance than rotary valves — they require daily oiling to keep them freely operating, while rotary valves are sealed and seldom require oiling. Piston valves are easy to disassemble and re-assemble, while rotary valve disassembly and re-assembly is much more difficult and is generally left to qualified instrument repair persons.
Tubas generally have from three to six valves, though some rare exceptions exist. Three-valve tubas are generally the least expensive and are almost exclusively used by beginners and amateurs, and the sousaphone (a marching version of a BB tuba) almost always has three valves. Among advanced players, four and five valve tubas are by far the most common choices, with six-valve tubas being relatively rare except among F tubas, which mostly have five or six valves.
The valves add tubing to the main tube of the instrument, thus lowering its fundamental pitch. The first valve lowers the pitch by a whole step (two semitones), the second valve by a semitone, and the third valve by three semitones. Used in combination, the valves are too short and the resulting pitch tends to be sharp. For example, a BB tuba becomes (in effect) an A tuba when the first valve is depressed. The third valve is long enough to lower the pitch of a BB tuba by three semitones, but it is not long enough to lower the pitch of an A tuba by three semitones. Thus, the first and third valves used in combination lower the pitch by something just short of five semitones, and the first three valves used in combination are nearly a quarter tone sharp.
The fourth valve is used in place of combinations of the first and third valves, and the second and fourth used in combination are used in place of the first three valves in combination. The fourth valve can be tuned to lower the pitch of the main tube accurately by five semitones, and thus its use corrects the main problem of combinations being too sharp. By using the fourth valve by itself to replace the first and third combination, or the fourth and second valves in place of the first, second and third valve combinations, the notes requiring these fingerings are more in tune.
The fifth and sixth valves are used to provide alternative fingering possibilities to improve intonation, and are also used to reach into the low register of the instrument where all the valves will be used in combination to fill the first octave between the fundamental pitch and the next available note on the open tube. The fifth and sixth valves also give the musician the ability to trill more smoothly or to use alternative fingerings for ease of playing.
The bass tuba in F is pitched a fifth above the BB tuba and a fourth above the CC tuba, so it needs additional tubing length beyond that provided by four valves to play securely down to a low F as required in much tuba music. The fifth valve is commonly tuned to a flat whole step, so that when used with the fourth valve, it gives an in-tune low B. The sixth valve is commonly tuned as a flat half step, allowing the F tuba to play low G as 1-4-5-6 and low G as 1-2-4-5-6. In CC tubas with five valves, the fifth valve may be tuned as a flat whole step or as a minor third depending on the instrument.
Some tubas have a strong and useful resonance that is not in the well-known harmonic series. For example, most large B tubas have a strong resonance at low E (E1, 39 Hz), which is between the fundamental and the second harmonic (an octave higher than the fundamental). These alternative resonances are often known as false tones or privileged tones. Adding the six semitones provided by the three valves, these alternative resonances allow the instrument to be played chromatically down to the fundamental of the open bugle, (which is a 29 Hz B). The addition of valves below that note can lower the instrument a further six semitones to a 20 Hz E0. Thus, even three-valved instruments with good alternative resonances can produce very low sounds in the hands of skilled players; instruments with four valves can play even lower. The lowest note in the widely known repertoire is a 16 Hz double-pedal C in the William Kraft piece Encounters II, which is often played using a timed flutter tongue rather than by buzzing the lips. The fundamental of this pitch borders on infrasound and its overtones define the pitch in the listener's ear.
The most convincing explanation for false-tones is that the horn is acting as a 'third of a pipe' rather than as a half-pipe. The bell remains an anti-node, but there would then be a node 1/3 of the way back to the mouthpiece. If so, it seems that the fundamental would be missing entirely, and would only be inferred from the overtones. However, the node and the anti-node collide in the same spot and cancel out the fundamental.
Some tubas have a compensating system to allow accurate tuning when using several valves in combination, simplifying fingering and removing the need to constantly adjust slide positions. The most popular of the automatic compensation systems was invented by Blaikley (Bevan, 1978) and was patented by Boosey (later, Boosey and Hawkes, which also, later still, produced Besson instruments). The patent on the system limited its application outside of Britain, and to this day tubas with compensating valves are primarily popular in the United Kingdom and countries of the former British Empire. The Blaikley design plumbs the instrument so that if the fourth valve is used, the air is sent back through a second set of branches in the first three valves to compensate for the combination of valves. This does have the disadvantage of making the instrument significantly more 'stuffy' or resistant to air flow when compared to a non-compensating tuba. This is due to the need for the air to flow through the valves twice. It also makes the instrument heavier. But many prefer this approach to additional valves or to manipulation of tuning slides while playing to achieve improved intonation within an ensemble. Most modern professional-grade euphoniums now feature Blaikley-style compensating valves.
The tuba is generally constructed of brass, which is either unfinished, lacquered or electro-plated with nickel, gold or silver. Unfinished brass will eventually tarnish and thus must be periodically polished to maintain its appearance.
Some tubas are capable of being converted into a marching style, known as "marching tubas". A leadpipe can be manually screwed on next to the valves. The tuba is then usually rested on the left shoulder (although some tubas allow use of the right shoulder), with the bell facing directly in front of the player. Some marching tubas are made only for marching, and cannot be converted into a concert model. Most marching bands opt for the sousaphone, an instrument that is easier to carry and almost always cheaper than a true marching tuba. The earlier Helicon is still used by bands in Europe and other parts of the world. Drum and bugle corps players, however, generally use marching tubas or Contrabass bugles. Standard tubas can also be played whilst standing, with the use of a strap joined to the tuba with two rings. The strap goes over the player's shoulder like a sash, allowing the instrument to be played in the same position as when sitting.
The tuba has been used in jazz since the genre's inception. In the earliest years, bands often used a tuba for outdoor playing and a double bass for indoor performances. In this context, the tuba was sometimes called "brass bass", as opposed to the double bass, which was called "string bass"; it was not uncommon for players to double on both instruments.
