Presentation on theme: "Brass Instruments The majestic brasses in all their glory “All Hail The Brasses”"— Presentation transcript:
Brass Instruments The majestic brasses in all their glory “All Hail The Brasses”
If you see a seashell on the beach, and notice that the wind makes a sound when it hits the shell, you are watching the power of air in a confined space. If you watch wind blow over a glass bottle and moan, that is a wind instrument in action. Early human tribes used shells and horns to call each other. As a wind instrument is modified on the outside, its sound modifies as well. The earliest drawing of trumpets were found in two places: the tomb of King Tut and on the wall of a South American tribal spot in Peru. The notations in King Tut's tomb were crude but accurate, depicting a long instrument with a flared neck. Valves were a long time in coming after this introduction, so trumpets limited to the notes of the Harmonic Series of a particular key. For this reason, they were used by the Egyptians simply as indicators, or as battle signals. Greece, China, Rome, and many other ancient peoples had their own idea of what the trumpet was to look and sound like. It existed in many different ways throughout all of these cultures, and many others. Tibetians have a long, sloped tube of almost 15 feet long, while certain regions of the Andes have funnels of one inch that create noise. Clearly, wind instruments have many different ways to make sound. At a very early point in our history, trumpets also became associated with Biblical lore, especially that of Christianity. The sound of trumpets is meant to represent angels, war, and the end of the World.
The “Buzz” or embouchure Sound is simply small changes in air pressure that usually occur at a fairly constant rate. Retaining this rate for a more extended period of time at a specific frequency produces what we call a tone. Brass instruments produce tones by exciting the vibration of a column of air within a tube. The use of the lips as a sort of diaphragm for vibration at one end of the tube is what excites the column of air. Tightening the lips produces a higher buzz, which presents a higher frequency of sound, or a higher pitched note. Most tubes that could be "buzzed" into exhibit a natural preference for a certain frequency of sound waves. The buzzing of the lips will often be dragged into one of these fundamental frequencies or its "overtones." The natural frequency of the tube relies somewhat on what it is made of but more so on the length of the tube. A longer tube enables the vibrating column of air within to be longer causing a slower frequency and thus a lower note. The lowest tone that can be locked onto and produced cleanly by the lips on a certain length of tube is called the "fundamental" tone. The fundamental tone determines the "key" of the instrument. It is this production of tone that distinguishes brass instruments, not the construction material. Throughout history, these types of instruments have been made using various materials. It is very likely that the original "horns" of this type were made of bone. Probably being actual animal horns that were buzzed on the smaller end producing a fairly distinct and menacing sound. This sound was all that was necessary, as the only requirement would have been for it to be loud, as it was more often than not used as a war horn, a signal device, or to frighten away would be predators.
Ancient Brass Instruments The cornett is a hybrid instrument inasmuch as it has characteristics associated with both woodwind and brass instruments. The use of finger holes allies it to the woodwind family whereas the cupped mouthpiece relates it to brass instruments. The cornett was once a very important and much revered instrument. At the height of its popularity, cornett players were the most highly paid of all instrumentalists.
The Sackbut Sackbuts are mentioned in the Bible but this was probably poetic license by the translators rather than proof of antique existence. The sackbut was widely known throughout Europe in the late fourteenth century and by 1495, Henry VII of England had amongst his instrumental resources, four shakbusshes. In 1661, Matthew Locke composed Music for his Majesty's Sackbuts and Cornetts, giving an indication of one of the musical uses to which the sackbut was put. There were four sizes of sackbut; alto, tenor, bass and great bass with the latter two having hinged handles attached to allow greater extension of the slide to achieve the required depths. The alto, tenor and bass were to emerge as the trombone family with the tenor being the most widely used. It is difficult to say when sackbuts became trombones because the transition was gradual and seemed to depend more on terminology than constructional difference.
Serpents The serpent was an addition to the cornett family. This relationship can be justified by the fact that both instruments combine woodwind finger holes with brass mouthpieces. To achieve the bass notes required, the serpent needed to be 2.5 meters long (eight feet) so it would have been impossible to use in terms of bulk and finger hole placement. To overcome these difficulties, designers turned the long tube back upon itself. In the case of the serpent it was not to be the same solution devised by bassoon makers. They shaped the tube into curves that both shortened it and accommodated two sets of finger holes that were accessible to both hands of the player.
Mouthpieces While the length of tubing enables higher and lower tones, the mouthpiece changes the size of the vibrating diaphragm. A shallower mouthpiece allows less surface area of the lips to vibrate. This produces a higher frequency capability. A deep cup in the mouthpiece allows the lips to vibrate at a lower frequency because of the bigger size and larger surface area. Both changes in mouthpiece and air column length are used to produce maximum efficiency. The depth of the mouthpiece operates in terms of octaves and partials, which are large leaps. The length of the air column deals with semitones.
