Brass Family Summary

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The modern brass quintet consists of two trumpet players, one French horn player, one trombone player, and one tuba player. Although the instruments are sometimes substituted for variety (e.g. bass trombone for tuba, euphonium for trombone, and flugelhorn for trumpet) the basic configuration remains the same.

The modern brass quintet has only existed since the late 1940's, as a result, there are a limited number of compositions written for this combination of instruments. The Epic Brass has continued to add variety to the literature by transcribing music from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras as well as arranging popular songs, jazz, blues, swing, and show tunes.

The earliest trumpets were used in the courts of kings and queens during the Renaissance. During this period, the trumpeters who were known as clarinos,
had an extremely difficult job because they had to rely solely upon their lips to produce different notes. Through experimenting with the slides, finger holes,
and extensions of tubing, the trumpeters finally found an acceptable solution:
the keyed bugle. The modern trumpet, however, was not designed until 1830
for use in Prussian cavalry bands.

The French horn is a descendant of the hunting horn. The early hornists could produce many different pitches by using their hand to open and close the bell. Although valves were added in 1815, modem homists continue to use their hands as a mute and to hold the instrument.

The trombone differs from the other brass instruments in that it has no valves. Different pitches are produced by changing the length of the instrument using a device known as the slide. For this reason, the instrument was referred to during the Renaissance as the sackbut, meaning pushpull. This, in fact, is exactly what a trombonist does with the slide while playing.

The tuba is the lowest member of the brass family. Different varieties of tubas such as the helicon, sousaphone, and euphonium were invented during the brass band period (1800-1920) and are still used today in bands and orchestras.

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