When used in modern jazz, tubas usually fill the traditional bass role, although it is not uncommon for them to take solos. New Orleans style Brass Bands like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Rebirth Brass Band use a sousaphone as the bass instrument. Bill Barber played tuba on several Miles Davis albums, including Birth of the Cool and "Miles Ahead". New York City-based tubist Marcus Rojas has performed frequently with Henry Threadgill.
See List of tuba players
The embouchure is the use of facial muscles and the shaping of the lips to the mouthpiece of woodwind instruments or the mouthpiece of the brass instruments.
The word is of French origin and is related to the root bouche (fr.), 'mouth'.
The proper embouchure allows the instrumentalist to play the instrument at its full range with a full, clear tone and without strain or damage to one's muscles.
While performing on a brass instrument, the sound is produced by the player buzzing his or her lips into a mouthpiece. Pitches are changed in part through altering the amount of muscular contraction in the lip formation. The performer's use of the air, tightening of cheek and jaw muscles, as well as tongue manipulation can affect how the embouchure works.
Even today, many brass pedagogues][ take a rigid approach to teaching how a brass player's embouchure should function. Many of these authors][ also disagree with each other regarding which technique is correct. Research][ suggests efficient brass embouchures depend on the player using the method that suits that player's particular anatomy (see below). Individual differences in dental structure, lip shape and size, jaw shape and the degree of jaw malocclusion, and other anatomical factors will affect whether a particular embouchure technique will be effective or not][.
In 1962, Philip Farkas hypothesized that the air stream traveling through the lip aperture should be directed straight down the shank of the mouthpiece. He believed that it would be illogical to "violently deflect" the air stream downward at the point of where the air moves past the lips. In this text, Farkas also recommends that the lower jaw be protruded so that the upper and lower teeth are aligned.
In 1970, Farkas published a second text which contradicted his earlier writing. Out of 40 subjects, Farkas showed that 39 subjects directed the air downward to varying degrees and 1 subject directed the air in an upward direction at various degrees. The lower jaw position seen in these photographs show more variation from his earlier text as well.
This supports what was written by trombonist and brass pedagogue Donald S. Reinhardt in 1942. In 1972, Reinhardt described and labeled different embouchure patterns according to such characteristics as mouthpiece placement and the general direction of the air stream as it travels past the lips. According to this later text, players who place the mouthpiece higher on the lips, so that more upper lip is inside the mouthpiece, will direct the air downwards to varying degrees while playing. Performers who place the mouthpiece lower, so that more lower lip is inside the mouthpiece, will direct the air to varying degrees in an upward manner. In order for the performer to be successful, the air stream direction and mouthpiece placement need to be personalized based on individual anatomical differences. Lloyd Leno confirmed the existence of both upstream and downstream embouchures.
More controversial was Reinhardt's description and recommendations regarding a phenomenon he termed a "pivot". According to Reinhardt, a successful brass embouchure depends on a motion wherein the performer moves both the mouthpiece and lips as a single unit along the teeth in an upward and downward direction. As the performer ascends in pitch, he or she will either move the lips and mouthpiece together slightly up towards the nose or pull them down together slightly towards the chin, and use the opposite motion to descend in pitch. Whether the player uses one general pivot direction or the other, and the degree to which the motion is performed, depends on the performer's anatomical features and stage of development. The placement of the mouthpiece upon the lips doesn't change, but rather the relationship of the rim and lips to the teeth. While the angle of the instrument may change as this motion follows the shape of the teeth and placement of the jaw, contrary to what many brass performers and teachers believe, the angle of the instrument does not actually constitute the motion Reinhardt advised as a pivot.
Later research supports Reinhardt's claim that this motion exists and might be advisable for brass performers to adopt. John Froelich describes how mouthpiece pressure towards the lips (vertical forces) and shear pressure (horizontal forces) functioned in three test groups, student trombonists, professional trombonists, and professional symphonic trombonists. Froelich noted that the symphonic trombonists used the least amount of both direct and shear forces and recommends this model be followed. Other research notes that virtually all brass performers rely upon the upward and downward embouchure motion. Other authors and pedagogues remain skeptical about the necessity of this motion, but scientific evidence supporting this view has not been sufficiently developed at this time to support this view.
Some noted brass pedagogues prefer to instruct the use of the embouchure from a less analytical point of view. Arnold Jacobs, a tubist and well-regarded brass teacher, believed that it was best for the student to focus on his or her use of the air and musical expression to allow the embouchure to develop naturally on its own. Other instructors, such as Carmine Caruso, believed that the brass player's embouchure could best be developed through coordination exercises and drills that bring all the muscles into balance that focus the student's attention on his or her time perception. Still other authors who have differing approaches to embouchure development include Louis Maggio, Jeff Smiley, and Jerome Callet.
Most professional performers, as well as instructors, use a combination called a puckered smile. Farkas told people to blow as if they were trying to cool soup. Raphael Mendez advised saying the letter "M"][. The skin under your lower lip will be taut with no air pocket. Your lips do not overlap nor do they roll in or out. The corners of the mouth are held firmly in place. To play with an extended range you should use a pivot, tongue arch and lip to lip compression.
According to Farkas the mouthpiece should have 2/3 upper lip and 1/3 lower lip (French horn), 2/3 lower lip and 1/3 upper lip (trumpet and cornet), and more latitude for lower brass (trombone, baritone, and tuba). For trumpet, some also advocate 1/2 upper lip and 1/2 lower lip][. Farkas claimed placement was more important for the instruments with smaller mouthpieces. Your lips should not overlap each other, nor should they roll in or out. The mouth corners should be held firm. Farkas speculated that the horn should be held in a downward angle to allow the air stream to go straight into the mouthpiece, although his later text shows that air stream direction actually is either upstream or downstream and is dependent upon the ratio of upper or lower lip inside the mouthpiece, not the horn angle. Farkas advised to moisten the outside of your lips, then form your embouchure and gently place the mouthpiece on it. He also recommended there must be a gap of ⅓ inch or so between your teeth so that the air flows freely.
Arban and Saint-Jacome were both cornet soloists and authors of well respected and still used method books. Arban stated undogmatically that he believed the mouthpiece should be placed 1/3 on the top lip. St. Jacome to the contrary said dogmatically that the mouthpiece should be placed "two-thirds for the upper and the rest for the under according to all professors and one-third for the upper and two-thirds for the under according to one sole individual, whom I shall not name."
