Jazz, in every way, is more of an emotion than just a definitive genre in music.
But, that being said, there may rarely be anybody who can keep themselves from melting away with the incredibly emotionally charged cadences of jazz.
The essential element that makes up this genre is the predominant timbre of the music, which reflects luxuriously rich notes, creating an overwhelming sensual aspect.
And the device responsible for creating this music is known as a “mute” in the jazz instrument. This is, in fact, the magic core-device that differentiates a jazz instrument from others. Brass mutes vary in their types depending on the kind of instrument you want to play or the kind of jazz notes you wish to produce.
So, if right now, we have got you all hooked on to the subject of brass mutes, then you have found yourself just the ideal guide!
As in the following sections, we’re gonna tell you exactly what is the purpose of brass mutes in jazz music!
What are brass mutes?
The brass mute forms the central part of brass instruments, which is especially used for creating perfect jazz notes. Usually, these kinds of mutes will either squeeze into the bell of the brass instrument or could be clipped or hung on to the exterior of the bell.
Brass mutes are generally made of brass, copper, or aluminum. But you could also find some made of cardboard, economical plaster, and plastic, for that matter.
But, more interestingly, what you have to know is that each of these materials will produce a distinctive sound. This could be an advantage for the coordination of mutes with other materials like steel, cane, or leather.
Mutes typically make the instrument produce a sharp sound. Mutes of higher quality may reduce the issues with intonation, along with maintaining the characteristic jazz timbre. However, even with all the advantages provided by a brass mute, musicians do have to make several adjustments to the tuning slide.
What are the different types of brass mutes?
Brass mutes work by reducing the airflow in the instrument, which alters the volume and changes the resonance. These can be put either inside or outside of an instrument, depending on the type of the mute or instrument, or the requirement of the player.
Now, selecting a mute requires you to know a bit about the different kinds of mutes, and the styles and sounds they can offer.
Basically, all types of interior mutes are divided into two broad categories: cup and straight. A cup mute has a cover that is put over the bell to create a softer, almost flat-toned, and stifled sound. On the other hand, straight mutes are usually cone-shaped, and they produce a nasal sound.
Also, a triple-play mute is one which offers three mutes in a single form, that is, cup, straight, or plunger mutes. And that’s why it is an excellent option for trombone or trumpet players.
One of the most effective in this field is the practice mute. These go inside the bell and allow you to play quietly, for that matter. Advanced versions of practice mutes also let you determine the sounds through headphones so that others don’t get disturbed. However, do remember to limit your practice with this mute as it does change the response of your instrument.
Another essential mute type is the solo tone or clear tone, which is a pretty old-school jazz mute. This creates a sound that’s similar to that of a megaphone. This one’s designed like a man’s derby hat and is excellent for producing classical jazz sounds with.
Moving along, there’s a type which is similar to the derby mutes; it’s the bucket mute, and it’s an exterior type that goes on the rim of the bell. It is often referred to as the modern version of the classic derby mutes and produces the same muffled, high-frequency tone.
However, we would like to mention over here that the addition of mutes might alter your grip on the instrument. You may need to find a different angle and position to hold it, because of which it may take some time for you to get used to them.
Types of trumpets
Trumpets are the true ornaments of the jazz orchestra. And if one went through the history of it, they would trace the origin of this instrument back to at least 1500 BC. Back then, they were used as signalling devices for hunting or war. It was only around the 14th or 15th century that trumpets began to be used as musical instruments.
However, the modern trumpet has evolved drastically to assume the role it has in the present times. And, it’s always pretty interesting to know the several ways in which the conventional trumpet has branched out to cater to the world’s musical requirements.
Therefore, here are all the types of trumpets which you might wanna know about!
1. The Bb Trumpet
The Bb trumpet was invented in France during the early 1900s. It is one of the most widely used brass instruments by jazz musicians. And, the reason this one’s sitting at the top of our list is because it’s used extensively as a practicing model to get better at playing more complex models.
It has a tube length of about 1.48 m, and the comprehensible arrangement of the keys on it makes it an ideal instrument for big orchestral performances.
2. The Bb Pocket Trumpet
This one, as the name suggests, is a smaller version of the standard Bb trumpet. It has a tighter tubing than the standard model, which makes it fit to be carried around in one’s pocket.
