In this blog I will try and provide a comprehensive list of some of the most popular brass instruments and where you are most likely to see them.
For this list I will start at the top of the brass family and work down to the bottom.
Cornets & Trumpets
Cornets are mainly found in the brass band scene. Although Bb cornets can also be found in wind orchestras and were used by romantic period composers in orchestral music.
Trumpets are found in many styles of music. This includes orchestras and jazz bands as well as appearing as backing instruments for many current pop artists.
Want to know the difference between a cornet and a trumpet? Please read our blog on trumpet v cornet
Flugel Horns (even though they have horns in their name) are more like the trumpet then a horn. It is pitched in the same key and uses a similar size mouth piece. The flugel’s slightly larger bore and larger bell makes this instrument provide a mellower and fuller sound and is a useful 2nd instrument for trumpet players to have.
- The Soprano cornet is pitched in Eb and is the highest cornet in pitch available on the market.
- It can be found only in brass bands and plays the high notes that would not be as comfortable to get on a normal Bb Cornet.
- The soprano cornet is notorious for being hard to keep in tune throughout its entire range.
- The Bb cornet is the most common and popular instrument in the cornet family.
- The cornet makes a warmer softer sound compared to the trumpet due to it’s conical bore.
- This instrument is the most compact brass instrument and makes it useful for students as it is easier to hold.
- These are pitched higher than the normal Bb trumpet.
- These are especially useful for orchestral playing to aid transposition.
- Also useful for them high passages to aid security and ease of playing.
- For More information please read our blog on high trumpets
- This is the most common brass instrument
- Direct and more brighter sound due to is cylindrical bore
- Found in most ensembles apart from brass bands
- Pitched the same as a cornet or trumpet in Bb
- Much warmer and fatter sounding due to the larger conical bore and larger bell flare
- Used mainly in jazz bands and brass bands
The horn section is the alto voice of the brass instrument family. The tenor horn mainly plays the middle voices in band music (brass and concert bands) and bridges the gap from trumpets to trombones by being 5th lower in pitch. The sound of a tenor horn is quite bright sounding but mellower then a cornet due to the number of curves in the instrument and be lower in pitch.
The French horn is a perfect 4th lower than the trumpet. This instrument is a large conical tube that is wrapped in a circle. French horn has a full, warm, intense and velvety and is homogenous throughout the range apart from the lowest notes are slightly muffled.
- Pitched in Eb
- Also known as alto horn(in Germany) or Eb Horn
- Thin and bright sounding,
- Is over 6 meters in length
- Pitched in F, the horn has the largest range of any brass instrument of over 4 octaves.
- Double horns have a fourth valve which diverts the air into the Bb tuning so allows the horn to sound a fourth higher.
- Conical bore so produces a big, warm sound
Baritone and Euphonium
- Pitched in Bb (an octave lower than the trumpet)
- Mainly found in brass bands and some symphonic wind band music.
- Produces a tone with the brightness of the trombone but due to the more curves its mellower at the same time.
- Pitched in Bb an octave lower than the trumpet.
- Found in brass bands and wind bands with the occasional use in orchestras e.g. Mars from The Planets composed by Hosts
- Also known as a tenor tuba.
- Conical bore
- 3 valve and 4 valve combinations can be played.
Trombones are the only brass instruments not to use Valves. Instead the performer changes the pitch using the slide. Extending the length of the slide by pushing it out gets a lower pitch. There are 7 positions on a tenor trombone.
Trombones produce a very bright direct sound being cylindrical in design and only having 2 curves they are very quick responsive instruments. The performer memorises where the slide needs to be put for each note.
- The most common type of trombone used.
- Can have a extra bit of tubing called a valve section these trombones are called Bb/F trombones
- Trombones come in 2 main sizes small or large bore. Small bores are mainly used for jazz and pop music as they produce a very bright punchy sounding timbre. Large bore trombones are used for orchestral settings and this allows greater projection and volume to be created.
- These trombones are pitched the same as tenor trombones but have a larger bore and a larger bells
- Most bass trombones have two triggers one in F and then usually one in D
- The bass trombone produces a large bright sound in middle register and large round sound in low register.
Tubas are the lowest instruments in the brass family. Tubas usually play the bass lines in the brass family. Tubas can be found in many different ensembles in classical music. Even though they are the lowest of the brass family, when played by a good tuba player they can be extremely romantic and full sound as well as nimble. With being a conical bore the tuba provides a lovely rich full warm sound.
Tubas come in a range of different keys and this helps for the repertoire that is being played.
The most common tuba is the Eb tuba and is used in orchestras and wind bands; known as the Eb bass in brass bands.
- The main tube without using any of valves is over 13 feet long.
- Uses the largest mouthpiece of any brass instrument
I hope you have found this List of brass instruments useful. As you can imagine there is a large list of brass instruments and each have different qualities and strength. If you require any help working out which brass instrument is best for you from our range please contact our sales team by either calling 01283 535 333 option 1 or Sales@normans.co.uk