The Farkas set is the basis of most lip buzzing embouchures. Mendez did teach lip buzzing and got great results. One can initiate this type of buzz by using the same sensation as spitting seeds, but maintaining a continued flow of air. This technique assists the development of the Farkas approach by preventing the player from using an aperture that is too open.
Stevens-Costello embouchure has its origins in the William Costello embouchure and was further developed by Roy Stevens. It uses a slight rolling in of both lips and touching evenly all the way across. It also uses mouthpiece placement of about 40% to 50% top lip and 60% to 50% lower lip. The teeth will be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch apart and the teeth are parallel or the jaw slightly forward.
There is relative mouthpiece pressure to the given air column. One exercise to practice the proper weight to air relationship is the palm exercise where you hold your horn by laying it on its side in the palm of your hand. Do not grasp it. Place your lips on the mouthpiece and blow utilizing the weight of the horn in establishing a sound.
A rare, puckered embouchure, sometimes used by jazz players for extremely high "screamer" notes. Maggio claimed that the pucker embouchure gives more endurance than some systems. Carlton MacBeth is the main proponent of the pucker embouchure. The Maggio system was established because Louis Maggio had sustained an injury which prevented him from playing. In this system you cushion the lips by extending them or puckering (like a monkey). This puckering enables the players to overcome physical malformations. It also lets the player play for an extended time in the upper register. The pucker can make it easy to use to open an aperture. Lots of very soft practice can help overcome this. Claude Gordon was student of Louis Maggio and Herbert L. Clarke and systematized the concepts of these teachers. Claude Gordon made use of pedal tones for embouchure development as did Maggio and Herbert L. Clarke. All three stressed that the mouthpiece should be placed higher on the top lip for a more free vibration of the lips.
This embouchure method, advocated by a minority of brass pedagogues such as Jerome Callet, has not yet been sufficiently researched to support the claims that this system is the most effective approach for all brass performers.
Advocates of Callet's approach believe that this method was recommended and taught by the great brass instructors of the early 20th Century. Two French trumpet technique books, authored by Jean-Baptiste Arban, and St. Jacome, were translated into English for use by American players. According to some, due to a misunderstanding arising from differences in pronunciation between French and English, the commonly used brass embouchure in Europe was interpreted incorrectly][. Callet attributes this difference in embouchure technique as the reason the great players of the past were able to play at the level of technical virtuosity which they did, although the increased difficulty of contemporary compositions for brass seem to indicate that the level of brass technique achieved by today's performers equals or even exceeds that of most performers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Callet's method of brass embouchure consists of the tongue remaining forward and through the teeth at all times. The corners of the mouth always remain relaxed, and only a small amount of air is used. The top and bottom lips curl inward and grip the forward tongue. The tongue will force the teeth, and subsequently the throat, wide open, supposedly resulting in a bigger, more open sound. The forward tongue resists the pressure of the mouthpiece, controls the flow of air for lower and higher notes, and protects the lips and teeth from damage or injury from mouthpiece pressure. Because of the importance of the tongue in this method many refer to this as a "tongue-controlled embouchure." This technique facilitates the use of a smaller mouthpiece, and larger bore instruments. It results in improved intonation and stronger harmonically related partials across the player's range.]
A variety of transverse flute embouchures are employed by professional flautists, though the most natural form is perfectly symmetrical, the corners of the mouth relaxed (i.e. not smiling), the lower lip placed along and at a short distance from the embouchure hole. It must be stressed, however, that achieving a symmetrical, or perfectly centred blowing hole ought not to be an end in itself. Indeed Marcel Moyse, the owner of the next quotation, did not play with a symmetrical embouchure.
The end-blown xiao, kaval, shakuhachi and hocchiku flutes demand especially difficult embouchures, sometimes requiring many lessons before any sound can be produced.
The embouchure is an important element to tone production. The right embouchure, developed with "time, patience, and intelligent work", will produce a beautiful sound and a correct intonation. The embouchure is produced with the muscles around the lips: principally the obicularis oris muscle and the depressor anguli oris, whilst avoiding activiation of zygomaticus major, which will produce a smile, flattening the top lip against the maxillary (upper jaw) teeth. Beginner flute-players tend to suffer fatigue in these muscles, and notably struggle to use the depressor muscle, which necessarily helps to keep the top lip directing the flow of air across the embouchure hole. These muscles have to be properly warmed up and exercised before practicing. Tone development exercises including long notes and harmonics must be done as part of the warm up every day.
Some further adjustments to the embouchure are necessary when moving from the transverse orchestral flute to the piccolo. With the piccolo, it becomes necessary to place the near side of the embouchure hole slightly higher on the lower lip, i.e. above the lip margin, and greater muscle tone from the lip muscles is needed to keep the stream/pressure of air directed across the smaller embouchure hole, particularly when playing in higher piccolo registers
With the woodwinds, aside from the flute, piccolo, and recorder, the sound is generated by a reed and not with the lips. The embouchure is therefore based on sealing the area around the reed and the mouthpiece. This serves to prevent air from escaping while simultaneously supporting the reed allowing it to vibrate, and to constrict the reed preventing it from vibrating too much. With woodwinds, it is important to ensure that the mouthpiece is not placed too far into the mouth, which would result in too much vibration (no control), often creating a sound an octave (or harmonic twelfth for the clarinet) above the intended note. If the mouthpiece is not placed far enough into the mouth, no noise will be generated, as the reed will not vibrate.
The embouchure for single reed woodwinds like the clarinet and saxophone is formed by resting the reed upon the bottom lip, which rests on the teeth and is supported by the chin muscles and the buccinator muscles on the sides of the mouth. The top teeth then rest on top of the mouthpiece. In both saxophone and clarinet playing, the corners of the mouth are brought inwards (similar to a drawstring bag) in order to create a seal. With the less common double-lip embouchure, the top lip is placed under (around) the top teeth. In both instances, the position of the tongue in the mouth plays a vital role in focusing and accelerating the air stream blown by the player. This results in a more mature and full sound, rich in overtones.
