The trumpet is descended from the buisine, which is considered the precursor to all brass instruments. In the 15thcentury the straight tube of the buisinewas reshaped into a double-coiled instrument that became known as the trumpet. Until the Renaissance, the trumpet was mostly used for signalling in war, for herding animals, and in churches. Innovation in metalwork led to the trumpet being used in musical performances. The Baroque era is considered a ‘golden age’ for the trumpet, with a variety of concertos, fanfares and sonatas written for it, and trumpet guilds receiving many privileges in royal courts.

Facts and Features

1) The introduction of valves in the 19thcentury allowed the trumpet to play a full chromatic scale (12 notes) and resulted in a more elegant sound than its forerunners. 

2)There are two types of valves: piston and rotary valves. These different valves lead to diversity in the shape of the trumpet, playing techniques and the sounds produced.

3)    The Bb and C trumpets largely replaced the trumpet in F in the late 19thcentury, as their shorter valves made the instrument easier to play accurately.

4)   The most extensively used trumpets nowadays are Bb and C trumpets, followed by the piccolo trumpet. The bass trumpet is seldom used. 

5)    The trumpet is a popular instrument in jazz music. 

 Famous Players

Jean-Baptiste Arban (1825-1889) 
Adolph Herseth (1921-2013)
Maurice André (1933-2012) 
Ludwig Güttler (1943-)
Alison Balsom (born 1978)

Music to Listen to

Bach – Bradenburg concerto No. 2 in F major
Haydn – Trumpet concerto in E-flat major
Mozart – Symphony in C (Jupiter) 
Stockhausen – Aries in Sirius
Wagner – Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) 

Find Out

1)  Which countries favour trumpets with rotary valves and which prefer those with piston valves? 
2)  Other than pressing different valves, how else can you produce a higher note on the trumpet?