Trumpets are an instrument that has been around for a very long time, though in significantly different forms than is commonly seen today. The first trumpets date back all the way to ancient Egypt, though for thousands of years the primary use of the trumpet was military in nature – to signal armies and help coordinate battles. Since these times, the construction and use of the trumpet has transformed until it has become the popular and versatile instrument that it is today.
It was not until the 15th century that trumpets would see the introduction of a slide, and another 300 years before valves were in use. These innovations gave the trumpet more versatility, allowing the pitch to be lowered and providing it with a much greater range. In the Baroque period these developments gave the trumpet more of a role in the music that was being composed at the time, making it a favored instrument of composers to write solos for. In time, the popularity of the trumpet would decline again, but would see revitalization with each new development.
When the 20th century arrived, people really began to push the limits of what the trumpet was capable of, especially in the realm of jazz. Famous trumpet players such as Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie would show the world what a trumpet could really sound like in the hands of a skilled trumpeter and help to rocket the jazz movement into the popularity that it even now still enjoys.
There are many different types of trumpets, from bass to soprano, though the B-flat trumpet is by far the most popular. The A trumpet enjoys second place in the rankings, though mostly for classical music. Variations on the A and B-flat trumpets include slide trumpets, pocket trumpets and, of course, the piccolo trumpet – a compact version of the A and B-flat trumpets that produces some truly unique sounds.
Like any instrument, learning the trumpet takes time and effort. To truly master this incredibly diverse instrument, one must be willing to devote hours every day towards practice. The upside of all the practice, however, is that those who can really play this horn are highly regarded and coveted among the musical circles that use trumpets in their playing. Though this mostly consists of classical and jazz ensembles, due to their versatility trumpets are finding their way into all sorts of musical forms. Musical opportunities abound for those few that devote themselves to the trumpet and its mastery.