The double reed woodwinds, the oboe and bassoon, have no mouthpiece. Instead the reed is two pieces of cane extending from a metal tube (oboe - staple) or placed on a bocal (bassoon, English horn). The reed is placed directly on the lips and then played like the double-lip embouchure described above. Compared to the single reed woodwinds, the reed is very small and subtle changes in the embouchure can have a dramatic effect on tuning, tone and pitch control.
Recent "waterflute" installations as fountains in public parks allow for a kind of reverse-embouchure. Whereas traditional instruments are supplied with compressible fluid (air) from the mouth of a player, the new waterflutes supply incompressible fluid (water) to the player, and sound is made when the player resists this supply of fluid. Water flows out through mouths of the instrument and the player blocks this flow of water to make sound. As a result, the player can put one finger in each of several of the instrument's mouths, to play a chord, while independently controlling the embouchure of the sound made at each mouth. Additionally, the player's own mouth is free to sing along with the instrument, while the player can independently affect the sound of each of several different musical parts with this "finger embouchure". Such instruments are referred to as hydraulophones. Finger-embouchure can be used to make a wide variety of sounds, ranging from a buzzing sound like that made by a defective faucet, to a very pure tone similar to the sound made by a glass harmonica. Finger embouchure can also be used to affect the intonation or temperament. For example, a skilled hydraulist can use finger-embouchure to remain in a just intonation while changing keys, or to fluidly vary the intonation of a chord while it is sounding.
The sousaphone is a brass instrument, related to the tuba and hélicon. It is widely employed in marching band and tanjidor. Designed so that it fits around the body of the musician and is supported by the left shoulder, the sousaphone may be readily played while being carried. The instrument is named after American bandmaster and composer John Philip Sousa, who popularized its use in his band.
The sousaphone was developed in the 1890s at the request of John Philip Sousa, who was unhappy with the hélicons used at that time by the United States Marine Band. The first sousaphone was developed by C.G. Conn, in 1898. The hélicon is an instrument that is wrapped in a helical shape and can thus be worn around the player's upper body, facilitating marching activities. Most tuba-sized hélicons have a bell which points between straight up and to the player's left, and the bell is similar in size to that of a common European-style upright tuba. Sousa wanted a tuba that would send sound upward and over the band with a full warm tone, much like a concert (upright) tuba, an effect which could not be achieved with the more directional hélicon bell position. The new hélicon requested by Sousa would have an oversized bell pointing straight up, but otherwise would be like a normal hélicon.
Contrary to popular belief, the sousaphone was not initially developed as a marching instrument, as the professional band Sousa started after leaving the Marines (for which he wanted this new instrument) marched only once in its existence. Rather, Sousa wanted a concert instrument which would be easier to hold and play, while retaining a full, rich sound. The tone he sought was achieved by widening the bore and throat of the instrument significantly, as well as pointing it straight upward in a similar manner to concert instruments, a feature which led to the instrument being dubbed a "rain-catcher". Some versions of this design allowed the bell to also rotate forward, projecting the sound to the front of the band. This bell configuration remained the standard for several decades. Versions with the characteristic extra 90° bend making a forward-facing bell were developed in the early 1900s. Early sousaphones had 22-inch-diameter (560 mm) bells, with 24-inch (610 mm) bells popular in the 1920s. From the mid-1930s onward, sousaphone bells have been standardized at a diameter of 26 inches (660 mm). Some larger sousaphones (Monster, Grand, Jumbo, or Giant, depending on brand) were produced in limited quantities (more details below).
The sousaphone is a valved brass instrument with the same tube length and musical range as other tubas. The sousaphone's shape is such that the bell is above the tubist's head and projecting forward. The valves are situated directly in front of the musician slightly above the waist and most of the weight rests on one shoulder. The bell is normally detachable from the instrument body to facilitate transportation and storage. Excepting the instrument's general shape and appearance, the sousaphone is technically very similar to a standard (upright) tuba.
For simplicity and durability, modern sousaphones almost definitively use three non-compensating piston valves in their construction, in direct contrast to their concert counterparts' large variation in number, type, and orientation. It has been incorrectly noted that the tuba is a conical brass instrument and the sousaphone is a cylindrical brass instrument; actually both instruments are semi-conical—no valved brass instrument can be entirely conical, since the middle section with the valves must be cylindrical. While the degree of conicity of the bore does affect the timbre of the instrument much as in a cornet and trumpet, or a euphonium and a trombone, the bore profile of a sousaphone and most tubas is similar.
Most sousaphones are manufactured from sheet brass, usually yellow or silver, with silver, lacquer, and gold plating options, much like many brass instruments. However, the sousaphone (uniquely) is also commonly seen manufactured from fibreglass, due to its lower cost, greater durability, and significantly lighter weight.
Most modern sousaphones are made in the key of BB♭ (Low B Flat) and like tubas (which are commonly made in pitches of BB♭, CC, EE♭, and F) the instrument's part is written in "concert pitch", not transposed by key for a specific instrument. Although Sousaphones have a slightly more restricted range than their orchestral Tuba counterpart, generally they can all play the same music and usually have parts written in the bass clef and the indicated octave is played (unlike Double Bass or Electric Bass that sound an octave lower than the indicated note.) Many older Sousaphones were pitched in the key of E♭ but current production of Sousaphones in that key is somewhat limited. Some tuba music (especially in brass bands) has parts written in the treble clef and is transposed in both pitch and key.
Although most major instrument manufacturers have made, and many continue to make, sousaphones, Conn and King (H.N. White) instruments are generally agreed among players to be the standards against which other sousaphones are judged for tone quality and playability. Perhaps the most highly regarded sousaphone ever built is the .734-inch-bore (18.6 mm) Conn model 20K, introduced in the mid-1930s and still in production. Some players, especially those who find the 20K excessively heavy for marching, prefer the slightly smaller .687-inch-bore (17.4 mm) King model 1250, first made in the late 1920s and also still in production as the model 2350. Historically, Holton, York and Martin sousaphones have sometimes been considered fine horns. Unlike with other brass instruments generally, and tubas in particular, some players dislike the sousaphones made by non-American manufacturers.
