The Conch Trumpet was invented when a fisherman blew a sea animal out of a shell and it made a noise. It was mostly a voice distorter. They shouted into it. Shell trumpets are still used today. On Madagascar they are used for religious services. In France they are blown on Easter Sunday.
Hollow log trumpets date back to 2000 B.C., some are hollowed out by hand while others are made from branches or trunks which were eaten by ants.
Along the Amazon they make a conical trumpet out of rolled bark. It is 12-20 feet long.
The Aborigines of Australia play the Didgeridoo made from branches 4 or 5 feet long. The player blows and mumbles at the same time. This can produce thousands of different sounds.
The Shofar, made from a ram horn and the Hatzotzeroth, made of metal, are both mentioned in the Bible. They were used to blow down the walls of Jericho. They are still used on certain religious days.
The Roman Cornu, originally made of horns and later metal, was made in several sections and about 10 feet long. Two were found in Pompeii.
The trumpets of Asia were made from bamboo, bones, or metal. In Tibet it was made from a human femur covered in human skin and ending in a copper bell.
The Pungacuqua was made by the natives of Mexico out of clay.
The tomb of King Tut had two metal trumpets in it. They were 23 inches long.
The Lur, a bronze 8 foot long “S” shaped horn, dates back to 1000 B.C. It could play up to the 12th partial.
The Salpinx was a straight trumpet 62 inches long, made of bone or bronze. Salpinx contests were a part of the original Olympic Games.
The Alphorn is still used today. You’ve seen them on television in a cough medicine commercial. They are “J” shaped, made in two sections, and 5-13 feet long. Alphorns can play from the 2nd to the 16th partial, and are used for signaling as well as a call for prayer in the Catholic Church.
The wooden Cornetto had six finger holes and was chromatic for one full octave.
The Serpent (a large Cornetto) also had six finger holes, but because of its larger size, it had a chromatic range of two and one-half octaves.
The Natural Trumpet or Baroque Trumpet was the most popular trumpet during the Baroque period. It was a long, cylindrical tube built in a loop which flared out into a bell that was four to four and one-half inches across.
The Natural Trumpet in “F” was six feet long and had slides and crooks, or extensions to change the key to E, Eb, D & C. The keys of B, Bb, A & Ab could be played by combining crooks. The D trumpet was the most popular. It was seven feet long. The range of the Natural Trumpet in “D” was from DÂ° to a3, which is its 24th partial. No one player could play the entire range of the trumpet. The range was divided into four parts; Clarino, Second Clarino, Tromba & Principal. Each range required a different mouthpiece, as well as a different trumpet. The Clarino player used a trumpet which had a very small bore, or inside diameter. He played a very, very shallow cup shaped mouthpiece with a wide rim. As the range lowered, the players used larger and deeper mouthpieces. The Principal Players used trumpets with a very large bore size and deep mouthpieces. The Natural Trumpet was not chromatic and could only play the notes in its own harmonic series. That is why the crooks were so important. They were twice as long as modern trumpets in the same key. That made it easier to play the same partial. It also made the horn mellower than our modern version.
In 1787 William Shaw invented the vented trumpet. It had four vents which allowed one key change without using crooks. Now only three crooks were necessary.
In 1801, Anton Weidinger and Joseph Riedl invented the keyed trumpet. In 1810, Joseph Halliday made the first Kent Keyed Bugle.
Heinrich Stolzel and Friedrich Blubmel invented a two valve trumpet in 1818. The valves were square boxes made of copper. In 1824 John Shaw added springs to those valves and C. A. Miller added a third valve.
The 1820’s were very important. The Flugelhorn was invented in Vienna and the three valve cornet as well. Adolphe Sax invented ten different Sax horns in 1843. Each one had either three or four valves. Wagner invented the Bass Trumpet for the “Ring of the Nibelung”.
The modern trumpet in Bb is pitched a sixth above the Natural Trumpet in D. It has three valves which, when depressed, changes the key of the horn by making air go through additional tubing. The modern cornet is mellower, warmer and more agile than the trumpet because of the use of more conical than cylindrical tubing.