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41 votes

How can horns, most of which have only three buttons, play all their notes?

Put as simply as possible, horns are tubes. Blowing in special ways makes certain notes sound from those tubes. By changing one's embouchure, those notes start at a fundamental, then gradually go up ...
Tim's user avatar
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34 votes
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Which instruments to physically familiarize with to become a better orchestrator?

I would strongly advise you NOT to buy any instruments. You don't need to. Do you imagine composers play lots of instruments? They don't. The only instrument Berlioz played was a guitar - tolerably - ...
Old Brixtonian's user avatar
23 votes
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What is the correct name for this instrument?

This is apparently called a contrabass valve trombone, or sometimes a cimbasso if I am correct.
Tom's user avatar
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21 votes
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Trumpet type or technique?

Vent. is an abbreviation for Ventil, which is the German for valve. Ord. probably denotes ordinary, for non-valved trumpets, i.e. bugles. If you look through the Vent. parts, they do feature ...
Brian THOMAS's user avatar
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21 votes
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How do harmonic tones get "out of tune" on a brass instrument?

While the total length of a brass instrument is basically fixed, the ratio of conical to cylindrical piping is not set in stone for a trombone. It is true that the 6th partial is generally quite sharp,...
mkingsbu's user avatar
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20 votes

Woodwind v brass instruments - what is the defining characteristic?

Musical instruments are classified by the way the sound is produced. The material is immaterial and brass and woodwind instruments can both be made from metal, plastic or wood. Woodwind instruments ...
Dave the Sax's user avatar
19 votes
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Does the lip really vibrate at the same frequency of a brass instrument?

At least for trumpet, yes, the lips really vibrate that quickly. For a high trumpet note, the lips may vibrate at more than 1000 vibrations per second. This is fast, but remember that the muscles are ...
Aaron's user avatar
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19 votes

What is the correct name for this instrument?

This is a cimbasso (a valve contrabass trombone). The instrument is mainly used in Verdi's operas (and one opera each by Bellini and Puccini). The modern instrument has six rotary valves and is ...
PiedPiper's user avatar
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17 votes

How to distinguish between different instruments in a classical orchestra?

You begin by listening to individual instruments, to learn what they sound like, and the variations in their sound. Solo pieces, quartets, etc. are one way to do this. Searching Youtube for instrument ...
Hobbes's user avatar
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16 votes
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What woodwind & brass instruments are most air efficient?

can I make clarinets and French horns play for extended periods of time without them protesting against my score for either air or difficulty reasons? No. You can’t extend any particular instrument. ...
Todd Wilcox's user avatar
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15 votes

How to distinguish between different instruments in a classical orchestra?

There are several compositions written in purpose to present the orchestra, the instrument sections and the single instruments to the audience and especially for children like Peter and the wolf (...
Albrecht Hügli's user avatar
14 votes

How to distinguish between different instruments in a classical orchestra?

Get an idea, how each instrument sounds separately (as covered in other answers) Train to read scores of ensembles with increasing number of instruments while listening. For orchestra pieces like ...
guidot's user avatar
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14 votes
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Brass instruments with bells _behind_ the player

These are saxhorns in an over-the-shoulder style. This is a typical late 19th century American style of this originally french instrument, used mostly in military marching bands. This configuration ...
Lazy's user avatar
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13 votes
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One tuba for everything: CC or F?

This is a famous question for tuba players, but I'm not sure there's a single answer for you; I ultimately think it depends on what you want to privilege. (And before I proceed with my answer, I'll go ...
Richard's user avatar
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11 votes
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Why can a vuvuzela only play one pitch, while a non-valved bugle can play many?

Apparently, it is possible to play some melodies on the Vuvuzela, although not in quite the same way as on a trumpet or horn (FAQ). The difference is probably that most football fans are football fans ...
Kilian Foth's user avatar
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11 votes

Just intonation on a trumpet

Embouchure and valve manipulation can influence the exact pitch of a tone on all wind instruments. For proof, just listen to any jazz trumpet player! The effect is larger on some instruments than ...
Kilian Foth's user avatar
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11 votes
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Switching Tubas During Solo

Yes, you should absolutely feel comfortable switching horns between movements! As tubists advance, this becomes a part of normal practice; even at the highest level of symphony auditions, tubists ...
Richard's user avatar
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10 votes
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Key choice for brass instruments

Adding to the narrative in other answers, here is a chart that might help further explain why brass players tend to prefer sheet music written in keys with flats. As is shown, written keys that ...
lauir's user avatar
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10 votes
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Why is my girlfriend's flugelhorn a semitone lower than my bass?

Welcome to the wonderful world of transposing instruments. As you've identified, the factors at play here are: The flugelhorn is indeed a transposing instrument, in Bb. That means it plays a tone (...
endorph's user avatar
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10 votes

Sound changes: Putting curves or bends into a straight horn

Very little if anything. The sound quality is affected by the bore profile (change in cross-sectional area along the tube). The amount of power needed to produce a clean output depends both on the ...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar
10 votes

How can horns, most of which have only three buttons, play all their notes?

You can play several different notes with the same fingering, controlling the note with your lips. On a trumpet, starting at middle C, you can get C, G, C, E, G, B♭, C. Then each fingering (or slide ...
Peter's user avatar
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10 votes

How to clean the bathtub after cleaning brass instruments

You don't specify whether you have an enamel or plastic bath tub, so an abrasive cleaner that would work well on enamel would damage plastic. When I've borrowed really dirty cornets I've washed them ...
Brian THOMAS's user avatar
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9 votes
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What is required in a hollow "tube" to resonate?

user65726's answer has some of the basics, but to expand on that a bit: The question asks for two things, which do not necessarily always come together: "musical stable pitches" and "harmonics." ...
Athanasius's user avatar
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9 votes

How do harmonic tones get "out of tune" on a brass instrument?

This is a massive topic that I'm not really qualified to talk about, but "length of tubing" is a highly idealized model. In actuality, every bend in the tube and every change in bore diameter will ...
MattPutnam's user avatar
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9 votes

How can horns, most of which have only three buttons, play all their notes?

Consider a bugle. It can play a limited number of notes. As you say you're 'familiar with music and its jargon' perhaps you'll understand that they can play a selection of the harmonic series for ...
Laurence's user avatar
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9 votes
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Tuba, 4th valve extension?

That's a neat idea. But there are some technical problems you'll meet when you perform with it. You know already that many trombones have a trigger that adds an extra loop of tube, dropping the pitch ...
Brian THOMAS's user avatar
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9 votes

Brass instrument lengths

Thanks to Elements in Space for adding the "acoustics" tag to the question. I browsed "acoustics" and find this nice answer about boomwhackers: https://music.stackexchange.com/a/...
Stewart's user avatar
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8 votes
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Learning to play multiphonics on a brass instrument

As a brass player myself, I'd like to extend some tips for learning how to perform multiphonics on brass instruments. These tips are presented in a specific sequential order. 1.) Practice buzzing ...
jjmusicnotes's user avatar
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8 votes

what is this ornament called?

It's a turn, apparently sometimes called a 'flip': Source: http://www.timusic.net/wp-content/uploads/jazz+artikulation.pdf, Page 6.
endorph's user avatar
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