It is an ancient instrument and almost all civilisations knew the trumpet in one form or another. The trumpet was already being played before the Bronze Age and even the bible relates how two trumpets were used to summon the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Even in the temples, trumpets were used to announce battles, sacrifices and festivals. The Greek salphinx and the Roman tuba of Antiquity were distant ancestors of the modern trumpet. Both were very long with a straight bore and narrow tube. Since the Middle Ages, the trumpet in Europe has changed in two respects, in terms of length and in terms of register. After many years of research and experimentation, this has resulted in the highly developed solo and orchestral instrument now heard in the concert hall.
The trumpet is made of brass tubing which has been bent twice into an oblong shape. It has a cylindrical bore which is smaller at the mouthpiece bore and larger where the bell begins to flare. This results in a loud sound. The predecessors to trumpets did not have valves, but modern trumpets have either three piston valves or three rotary valves. Each valve increases the length of tubing when engaged, thereby lowering the pitch. Being a wind instrument, the trumpet is played by blowing air through closed lips. This produces a kind of buzzing sound into the mouthpiece, which in turn starts a sustained wave vibration within the air column of the trumpet. The pitch of the instrument can be selected from a wide range of overtones or harmonics by changing the lip aperture and tension.
Being an ancient instrument, the trumpet has been used for many purposes down the ages. It has been used as a signalling instrument, for military use, as an instrument with heroic associations, to be played on solemn occasions, and as a sacred instrument. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the trumpet fulfilled all of these functions, but was rarely used as a musical instrument in ensembles. It is now used in many forms of music today, such as classical music and jazz. The trumpet plays a very important role in Jazz music as do all brass instruments.