9 Amazing Trumpet Facts

The trumpet is one of the most distinct and well-known instruments in the world. However, there are still a number of amazing things that most people do not know about this beloved instrument. Here are 8 amazing trumpet facts that will ‘blow’ your mind.

Fact #1: The trumpet is surprisingly long

While most people think of the trumpet as a small brass instrument, it is impressively long when the total tubing of it is measured. A trumpet in its normal coiled form is roughly two feet long, but when uncoiled, a standard Bb trumpet can be over six feet long! 

Fact #2: Not all trumpets are made of brass

The standard modern trumpet is made of brass which is a blend of copper and zinc. This creates a malleable metal that can be shaped into a trumpet and also produce a clean sound. Since brass has a tendency to corrode when exposed to air, most trumpets are covered in some type of protective layer or plating.

Recently, trumpets made out of plastic* have entered the market. They are much cheaper than a traditional trumpet made of brass, and while targeted at beginners and kids (who will have less fatigue while holding the much lighter instrument), they are a toy rather than a serious horn.

Fact #3: The standard valved trumpet is not that old

The first trumpet that could play twelve chromatic notes was only invented around the end of the 18th century. This was invented by the prominent Viennese trumpeter Anton Weidinger.

To show off the new capabilities of the trumpet, trumpet concertos were written for Weidinger by Joseph Haydn and Johann Nepomuk Hummel. These featured many notes and key changes that showed the potential of the new trumpet.

The valved trumpet that is more like today’s was invented in the 1820s which is not too long ago compared to other instruments. 

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Fact #4: Trumpets are astonishingly loud

Most trumpet players know how loud a trumpet can be. This loudness can often be inconvenient for practicing as it can disturb others in the area. However, did you know that a standard trumpet can reach 110 decibels? That’s louder than being 300m away from a jet plane take off. It’s no wonder that trumpets have been used for centuries to communicate from far away.

Fact #5: Trumpets can be played quietly

Actual trumpeters will already know this, but many people are surprised to learn that it’s possible to practice the trumpet quietly – even though it is an astonishingly loud instrument!

Trumpets can be “plugged” with a variety of different practice mutes to reduce the sound that comes out. Some mutes are digital and allow the player to connect headphones (or recording equipment!). It’s therefore possible to practice the trumpet quietly and effectively even late at night – without upsetting the neighbors.

Fact #6: The oldest playable trumpet is over 3,000 years old

When the tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun was uncovered in 1922, a pair of long trumpets were found inside. One was made of silver while the other was made of bronze. They both featured decorative carvings on the exterior as well.

Suaudeau, Trompette d’argent et sa sourdine en bois du tombeau de Toutânkhamon 2, CC BY-SA 4.0

It’s also been claimed Tutankhamun’s bronze trumpet is magical and, if blown into, a war will occur. This was true for the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, the Six-Day War in 1967, as well as the Gulf War in 1991.

While it’s incredible enough that such old trumpets were found, it is even more shocking that the trumpets were still playable – albeit with the use of a modern mouthpiece. They were played in a large radio concert in 1939 which had 150 million estimated listeners worldwide.

Curiously, the bronze trumpet was also stolen during the looting that occurred in 2011 in Egypt – but it was later recovered in a bag in the Cairo Metro. It’s safe to say it has a long and curious history!

Fact #7: There are many trumpets from all types of cultures

While most people imagine the trumpet as the standard brass valve trumpet, there are many different kinds of trumpets all over the world. For example, the shofar of the Middle East is made from a ram’s horn and produces a similar sound to a trumpet. Other examples include the conch shells of Fiji and the animal horns of Africa. 

Like the trumpet, the shofar is also a wind instrument. It is made from a ram’s horn.
(Image: James MacDonald from Glasgow, Scotland, Frank-oil-shofar (14088680963), CC BY 2.0)

Fact #8: The most expensive trumpet sold for $125,000

Some may complain that standard trumpets are expensive, but they cost nothing compared to the Yamaha trumpets that were sold for $125,000. The reason they were so expensive was because they were completely made of solid platinum.

These platinum trumpets were shortly discontinued due to a lack of demand. There is nothing to prove that platinum made the sound of the trumpet any better than a brass one, though platinum is lighter than brass which could be an advantage. 

Fact #9: Trumpets have long been a military tool

Trumpets have been a military tool in battle for centuries. The ancient Roman military used horns to send messages during conquests due to their loudness so that they could still be heard over the noise of battle. Even today the trumpet is still used as a military tool, but more for commemorative purposes. 

The trumpet is simply an incredibly interesting instrument with much history behind it. We hope that you learned something new about the trumpet from this article and that it gave you a newfound curiosity for the trumpet. Be sure to check out our other articles for more information on everything trumpet related from practice techniques to the different types of trumpets out there.

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