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brass wind musical instrument of part cylindrical, part conical bore, in the shape of a flattened loop and having three piston valves to regulate the pitch. Its origin is ancient; records of a type of simple valveless trumpet are found in China from as early as 2000 B.C., and it is mentioned in the Bible and in Greek and Roman history. It attained its present shape early in the 15th cent., at which time it became an important ceremonial instrument. It was used in the opera orchestra as early as Monteverdi's Orfeo (1607) and became a standard orchestral instrument later in the century. At this time the trumpet lacked valves, and a highly developed technique existed for playing in the upper register of the instrument, where a complete diatonic scale was available. The trumpet parts of Bach and Handel were written for such a style. Later in the 18th cent. this bright quality was not desired, and the trumpet was used more in its lower register. The instrument will accept a mutemute
, in music, device designed to diminish uniformly the loudness of a musical instrument. For example, a trumpet mute is cone-shaped and fits into the instrument's bell, and a violin mute is a wooden or rubber clamp that can be attached to the bridge.
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, used to repress some of its stridency. Crooks, additional lengths of tubing, were added to the natural trumpet to allow the adjustment of pitch. This was a fairly clumsy method, however, and was superseded in the early 19th cent., when valves were added. A transposing instrumenttransposing instrument,
a musical instrument whose part in a score is written at a different pitch than that actually sounded. Such an instrument is usually referred to by the keynote of its natural scale—the clarinet in A, for example—in which case A is sounded when
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, it is now most often in B flat. A bass trumpet in C was first called for by Wagner. The trumpet is an important member of most dance and jazz bands.


See A. Baines, Brass Instruments: Their History and Development (1976).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In Spiritualism the trumpet is made of aluminum or occasionally of cardboard. It is a straight, cone-shaped device usually built in sections to allow it to collapse for ease of traveling. It is a séance tool, used to amplify the voices of spirits. The first medium to use one was Jonathan Koons, an early American medium who lived in Athens County, Ohio. According to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “It appears that ectoplasm coming chiefly from the medium, but also in a lesser degree from the sitters, is used by the spirit operators to fashion something resembling a human larynx. This they use in the production of the voice. In an explanation given to Koons by the spirits they spoke of using a combination of the elements of the spiritual body, and what corresponds to our modern ectoplasm, ‘a physical aura that emanates from the medium'.”

Nandor Fodor said, “Physically the phenomenon requires the supposition that some material, more solid than air, is withdrawn from the medium’s or from the sitter’s body to produce the necessary vibrations in the surrounding atmosphere. Indeed, séance room communications speak of improvisation of a larynx.”

Arthur Findlay gives a description of the building of this artificial larynx in On the Edge of the Etheric (1931),

From the medium and those present a chemist in the spirit world withdraws certain ingredients which for want of a better name is called ectoplasm. To this the chemist adds ingredients of his own making. When they are mixed together a substance is formed which enables the chemist to materialize his hands. He then, with his materialized hands, constructs a mask resembling the mouth and tongue. The spirit wishing to speak places his face into this mask and finds it clings to him, it gathers round his mouth, tongue and throat. The etheric organs have once again become clothed in matter resembling physical matter, and by the passage of air through them your atmosphere can be vibrated and you hear his voice.

William Stainton Moses, speaking of a spirit voice box and direct voice, said “I did not observe how the sound was made, but I saw in a distant part of the room near the ceiling something like a box round which blue electric light played, and I associate the sound with that.”

This artificial larynx is attached to the trumpet so that when the spirit places his or her face into the ectoplasmic mask and speaks, the voice is projected amplified by the trumpet. Usually the voice is heard from the larger, bell end of the trumpet but sometimes this is reversed and the sitter hears the voice issuing from the narrow end. The trumpet itself is moved about the séance room by rods of ectoplasm issuing from the medium. In Harry Edwards’s book The Mediumship of Jack Webber (1940), there are a number of photographs taken in infrared light, which show a trumpet held up on such ectoplasm. It is the necessity of ectoplasm for the movement of the trumpet, and the initial building of the artificial larynx, that necessitates trumpet séances being held in darkness. Medium Colin Evans, at a Webber séance, described what happened immediately after Jack Webber had been securely tied into his chair.

The first movement of the trumpets occurred instantly on the light being put out … these trumpets—about two feet in height and two in number and very plentifully daubed with luminous paint so that they were never lost sight of—had been standing on the floor well out of reach of the medium’s hands where he was seated. First one trumpet soared swiftly up into the air, and then both trumpets simultaneously … Repeatedly the medium’s control called for “light” and every time the light was switched on instantly, and as it was switched on the trumpets would sink with a fairly rapid movement, but not so rapid as a falling body, unsupported, towards the floor, and when the light was on the trumpets were usually just reaching the floor, but still in movement, and continued moving for a moment or two—once for almost half a minute—with gentle movements, obviously intelligently controlled, on the floor—not rolling on their curved sides, but “hopping” as it were on their broad flat ends.


Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The History of Spiritualism. New York: Doran, 1926
Edwards, Harry: The Mediumship of Jack Webber. London: Rider, 1940
Fodor, Nandor: Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. London: Arthurs Press, 1933
The Spirit Book © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an orchestral and solo brass instrument with a high register. The trumpet consists of a cylindrical tube flaring into a bell. The tube is usually wound into one loop and forms a single piece with the bell; it is about 11 mm in diameter and about 1,500 mm long. C. Monteverdi introduced valveless trumpets into the opera orchestra in the early 17th century. The first chromatic trumpets, equipped with keys, appeared in 1816. Between 1828 and 1832, trumpets with cylindrical valves were introduced and soon superseded the valveless trumpet. Modern trumpets include the little, or piccolo, trumpet, the alto trumpet, introduced by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, and the bass trumpet, introduced by R. Wagner. An “Egyptian” trumpet—a straight, extended trumpet with one valve—was constructed according to the specifications of G. Verdi.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


attribute of fame personified. [Art: Hall, 119]
See: Fame


Truth (See HONESTY.)
angel who will blow the trumpet to announce the coming of Judgment Day. [Christian Trad.: Century Cyclopedia, 1667]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a valved brass instrument of brilliant tone consisting of a narrow tube of cylindrical bore ending in a flared bell, normally pitched in B flat. Range: two and a half octaves upwards from F sharp on the fourth line of the bass staff
2. any instrument consisting of a valveless tube ending in a bell, esp a straight instrument used for fanfares, signals, etc.
3. an eight-foot reed stop on an organ
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


A news reader for Microsoft Windows, using the WinSock library. There is also an MS-DOS version. Trumpet is shareware from Australia.


This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (
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