Undergraduate Research Journal


A trumpet’s construction is fundamental to its distinct tone color. Over a period of centuries, this tone color and its resonant qualities have changed as the trumpet’s construction has changed. These changes are also reflected in the purpose and function of the instrument in society, as well as in the actual music written for it. While the design of the B-flat trumpet as it is known today was not finalized until the mid-20th century, some of the most progressive changes in trumpet construction and literature have occurred between the first known iterations of the instrument during antiquity and what is known as the Classical period of Western art music during the Common Practice Era. The best understanding of the historical path of the trumpet and its idiomatic literature will be gleaned from a chronological approach. Therefore, an examination must first be made of the earliest trumpets, their purposes in the ancient world through the Middle Ages, and some of the most characteristic musical works of those periods. Next, the evolution of the trumpet during the Renaissance will be explored, followed by the Baroque period. Finally, the composers of the Classical period will offer their own insights about the purpose of the trumpet and its place in the musical realm. The advancements in the construction of the trumpet have had a profound impact on the parallel advancements of Western trumpet literature from antiquity through the Classical period. Despite their name, brass instruments are not classified with respect to the raw materials

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