Used as early as 1500 BC in battles and for hunting, the trumpet has a long and rich history. Part of the brass family, the trumpet (and variations of it) have been used as a musical instrument since the late 14th and early 15th century; but just how much do you know about the humble trumpet?
Trumpets are usually hand-held instruments, but not all of them. The world’s largest trumpet would be pretty impossible to hold, as it comes in at a whopping 32 metres long, with a bell that’s 5.2 metres in diameter.
Made by a Mr. Benny J. Mamot in Indonesia back in 2009, you can only play it with the help of an air compressor.
The Highest Note Ever Played on a Trumpet
It’s not often a musician is able to hit the highest note on a trumpet, but it’s also not impossible. So, what is the highest note ever played? A quad C. This high note is two octaves above ‘super C’, three above ‘top C’ and five above ‘middle C’. The only musicians that have ever recorded this high note are Michael Schmidt and Mark Van Cleve, but for all we know, a lot of other players could also have played a ‘quad C’.
A Lot of Tubing gets Crammed into a Trumpet
Trumpets are one of the smallest instruments in the brass family, so as you can imagine – they’re not exactly big! However, they can cram a staggering 140-150cm of tubing into their compact body. It’s coiled up pretty tightly to make it fit in, which might explain why a lot of people don’t have the lung capacity to play a trumpet effectively, or for long periods.
A Very Expensive Trumpet
Would you pay $55,000 for a trumpet? Someone did in 1995 at a Christie’s auction. But, in their defence, it wasn’t any ordinary trumpet; it was Dizzy Gillespie’s ‘Martin Committee’ trumpet, with the trademark ‘bent bell’ of the jazz legend.
The Creation of the ‘Modern’ Trumpet
As we mentioned before, trumpets have been around for a long time! However, the trumpet that most resembles the instrument we all know and love today wasn’t created until 1814 by Stoelzel and Bluhmel in Germany.
The Oldest Trumpets Known to Man
Research has suggested that trumpets were used in ancient civilisations; however, the discovery that Tutankhamen, an ancient Egyptian King, was buried with two trumpets (a sterling silver one and a bronze one) provided undeniable proof!
Perhaps the most interesting thing about these trumpets, apart from their age, is the story behind them. You see, these trumpets are believed to hold magical powers, or a curse, depending on how you look at it. Since they were uncovered in 1922, the trumpets have allegedly only been played four times.
The first time was on BBC Radio in 1939, mere months before World War II broke out. On the night the trumpet was first played, the station experienced blackouts, and the musician playing the trumpet had to broadcast by candlelight.
It’s also said the trumpets were played for a second time in the lead up to the Six Day War in 1967 and a third time before the Persian Gulf War in 1990. The last time the trumpets were allegedly played was shortly before the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. The trumpets mysteriously disappeared from the museum they were kept in during this time, however, they were later returned. Because of these spine-tingling accounts, the trumpets have become known as ‘the trumpets of war’.
As you can see, there is a lot more to the humble trumpet than meets the eye. However, fun facts and downright creepy myths aside, trumpets are a beautiful brass instrument that offers a well-rounded finish to any musical ensemble or create incredible sounds on their own.