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Guide to Cornets

Cornet : What is it?

Cornets

Cornets are standard brass band musical instruments closely similar to trumpets. A typical cornet is made up of a flared bell and a narrow tube and produces a mellower sound compared to the trumpet. It is the main high voice used in British and European brass bands. However, cornets have been replaced by the trumpet in solo performances, small ensembles, and orchestras.

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Types of Cornets

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Kinds of Cornets include the following:

Alto cornets

An alto cornet has a wide bore and produces a lower tone compared to a standard treble cornet. It sometimes features an extra key for securing the lowest key. Alto cornets are commonly used in consort musical performances.

Tenor cornets

A tenor cornet – also known as a lizard cornet – was a common instrument during the Baroque and Renaissance era. It is tuned to the key of C. The lowest note it produces is the C below the middle C. It sometimes features an extra key for securing the lowest key. Tenor cornets have excellent range – two and a half octaves. An experienced player can push it to play in higher octaves.

Bass cornets

A bass cornet plays an octave lower than a standard treble cornet. In orchestras, it is often replaced by other wind instruments such as the trombone and the serpent because of their similarity in tone and sound. Bass cornets can play the low-lying parts in the C tenor clef.

Mute cornets

A mute cornet is a one-piece instrument with a straight and tapered design usually tuned on a lathe machine. Its mouthpiece is a conical recess cut along the top of the instrument. It has a narrow bore that produces soft sounds and has several holes along its body. Mute cornets are ideal to be played together with flutes, recorders, and viols. 

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Choosing Cornets (Buying tips)

Mouthpiece: Choose a cornet with a mouthpiece made of metal with a high copper content which makes it resistant to corrosion and bacterial growth.

Bore: If you are a beginner, choose a cornet with a small bore to help you sustain notes and achieve a perfect tone. A large bore requires greater effort to play; hence, it is recommended for experienced players. 

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