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Facts About the Brass Music Family

Updated March 23, 2017

The brass family is made up of the French horn, the trombone, the tuba and the trumpet. They have been used in some form or another since the 17th century.

Function

All brass instruments are played by placing the lips on the mouthpiece and making a buzzing motion, while blowing air. The wind vibrating through the instrument, along with the compression of the valve stems makes the sound that the brass family is known for.

Features

Brass instruments are not always made of brass. They are made from wood, bones and other metals. The first trumpets were actually conch shells.

Identification

No matter what they are made of, brass family instruments have a cup shaped mouthpiece, the coiled tube that leads to a flared horn at the end. They all have valves. The slide on the trombone works like the valves on the other brass instruments.

Misconceptions

Although they can be made from brass, a piccolo, flute and clarinet are not a part of the brass family. A saxophone is also not a part of the brass family. All of these instruments are woodwinds.

Alternative Name

Brass instruments are also called aerophones because of the way air moves through them to create sound.

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About the Author

Jonita Davis is freelance writer and marketing consultant. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "The LaPorte County Herald Argus" and Work.com. Davis also authored the book, "Michigan City Marinas," which covers the history of the Michigan City Port Authority. Davis holds a bachelor's degree in English from Purdue University.