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Instruments of the orchestra - Brass

This family of instruments is one of the loudest in the orchestra. Learn more about them here
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - April 15, 2010
By: Goh Mei Yi
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Instruments of the orchestra - Brass

You can’t miss the brass section in an orchestra – with the gleaming instruments and loud, ringing notes they produce. These instruments are commonly used when a piece or section of music calls for brightness and drama. The brass section generally includes the trumpet, French horn, trombone, and tuba.

Brass instruments were originally used for military or ceremonial purposes before appearing regularly in the concert hall. They are usually made from long pieces of coiled tubes of brass or other metals.

Sound is created by the vibration of the performer’s lips as he blows into the mouthpiece. The mouthpiece is shaped like a cone, a cup, or a funnel, depending on the instrument. As air flows through the tubing, the air vibrates. The pitch can be changed by altering the lip tension. The more tightly the player compresses his lips, the higher the note.

Valves and slides are used to shorten or lengthen the length of the tube to find different notes and play the music in tune. Playing the brass instruments softly produces a mellow sound. The sound of the trumpets and trombone can be changed by putting a mute over or in the bell of the instrument.

French horns have a weaker sound other brass instruments and are often used in combination with the woodwinds or strings as their sounds blend better. Instead of valves, French horns have keys which open and close the tubing to change the sound.

The trumpet, on the other hand, can be heard above the entire orchestra if needed. It is also the highest-pitched brass instrument. The tone of the tuba is much deeper than the trumpet due to its large size and its tubing system.

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