TYPES OF TRUMPETS
Trumpets are made in many keys, including low F, Bb, C, D, Eb, E, F, G and A.
The Bb trumpet is the most common type used. This is the type of trumpet
that most students begin on and that most profressional situations call for.
The C trumpet is also commonly used. This trumpet uses shorter tuning slides and
has a slightly brighter sound than the Bb trumpet, making it the trumpet of choice
for many orchestral performers. The differences between these instruments are
subtle and to most ears hard to recognize. The next time you’re watching an orchestra,
see if you can notice a trumpet whose tuning slide doesn’t extend as far.
The cornet is a very close relative of the trumpet. Sometimes students
will begin on this instrument rather than the Bb trumpet due to its being slightly
compressed in appearance and thus being easier to hold. Some musicians prefer the
cornet over the trumpet as it produces a slightly mellower sound.
The flugelhorn is another relative of the trumpet. It looks like a very puffed
out version of the trumpet and is played in the same manner. It has a naturally softer
tone (and, from personal experience, a much more forgiving sound). It tends to be most
often found in jazz-related settings. The most well-known flugelhorn player is
Chuck Mangione, who had a hit during the 1970’s with “Feels So Good”.
THE PICCOLO TRUMPET
The piccolo trumpet is the smallest trumpet available. Becauseh this trumpet
uses much less tubing, its pitch is much higher than the conventional. They are
most commonly made as Bb instruments, but are also available in other keys. Another
distinguishing characteristic is that most piccolo trumpets have 4 valves instead
of 3, the 4th being used to lower the pitch. Today, piccolo trumpets are most
commonly found in religious settings.
THE POCKET TRUMPET
The pocket trumpet is a Bb trumpet that is much shorter. Its compressed
construction affords it a very unique sound. These trumpets are used relatively
rarely. Probably the most popular performer on pocket trumpet was the jazz musician
The bugle is a valveless trumpet derived from the early trumpets. It was,
and continues to be used primarily in the military. (and the racetrack!)
Trumpets pitched in the key of low G are also called sopranos, or soprano bugles, after their adaptation from military bugles. Traditionally used in drum and bugle corps, sopranos have featured both rotary valves and piston valves.
Among other trumpets that are rarely seen are the slide trumpet, which uses a slide instead of valves. There is also such a thing as a bass trumpet, which sounds more like a trombone. There are also rotary-valve, or German, trumpets, as well as alto and Baroque trumpets.
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