7 brass musical instruments: what are the differences?
Brass instruments are musical instruments of breath whose method of activation is through the vibration of the lips. Brass instruments are … made of brass, right? The reasoning runs, the logic is clear but… it is not entirely true.
Traditionally, Brass instruments such as trumpets are primarily made of brass, but also may have some copper or other metals mixed in.
Wind instruments such as saxophone and clarinets are often mistakenly classified as brass instruments. Let’s try to clarify it, will you?
1. Handset(cornet): The most popular
Perhaps because of its small size or its characteristic sound: the cornet is the most widely used brass instrument ever. About 30% of the musicians in the category (brass instrument) play it. The sound can be described as silky, musical, and almost vocal.
There is a tonal difference between the Eb cornet and the Bb cornet (much wider). The instrument does not lend itself to reproducing very high notes very well. It is also quite difficult to play due to the pronounced V- shape of the embouchure.
2. Trumpet: First in class
The trumpet is similar to the cornet, and the performance required to play it is very similar. The trumpet is, however, longer and returns a sound more clear, sharp, and present.
In the brass section, it is often used for solo parts, also because of its dominant volume.
3. Flugelhorn – the versatile
The flugelhorn is another valuable member of the brass family. Similar to cornet and trumpet, it has a mouthpiece decidedly different, with a mouthpiece wider that requires a lot more air to vibrate.
The sound, for this reason, varies enough from the two previous instruments to the point of deserving a dedicated and exclusive category and use.
4. Tenor horn – the harmonious
The tenor horn (usually in Eb or Bb) is not a solo instrument: due to its melodious sound, it is perfect to accompany other voices within the orchestra.
In the Eb tenor horn, the bell and the mouth are directed upwards, making the instrument easier to play even when seated.
5. Euphonium – medium voice
The euphonium sounds one octave below the trumpet and one octave above the tuba. The mouth for this instrument is particular: conical and deeper.
Furthermore, the euphonium has a different compensation system from the other instruments: depending on the model there will be three or four valves available for intonation.
6. Trombone – the classic
Is there anything more classic than the trombone? It is more relatively simple to play in the brass family due to the absence of valves.
To play this marvel you need great breathing control, an excellent ear for intonation. Also, you need a decent amount of abdominal muscles to get to the end of the concert.
7. Tuba and Sousaphone – low registers
The sound of the tuba resembles that of thunder: deep and vigorous. Given the long scale and the presence of 3-6 valves, the instrument can give its best in the low registers.
The mouth is wide and very deep. The Sousaphone is used a lot in marches, while the double bass Tuba (BB-flat or CC), 580 cm long, is used to make the earth vibrate.