However, this compressed structure is what creates a pretty refined note, providing this instrument a unique sound. But, even with such a petite form, it produces a sound loud enough to be heard over most other accompaniments.
3. The C Trumpet
The C Trumpet brings in a clearer and higher pitch than most other trumpet variations. Structure-wise, it is pretty similar to the Bb trumpet, and makes a remarkable pair with it, especially in American orchestral plays.
And it is comparatively lighter and easier to carry than the Bb trumpet. However, the extra note that it produces can make it a bit challenging for one to perform with, initially.
4. The pTrumpet
The pTrumpet differs significantly in style, structure, and sound than most of the models on this list. It is, in fact, the only trumpet that is entirely constructed using plastic. But even with a fully plastic valve system, it doesn’t flake on the sound quality or even durability. It works pretty much like its brass counterparts, yet, at the same time, it is so much lighter to carry.
5. The D-Trumpet
The D-Trumpet was invented in the year 1861 and has since been considered as the ideal choice for Baroque music. It sounds almost similar to the C trumpet, only more piercing, which sets it apart from the other types.
However, what is vital to understand over here is that the D-trumpet is never used in a solo performance. It is only required for adding notes to other more traditional brass instruments, owing to the strength of its sound.
6. The Bugle
The bugle is famous for being the blaring call of duty instrument in the military field. It was mainly created for this very purpose, and the idea was to make a functional brass instrument without any valve. And, because of this valveless structure, the pitch control of the instrument depends entirely on the player’s skills and embouchure.
7. The Flugelhorn
Invented in the early 19th century, the German Flugelhorn somewhat resembles the C and Bb trumpets. However, when it comes to its sounds, the Flugelhorn provides both soprano and bass tunes pretty easily. It gives off a rather softer, soothing, and “swollen” sound, which is significantly used in jazz, especially while performing elegiac pieces, epics, or ballads.
8. The Piccolo Trumpet
The Piccolo trumpet is, in fact, the smallest trumpet ever, and it was actually designed to replace the D-trumpet. This is because the smaller tubing of the instrument, which is much different from conventional structures, produces a distinctly higher sound. This makes it ideal for performing religious numbers.
The Piccolo trumpet is pitched at an octave above the Bb trumpet with different lead pipes. Unlike most other types, this trumpet has a fourth valve that prolongs its range to a low F#.
What are all the trombone types?
Trombones, meaning “large trumpet” in Italian, are simple, yet essential jazz instruments, that somewhat form a bridge between the tuba and the trumpet. The most common types of trombones are the trigger-type (also known as F-attachment or F-Rotor), the straight tenor, and bass trombones.
In the following sections, we have listed all those types of trombones that you’d usually find in jazz orchestras.
1. Tenor Trombones
This is the basic and simplest kind of trombone which doesn’t have any tubing within the main section, unlike the F-rotor trombone. This is a straight trombone which could be manipulated by activating the trigger. This extends the horn longer, altering a Bb tuning to an F.
2. Bass Trombones
A bass trombone is designed to have a larger bell, which is of the same length as a tenor trombone. This is actually a bigger version of the F-rotor trombone, which comes with a second rotor. And, this extends its low range even further.
3. Marching Trombones
The marching trombone or the flugelbone resembles a large coronet and creates true trombone sounds. It has a unique, compact design, which is much easier to maneuver than the traditional trombone.
4. Valve Trombones
This is available in multiple sizes, and the most common one among these is the tenor. The valves in this trombone allow you to work up fast tempos with ease and offer a higher degree of accuracy than the slide trombone.
5. Soprano Trombones
These small trombones are similar to slide trumpets. And although it is, at times, used in jazz pieces, its popularity has declined in the present times. The soprano, today, is used more often with the trumpet or other woodwind instruments.
To decode the elements of jazz is undeniably an immense feat to achieve. Whether they are the simplest of instruments or cumbersome ones that are difficult even to hold, each jazz device contributes uniquely to its enchanting music.
For all the topics that we have covered in this guide, we hope we were able to provide you with a significant amount of insight into what makes up the essence of this genre.
And, brass mutes, in this respect, are some of the absolutely indispensable elements in jazz music. So, we hope we were able to help you understand what is the purpose of brass mutes in jazz music!
Till next time!