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Brass Instruments

Wind instruments, or aerophones, produce sounds by directly initiating and maintaining vibrations of air within a confined structure or air column (rather than via mechanical vibrations which are later transferred to air). Members of this group include the brass and woodwind instrument families, as well as the human voice.

The three principal components of a brass instrument are its air column (waveguide), the player's lips/mouthpiece (excitation source), and bell (radiation).

If you wish to pursue a more in-depth analysis of brass instruments, perhaps for your class project, a unique collection of research materials is maintained here at CCRMA. The Musical Acoustics Research Library (MARL) is a collection of independent archives or libraries assembled by distinguished groups or individuals in the field of musical acoustics research. Currently, MARL is comprised of the Catgut Acoustical Society Library, the Arthur H. Benade Archive, the John Backus Archive, and the John W. Coltman Archive. Arthur Benade, in particular, made substantial contributions to our understanding of brass instrument acoustic behavior.

Wind Instrument Air Columns

  1. Cylindrical Pipes:

  2. Conical Bores: See Woodwinds section.

  3. Air Column Discontinuities:

  4. Input Impedance:

  5. Brass Instrument Air Columns:

  6. The Mouthpiece:

  7. Valves:

  8. Materials:

Excitation: The Brass Player's Lips

Figure 17: The brass player's lips as a mechanical oscillator blown open.
\epsfig{file = figures/lips.eps,width=3in} \end{center} \vspace{-0.2in}

Sound Radiation

  1. The Bell:

  2. Mutes:

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