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The trumpet in its simplest form shares origins with the instrument we now call a horn. Prehistoric horns were wind instruments made of wood, clay, bone, metal, or animal horns. Even the use of the word trumpet to describe such an instrument dates back centuries, when trumpets were mainly used in military settings.

Like many other wind and brass instruments, the 17th century was when the trumpet was used in more recognizable music settings. Some early trumpets resemble fixed trombones, and changes in pitch, volume, and timbre were achieved by the player's breath and lips. In the early 1800s, additional tube lengths and valves were added, making the instrument more versatile and precise.

On contemporary trumpets, the mouthpiece is inserted into the receiver. The mouthpiece curves into the main slide, where the water key is located. Most trumpets have three valves, which are connected to three “slides” (different lengths of curved pipe). After a final curve, the trumpet gradely widens into the bell.

What instruments are related to the trumpet?

Unlike the sousaphone and French horn, the trumpet has a long, narrow, ovular shape. A piccolo trumpet is half the length of a trumpet and often has four valves. Its pitch is one octave higher than a trumpet.

A pocket trumpet makes the instrument’s coils of tubes more compact and dense, allowing a smaller and more portable instrument to sound basically the same, convenient for young and traveling musicians.

The flugelhorn is similar to a trumpet, but has a larger cone at the bell, causing a more mellow sound. The cornet is smaller, thus sounding higher on the sonic spectrum.

How much do trumpets cost?

Student and entry-level trumpets can be found for a few hundred dollars, or even less. Beginner sets can be found that include cases, and sometimes other accessories. Recommended brands for newcomers include Jean Paul, Mendini, and Kaizer.

A professional instrument is over $1,000 new, and many cost more. Like other instruments, there are used, vintage, and collector markets.

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