Very large bore (>= 0.750 inch) sousaphones, with oversized bells as large as 32" in diameter, were made by Conn ("Grand Jumbo" [46K (3-valve) & 48K (4-valve)]) and King ("Jumbo" [1265 (3- & 4-valve versions)] & "Giant" [1270 (3-valve) & 1271 (4-value)]) in the mid-1920s and 1930s, and by Martin, York, & Buescher, but they disappeared from the catalogs during the Depression or at the onset of World War II. Because of their weight and cost, few were made and even fewer survive, especially the 4-valve models.
In recent years, sousaphones have been available made of fiberglass reinforced plastics instead of brass. Today, the fiberglass versions are mainly used for marching, with brass instruments being used for all other situations. In schools that cannot afford two kinds of tuba for each player, having only the sousaphone type is common. Depending on the model, the fiberglass version normally does not have as dark and rich a tone as the brass (King fiberglass sousaphones tended to have smooth fiberglass and a tone somewhat more like a brass sousaphone; Conn fiberglass sousaphones often had rough fiberglass exteriors and a thinner sound; the Conn was also lighter). Regardless, fiberglass sousaphones are lighter than their brass counterparts and work well for smaller players who could not otherwise play the heavy brass instruments in a marching band. Although the tone of fiberglass models tends to be thinner and less "warm" (earning them the nicknames "Plastic Bugle", "White Trash", "Toilet Bowels", and "Tupperware" among players in some ensembles), it is considered acceptable by the high schools in which the instrument is most common due to the tradeoff in durability, cost, and weight. Despite the disdain of sousaphones held by most serious tuba players, a quality modern sousaphone is often a better choice for the high school or semi-pro player due to more stable intonation and less breath effort needed to generate tone.
In the 1920s and 1930s, four-valved sousaphones were often used by professional players, especially E♭ sousaphones; today, however, four-valved B♭ sousaphones are uncommon and are prized by collectors, especially those made by Conn, King (H.N. White), and Holton. Jupiter Company has started production of four-valve BB♭ sousaphones in the late 2000s. Criticisms of fourth valve on a Sousaphone center around additional weight and increased air resistance (the fourth valve tubing increases the length of the instrument by 1/3).
Due to the large size of most sousaphones, the sub-contra register (for which the fourth valve is largely intended) is already covered by alternate resonances, known as "false tones" (see Tuba article). Many beginners are not aware of the false-tone resonances on their sousaphones because these notes reside in the sub-contra register, which is nearly impossible for most beginners to access. Some professionals develop a "raised embouchure" to securely play these notes. This is where either the upper or lower lip (depending on the player) takes up most of the mouthpiece area. The embouchure provides almost twice the room for vibration of the single lip (compared to the 50–50 embouchure).
Asian sousaphones made in China and India are now gaining popularity in the street band market. In Switzerland and Southern Germany, "Guggenmusik" bands often use these instruments that provide great display and passable intonation. Most are tuned in E. Brands like Zweiss with older British designs make affordable sousaphones that have broken the €500 barrier. These are mostly in the medium-bell size of 23 inches (580 mm). Chinese brands are mostly reverse-engineered models and quite passable.
In large marching bands of the United States, the bell is often covered with a tight fitting cloth, called a sock, which enables the sousaphone section to spell out the school's name, initials, or mascot. The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band Tööbz! have a tradition of painting the front surface of their Sousaphone bells with a variety of images.
Sousaphone players are also known to perform the 'flaming tubas' in which flash paper is ignited in the bell, thus making it appear as if the musician is breathing fire. David Silverman (AKA Tubatron ) developed a propane powered flaming Sousaphone with a trigger valve to control an array of flame jets across the top of the bell of his horn. The Yale Precision Marching Band has made a tradition of setting fire to the tops of the bells of their sousaphones, including in the fall of 1992 when sousaphones served as the "candles" of a "wedding cake" formed by the band when two band alumni were married during a halftime show. They also utilize what they refer to as the "Überphone", a sousaphone that was disassembled from its coiled format and welded back together on a twelve-foot frame to extend straight up from the player's shoulders.
John Philip Sousa was a benefactor of the University of Illinois music program and a friend of the university's Director of Bands Albert Austin Harding. The Marching Illini became the first band to march and play at the same time, and were the first band to use sousaphones on the field.][
The sousaphone sections of some marching bands have developed specialized performance traditions. The University of California Marching Band Bass section traditionally "struts" during the band's pregame show. During the "strut" the section separates from the rest of the band, circles the North goal post, and rejoins the band to complete the Script Cal. The University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band sousaphones play John Williams' "Imperial March" from Star Wars when crossing streets on their way to and from performances on the USC campus. When The Ohio State University Marching Band performs its traditional Script Ohio formation, a senior sousaphone player dots the "i".
The University of Delaware Fightin' Blue Hen Marching Band has several traditions involving sousaphone players. During pre-game, they branch off from the rest of the band. From here, the sousaphone players run in a snake around the field jumping to drum line cadence. At most pre-games they act out a skit as well. At post game, "In My Life" by The Beatles is played featuring a sousaphone solo while the band sings.
After every pre-game show at Florida State University when the section (known by all the marching band members as "Flush") run in a circle around the Seminole head on the field with the head drum major in the center of the circle. This is called "Flushing the field," hence the nickname, "Flush."
The Virginia Tech Marching Virginians perform a version of the Hokie Pokie featuring the sousaphone section putting their sousaphones in, taking their sousaphones out, putting their sousaphones in, and shaking them all about – followed by an all-sousaphone kick line.
For the last 20 years The University of Idaho Vandals Marching Band Sousaphone section all wear long skirts that were originally used by the 1948 University Women's Chorus. University of Idaho Vandals Sousaphone Section
The sousaphone is an important fixture of the New Orleans brass band tradition, and is still used in groups such as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band by Kirk Joseph. Soul Rebels Brass Band from New Orleans features sousaphone player Edward Lee.
Sinaloa, a state of Mexico, has a type of music called Banda Sinaloense, and the sousaphone is used there as a tuba.
Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson from The Roots plays a Sousaphone on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Sousaphonist Mike Hogg and his band BS Brass Band have produced three albums of jazz, funk and New Orleans R&B and regularly entertain Chicago crowds during Mardi Gras. Hogg also plays tuba with the Prohibition Orchestra and Jeff Newell's New-Trad Octet.
Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States, was a sousaphone player.
The baritone horn is a low-pitched brass instrument. Baritone horn is a piston valve brass instrument with a predominantly cylindrical bore like the trumpet and uses a wide-rimmed cup mouthpiece like that of its peers the trombone and euphonium, for like the trombone and the euphonium, the baritone horn is pitched in B one octave below the B trumpet.
In the UK the baritone is frequently found in brass bands. The baritone horn in the United States is common in school and university bands, the baritones found in school inventories often being older models as the instrument over time appears to be yielding in popularity to the euphonium.
A person who plays a baritone horn is a baritone (horn) player or baritonist.
The baritone, like the trombone and euphonium is a nine-foot brass tube. Valves are most often piston-style. It is predominately of cylindrical bore, in contrast to the more conical bore of the euphonium, rendering its attack more distinct than the rounder attack of the euphonium.
The baritone is pitched in concert B meaning that when no valves are in use the instrument will produce partials of the B harmonic series. Music for the baritone horn can be written in either the bass clef or the treble clef. When reading from the bass clef, the baritone horn is a non-transposing instrument. However, when written in the treble clef it is often used as transposing instrument, transposing downwards a major ninth, so that written middle C for the baritone is concert B below low C, with the fingerings thus matching those of the trumpet but sounding an octave lower. It is often used to play parts written for the similarly pitched tenor trombone or euphonium.
The baritone is part of the low brass section of the band. Its second partial with no valves pressed is concert B on the second line from the bottom of the bass clef. The eighth partial with no valves pressed is concert B in the center of the treble clef. Experienced amateur players can often reach a fifth above that to the concert F at the top of the treble clef, with higher notes reachable by the virtuoso.
The slightly erroneous diagram at the right shows the range ascending from the first partial with all valves pressed, i.e., the lowest fundamental available being concert third low F. In reality, the lowest B baritone fundamental with all valves pressed is concert third low E, a semitone below the note shown in the diagram.
The baritone sounds with a timbre between the brightness of the trombone and the more mellow tone of the euphonium.
Although both baritone horn and euphonium produce partials of the B harmonic series in the same range, and both have a nine-foot-long main tube, the baritone horn tends to have a smaller and more cylindrical bore than the euphonium. The baritone horn usually has a tighter wrap and a smaller bell, and is thus smaller and lighter overall, and produces a "lighter" sound versus the more solid, brassy timbre of the euphonium.
There is some confusion of nomenclature in the United States due to the old practice of American euphonium manufacturers calling their professional models by their proper names, and branding entry-level student models as baritones. This practice has nearly stopped. True baritone horns are sometimes called "British-bore Baritones" in the US to avoid this confusion.
Another common misconception is that the three-valve instrument is a baritone and that the four-valve instrument is a euphonium. Euphoniums often have a fourth valve as an alternate fingering for 1&3 split fingering with improved intonation. The fourth valve can also be viewed in the same way as an F trigger on trombone, repitching the instrument to expand the lower range. The fourth valve is less common to nearly nonexistent on baritones, but absence of a fourth valve is not a defining characteristic.
An "American baritone", featuring three valves on the front of the instrument and a curved forward-pointing bell, was common in American school bands throughout most of the twentieth century. While this instrument is in reality a conical-cylindrical bore hybrid, neither truly euphonium nor baritone, it was almost universally labeled a "baritone" by both band directors and composers.][
Specially wrapped versions of the baritone horn have been created for use in marching bands and Drum and Bugle Corps. They have 3 valves and a front-facing bell and are the tenor voice of a drum and bugle corps, below the soprano voice of the trumpet, the alto voice of alto horn or mellophone, and above the low contrabass bugles or tubas.
Over the past several decades, the baritone advanced in the drum and bugle corps due to certain rule changes. Up until 1977, baritone bugles, as with all bugles at the time, were restricted to one horizontal piston valve and one rotary valve. That year, the Drum Corps International rules congress passed a rule allowing 2 vertical piston valves. The rules were amended once more in 1989 permitting the addition of a third valve. From the 1950s until 2000, all drum and bugle corps were required to use instruments pitched in the key of G. That year, Drum Corps International changed its rules again, allowing instruments in any key, with most other major organizations (e.g. Drum Corps Associates) following suit soon after. Since this change, the standard baritone has been the instrument pitched in B.
Some high school and college bands do not use marching baritones and continue to use upright-bell front baritone horns on the field.
Some marching bands substitute a section of baritones for the trombone or euphonium section][.
The baritone horn has largely receded into the background in the concert band world of today. Notable artists who are today referenced as great baritone horn and/or euphonium players include Mel Sykes, Simone Mantia, and Leonard Falcone. The Leonard Falcone International Tuba and Euphonium Festival is a notable venue for aspiring artists on euphonium, but its namesake played baritone horn on his many recordings. Legendary trumpeter Maynard Ferguson used a baritone horn in the song "Gospel John" and in one of his three solos (the other two involving a valved trombone and a trumpet) in a live performance of one of his songs "Great Guns".
A brass instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips. Brass instruments are also called labrosones, literally meaning "lip-vibrated instruments".
There are several factors involved in producing different pitches on a brass instrument. Slides, valves, crooks, or keys are used to change vibratory length of tubing, thus changing the available harmonic series, while the player's embouchure, lip tension and air flow serve to select the specific harmonic produced from the available series.
The view of most scholars (see organology) is that the term "brass instrument" should be defined by the way the sound is made, as above, and not by whether the instrument is actually made of brass. Thus one finds brass instruments made of wood, like the alphorn, the cornett, the serpent and the didgeridoo, while some woodwind instruments are made of brass, like the saxophone.
Modern brass instruments generally come in one of two families:
There are two other families that have, in general, become functionally obsolete for practical purposes. Instruments of both types, however, are sometimes used for period-instrument performances of Baroque or Classical pieces. In more modern compositions, they are occasionally used for their intonation or tone color.
