Cornet vs Trumpet

Cornet vs Trumpet

Differences, Similarities, and Which One is Better for You

The cornet and the trumpet are quite similar. And they have many similarities. But there are also significant differences between the cornet and the trumpet.

The biggest is versatility, which results in the trumpet being used in several different styles and genres.

The cornet, on the other hand, is much more limited in its application. Read on to find out exactly how they compare and differ, including the benefits of each and what type of player it’s best suited for.

Trumpet vs Cornet

Let’s start our comparison by looking at each instrument individually, before getting into the differences and similarities. Then we’ll look at the advantages of each and determine which one is right for you.

What is a Cornet?

The cornet is a wind musical instrument made of metal. It is a smaller instrument than the trumpet, with a straight, oval tube. It only consists of a mouthpiece that is used to play and has a cone at its end. It is an instrument of the brass wind family, well known for its use in the military field, and whose sound is produced as a result of the vibration of the performer’s lips on the mouthpiece when blowing.

The cornet mouthpieces have a conical shape that is considerably deeper than that of a trumpet mouthpiece. This produces a lower and darker sound.

After several investigations, it was concluded that cornet (as we know them today) was already used in medieval Europe, although they were a shorter variant. Later it was folded into an S shape, and it was in 1500 that it acquired a longer loop.

The sound they produce is very sharp, which is propelled by the air blown by the performer. Its sound is similar to that of the trumpet, but whether it has a lower or higher pitch depends on the expulsion of air that the musician interprets when playing it. Therefore, it is always recommended that you relax before playing this instrument.

What is a Trumpet?

The trumpet is one of the oldest known instruments. In ancient times, men used instruments made from natural means such as reeds or animal horns to communicate. We can attribute the origins of this instrument to those times. Subsequently, the discovery of metals played a very important role, since it provided the appropriate materials for the construction of the trumpet as we know it today.

At the same time, it gave it a better sound and was modeled for today’s looks, although, for the time being, it still retained the shape of the speaker. Today’s trumpets have pistons (or valves) that are depressed to make melodies while blowing air into the mouthpiece. There are several different types and sizes, such as the small pocket trumpet. This provides much more flexibility in the game. The wonderful trumpet is one of the most versatile brass instruments and is therefore used in many different settings and musical genres.

Difference Between Cornet and Trumpet

There are several types of cornets, but the two standard ones are the short cornet in C and the long cornet in C. We see those two in many orchestras and bands. The only difference between these two bulges is that the short bugle has the tube wound in two turns as opposed to the long bugle which only has one turn.

A mechanism was added to the short cornet that made it possible for the air to vary its trajectory, thus doubling the number of notes that could be produced. Traditionally, the cornet gave a very limited series of notes. The lowest was the note G on the second line, down to the G just above the last line. In other words, an octave register. This means that a normal cornet usually gives you eight notes to play.

Today, due to the impressive progress of musicians, it is possible to take this instrument to heights that were unthinkable just a couple of decades ago. Players can now reach more than two octaves in the register of this instrument. This allows them to play virtually every note in the scale in their high register.

Its sound is dark and crisp. It is an instrument closer to the flugelhorn family. Due to its conical tube, the cornet has a sweeter, darker sound, as opposed to the bright sound of the trumpet with its cylindrical tube.

The trumpet is the smallest and sharpest instrument in the brass family. It consists of a partially cylindrical tube with a small section that progressively widens until it reaches the end.

It has 3 pistons or valves, which when activated, connect the additional pumps to the main tube, thus expanding the range of tones. The valves provide much more versatility and playing tones than the cornet which does not have valves.

Similarities Between Cornet and Trumpet

The cornet belongs to the same family as the trumpet. These two different instruments are most commonly used in brass bands, and they also take the leading role in military bands. For this reason, they are currently indispensable in rustic celebrations or group competitions.

Both instruments are played by blowing air through the mouthpiece. Although the entire process of making these two instruments make sound occurs in our body, it is a common misconception that just blowing on the instrument will produce sounds.

The sound is produced on our lips, making them vibrate. That vibration is what makes a given pitch sound that way on these two instruments. Therefore, it is necessary to know what technique the instrument requires to play it.

Advantages of Cornets

The cornet is the predecessor of all brass instruments and has quite a history. The origin of the cornet goes back to the origins of the history of mankind. Originally it was made with the horns of numerous animals (bulls or oxen), which were hunted for food. In some cases, horns were also used. Over the years, we began to use other materials to make the bugle.

Traditionally, the cornet was a minor instrument, almost always used in military bands, so the material used to make them has always been a cheap material, such as brass.

Today, due to the important boom that this beautiful instrument has taken, the cornets are made with higher quality materials, which results in much higher quality instruments. This instrument was used more in ancient times. Two very well-preserved bulges were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

There was also another type of bugle used by the ancient Greeks, widely used in the Olympic Games. Naturally, some data prove the existence of cornets in the Roman Empire. In short, it is an instrument with an enormous tradition.

The cornet remains easier to learn than possibly all other brass instruments, making it a perfect starting point in your musical career.

Advantages of Trumpets

It is not necessary to look very far to see how the trumpet is an instrument that is part not only of the symphony orchestra but also of a large number of groups of any musical style. Most people who are not directly involved in classical music will surely recognize it in any type of popular music. Therefore, we can find it in professional musical bands in cities or armies all over the world.

We also see it in a large number of amateur bands. Jazz and blues have had extensive use of trumpets over the years. Other types of popular music where the trumpet is indisputable are undoubtedly the famous Mexican mariachis, or the tireless Caribbean salsa bands with their dance rhythms, such as the famous Pasodoble. Trumpets can also be found on many occasions in pop music.

The history of the trumpet in jazz cannot be highlighted enough for its great influence. Jazz not only popularized the instrument but also provided new technical and sound resources. Today there is a wide range of trumpets and accessories to suit both the musician’s taste and the particular style of music.

Who should buy a Cornet (and why)?

Due to its simplicity of playing, the cornet is quite good for beginners who want to enter the world of brass instruments. It usually doesn’t have pistons, so the only technique you need is just your mouth. Also, today not many people play the cornet, and therefore it is quite easy to join bands and orchestras with it. There just isn’t the same level of competition as with a more popular instrument like the trumpet.

Be that as it may, due to its simplicity, there isn’t much you can do with the bugle, and therefore it is mainly used in marching bands and military events. Its dark tone is something else, and people with a specific liking for this type of sound will enjoy playing the cornet immensely. Also, it is possible to learn it relatively quickly if you have an ear for wind instruments.

It is always recommended to play as an amateur (for yourself) because it can be challenging to have a professional career with a cornet. For this, the trumpet is a much better option.

Who should get a Trumpet (and why)?

Compared to the cornet, the trumpet is much more difficult to play and learn. There are great advantages in learning it after first blowing the bugle. Of course, it is possible and quite common to learn the trumpet without learning the cornet.

Having pistons, the trumpet is quite versatile and can be played incredibly fast. It is a very suitable instrument for talented people with excellent techniques who can become band leaders. In addition, this versatility in performance allows the trumpet to play an important role in various genres, from classical music to jazz, blues, and fusion.

Therefore, the trumpet is intended for people who can show off their skills and who want to play various music with a single instrument, either professionally or as a hobby.

Final Thoughts

The cornet is a much easier instrument to play, but it is also much more limited. It’s an excellent introduction to brass instruments, but most musicians will eventually want to learn to play the trumpet or another more versatile brass instrument.

But don’t let that put you off if you liked the cornet. Its applications may be limited, but they are not zero. There is a need for trumpets, and since it is a less popular instrument, the competition is much less than with the trumpet.

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