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Trumpet in C - Brief Description


German: Trompete
French: trompette
Italian: tromba

The trumpet in C consists of the trumpet tube and bell, the mouthpipe with detachable mouthpiece, three valves and the tuning slide, with which the overall tuning of the instrument can be altered. The tuning slide has a water key. In many cases, all three valves have valve slides which can be pulled out with a trigger to correct the intonation of individual notes.

A number of models can be retuned from C to Bb by means of an extended tuning slide or an additional piece of tubing.

The above shown C trumpet is a German model, i.e., it has rotary valves and was made in the Viennese style:

  • the tube walls are slightly thinner
  • one extensible valve slide for tuning adjustment (for C#4 and D4)
  • two additional keys which facilitate the playing of the notes A5 and C6.

The German concert trumpet is used mainly in German, Austrian and eastern European orchestras. In the rest of the world the French model with the Perinet system of piston valves and a narrower bore is far more common; indeed, in France and America it is practically the only model used. The French model has also been widely accepted in jazz.

Tuning slide

Also: main slide. An extendible, usually U-shaped additional piece of tubing for the correction of brass instruments’ tuning. It was first used in 1781 on the Waldhorn. Today, an improved version of the slide is found on valve instruments.

By extruding the tuning slide the tuning of trumpets can be lowered up to a half tone. (With Périnet valve systems the main slide is situated before the valves, with rotary valve systems behind them.) The trombone’s fundamental is lowered by a diminished fifth (from Bb2 to E2) when the tuning slide is completely extruded.


A mechanism for increasing the tube length of brass instruments which has been used since 1814 on the horn and 1820 on the trumpet. By activating a valve the air flow is redirected into an additional piece of tubing. Valved brass instruments (horn, trumpet, cornet, tuba, cimbasso) generally have three valves which lengthen the instrument’s tube and thus make it possible to lower the pitch (by 1, ½, 1½ notes). The valves therefore fill the gaps in the natural harmonic series and a full chromatic scale can be played. Lower-pitched instruments, on which the fundamental (1st harmonic) speaks well and is used, have a fourth valve, which lowers the fundamental by 2½ notes to compensate for the gap between the 1st and 2nd harmonics.

Rotary valve

This valve was developed in Vienna by Joseph Riedl in 1835 and is now the most commonly used valve on brass instruments along with the Périnet or piston valve.

Périnet system

A valve system for brass instruments based on the Périnet valves patented by François Périnet in Paris in 1838. With the rotary valve unit it is the most commonly used valve system world-wide. Whereas the rotary valve unit is preferred in German-speaking countries, the Périnet system is used in France, England, the USA, Belgium and the Netherlands. Périnet valves are also favored by jazz musicians.

Périnet valve

Also: piston valve. Patented in Paris in 1838 by François Périnet as a further development of the piston valve that was first presented by Heinrich Stölzel in Berlin in 1814. Along with the rotary valve, this is the most widely used brass instrument valve today.

Aerophone, brass wind instrument

Brass (tubing), gold brass (leadpipe)

Small cup-shaped mouthpiece

Length 65–72 cm, predominantly cylindrical; coiled form
"A" tube (transposition to A)

Narrow, inner diameter 10.4–11 mm

Three valves, Périnet system

Rim diameter 9.4–10 cm