Brass instruments may also be characterised by two generalizations about geometry of the bore, that is, the tubing between the mouthpiece and the flaring of the tubing into the bell. Those two generalizations are with regard to
While all modern valved and slide brass instruments consist in part of conical and in part of cylindrical tubing, they are divided as follows:
The second division, based on bore diameter in relation to length, determines whether the fundamental tone or the first overtone is the lowest partial practically available to the player:
The instruments in this list fall for various reasons outside the scope of much of the discussion above regarding families of brass instruments.
Valves are used to change the length of tubing of a brass instrument allowing the player to reach the notes of various harmonic series. Each valve pressed diverts the air stream through additional tubing, individually or in conjunction with other valves. This lengthens the vibrating air column thus lowering the fundamental tone and associated harmonic series produced by the instrument. Designs exist, although rare, in which this behaviour is reversed, i.e., pressing a valve removes a length of tubing rather than adding one. One modern example of such an ascending valve is the Yamaha YSL-350C trombone, in which the extra valve tubing is normally engaged to pitch the instrument in Bb, and pressing the thumb lever removes a whole step to pitch the instrument in C. Valves require regular lubrication.
A core standard valve layout based on the action of three valves had become almost universal by (at latest) 1864 as witnessed by Arban's Method published in that year. The effect of a particular combination of valves may be seen in the table below. This table is correct for the core 3-valve layout on almost any modern valved brass instrument. The most common four-valve layout is a superset of the well-established 3-valve layout and is noted in the table, despite the exposition of four-valve and also five-valve systems (the latter used on the tuba) being incomplete in this article.
For example, given a length of tubing equaling 100 inches when open, one may obtain the following tuning discrepancies:
Playing notes using valves (notably 1st + 3rd and 1st + 2nd + 3rd) requires compensation to adjust the tuning appropriately, either by the player's lip-and-breath control, via mechanical assistance of some sort, or, in the case of horns, by the position of the stopping hand in the bell. 'T' stands for trigger on a trombone.
The additional tubing for each valve usually features a short tuning slide of its own for fine adjustment of the valve's tuning, except when it is too short to make this practicable. For the first and third valves this is often designed to be adjusted as the instrument is played, to account for the deficiencies in the valve system.
In most trumpets and cornets, the compensation must be provided by extending the third valve slide with the third or fourth finger, and the first valve slide with the left hand thumb (see Trigger or throw below). This is used to lower the pitch of the 1-3 and 1-2-3 valve combinations. On the trumpet and cornet, these valve combinations correspond to low D, low C, low G, and low F, so chromatically, to stay in tune, one must use this method.
In instruments with a fourth valve, such as tubas, euphoniums, piccolo trumpets, etc. that valve lowers the pitch by a perfect fourth; this is used to compensate for the sharpness of the valve combinations 1-3 and 1-2-3 (4 replaces 1-3, 2-4 replaces 1-2-3). All three normal valves may be used in addition to the fourth to increase the instrument's range downwards by a perfect fourth, although with increasingly severe intonation problems.
When four-valved models without any kind of compensation play in the corresponding register, the sharpness becomes so severe that players must finger the note a half-step below the one they are trying to play. This eliminates the note a half-step above their open fundamental.
Manufacturers of low brass instruments may choose one or a combination of four basic approaches to compensate for the tuning difficulties, whose respective merits are subject to debate:
In the Compensation system, each of the first two (or three) valves has an additional set of tubing extending from the back of the valve. When the third (or fourth) valve is depressed in combination with another one, the air is routed through both the usual set of tubing plus the extra one, so that the pitch is lowered by an appropriate amount. This allows compensating instruments to play with accurate intonation in the octave below their open second partial, which is critical for tubas and euphoniums in much of their repertoire.
The compensating system was applied to horns to serve a different purpose. It was used to allow a double horn in F and B flat to ease playing difficulties in the high register. In contrast to the system in use in tubas and euphoniums, the default 'side' of the horn is the longer F horn, with secondary lengths of tubing coming into play when the first, second or third valves are pressed; pressing the thumb valve takes these secondary valve slides and the extra length of main tubing out of play to produce a shorter B-flat horn. A later "full double" design has completely separate valve section tubing for the two sides, and is considered superior, although rather heavier in weight.
Initially, compensated instruments tended to sound stuffy and blow less freely due to the air being doubled back through the main valves. In early designs, this led to sharp bends in the tubing and other obstructions of the air-flow. Some manufacturers therefore preferred adding more ‘straight’ valves instead, which for example could be pitched a little lower than the 2nd and 1st valves and were intended to be used instead of these in the respective valve combinations. While no longer featured in euphoniums for decades, many professional tubas are still built like this, with five valves being common on CC- and BB-tubas and five or six valves on F-tubas.][
Compensating double horns can also suffer from the stuffiness resulting from the air being passed through the valve section twice, but as this really only affects the longer F side, a compensating double can be very useful for a 1st or 3rd horn player, who uses the F side less.
Another approach was the addition of two sets of slides for different parts of the range. Some euphoniums and tubas were built like this, but today, this approach has become highly exotic for all instruments except horns, where it is the norm, usually in a double, sometimes even triple configuration.
Some valved brass instruments provide triggers or throws that manually lengthen (or, less commonly, shorten) the main tuning slide, a valve slide, or the main tubing. These mechanisms alter the pitch of notes that are naturally sharp in a specific register of the instrument, or shift the instrument to another playing range. Triggers and throws permit speedy adjustment while playing.
Trigger is used in two senses:
A throw is a simple metal grip for the player's finger or thumb, attached to a valve slide. The general term "throw" can describe a u-hook, a saddle (u-shaped grips), or a ring (ring-shape grip) in which a player's finger or thumb rests. A player extends a finger or thumb to lengthen a slide, and retracts the finger to return the slide to its original position.
Triggers or throws are sometimes found on the first valve slide. They are operated by the player's thumb and are used to adjust a large range of notes using the first valve, most notably the player's written top line F, the A above directly above that, and the B above that. Other notes that require the first valve slide, but are not as problematic without it include the first line E, the F above that, the A above that, and the third line B.
