Tag Archives: Salpinx

History of the trumpet

The trumpet is a brass instrument on which a sound is produced by vibrating the lips against the instrument nozzle. In many ancient cultures wind instruments were made of large snail shells for use in all kinds of rituals.

conch-shell

Haitian Conch Shells

The ancient Egyptians already had trumpets consisting of long straight tubes in silver and/or bronze with conic bore and cantilevered lintels (Sound Funnel ) . These were similar to instruments like the Hebrew Hasosra , the Roman tuba and the Greek salpinx .

ancient-roman-salpinx-granger

Roman Salpinx

In medieval Europe, around 1300,  the long extended tube – which was not very handy to play – was replaced by a shorter model.  Around 1400 the instrument got an S-shaped curve, and in 1500 the tube was bent like a loop. In this form the trumpet was used as a standard in orchestra’s until around 1800. The sleek cylindrical bore resulted in a bright sound, but allowed only to play the natural harmonics of the fundamental tone of the instrument.

Valveless trumpet

Valveless trumpet

It was around 1800 when instrument makers began  to search design solutions to allow playing the complete chromatic scale on a trumpet. One of the inventions was a valve mechanism for opening and closing openings in the side wall of the tube. Around 1825 – let’s say Beethoven’s time – valves were added to the trumpet design. By opening a valve, additional tube length is obtained, giving the instrument extra fundamental tones and the related overtones .

The modern trumpet has three valves and a bore that is partially cylindrical andpartially conical, which permets to reach the full tonal range of the instrument.

Now this is handy !
Mary