20 Trumpet Facts You May Not Know
Published on: February 20, 2020
Doing research for a paper on the trumpet? Or just want to dig into one of the coolest instruments around? Check out our 20 most interesting facts about the trumpet:
- If you stretched out all of the tubing in a trumpet, it would be six and a half feet long! That’s taller than most humans.
- Surprised to only see three valves? Despite only having eight possible key pressing combinations, a trumpet can play 45 distinct musical pitches.
- And those three valves we mentioned? They’ve only been around since 1820. Early trumpets had no valves at all, and pitches were limited to a single harmonic series.
- With valved trumpets, we commonly think of piston and rotary valves. But trumpets have actually used a variety of valve types throughout history including the Berliner, Viennese, and Stoezel.
- Trumpets are one of the oldest instruments in human history! Instruments bearing resemblance to trumpets have been found in King Tut’s (Tutankhamun’s) tomb in ancient Egypt, dating back to 1500 BC. Not only were they found intact, but they were recorded for the BBC.
- Some of the oldest trumpets were fashioned from seashells and wood hollowed-out by insects. Mmm, doesn’t that sound fun to press your mouth against!
- In Biblical times, trumpets were crafted from a ram’s horn, called a shofar.
- Trumpets have long been associated with the supernatural. Be it ushering souls to the underworld or angelic hosts performing trumpet calls, trumpets have an ethereal quality to them.
- No instrument represents power and nobility more than the trumpet. Trumpets were used for fanfares during the middle ages to signal the arrival of royalty and have always had a strong presence in military events throughout history.
- Are you a competitive trumpet player? Perhaps you too could have competed in the Greek Olympics, which featured the Heralds and Trumpeters contest. Herodoros, winner of ten consecutive contests, was a huge man, responsible for inspiring soliders to win a battle by blowing two trumpets at the same time.
- Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie was known for his huge cheeks and trumpet bell pointed up at a 45 degree angle. His iconic trumpet was the result of an accident in 1953, when someone fell on top of his horn while it was on a trumpet stand and bent it. Dizzy took it all in stride, and actually preferred the new look as it was able to better project over the heads of patrons at the night club.
- Dizzy’s trumpet was so famous, in fact, that it was the most expensive trumpet ever sold. After his death in 1993, his horn was sold at auction for $55,000.
- The trumpet can get as loud as 120 decibels. This is as loud as a thunderclap or chainsaw. Remember your hearing protection!
- In 1842, Adolphe Saxe created the first trumpet factory which was located in Paris, France.
- A trumpet has a cylindrical bore which gives it a brighter, brassy sound. Combine this with its very directional bell, and you have the perfect combination to cut through any band, orchestra, or jazz band.
- There are several different types of trumpets and trumpet-like instruments, including trumpets pitched in different keys (C, D, Eb, E, F, G, and A), the cornet, and the flugelhorn.
- Jobs are changing with AI and the growth of robots - are musicians next? Car manufacturer Toyota developed a trumpet-playing robot with fully functioning mechanical embouchure.
- The longest playable trumpet ever made was 105 feet long and built in 2009 in Indonesia. It’s bell is so large (17 feet in diameter) that it takes an air compressor to push air through the instrument!
- The longest line of trumpet players playing a fanfare using valved trumpets included 172 performers as part of the Midosuji Autumn Party 2018 Trumpet Team (Japan) in Osaka, Osaka, Japan, on 4 November 2018. This seems to be one of those records that keeps on being broken every few years!
- The highest note performed is a quad C, five whole octaves above the low C on trumpet! This has been played by both Michael Schmidt and Mark Van Cleve.