Triggers or throws are often found on the third valve slide. They are operated by the player's fourth finger, and are used to adjust the lower D and C. Trumpets typically use throws, whilst cornets may have a throw or trigger.
Trombone triggers are primarily but not exclusively installed on the F-trigger, bass, and contrabass trombones to alter the length of tubing, thus making certain ranges and pitches more accessible.
A euphonium occasionally has a trigger on valves other than 2 (especially 3), although many professional quality euphoniums, and indeed other brass band instruments, have a trigger for the main tuning slide.
The two major types of valve mechanisms are rotary valves and piston valves. The first piston valve instruments were developed just after the start of the 19th century. The Stölzel valve (invented by Heinrich Stölzel in 1814) was an early variety. In the mid 19th century the Vienna valve was an improved design. However many professional musicians preferred rotary valves for quicker, more reliable action, until better designs of piston valves were mass manufactured towards the end of the 19th century. Since the early decades of the 20th century, piston valves have been the most common on brass instruments except for the orchestral horn and the tuba. See also the article Brass Instrument Valves.
Because the player of a brass instrument has direct control of the prime vibrator (the lips), brass instruments exploit the player's ability to select the harmonic at which the instrument's column of air vibrates. By making the instrument about twice as long as the equivalent woodwind instrument and starting with the second harmonic, players can get a good range of notes simply by varying the tension of their lips (see embouchure).
Most brass instruments are fitted with a removable mouthpiece. Different shapes, sizes and styles of mouthpiece may be used to suit different embouchures, or to more easily produce certain tonal characteristics. Trumpets, trombones, and tubas are characteristically fitted with a cupped mouthpiece, while horns are fitted with a conical mouthpiece.
One interesting difference between a woodwind instrument and a brass instrument is that woodwind instruments are non-directional. This means that the sound produced propagates in all directions with approximately equal volume. Brass instruments, on the other hand, are highly directional, with most of the sound produced traveling straight outward from the bell. This difference makes it significantly more difficult to record a brass instrument accurately. It also plays a major role in some performance situations, such as in marching bands.
Traditionally the instruments are normally made of brass, polished and then lacquered to prevent corrosion. Some higher quality and higher cost instruments use gold or silver plating to prevent corrosion. A few specialty instruments are made from wood.
Alternatives to brass include other alloys containing significant amounts of copper or silver. These alloys are biostatic due to the oligodynamic effect, and thus suppress growth of molds, fungi or bacteria. Brass instruments constructed from stainless steel or aluminium have good sound quality but are rapidly colonized by microorganisms and become unpleasant to play.
Most higher quality instruments are designed to prevent or reduce galvanic corrosion between any steel in the valves and springs, and the brass of the tubing. This may take the form of desiccant design, to keep the valves dry, sacrificial zincs, replaceable valve cores and springs, plastic insulating washers, or nonconductive or noble materials for the valve cores and springs. Some instruments use several such features.
The process of making the large open end (bell) of a brass instrument is called metal beating. In making the bell of, for example, a trumpet, a person lays out a pattern and shapes sheet metal into a bell-shape using templates, machine tools, handtools, and blueprints. The maker cuts out the bell blank, using hand or power shears. He hammers the blank over a bell-shaped mandrel, and butts the seam, using a notching tool. The seam is brazed, using a torch and smoothed using a hammer or file. A draw bench or arbor press equipped with expandable lead plug is used to shape and smooth the bell and bell neck over a mandrel. A lathe is used to spin the bell head and to form a bead at the edge of bell head. Previously shaped bell necks are annealed, using a hand torch to soften the metal for further bending. Scratches are removed from the bell using abrasive-coated cloth.
Brass instruments are one of the major classical instrument families and are played across a range of musical ensembles.
Orchestras include a varying number of brass instruments depending on music style and era, typically:
British brass bands are made entirely up of brass, mostly conical bore instruments. Typical membership is:
quintets are common small brass ensembles, a quintet typically contains:
Big Bands and other jazz bands commonly contain cylindrical bore brass instruments
Concert bands have similar brass instrumentation to an orchestra, typically:
Mexican Bandas have:
Single brass instruments are also often used to accompany other instruments or ensembles such as an organ, or a choir.
There are many different types of trombone. The most frequently encountered trombones today are the tenor and bass, though as with other Renaissance instruments such as the recorder, the trombone has been built in every size from piccolo to contrabass (pitch of brass instruments). See trombone for information about the instrument in general.
The contrabass trombone is usually pitched in 12' F a perfect fourth lower than the modern tenor or bass trombone and has been through a number of changes in its history. Its first incarnation during the Renaissance was in 18' B♭ as the "Octav-posaune". During this period it was built as an oversized bass trombone with a long slide and extension handle to reach the lower positions. The innovation of the double slide, in which the slide is wound back on itself to produce four tubes, each of which moves in tandem with its partner and halves the usual length of the slide shifts, took place towards the end of this period and was applied to the bass and contrabass trombones. During the nineteenth century, the contrabass trombone enjoyed a revival and it was constructed according to the double slide principle.
The sackbut is a trombone from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, i.e., a brass instrument, similar to the trumpet except characterised by a telescopic slide with which the player varies the length of the tube to change pitches, thus allowing them to obtain chromaticism, as well as easy and accurate doubling of voices. More delicately constructed than their modern counterparts, and featuring a softer, more flexible sound, they attracted a more sizeable repertoire]citation needed[ of original chamber and vocal music than many instruments contemporary with them.
The first reference to a slide instrument was probably trompette des ménestrels, first found in Burgundy in the 1420s and later in other regions of Europe. The name distinguished the instrument from the trompettes de guerre (war trumpets), which were of fixed length.
A brass instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips. Brass instruments are also called labrosones, literally meaning "lip-vibrated instruments".
There are several factors involved in producing different pitches on a brass instrument. Slides, valves, crooks, or keys are used to change vibratory length of tubing, thus changing the available harmonic series, while the player's embouchure, lip tension and air flow serve to select the specific harmonic produced from the available series. Music
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