Valves under scrutiny. An acoustical and technical comparison of nineteenth-century valve types
Sabine Katharina Klaus; Robert Pyle

After the invention of the first successful valves for brass instruments in ca. 1814, an extensive period of experimentation commenced. The great variety of technical solutions that allowed the engagement of additional valve tubing in order to play a chromatic scale on brass instruments aimed at equalizing the sound between the open instrument and the valves. Statements of inventors and makers concerning their improvements are surprisingly similar. Considerations such as production cost, reliability, durability, and ergonomics also played a role in the development of valve types without always being explicitly stated in patents, pamphlets, and exhibition catalogs. The discussion of the valve development in contemporary writings seems to have been tainted by prejudice that lingered on into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Mainly based on instruments from the Joe R. and Joella F. Utley Collection of Brass Instruments we will compare various nineteenth-century valve developments in regards to their acoustical (using BIAS) and technical quality, also discussing why certain valve types have survived to the present day and others have not. The main goal will be to gain more objective insight into the quality of various valve types past and present.