In the world of music, orchestras are rendered incomplete without the full-bodied sounds that the brass section brings. In fact, you don't need your eyes to know the brass line is there; close them and your ears will identify the distinct tones of these specially-crafted instruments. Have you ever been curious about how craftsmen differentiate their brasses to create the ideal sound quality that produces award-winning performances?
Choices for Brass
Yellow brass, or C27200, is made of approximately 70% copper and 30% zinc. Most trombones and tubas are made of this very malleable but durable alloy. As the name implies, it exhibits a bright gold sheen and can truly be eye-catching when polished. Another type of brass used in musical instruments is red brass, also called rose brass. This contains a higher copper content, usually up to 90%—the other 10% consisting of zinc.
Why Copper Content Matters
According to music researchers, the amount of copper determines the brightness and darkness of brass instruments. Red brass, or those with higher copper content, produces darker and deeper tones. On the other hand, yellow brass makes the sound brighter and thinner, making it ideal for use in trumpets and flutes.
Effects of Measurements
Aside from the copper content, the gauge and diameters of brass sheets and brass tubing play crucial roles in creating quality music. Thicker sheets used in the cones and cylinders of tubas create lower resonance and lower sounds. For brass chimes, tubes with the same wall thickness can produce varied sounds when the diameters are adjusted. More specifically, narrower tubes create higher pitches while wider ones produce lower pitches.