Valve Question...

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by BrianT, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    Does anyone know why brass valves are arranged the way they are, with middle valve lowering the open pitch by one semitone and first valve lowering it two semitones? The only reason I could think was that if you had middle valve lowering the pitch two semitones then you'd have a longer section of tube under your hand, which might make the instrument less comfortable to play. Is it just a case of "we've always done it like that"?
  2. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    AFAIK that's the reason - if you had your first valve tubing coming out of the 2nd valve it would be difficult to hold, designing a "balanced" instrument and mounting a trigger would be far harder. You'd probably need a heavier leadpipe or some sort of balancing weight at the mouthpiece end to keep it straight. Of course this doesn't matter as much on "upright" instruments i.e. saxhorns and tubas, because the extra tubing could just go down, but companies like Boosey's standardised their valve configuration to allow beginners to learn on a cornet (cheaper and easier for kids to hold) before moving on to horn or euph without having to relearn the fingerings.

    Some of the earliest designs for cornets only had two valves (leaving some notes unobtainable) so maybe this principle was established then? - look in the front of your Arban for examples!

    PS I'm not sure why the third valve has to at the "back" though; maybe because for most people that's the weakest finger and the 3rd valve is used less often?
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2008
  3. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    The third valve is less used because the tubing is the same length as 1+2 (roughly) and children are taught 1+2 because their 3rd fingers are weaker. You should hear them whinge when I try to get them to use their last two fingers to play the keyboard along with the thumb and first two. some of them would sooner lose an eye than play a note with their third finger!:eek:
  4. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Me too! :D
  5. Leyfy

    Leyfy Active Member

    I think the 2 valved cornets were missing notes from their range, if I remember correctly? There was lots of experimentation around the time of the cornet being invented, Adolphe Sax was responsible for most of it (being a friend of Arban) and he tried lots of different systems. Have a look here:

    My favorite is the *6 VALVED CORNET* - maybe for those people with 6 fingers on one hand, or something?! lol

    There was also the argument between rotary and piston valves etc.

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