Talk:Brass instrument

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It seems the user's contribution of a link to Valve oil is highly incidental, but I've edited it and moved it to a different rhetorical form and more appropriate para. Valve oil complains that it is orphaned, so why not? Useful info. JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 20:40, 8 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Valves too large"[edit]

The following has been added today by Hyacinth:

Note that since valves lower the pitch, a valve which causes a pitch to be too low (flat) must itself be too large (sharp), while a valve which causes sharp pitches must itself be to small (flat).

I don't think this adds much and is even confusing, i.e., the valves aren't "too large", the tubing is "too long". But it's not really "too long", it's off in intonation but "working as designed" to make the combination of valves and and slides as easy to use as possible under the imperfect circumstances of the valved brass system.

I'm curious what others think before I mangle the prose ... JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 22:46, 8 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Longer tubes sound flatter than shorter ones. How can "too large" be sharp? I just put the page back where it was before that addition; clarification needed here before restoring that text. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 23:22, 8 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You know how too large can be sharp (that's what sharp means), you just couldn't think of it because of my horribly unclear text. Hyacinth (talk) 01:51, 9 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This isn't difficult. If you are at 12 and you want to go to 7, the number you need to go down by is 5. If you end up too low, say at 6.5, you went down by a number that was too big, thus 5.5.

With musical intervals instead of numbers, if you are at an octave (C') and you want to go down to (not by) a perfect fifth (G), you want a perfect fourth. If you end up too low, a flat perfect fifth, you went down by a perfect fourth that is too large: a sharp perfect fourth.

If you where at 1200 cents and wanted to be at 700 cents, you want to go down 500 cents. If you end up at 650 you went down 550 cents. Hyacinth (talk) 02:35, 9 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

OK, that makes sense, but is it standard terminology? Where I come from, "sharp" means "higher pitched." Talking about intervals, I'm more used to thinking "wide" and "narrow" or perhaps "augmented" and "diminished" when fancier words seem to be called for. Who calls a wider-than-usual interval "sharp" anyway? __ Just plain Bill (talk) 02:46, 9 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Musicians, theorists, etc. (better question may be "who doesn't?") For example, "sharp fifth", which you won't find as often as "flat fifth" due to the latter's use in meantone temperament: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5] (last two might be the same example). Hyacinth (talk) 05:01, 9 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also, if things makes sense, what prevents you from rewriting them? For example, instead of "sharp interval" you could have written "interval whose top note is sharp" or whatever. Hyacinth (talk) 05:21, 9 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nothing preventing anyone from rewriting things. I removed that bit because:
  • Here the top note is in tune, and the bottom note is flat. That's the trouble with calling a wide interval "sharp." It all depends on which end you consider the anchor. It only makes sense if you consider the interval as going from low to high, as many of your sources seem to assume without saying so.
  • I don't care for circumlocutions, especially confusing ones. In casual conversation, taking the long way around the barn can be fun, but this is supposed to be encyclopedic exposition.
I am perfectly willing to tighten up text where I think its point adds to ease of understanding. Here, I am not so sure that it did. That said, I'm still reading and listening. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 11:37, 9 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
After re-reading them, I see all of those examples refer to low-to-high intervals, assuming the lower note to be the one in tune. That is irrelevant to the context of adding length to a brass tube. A downward leap of a wide fifth from an in-tune note goes to a note that sounds flat. Flat is not sharp, no matter what the octave or pitch class. Again, in the obvious sense that plainly matters here: who calls a wide downward leap "sharp" anyway? __ Just plain Bill (talk) 17:46, 9 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just plain Bill, as a revision note to your latest edit, you state "brasses do not need to play in equal temperament; see U. of Oklahoma reference". While this is true, when speaking of the out-of-tune-ness of valves, that out-of-tune-ness must be with respect to some scale. Most people mean even temperament when they refer to the intonation difficulty of brass.
It is not a question of brass instruments being built intended for one intonation scheme and being found wanting w/r/t another intonation scheme such as even temperament ... it's the logistical reality that they cannot be built with perfectly consistent intonation w/r/t any plausible intonation system as long as they depend upon combinations of valves which individually when played alone must produce accurate intervals. I.e., if valves 1 and 2 are accurate alone, they cannot be accurate in combination. This is why valve 3 alone is always "wrong" ... it is intended only to be used in combination. JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 05:06, 12 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Indeed. Trumpeters and other valved brass players are aware of various alternate fingerings, and may even on rare occasions use the 3rd valve instead of 1 & 2 together, but generally only briefly, on the way to or from some other fingering. In every case, no matter what the intonation scheme of the moment, there will be a desired pitch, and that is what makes sense to describe (briefly) in the note on that table.
I do not believe that "Most people mean even temperament when they refer to the intonation difficulty of brass."
Not all music is played with a piano on the scene. Near the top, that reference mentions "different tuning problems when performing with a keyboard instrument (using equal temperament) and an instrumental ensemble (using just/natural intonation)".
The length of tubing added by each valve is variable with individual valve slides. In the usual case of the third valve on a trumpet, and often the first, those slides may be moved swiftly enough to give a skilled player the ability to tune each note as it comes, which in fact is the commonly used best practice. Hyacinth's justly tuned table below, or a merger of it with the table currently in the article, may be a vehicle for further explanation of that. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 11:42, 12 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Just version of the table currently in article:

