Brass Instruments Facts

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Brass instruments are wind instruments that are often made of both brass and nickel. Although most brass instruments were originally intended to accompany sacred vocal ensembles, their versatility lead to their widespread use in all types of musical styles.

Sound Production

  • On brass instruments, sound is produced by vibrating lips placed on a mouthpiece. The formation of the vibrating lips as they are placed on the mouthpiece is referred to as the embouchure.This results in a column of air being enclosed within the instrument's tubing. This column of air is then manipulated by the mechanics of the instruments (valves and slides).

Types

  • Major types of brass instruments include trumpets, trombones, French horns, baritones/euphoniums and tubas. Within these major types are varieties of each instrument that include the piccolo trumpet, alto trombone, bass trombone, cornet and sousaphone.

Design

  • Each brass instrument consists of four major parts: the mouthpiece, lead pipe, slide or valve mechanism and the tapered bell. The only purpose of the bell is to amplify the sound that the rest of the instrument makes.

Function

  • Notable musical genres that often employ brass instruments include classical, jazz, reggae, alternative rock and R&B.

Performance

  • Besides being popular in orchestras and bands, brass musicians often perform in groups, the most common being quintets consisting of two trumpets, a horn, a trombone and a tuba.

Famous Musicians

  • Notable brass instrument musicians include Miles Davis (trumpet), Christian Lindberg (trombone), Oystein Baadsvik (tuba), Thomas Bacon (French horn) and Phineas Bower (euphonium).

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