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
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.
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
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.