How Do Trumpets Work?

Save

The Basic Idea

  • Basically, a trumpets is an amplifier, a sort of acoustic megaphone. The sound that gets amplified is the buzzing of the lips. The lip buzz is therefore the fundamental essence of a brass instrument's sound, and it works like this: The player firms the muscles of his lips, then blows air out past them at a high enough speed and pressure to make the lips buzz. This buzz has a pitch, which the player can raise or lower by tightening or loosening the lips. In this way, the lips imitate vocal chords and are "singing."

    Part of the resonance for this buzz comes in the form of the player's oral cavity, which is then amplified by the instrument. When a player buzzes into a trumpet, it forms a tone.

Overtones and Partials

  • Here's where it gets a little complicated: The pitch a player gets is partly determined by her lips, but also by something called the overtone series.

    The overtone series is an acoustical science term. It refers to the fact that any vibrating object will vibrate at a series of sympathetic harmonies. In terms of a brass instrument, this means several spaced-out pitches that lock into place while playing, called "partials."

    For the players, these feel like little shelves or notches where the muscles feel the most comfortable vibrating, because the vibrations of the lips are locking into place with the acoustics of the horn.

The Evolution of the Modern Trumpet

  • Early trumpets consisted of little more than an extremely long cone shape, which produced a different set of partials depending on its particular shape. For an entire chromatic scale (all the notes necessary for Western music), players needed several trumpets of different lengths. Because this was hardly convenient, the modern trumpet was developed to accommodate complete chromatics. First, the long cones were shortened by wrapping the tubing around itself. Then, with the invention of valves, extra tubing could be added in order to allow air to move through more or less tubing depending on what buttons you push. In essence, pushing down valves makes the trumpet shorter or longer--at least, as far as air flow is concerned.

    This, of course, describes the basics. As any experienced player can tell you, actually playing a trumpet takes years to learn and perfect!

  • Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons, PJ
Promoted By Zergnet

Comments

Resources

You May Also Like

  • How to Make a Trumpet

    Making musical instruments for children out of everyday household items is a cost-effective way of keeping up with children's whims and keeping...

  • How to Play the Trumpet Fast

    There are many important aspects to being a good musician. One of the most sought-after and impressive skills is technical mastery of...

  • How to Make a Speaking Trumpet Megaphone

    A speaking trumpet megaphone means that the sound of the trumpet mimics that of a human being. Make a speaking trumpet megaphone...

  • How to Replace & Work Trumpet Valves

    Periodically you may need to replace your trumpet valves. Find out how to replace and work trumpet valves with help from a...

  • How Do Percussion Instruments Work?

    Percussion instruments are used in a song to keep the rhythm for the other musicians in a band and enhance the sound...

  • How Do Trumpets Work?

    The valves of a trumpet create different sounds by affecting the tone and pitch of the air moving through the trumpet. Learn...

  • How a Trumpet Mute Works

    A trumpet mute is placed in the bell to change the sound of the instrument, specifically the timbre when dealing with the...

  • Exercises for Trumpets

    Everyday warm-up exercises for trumpet players involve starting on the low C and playing long tones to loosen up the muscles. Discover...

  • How Does a Trombone Work?

    A trombone works by the way your lips form and what you do with your lips to make a sound. Discover how...

  • How Do Brass Instruments Make Sound?

    Brass instruments all make sound in the same way, which comes from our lips vibrating through the mouthpiece. Discover how brass instruments...

  • How Does a Tuba Work?

    The tuba works when we vibrate sound through the mouthpiece, which then encounters something called the harmonic series. Learn how a tuba...

  • How to Play Trumpet Flats & Sharps

    To play trumpet flats and sharps, it's important to first know the differences between the two notes. Practice playing flats and sharps...

  • How to Play Lip Trills on the Trumpet

    When playing lip trills on a trumpet, you'll want to use a metronome to help you keep the beat. Work on playing...

  • How to Choose a Trombone Mouthpiece

    To choose a good trombone mouthpiece, you need to know about the rim, the shank, the throat and the cup. Choose the...

Related Searches

Check It Out

12 Tiki Essentials to Turn Your Bar Cart Into a Tropical Paradise

M
Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!