Physics of brass instruments

Most well known is the didjeridu, a simple wooden tube blown with the lips like a trumpet, which gains its sonic flexibility from controllable resonances of the player's vocal tract. The bull-roarer is a simple wooden slat whirled in a circle on the end of a cord so that it rotates about its axis and produces a pulsating low-pitched roar. The gum-leaf, as the name suggests, is a tree leaf, held against the lips and blown so as to act as a vibrating valve with "blown-open" configuration.

Physics of brass instruments

Tuning compensation[ edit ] The additional tubing for each valve usually features Physics of brass instruments short tuning slide of its own for fine adjustment of the valve's tuning, except when it is too short to make this practicable. For the first and third valves this is often designed to be adjusted as the instrument is played, to account for the deficiencies in the valve system.

Trumpet valve bypass depressed In most trumpets and cornets, the compensation must be provided by extending the third valve slide with the third or fourth finger, and the first valve slide with the left hand thumb see Trigger or throw below.

This is used to lower the pitch of the 1—3 and 1—2—3 valve combinations.

Physics of brass instruments

In instruments with a fourth valve, such as tubas, euphoniums, piccolo trumpets Physics of brass instruments, etc. All three normal valves may be used in addition to the fourth to increase the instrument's range downwards by a perfect fourth, although with increasingly severe intonation problems.

When four-valved models without any kind of compensation play in the corresponding register, the sharpness becomes so severe that players must finger the note a half-step below the one they are trying to play.

This eliminates the note a half-step above their open fundamental. Manufacturers of low brass instruments may choose one or a combination of four basic approaches to compensate for the tuning difficulties, whose respective merits are subject to debate: Compensation system[ edit ] In the Compensation system, each of the first two or three valves has an additional set of tubing extending from the back of the valve.

When the third or fourth valve is depressed in combination with another one, the air is routed through both the usual set of tubing plus the extra one, so that the pitch is lowered by an appropriate amount.

This allows compensating instruments to play with accurate intonation in the octave below their open second partial, which is critical for tubas and euphoniums in much of their repertoire. The compensating system was applied to horns to serve a different purpose. A later "full double" design has completely separate valve section tubing for the two sides, and is considered superior, although rather heavier in weight.

Additional valves[ edit ] Initially, compensated instruments tended to sound stuffy and blow less freely due to the air being doubled back through the main valves. In early designs, this led to sharp bends in the tubing and other obstructions of the air-flow.

Additional sets of slides on each valve[ edit ] Another approach was the addition of two sets of slides for different parts of the range. Some euphoniums and tubas were built like this, but today, this approach has become highly exotic for all instruments except horns, where it is the norm, usually in a double, sometimes even triple configuration.

Trigger or throw[ edit ] Flugelhorn with three pistons and a trigger Some valved brass instruments provide triggers or throws that manually lengthen or, less commonly, shorten the main tuning slide, a valve slide, or the main tubing. These mechanisms alter the pitch of notes that are naturally sharp in a specific register of the instrument, or shift the instrument to another playing range.

Triggers and throws permit speedy adjustment while playing. Trigger is used in two senses: A trigger can be a mechanical lever that lengthens a slide when pressed in a contrary direction.

Triggers are sprung in such a way that they return the slide to its original position when released. The term "trigger" also describes a device that lengthens certain brass instruments' main length of tubing to shift its range to another playing range, as with certain trombones.


A throw is a simple metal grip for the player's finger or thumb, attached to a valve slide. The general term "throw" can describe a u-hook, a saddle u-shaped gripsor a ring ring-shape grip in which a player's finger or thumb rests.

A player extends a finger or thumb to lengthen a slide, and retracts the finger to return the slide to its original position. Examples of instruments that use triggers or throws[ edit ] Trumpet or cornet[ edit ] Triggers or throws are sometimes found on the first valve slide. Triggers or throws are often found on the third valve slide.

Physics of brass instruments

Trumpets typically use throws, whilst cornets may have a throw or trigger.The goal of Unit 11 of The Physics Classroom Tutorial is to develop an understanding of the nature, properties, behavior, and mathematics of sound and to apply this understanding to the analysis of music and musical instruments.

Banjo Physics by David Politzer The banjo clearly has many features in common with other stringed instruments. It certainly has plenty of unique features, beloved of players and luthiers, alike. Physics of Sound Traveling Waves.

The science of making musical instruments - OpenLearn - Open University

Sound is produced when something vibrates. The vibrating body causes the medium (water, air, etc.) around it to vibrate. In music, the bore of a wind instrument (including woodwind and brass) is its interior defines a flow path through which air travels, which is set into vibration to produce sounds.

The shape of the bore has a strong influence on the instrument's timbre.

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SENIOR PHYSICS RESOURCES FOR PHYSICS STUDENTS & TEACHERS 'DEADLY' EEI IDEAS Ideas for Year 11 and 12 Physics Extended Experimental Investigations. SENIOR PHYSICS RESOURCES FOR PHYSICS STUDENTS & TEACHERS 'DEADLY' EEI IDEAS Ideas for Year 11 and 12 Physics Extended Experimental Investigations.

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