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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 62 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 Chattanooga Choo ChooJazzVarious
13 Chicken dancePopular SongsVarious
14 Coronation March from Le Prophete (Opera)MarchMeyerbeer
15 Fanfare for the Common ManShort PieceCopland
16 God Defend New ZealandSacredVarious
17 Hark the Herald Angels SingSacredMendelssohn
18 Heart of my Heart (version 2)JazzVarious
19 Jeux d'Enfants - Suite for Orchestra, Op 22SuiteBizet
20 Light Cavalry March (from overture)MarchSuppé
21 Men of HarlechFolk SongVarious
22 Michael Row the Boat AshoreJazzVarious
23 Once in Royal David's CitySacredGauntlett
24 Quando Quando - sambaPopular SongsVarious
25 Que Sera, SeraWaltzVarious
26 Rakoczy MarchMarchBerlioz
27 Rock My SoulJazzVarious
28 Rule BritanniaSongArne
29 SamsonOperaHandel
30 She'll be Coming Round the Mountain When She ComesFolk SongVarious
31 Sing a Song of SixpenceNursery RhymesVarious
32 Sleigh RideShort PieceAnderson
33 Someone to Watch Over MePopular SongsGershwin
34 South of the Border TangoPopular SongsVarious
35 Symphony No.1 in Bb SpringSymphonySchumann
36 The Yellow Rose of TexasFolk SongVarious
37 Trumpet Concerto in D majorConcertoPurcell
38 Trumpet Concerto in D majorConcertoTelemann
39 Trumpet Concerto in EbConcertoHaydn
40 Trumpet Concerto in Eb majorConcertoHummel
41 Trumpet Voluntary (Prince of Denmark's March)MarchClarke
42 When Johnny Comes Marching HomeFolk SongVarious
43 Who's Sorry NowPopular SongsVarious
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