The Brass Instruments featured in today's concert are the Bb, C, D, Eb, G, and piccolo trumpets, Flugelhom, French horn,
trombone, euphonium, and tuba. These instruments are all made of brass, but are plated or coated with different materials which make them appear gold, silver, or brass colored.
To produce a sound on a brass instrument, the player creates a vibrating air column by buzzing the lips into a cup or funnel
shaped mouthpiece. This vibrating air is channeled through tubes of different length by depressing the valves or moving
the slides on the instrument.
Much of the music featured in today's concert was originally written for various instruments (often not for brass instruments)
including the human voice, strings, woodwinds, and percussion. These pieces have been transcribed or arranged to
fit the instrumentation of the brass family. The following shows the brass instrument and other
instruments similar in range (how high or low in pitch).
TUBA Vocal bass, String bass, Baritone Saxaphone, Bass Clarinet, Contra Bassoon
TROMBONE Vocal tenor, Cello, Tenor Sax, Bassoon
FRENCH HORN Vocal alto, Viola, Alto Sax, English horn
TRUMPET Vocal soprano, Violin, Soprano Sax, Flute, Clarinet, Oboe
1. Q. A Brass Quintet is a chamber music ensemble. This means that there is no conductor. How do the musicians start pieces
together? How do they know when
to stop playing? Is there a leader?
A. The first trumpet player is usually the leader because the first trumpet parts usually have the most notes. This player
usually tips the trumpet bell to conduct the beginning
and end of pieces.
2. Q. To play in tune with each other, the performers must adjust their instruments
during the performance. In what ways do the players adjust their instruments?
A. They make the instrument tubing longer or shorter by pushing in or pulling out the slides. The further out the slides, the
longer the instrument and lower the pitch becomes. The further in the slides, the shorter the instrument and higher the pitch becomes.
3. Q. During the performance, the performers will empty liquid out of their instruments. Are they spitting on the floor? Why do
they do this?
A. When one blows warm air into an instrument, the air inside the instrument becomes warmer than the air outside the instrument.
The moisture condenses, forming puddles
or pockets of water and oil inside the instrument. It's like blowing warm air slowly
against a mirror and watching it fog up (a student might try this). This water Must
be emptied or the instruments start to gurgle and sound like they are under water!