Why do all brass instruments not sound the same?Murray Campbell
Over the last five centuries or more, the musical brass family has evolved into an extended tribe of instruments of widely varying shapes, sizes and materials. There is no doubt that this diversity of form and construction reflects a variety of musical function which is demanded and prized by composers, performers and audiences. On the other hand, brass instruments share many common features: they all start with the same type of sound generator (the human lips), and apart from the side-hole instruments they all radiate the sound through a single terminating bell. Indeed, at low dynamic levels it can be difficult to distinguish the timbre of one brass instrument from another. This talk reviews the features of design and construction which contribute to the striking differences in timbre evident in musical performance on different types of brass instruments, and attempts to relate these to the underlying linear and nonlinear acoustical principles.