All about that Brass
Here, Youtube user, "paulthetrombonist" plays an arrangement of Meghan Trainor's popular chart, "All about that Bass." The trombone is played in a unique way that allows the musicians to attach an action camera to the end of their slide and record interesting videos of themselves playing different pieces of music.
The brass family consists of several different instruments, these instruments include the:
- French Horn
The trumpet is the smallest and highest of the brass instruments. A close cousin to the trumpet is the bugle, and the bugle is the instrument that the trumpet was derived from. A bugle has no valves and is only capable of playing notes in the harmonic overtones of the instrument. That is a lot of fancy words to say that it cannot play very many notes. A trumpet has three valves that change the instrument length that air has to travel through thereby changing the pitch of the instrument. Basically, when a valve is pressed, the air takes a detour and takes longer to get to it's destination, which means that the final note will be than if no valves were pressed.
The trumpet was designed to have a very loud and brilliant sound, as the original bugles were used to make calls throughout entire armies, so they had to be really loud! Modern trumpets are used in a completely different way, but they are often still present at military ceremonies, and always present at military funerals. The trumpet can be heard over entire orchestras or it can blend very well together with other sections of the orchestra.
Above, the principal trumpet player for the London Philharmonia discusses how brass instruments are played, and what makes the trumpet unique.
Army Band Trumpet Choir
The Army Band trumpets, based out of Washington D.C., play for a trumpet competition, using many of the different sizes of trumpets.
The trombone is usually played with a long slide as opposed to the valves of the other brass instruments. This allows the trombone player to make some very interesting and fun sound effects with his instrument, as well as allowing some beautiful passages in music that are much harder on other instruments.
The trombone has a very direct sound, and can also cover a wide range of pitches. The trombone is also heavily utilized in many different genres of music. One of the most popular genres for trombone is jazz.
Like many of the other instruments, the trombone comes in several different shapes and sizes. While the properties of the trombone remain the same, some trombones are much smaller to produce higher pitches, and some trombones are much larger to produce lower pitches. Smaller trombones are known as alto trombones, and larger trombones are known as bass trombones.
Above, the principal trombonist for the London Philharmonia discusses how the trombone is played, and what makes the trombone different from the other brass instruments.
Szeged Trombone Ensemble, Let it Go
The Szeged Trombone Ensemble plays an arrangement of the popular Disney chart, "Let it Go." This trombone choir consists of many different types of trombone, as well as a euphonium, drumset, and bell kit.
The french horn is a larger brass instrument, but is usually grouped together with the high brass instruments. Due to the unique shape of the instrument, and the way that it is played, the french horn is one of the longest instruments in the orchestra and can play extreme ranges from very low to very high. The french horn is different from all the other brass instruments in that the valves are operated with the left hand as opposed to the right hand. This allows the right hand to be placed inside of the bell of the instrument to change the way that the instrument sounds. The french horn used to have no valves at all, and the only way to make different notes was by shaping the right hand in various ways in the bell, changing the way that the instrument vibrated.
The french horn has a much silkier, smoother sound than the trumpet. Even in the extreme ranges of the instrument, the sound is very pleasant to listen to. The french horn can also be played very powerfully, and many brilliant fanfares have been composed for the mighty french horn.
Above, the principle french horn player for the London Philharmonia talks a little about the history of the french horn, and the way that the instrument is played, as well as some different music that it can make.
Vienna Horns, Back to the future
Above, the Vienna horns, a horn choir based out of Vienna, Austria, play an excerpt from the movie, "Back to the Future." they also include a percussionist on the drum set.
The tuba is the youngest, and lowest member of the brass family. Tubas come in several different shapes and sizes, both to allow for higher and lower pitches to be played and to be more accessible to musicians of different sizes. Tubas have anywhere from three to six valves, whereas most brass instruments only have three. Orchestral tubas are usually too large and cumbersome to be played standing up, so two instruments were created to be played in marching bands. These instruments can play the same notes as a tuba and sound very similar to a tuba, but they look very different. These two instruments are called the sousaphone, and the contra.
Above, the tuba player for the London Philharmonia discusses how air travels from him, into the tuba, and then out of the tuba to produce beautiful music.
Nat McIntosh, Sousaphone
The sousaphone is a tuba wrapped in a different way to allow the instrument to be played standing up. Above, the principal orchestral tuba player for the Dallas Brass demonstrates some interesting and fun music that can be made with a sousaphone.
Brass players often form small ensembles consisting of only brass instruments. Below are a couple different configurations of brass choirs. Brass choirs are small groups of only brass instruments. The first video is of a brass quintet, which is five musicians, and they play all of the orchestral brass instruments, and the second video is a low brass choir, using only the lowest brass instruments.