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History of the Trumpet

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The trumpet has a long and rich history. It is believed that the trumpet was used as a signaling device in Ancient Egypt, Greece and the Near East. During the Romantic period, the trumpet was evident in various forms of art such as literature and music. But during this time, the trumpet was merely recognized as an instrument used to signal, announce, proclaim and for other relevant purposes. It was later when the trumpet began to be considered as a musical instrument.

14th - 15th century - The trumpet acquired its folded form. It was referred to as natural trumpet and produced "harmonic" tones. Also, the tromba da tirarsi emerged, an instrument that was fitted with a single slide on the mouth pipe to create a chromatic scale.

16th century - The trumpet was used both in courtly and military purposes. Also, during this period, trumpet making became popular in Germany. Before the end of this period, the use of the trumpet for musical works began. At first the low register of the trumpet was used then later on musicians began to utilize the higher pitches of the harmonic series.

17th - 18th century - The trumpet was at its height and was used by famous composers such as Leopold (Mozart's father) and Michael (Haydn's brother) in their musical works. The trumpet of this time were in the key of D or C when used for courtly purposes and in the key of Eb or F when used by the military. Musicians of this period played specifically in different registers. Notably, in 1814, the valves were added to the trumpet to enable it to play the chromatic scale evenly.

19th century - The trumpet was now known as an orchestral instrument. The trumpet of this era was in the key of F and had crooks for the lower keys. The trumpet continued to undergo improvements such as the slide mechanism which has been attempted since the 1600s. Later on, the crooks of the orchestral trumpet were replaced by valves. Changes in the size of the trumpet also occurred. Trumpets were now louder and easier to play due to the improvements it underwent.

Other Accounts of the Trumpet's Existence:

  1. In Ancient times, people used materials such as animal horns or shells like a trumpet.
  2. Pictures of the trumpet in King Tut's tomb.
  3. The trumpet was used for religious purposes by the Israelites, Tibetans and Romans.
  4. Used for magical purposes such as warding off evil spirits.
  5. Trumpeters of earlier eras were classified into two: principale, played the lower register and the clarino, played the upper register.

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