Brassiness and the Understanding of Brass Instruments

Research output: Contributions to conferencesPaper



The concept of Brassiness Potential, introduced in 2007 as a parameter related to the timbre of brass musical instruments, has proved useful in brasswind taxonomy. The timbre of a wind instrument depends mainly on the properties built into the instrument by the maker, the actions of the player, and the ambient room acoustics. In the case of brass instruments, the properties of the instrument itself that determine its contribution to timbre are primarily those of its bore profile, an important characteristic of which is its potential to engender non-linear propagation of acoustic energy over the length of the instrument from mouthpiece to bell, especially at high dynamic levels. This paper briefly reviews the definition of the brassiness potential parameter and discusses its utility in the acoustics-related classification brass instruments, taking as an example the differences (past and present) between trumpets and cornets. The theoretical basis for brassiness potential and its exploitation in detail will be a feature of the forthcoming book by the present authors ”The Science of Brass Instruments” (due Springer 2020): the paper includes a short discussion of its treatment in the book.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished or Performed - Dec 2020