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Brass Band Instruments

The Cornet

The Cornet is very comparable to the trumpet, but is much more compact, and has a much more mellow tone than the trumpet. Cornets come in various guises including long models, echo models and various others, however in a traditional brass band you will find B cornets and normally one E Soprano cornet which is the highest pitched instrument in the brass band. Cornets lend themselves well to beginners because they are relatively light and easy to handle particularly for younger students.

The Flugel Horn

The Flugel Horn is the third instrument in the Cornet lineup within a brass band alongside the Soprano Cornet and Cornets and tends to benefit from the same fingering configuration although there are some four valve Flugel horns available. The Flugel horn is also pitched in B but is the most mellow instrument of the cornet family given its large conical bore.

 

The Tenor Horn

The tenor horn is pitched in E and has a predominantly conical bore rather like the baritone horn and Flugel horn. The tenor horn’s conical bore and deep mouthpiece produce a mellow, rounded tone which is often used as a middle voice, supporting the melodies of the cornets or Flugel horns and filling the gap above the lower tenor and bass instruments (the trombone, baritone horn, Euphonium and Bass instruments).

Baritone Horn

Slightly smaller than its larger brother, the Euphonium, the Baritone Horn  is Pitched in B with a cylindrical bore. the Baritone Horn is favoured by some new brass players as it is easier to maintain a tone and to hold (being physically smaller and lighter). These qualities also make the instrument attractive to younger brass students.  Some models may include a compensating system, to aid tuning and in some cases a fourth valve.

Euphonium

Similar to Baritone Horns but larger in size, Euphoniums are the second largest instrument in the brass family (after the Tubas) and well known for having a beautiful tone. A variety of different configurations are available including 3 or 4 valve instruments (usually piston) with or without compensating systems. Euphoniums use the same mouthpieces as large bore trombones and some baritone horns.

 

Trombones

The Trombone is without doubt one of the most distinctive brass instruments and generally having no valves it is indeed to most pure of brass instruments. The trombone comes in many guises however in the traditional brass band the tenor trombone and bass trombone

normally feature in the trombone section. It features a long ‘slide’ that acts to alter the length of tubing that air must be blown through, thus changing the pitch.  Some trombones do have one or sometimes two rotary valves which serve to change the pitch of the instrument thus greatly extending the playable range and making the instrument more flexible in use.
The trombone is a relatively accessible instrument to learn to play for students, indeed plastic trombones are now very popular for learners.

Tuba

The Tuba or Bass come in both B and E versions and play at the lowest register in the band. Although there are many configurations of Tuba available most feature either 3 or 4 piston valves and a large upwards pointing bell. Due to their large size, younger beginner players will often find the Tuba a bit of a challenge to play, however smaller Tubas are manufactured which tend to suit younger students.

 

Percussion
Percussion instruments in a brass band, as in an orchestra or any other musical ensemble, include drums, cymbals, triangles, bells, chimes, and a variety of other things that are played principally by striking them with a stick, hand, mallet, or another instrument. The percussion section also plays the “special effects” instruments, such as slide whistles and sirens, when they are specified by a composer. The main purpose of the percussion section is to provide a rhythmic foundation for the ensemble.