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Trumpet          Return to list of instruments

The trumpet is a brass instrument with a very penetrating sound in the soprano range. It is a standard member of the modern symphony orchestra, as well as being universally used in jazz bands, dance bands, brass bands and military bands. 

It has a cylindrical bore, folded into an oval shape, and a flared bell at the end. The player vibrates his lips onto the cup-shaped mouth-piece to generate the sound. 

The original early trumpets had no valves, and so they could only sound the fundamental tone and its harmonics. Ancient trumpets were called natural trumpets, they were long tubes with no bending, and were used back in ancient Rome, China and Egypt. In renaissance times, (16th and 17th centuries) players developed a highly skilled technique called clarino, where they used the very high harmonics of the trumpet's overtones. As these allow many adjacent notes of the scale to be generated, the clarino players were able to play melodies, but at a very high pitch.. Purcell, Bach and Handel often employed trumpet parts requiring clarino techniques.

Clarino techniques died out in the later 18th century, so trumpet players in orchestras were once again, limited to the fundamental and the harmonic series. This was the case in Mozart's time, so most of Mozart's scores for trumpet are very limited in the notes available. Consequently, he could not score the trumpet for melodies, but only for supporting harmonies.

In 1815 the valve trumpet was invented, with 3 valves which individually and in combination, effectively lengthen the tube. This permits the full chromatic scale to be played in the low and middle register. This made it possible to play melodies, and since 1815 the trumpet is a standard orchestral instrument, as well as a favourite in jazz, dance and military bands.

The cornet is a smaller version of the trumpet, with a conical rather than cylindrical bore, and a longer mouthpiece. It is often used in brass and military bands. The photo at left shows two cornet players.

Music featuring the Trumpet. Audio is available for 61 tunes for this instrument.
No.Name of WorkCategoryComposer
1 A Nightingale Sang in Berkely SquareJazzVarious
2 A Shanty in Old Shanty TownJazzVarious
3 Academic Festival Overture Op.80OvertureBrahms
4 AidaOperaVerdi
5 Alexander's Ragtime BandJazzBerlin
6 Along the Road to GundagaiPopular SongsVarious
7 Bare NecessitiesJazzVarious
8 Blue Bells of ScotlandFolk SongVarious
9 Blue SkiesJazzBerlin
10 British Grenadiers MarchFolk SongVarious
11 CharmaineWaltzVarious
12 Chicken dancePopular SongsVarious
13 Coronation March from Le Prophete (Opera)MarchMeyerbeer
14 Fanfare for the Common ManShort PieceCopland
15 God Defend New ZealandSacredVarious
16 Hark the Herald Angels SingSacredMendelssohn
17 Heart of my Heart (version 2)JazzVarious
18 Jeux d'Enfants - Suite for Orchestra, Op 22SuiteBizet
19 Light Cavalry March (from overture)MarchSuppé
20 Men of HarlechFolk SongVarious
21 Michael Row the Boat AshoreJazzVarious
22 Once in Royal David's CitySacredGauntlett
23 Quando Quando - sambaPopular SongsVarious
24 Que Sera, SeraWaltzVarious
25 Rakoczy MarchMarchBerlioz
26 Rock My SoulJazzVarious
27 Rule BritanniaSongArne
28 SamsonOperaHandel
29 She'll be Coming Round the Mountain When She ComesFolk SongVarious
30 Sing a Song of SixpenceNursery RhymesVarious
31 Sleigh RideShort PieceAnderson
32 Someone to Watch Over MePopular SongsGershwin
33 South of the Border TangoPopular SongsVarious
34 Symphony No.1 in Bb SpringSymphonySchumann
35 The Yellow Rose of TexasFolk SongVarious
36 Trumpet Concerto in D majorConcertoPurcell
37 Trumpet Concerto in D majorConcertoTelemann
38 Trumpet Concerto in EbConcertoHaydn
39 Trumpet Concerto in Eb majorConcertoHummel
40 Trumpet Voluntary (Prince of Denmark's March)MarchClarke
41 When Johnny Comes Marching HomeFolk SongVarious
42 Who's Sorry NowPopular SongsVarious
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