Many people are surprised to learn that the name brass instrument may actually be a misnomer. Though these instruments are indeed most often made from brass, this is not always the case. Instead, they are classified based on their production of sound — vibrations that come from the players’ lips. The control the player wields over the airflow and lip shape is known as the embouchure, which works in conjunction with the instrument’s valve, keys, or slide to create the pitch and volume.
About Brass Instruments
Brass instruments create a distinctive sound, making them great for a range of musical contexts. Perhaps brass instruments are most commonly associated with military and marching bands, though — or symphony productions that utilize brass heavily. Brass instruments tend to be louder than any other class of instrument, so they’re ideal for dramatic pieces of music that demand bold instrumentation. Musicians who are interested in picking up brass instruments can choose from any of the following most popular selections.
Trumpets are integral to the jazz genre, but they’re commonly heard in rock and pop, too. The versatility of this instrument, in fact, is one of its most appealing traits. Other characteristics include its high register — higher than any other brass instrument — which can pose a challenge to younger, learning musicians aiming to hit high notes. The challenge is often worth the work, though, when they are able to play a piece with ease.
One of the lesser-known members of the brass family, the flugelhorn, originated in Germany around the beginning of the 19th century. It is now commonly featured in jazz compositions and is similar to both the cornet and the trumpet. The flugelhorn boasts a darker tone and larger bell than a trumpet, though, making it a distinctly unique instrument. These differences also make it slightly more difficult to learn than a trumpet but are often preferred over the trumpet for melodic compositions.
The trombone is said to have originated in mid-15th century Belgium as an accompaniment to church music. As time went on, the use of this instrument evolved, and it became a common addition to orchestras and eventually became a staple of jazz music. Like other brass instruments, the player controls the sound by blowing into the mouthpiece, but the trombone is unique because players control the notes by moving the instrument’s slide.
The French horn is one of the most iconic brass instruments, but contrary to the implication of its name, it actually originates in Germany. The defining feature of this instrument is the long tube portion — typically extending to at least 20 feet — coiled to be held by the player. Also notable is its place as the third-highest register in the brass family. Musicians can choose between a single tube model or a double tube horn. The single tube is typically better suited for beginners, while the double tube is ideal for accomplished musicians seeking a challenge.
A staple of military bands around the world, the euphonium is a classic brass instrument that dates back to the early 19th century. The broad range and unique tone color make it a unique addition to any composition, but it’s the tubing that creates the euphonium’s remarkable sound. The diameter of the tubing of the instrument expands through its length, giving it a uniquely gentle yet striking tone.
The tuba — also known as the brass bass — boasts the lowest pitch of any instrument in the brass family. Originally constructed from wood and played in medieval times, it’s not commonly found in jazz bands and full orchestras. The brass of the instrument is typically electroplated with silver, copper, or nickel, giving it a thermodynamic finish. Variations of the instrument include the contrabass, tenor, subcontrabass, and bass tubas.
Choosing the right mouthpiece for your brass instrument is one of the most important considerations. There are a variety of different mouthpieces to choose from, so you must research your options before making a decision. One of the most common mouthpieces is a brass mute. These devices are used to lower the volume or alter the tone of the instrument, and they are most commonly made from materials such as aluminum, brass, or copper.
Brass Mutes, Accessories, Cases & More at Milano Music
Mutes aren’t the only accessory you might need for your brass instrument. Every instrument needs a case for safe carry to and from performances and practice. You also need a mouthpiece and a case for the mouthpiece. Finally, if you want to keep your brass instrument in great condition, it’s wise to invest in a cleaning kit that’ll help you maintain it properly. You can find all of these accessories and more at Milano Music Center.
Brass Instruments for Pros
Milano Music Center specializes in brass instruments and accessories for clients throughout the Mesa, AZ area. We also serve East Valley, South Scottsdale, and the greater valley area. If you’re looking for a new trumpet or tuba, let us help you find the right brass for your needs. Reach out to us at (480) 827-1111 or shop online to see our selection.