|Soprano Cornet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Interestingly though, just because they are called brass instruments does not mean that they are just made of brass. Other materials that have been used in their construction include wood, cane, horn, tusk, clay, and even crystal. In addition, most saxophones and flutes and many clarinets are made of brass but are categorized as woodwind instruments, not brass instruments.
Brass instruments have descended from ancient horns. Their first use was in military, royal, or hunting contexts. Curt Sachs reported that even around 1250BC the si-im was played which is depicted as a short and thick horn played with a large frame drum. There was evidence found that around 1400BC straight trumpets were played by soldiers. A trumpet-shaped music instrument was even found in Tutankhamen's tomb. It was not until the late 1600's that brass instruments acquired a new role as an art instrument. During this time, physical alterations were made to them to allow for improved ease of fingering and made blowing less effortful. These improvements enhanced their artistic role and they became a regular member of the orchestra.
By the 1830's the first brass bands came into existence, most notably in England, Wales, and the United States. The first one in the U.S. was established by Allen Dodworth in 1834 as the Brass Band of New York. Beginning in 1860, mechanical changes were made which gave every instrument a complete scale of notes throughout the range. With these enhancements, brass instruments took on an even stronger, clearer, crisper sound. By 1900 there was an explosion in their popularity. Almost every park built a bandstand gazebo and some brass bands attracted 10-20,000 people. Their popularity declined after World War II but increased again in 1960.
Today, brass bands, or brass ensembles as they are more commonly called, continue to include brass instruments such as French horns, trumpets, euphoniums, tubas, trombones, etc. These groups play classical, Broadway, show tunes, marches, and pop/rock music. Some ensembles are not such brass instrument purists and include other instruments such as woodwind instruments, percussion instruments, bass, guitars, or keyboards. With additional instruments, a wider array of musical mixes can be played, such as Dixieland, jazz, rock, blues, or funk. An advantage of being in a brass ensemble is that the players have the freedom to take on roles usually reserved for other instruments. When in a brass ensemble each player has a responsibility to work as a team so not one person or music instrument dominates the sound. The focus of the group is cohesiveness with one mutual goal and a flexibility to accept other's ideas.
Brass instruments have had a long history since ancient times. They have acquired popularity through their ability to produce a rich, bold, exciting sound and their prevalence in so many musical genres. When we hear brass instruments we tend to pay attention and listen.
Dianna Joseph is the owner of DJ Music Store. She is a saxophonist, novice pianist, and novice guitarist. In addition, she is an occupational therapist who works with a host of disabilities utilizing sensory integration and neurodevelopmental therapy in combination with music and a variety of other techniques to assist these persons in achieving the highest level of function and quality of life possible.
Article Source: EzineArticles