Valve combination and creation of pitch discrepancies
Valve(s) Desired pitch Necessary
valve length
tubing length
Open tubing B 0" - -
2 A 6.6" - -
1 A 12.5" - -
1+2 G 19.9" 19.1" 0.8"
3 G 19.9" - -
2+3 G 24.9" 26.5" 1.6"
1+3 F 33.3" 32.4" 0.9"
1+2+3 E 39.9" 39" 0.9"

Hyacinth (talk) 07:04, 12 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Nice tables, Hyacinth!
Just plain Bill, when you're right, you're right, now our only concern is to see we don't make readers' heads spin :) Please see my comments below to Hy about the two points I feel are important to make regarding valved brass intonation JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 13:36, 12 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Valve tubing[edit]

I have added a section on relative tube length under the valves and their relation to just tuning. I am not a trumpet player, but very interested in music theory. What do you experts think about the formulation? Should I add alternative fingerings? Should I add a cents comparison to a just tuned scale? What is the modern real tuning of the valved tube extensions? Should I remove the now mostly redundant section just above it with absolute measurements? −Woodstone (talk) 07:31, 23 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

FYI, the tubing length of a brass instrument does not strictly determine the pitch the way one might think it does. Of course each partial does have a favored pitch center that depends on the tubing length, the shape of the bore, the profile of the bell flare, and the particulars of the mouthpiece cup, venturi and backbore, as well as the length and taper of the leadpipe, if present.
Still, some horns "slot" that center pitch more narrowly than others. On a horn with wider slotting, the player has more freedom to lip the pitch up or down. On a slide trombone, it is even possible to apply some slide vibrato while using the lip to hold the pitch steady. In such a case, the slide motion can affect the timbre of the note more than its pitch.
An analogous situation in a keyboard synthesizer might be heard with a variable bandpass filter more or less centered on the note being played, while a varying control voltage shifts the filter's peak frequency. In that case, the Q of the filter would be analogous to the degree of slotting shown by the horn.
I believe that brass players "sing" a note with their lip buzz, and choose a valve or slide position which allows that note to be reinforced by the horn. Naturally, the lip vibration is strongly influenced by the horn's resonance(s), but that element of pitch control is what makes listening to experienced brass players more rewarding than hearing elementary-school players. This is based on my dilettante-level experience with the cornet, bugle, trombone, and euphonium. Just plain Bill (talk) 16:42, 23 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for your comments. Of course I'm well aware that the numbers given are based on a rather simplified model of the horn. The complicated shape makes that the effective length depends somewhat on frequency and that the "harmonics" are not exactly multiples of the fundamental. Furthermore the player has a certain amount of control to vary pitch by the way of blowing. But nevertheless, I found the resulting data insightful. −Woodstone (talk) 20:02, 23 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A further complication: A tube, open at one end, only has resonances at odd multiples of its fundamental fequency. The shape of the bell is responsible for pushing the lower partials up in frequency, so that the horn produces a series of pitches that sound like an approximation of both odd- and even-numbered harmonics. The approximation is imperfect, and experienced trombone players pay attention to the slide adjustments needed to bring each note in tune, depending on the characteristics of the particular horn on their face at the moment. Adhering to a given temperament adds another layer of complication, but that is outside the scope of discussing the fit between a horn's overtones or partials, and an ideal harmonic series. Just plain Bill (talk) 20:56, 23 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Physicists still debate aspects of tube vibrations and it is an open field of research to this day. We'll not sort it all out on Wikipedia :) JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 00:59, 25 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I guess horn makers know a fair bit about what they aim to produce. Some information, the sort that is held in institutional memory in the form of tooling and experienced workers, may come and go as manufacturing shifts from one location to another. That kind of information may not transport well to encyclopedic text pages, even when the source is willing to share it. We take what we can get... Just plain Bill (talk) 03:29, 25 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We are in "violent agreement" on that, Mr. Bill :) JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 14:35, 25 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I vehemently agree, M. Jacques. ;) Just plain Bill (talk) 17:31, 25 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Alloys used in brass instruments?[edit]

What alloys are typically used for the making of brass instruments? have these changed over the years? why? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:04, 2 December 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is this image labled correctly?[edit]

A tenor horn (alto horn) in E, baritone horn in B, and euphonium in B.

I'm pretty sure the middle horn is just a varient on the Eb tenor horn and not a Baritone. A baritone horn is the same size as a euphonium but with different piping. — Preceding unsigned comment added by GirlDoingMaths (talkcontribs) 21:44, 3 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, it is labelled correctly; the middle horn is a baritone in B♭ - you can tell, the tubing on each of the three valves are the same lengths as the euphonium on the right, and both are shorter than the E♭ tenor horn on the left. — Jon (talk) 11:57, 3 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreeing with @Jonathanischoice here. One of the problems is that saxhorn/tuba family terminology is very messy and suffers from regional variants. See for example the terminology bit in Cliff Bevan's book which is enough to make you wake up screaming in the night. The smaller-looking saxhorn (clarification: smaller-looking than the euph on the right, I meant ... it is of course the larger of the two saxhorns here, sorry!) in the middle is, yes really, a B♭ horn playing in the same register as the euph ... it just looks a h*ll of a lot different because it is not a baby tuba with huge wide pipes, but it does have the same overall length and all that goes with it in proportion, as Jon rightly points out. It is in no way the higher E♭ instrument that we might call a tenor or alto horn. In some necks of the woods the terms used here are absolutely spot on, whereas in others there is a truly horrible confusion around the word baritone which, in environments where the middle one pictured here is not well-known, sometimes just means a three-valve euphonium. I find this usage very difficult but I do see how it gets used! We can't control the language that tightly though when my government comes to power we will try (goak here). DBaK (talk) 15:21, 3 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]