General Facts about the best known Brass Instruments

Everybody who is interested in music knows what metal wind instruments are. They belong to a wide class of musical instruments, the aerophones, which are calles like that because, expressesd in a simple way, you produce the tone by blowing into a pipe.
When you speak of music colloquially, you dinstinguish between wind instruments (trumpets, etc.) and woodwind instruments (flutes and pipe instruments). Compared to the systematics of instruments, however, the distinction is far more subtle. The organ is also classified as a wind instrument, whereas the accordion, the harmonium and the mouthorgan belong to the so-called free aerophones. The way you produce a sound when blowing the trombone is, for example, quite different from that of a trumpet.


The Clarinet:

In about 1700, the clarinet was created and developed by Johann Christoph Denner, It was in the middle of the 18th century that the clarint had become an indispensable instrument for every orchestra. Since then many important compositions for clarinet recitals and chamber music habe been written. In jazz, the clarinet is a very popular instrument nowadays.


The Trombone:

In 1450, the trombone was developed in Burgundy as an improved model of the slide trumpet; it was made in different sizes. Very quickly this old trombone corresponded to the customary form we have today. The English expression for this instrument is "Sackbut", which actually means "pull" and "push" and so points to the sliding device of the instrument at that time. It was mainly used for music in churches and in chamber music, but in the course of the 17th century it lost iimportance considerably, except for the use in town bands. Later it gained importance again as it was used in military music. In the 18th century, trombones with valves were introduced, but since then there has not been an essential improvement in sound. (Schmelzer Trombones) The trombone belongs to the family of brass instruments and the sound is caused by the vibrating lips of the player. With woodwind instruments the sound is produced by the vibrating part of an instrument, for example a reed.

The Saxophone:

In our modern age, the saxophone is closely connected with the development of jazz in the USA, and here it had reached greatest popularity as a solo instrument. It had been made by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in about 1840. It was first used in symphony orchestras in the year 1844. Today it is made in 8 sizes, from the sopranino to the sub-double bass. Well-known composers as Hector Berlioz, George Bizet, Richard Strauss and Claude Debussy created impressive compositions for the saxophone. But there are also famous jazz saxophone players, as Sidney Bechet, Charly Parker, John Coltrane, Gerry Mulligan and others, who have created wonderful compositions and who play this instrument.


The Trumpet:

You blow the trumpet using a cup mouth piece and you produce the sound with your lips. The trumpet is used in symphony orchestras as well as in jazz, dance and military bands. It is probably the instrument that, starting from classical music, has found its way into all fields of music, especially light or popular music.

The Tuba:
As a wind instrument, the tuba has a bell that is directed upwards; it is a "flugelhorn". It was perfected in the 19th century and it is made in different sizes up to 2.4 meters.

The French horn:
In Germany, the French horn, originating from the bugles or hunting horns, was developed into all fields of music, especially light or popular music.


© M. Schmelzer  -  Schmelzer Musikinstrumente  -  Mönchengladbach  -   Stand: 07-Feb-2005