The members of the brass family of instruments produce a tone that can range from the very mellow and sweet to the very harsh and loud. Often used as both section and solo instruments in a wide range of musical styles, brass instruments are used in nearly every stylistic context.
There are several features common among all instruments of the brass family :
- A mouthpiece, playable on its own, but very rarely played alone ;
- A length of metal tubing, the shape of which determines the pitch and tone quality of the instrument ;
- A method by which the length of the tubing is changed (although certain instruments do not contain such a device, such as the bugle).
A tone is produced by "buzzing" on the mouthpiece, creating vibrations through the length of tubing. The lengh of the tube is typically changed in two ways : valves and a slide.