Brass type instruments originally appeared as a crude animal horn cut off at the small end. The first historic record of one comes from the Eastern Civilization. It was the Hebrew instrument schofar. This was made from a ram's horn. The schofar is still used today in various Jewish festivals.

The Greeks and Romans had both straight and curved horns. They were also found in Ireland and Denmark. These 2,000 year old artifacts were made of wood or metal.

A family of valved instruments were developed by William Weiprecht of Germany by 1828. These eventually became known as the brass family since they were largely made from that metal.

The development the individual instruments is discussed in its section.


A brass instrument is defined as a wind instrument made out of metal with either a cup- or funnel-shaped mouthpiece. A vibration is produced by the performers lips. This sets the column of air in motion. The pitch is determined by the length of the tube. Notes are produced by closing valves or moving a slide. This changes the length of the tube.