The Chemistry of Trumpets


My project is the chemistry of trumpets. I chose this topic for several reasons. One reason i chose this topic is because I play the trumpet. Another reason is I wanted to know more about the instrument I play. The trumpet has impacted my life a fantastic way. If i did not play the trumpet, i would not have the friends i have today. If I never learned to play the trumpet my life would be dramatically different.

Composition of ...

The composition of the trumpet is a relatively simple process. It begins with two different metals, Copper (Cu) and Tin (Sn). The two are melted together with different ratios depending on the manufacturer. The finished metal is brass. The melted brass is then poured into a flat mold that widens the whole way to the top. The top curves out both ways, this will be the bell. After the brass cools, it is hammered into one long tube. The tube is then filled with soap water. The soap water will keep the trumpet’s tube shape without breaking when the trumpet is bent into its shape. Next the trumpet is polished and then tested before going on the market.

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

The two main components in the trumpet are copper and zinc. These two combine into an alloy called brass which is used for any instrument in the “brass” section which is named obviously after the main component of the instruments. There is no exact formula for brass because almost every maker of brass has their own ratio. The smallest amount of brass that can exist and still be calle brass is two copper atoms and one zinc atom (2:1)

Zinc is number 30 on the periodic table, with an atomic weight of 65.38. the atomic radius is 134 pm and when in its raw form make a hexagonal crystal structure. Copper is the 29th element on the periodic table with a molar mass of 63.546. The atomic radius of copper is 128 pm. When copper is together in its pure form, it makes a face-centered cubic crystal structure.

Chemistry's Role

Chemistry’s role is a simple but an important one. The two metals, copper and zinc, when melted together make many ionic bonds on the molecular level.

Background Research

The first trumpets were no more than conches used to send signals farther than the voice could travel. By the 16th century holes were added to make the trumpet able to play a chromatic scale. By the end of the 16th century the holes were replaced by valves making the trumpet easier to play. The trumpet gained much of its popularity in the early 17th century. This can be entirely accredited to the rise in popularity of trumpet making in Germany. At this time the trumpet was introduced to orchestral world being used to play loud and attacking parts. The trumpet used then is very similar to the trumpet used now. The only two differences are the valve technology and a decrease in size.


General history of the trumpet

Information on brass and its other uses

information on the trumpet’s creation

general trumpet info

trumpet brand information

copper to zinc ratio (2:1)

About the Author

Henry Crist is a Junior at Billings Senior HIgh School. He enjoys many activities including folfing, trumpeting, and guitaring. Henry Crist is a member of the National Honors Society and has lettered in band. He is also in all top three music groups at Senior High (choir, band, and orchestra). Henry Crist plans to attend the University of Montana after his senior year.