In order to track the history of the trumpet, we need to time travel several thousand years back in history! Early trumpets date back to 1500 B.C. and earlier — samples of silver and bronze trumpets were found in King Tut’s tomb. Other metal and ceramic trumpets dating to this same period have also been traced to Scandinavia, China, Central Asia, and other civilizations. These simple trumpets were basically a metal tube with a mouthpiece. Trumpet players created sounds by pressing their lips to the mouthpiece and “buzzing” their lips. We’ve all seen the straight tube trumpets with a flared bell used by royal heralds — but early trumpets were actually often curved to make them easier to handle.
The original purpose for a trumpet wasn’t necessary as a musical instrument — instead, trumpets were valuable in military use as signalling devices. Their loud, brassy tones carried well in hectic battles; they could play different sets of notes as coded orders to widely separated parts of the army. Because of this, they were extremely valued members of the army. In fact, the most heavily guarded and protected members of a military troop were the trumpet players — because they made the rest of the army more effective by facilitating communications!We get more info on BrassInstrumentWarehouse.
Trumpets found slow acceptance as a musical instrument. This is because early trumpets did not have the valves we associate with modern instruments. A player could not play an entire chromatic range — instead, he could only play the notes in a single overtone sequence determined by the length of his trumpet. These simple instrument became known as “natural” trumpets.
Players managed to play these overtone notes by tightening or loosening his lips as he “buzzed” into the trumpet mouthpiece. He could only play in the key determined by the length of his trumpet. In order to change keys, he had to switch out a “crook” of a different length (this was essentially part of the coiled tube that slid off). This made the instrument’s flexibility very limited — especially in orchestral work. In fact, many of the composers in the romantic and classical period used trumpets very little — essentially limiting them to playing only a few notes. That’s why you don’t hear any Beethoven or Mozart pieces featuring a trumpet — they simply weren’t capable of the functionality demanded by sophisticated orchestral work. In order to increase the chromatic capability of the trumpet, instrument developers began experimenting with keyed valves. By pressing a valve, a player could divert the airflow through a different length path. This allowed the trumpet player a much greater chromatic range of notes.
Early efforts were largely unsuccessful because of poor sound quality — but, in 1818 Friedrich Bluhmel and Heinrich Stolzel patented a successful box valve for the trumpet. Because of this late development of a trumpet as a capable orchestral instrument, much of the repertoire for this instrument is small compared to other instruments. This began to change in the early 1900’s — both in orchestral and popular music.