The Makings Of A Band


What Makes Up A Brass Band?

When you think of brass bands, what springs to mind are surely the trumpets, trombones and saxophones. These are the most prominent instruments in a brass band after all. However, there is more to a brass band than just these few instruments. There’s also an alto horn, baritone, flugelhorn, mellophone and tuba. Each of these has its own unique role to play in a good brass band performance. For some people who have seen brass bands perform on television or at their school prom maybe think that only the big ones (like Trumpet, Trombone and Saxophone) are used in Brass Bands. But that’s not correct. It is just that those are the most frequently used ones.

Each of these six instruments has its own historical significance and prominence in a Brass Band performance.


The cornet, also known as the alto horn or upper horn, is the smallest of all the brass instruments used in brass bands. It has a short and narrow metal tubing and it's fingering system is different from those of the other brass instruments. It is typically used in a band setting either as a solo instrument or as a secondary instrument featured alongside the trumpet or trombone.

The cornet’s timbre (sound) is lighter and softer than the trumpet’s and trombone’s, but bolder than the alto/tenor horn and mellophone. It is pitched in the same range as the trumpet, but its sound is softer, fuller and less piercing. The cornet was said to have been initially invented by the French musician Gosselin in 1838. Gosselin was influenced by the newly invented trumpet and wanted to create a softer version of it.

The cornet has since then undergone several modifications and advancements, becoming the instrument we know today.


The baritone is a loud and deep sounding instrument that is used in a brass band to provide a rhythmic bass line. It is similar in size to a tenor saxophone but with a much deeper sound.

There are two types of baritone used in brass bands, the Bb baritone and the F baritone. The Bb baritone is most frequently used. The Bb or F designation refers to the key of the instrument; Bb is the same pitch as a trumpet and F is the same as a French horn.

The baritone is normally played with a plunger (a metal rod with a cup at the end that is depressed to change the pitch) instead of a valve as is done on a trumpet or French horn. It is a very important instrument in a brass band and is used to provide the rhythmic foundation of the brass band along with the bass drum.


The flugelhorn is a trumpet that uses a more mellow tone. It is a relatively new instrument that has gained in popularity over the past half century. It is a common horn for use in bands other than brass bands but it is sometimes used in brass bands as a substitute for the trumpet.

It is similar to the trumpet but is less shrill and lighter in sound than the conventional trumpet. The flugelhorn is pitched in B-flat and is a key that is comfortable for many horn players. It is also a good alternative for trumpet players who have a weak high C. Flugelhorn can be played as a lead instrument in some sections of the band, but it is usually featured alongside the trumpet. It is usually played with a wider mouthpiece than that used with a trumpet.

A flugelhorn can be played as a lead instrument in some sections of the band, but it is usually featured alongside the trumpet.


The tuba is sometimes called the grandfather of the brass family. It was one of the first instruments to be used in brass bands. It has a very deep and low sound that is heard throughout brass band performances. It is sometimes used as a bass line like the baritone, but more often is used as part of the melody line.

The tuba is the lowest and the largest of the instruments used in a brass band. It is a tubular brass instrument with a wide mouthpiece and it has a sound that is low pitched, rich and full.

Because of its loud and deep sound, the tuba is used to play bass parts in the band, such as bass drum, pedal tone and the root note of a given chord. It is pitched in B-flat, an octave below the baritone horn.

The tuba is the lowest instrument in the band, and is often referred to as the “foundation” of the band.


The mellophone is a very rare instrument. It is not a very common instrument and is mostly used in marching bands. It was invented as an instrument that was easier to play than the baritone and is often played by people who used to play the baritone but have now lost the strength in their arms or fingers to play the heavier instrument.

It is a mid-sized and mid-pitched instrument that is a hybrid between a cornet and a horn and is pitched between them. It has a wide bell like the baritone, but the mouthpiece is between the mouthpieces of the cornet and the horn, meaning it is smaller than the horn’s mouthpiece but larger than the cornet’s mouthpiece.

The mellophone’s primary function is to provide a harmonic support to the melody played by other instruments but it can also be used as a lead instrument in some sections of the band.


The trumpet is a brass instrument with a bright sound. Its timbre is clear, piercing and loud and it is used in a brass band to play the melody and lead the rest of the instruments. It is pitched in B-flat, the same as the flugelhorn, but it produces a brighter sound than that instrument.

The trumpet is the most commonly used and best known instrument in brass bands. It is also one of the oldest instruments used in brass bands. The trumpet is used to play the melody in a brass band. It is a fairly difficult instrument to play and requires good technique to play well since it is played using the lips which requires a lot of breath control.

Trumpets are available in several different sizes. Smaller trumpets are used by younger players who are still growing; the size is indicated by the length of the instrument (from the end of the bell to the end of the mouthpiece).

Smaller trumpets are easier to play but don’t produce as good a sound as the larger trumpets.


Brass bands have been a part of British culture for many decades, with their history spanning over a century. Each of the six instruments used in brass bands has its own historical significance and importance.

The trumpet is the instrument that starts nearly every tune in a brass band. The baritone horn is a large, low-pitched instrument that provides the essential bass line in many tunes. The flugelhorn is a modern instrument that has the sound of a trumpeter playing a low note. The tuba is a large, heavy instrument that plays the essential bass line in many tunes. The mellophone is a low-pitched instrument that plays the essential bass line in many tunes.