Valves In the early 1800’s, the increasing demand for the horn to play chromatically caused J.B. Dupont to invent crooks for all the various tunings of the horn. This large mass of different lengths of tubing was manipulated by the use of a slide that brought each new length into effect as it was aligned. This idea gained no real acceptance however because it was too heavy and very hard to use. Blümel of Silesia and Stötzel of Berlin developed a valve mechanism in the early 1800s. The principle of the valve is basically that of the tuning slides inserted into the horn to change key. They enable the player to insert short pieces of tubing into the main line with a single touch. Valves require much less tubing than Dupont’s slide idea. This is due to the fact that the lengths of tubing are used in combination to produce even greater lengths. There are two practical types of valve, rotary and piston. Rotary valves are cylinders that turn to divert the air through the extra tubing; this can in turn be diverted through another tube by means of a second valve effectively lengthening the entire instrument with the push of a button. The piston valve uses a plunger system to divert the air through the extra tubing. Pushing the piston down aligns two cavities within the plunger to align with two sections of the extra tubing. When released, only one part of the tubing is aligned whereby the extra tubing is not in use. The valveless horn still held the lead until after the 1830s due to some imperfections in the valve style and the warmer natural sound produced without extra tubing. Military bands did employ the valve horn where beauty and accuracy in tone were not as important.
The 4 main brass instruments Trumpet French Horn Tuba Trombone
The Trumpet The first trumpets reputedly came from Egypt and were primarily used for military purposes (Joshua's shofar, blown at the battle of Jericho, would come from this tradition) like the bugle as we still know it, with different tunes corresponding to different instructions. In medieval times, trumpet playing was a guarded craft, its instruction occurring only within highly selective guilds. The trumpet players were often among the most heavily guarded members of a troop, as they were relied upon to relay instructions to other sections of the army. Eventually the trumpet's value for musical production was seen, particularly after the addition of valves (after about 1800), and its use and instruction became much more widespread.
The French Horn The horn consists of tubing wrapped into a coiled form. Many people call this instrument the French horn, although this usage is uncommon among players of the instrument. In other languages, the instrument is named Horn, Corno (plural corni), and Cor. Compared to the other brass instruments, the typical range of the French horn is set an octave higher in its harmonic series. The conical bore (helped by its small, deep mouthpiece), provides the characteristic "mellow" tone. The double horn combines two instruments into one frame: the original horn in F, and a second, higher horn keyed in B-flat. By using a fourth valve operated by the thumb, the horn player can quickly switch from the deep, warm tones of the F horn to the higher, brighter tones of the B- flat horn.
The trombone The word trombone derives from the Italian word tromba - meaning trumpet - and one - a suffix for "large." Thus, literally, a trombone is a "big trumpet." The trombone is referred to by its name in other languages, posaune, sackbut or sacbut, basun, tromba spezzata The trombone consists of a cylindrical tube bent into an elongated "S" shape (it is interesting to note that in French, trombone also means “paper clip "). Most trombones are slide trombones;. The section immediately following the mouthpiece is a short straight length of tube called the lead pipe. Below that is the slide, which allows the player to extend the length of the instrument, lowering the pitch. Some trombones have valves.
The Tuba The tuba is the largest of the brasses and is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid 19 th century. Tubas are found in various pitches, most commonly in F, E ♭, C, or B ♭. The most common tuba is the contrabass tuba, pitched in C or B ♭ (referred to as CC and BB ♭ tubas respectively). The contrabass tuba is sometimes confused with the contrabass bugle (tuned in the key of G) commonly used by drum and bugle corps. The next smaller tuba is the bass tuba, pitched in F or E ♭ (a fourth above the contrabass tuba). The euphonium is sometimes referred to as a tenor tuba, and is pitched one octave higher (in B ♭ ) than the BB ♭ contrabass tuba. The "French tuba" corresponds to the tenor tuba, but is pitched in C. The tuba can have up to six rotary or piston valves, although four or five are by far the most common. Three-valve tubas are generally used only by beginners. Some early models of the contrabass bugle (a type of tuba which sits on the player's shoulder and is used in some marching ensembles) have only two valves, presumably to reduce the weight of the instrument. Some piston valve tubas have a compensating system to allow accurate tuning when using several valves in combination to play low notes.
The Shofar The oldest horn in continual use is the Shofar. It is an ancient musical horn made from the curved horn of a ram, used in ancient times by the Israelites to sound a warning or a summons. This instrument dates back about 6,000 years and is still used in Jewish religious services today.
THE DIDGERIDOO Is possibly the world's oldest musical instrument. It is a wind instrument originally found in Northern Australia. The didjiri-du.. is a long hollow tube, often a tree root about 5 feet long, slightly curved at the lower end. The musician squats on the ground, resting his instrument on the earth. He fits his mouth into the straight or upper end and blows down it in a curious fashion. He produces an intermittent drone. To get a sound, you need to vibrate your lips. You must relax the muscles that are in your face, i.e. your jawbones, your cheeks, and have your lips vibrate loosely and then blow the wind through your lips. Didgeridoo are made of eucalyptus trees, the stringybark and the woollybutt. The Aboriginal craftsmen would simply tap the tree or brands to see if it is hollow. The termite residual in each stick can be cleaned out by soaking the length for a few days in water then prying it out with a stick or coals. To test for any holes or cracks in the timber, a stick was sealed by hands at both ends and held under water for two or three minutes. If bubbles appeared, if holes would be filled with bees wax.