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Symbolism

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Aida trumpet in Bb (high tuning), Barcelona, Spain. Francisco Montserrat, ca. 1900/20 (Musikinstrumentenmuseum Schloss Kremsegg, Austria, Streitwieser collection)

The trumpet has always been used for cults and rituals, in the Occident as well as in the Orient, to pass messages from our world to the spirit world. The sounds produced by the trumpet were said to possess magical powers which enabled them to bridge the divide between the two worlds and summon a god, rouse the spirits of the forest, drive out demons and so on.

In addition, the trumpet is more closely associated with power than any other instrument. This power symbolism is particularly closely related to wars and rulers.

The sound of the trumpet has always denoted military strength, whether this was as a signaling instrument in battle or in a military band. There are countless examples in orchestral works which evoke an aura of heroism, power, strength, domination, triumph and noble sentiments which refer to male characters, rulers and nations.

The image of the trumpet as a symbol of authority and social standing goes hand in hand with its association with warfare. Celebrations and ceremonies at court, parades and coronations are inextricably linked to fanfares and other majestic trumpet sounds. It was toward the end of the Middle Ages that this symbolism gained the enormous significance which it still maintains today.