Is drums easier to learn than brass

Pump valves and rotary valves - differences and individual advantages

The brass section was allowed to make a quantum leap centuries ago. Once valveless, instruments were suddenly designed with valves. And bang, from then on they could play chromatic melodies. Pump valves and rotary valves make it possible. Here is the information about the differences:

Check it - brass information about pump valves and rotary valves

  • Step visit in history
  • Different design
  • Design-related possibilities of expression
  • Viewed from a practical point of view
  • Which valves can be easily serviced

One small step for a human - one big leap for the brass

At first you could only conjure up so-called natural tones from brass instruments. By the way, the ancient Egyptians did it. Thousands of years later, the musical revolution for the brass department: Valves were invented that suddenly made it possible to play trumpets etc. chromatically with semitones. The tonally damn restricted natural instrument became a real melody instrument.

Rotary valve - the innovative pioneer

Heinrich Stölzel's rotary valve first saw the musical world in 1813. It is designed with a valve body with two channels. When the valve is activated, the body rotates 90 degrees. So not yours, but that of the valve. It is operated via mechanical joints or a cord mechanism. After the rotation, the valve loop and the main pipe open into the housing at the same height.

Pump valve / Périnet valve - the sound-flexible pursuer

Shortly afterwards, in 1839, the rotary valve got family company from a relative: the pump valve. It is also known as the Périnet valve after its inventor, the French instrument maker François Périnet. Périnet valves have a cylindrical valve body in which two air channels - depending on the position from open to depressed - are passed on.

Welcome back to the present

Nowadays, the majority of trumpets, flugelhorns and the like are equipped with Périnet valves, but this is not necessarily a quality argument. Rather, the general taste in music has changed. And the musical styles for which instruments with rotary valves are predestined are currently - unfortunately - losing popularity. That means:

Pump valves and rotary valves are by no means just parts of different construction that ensure the same results in terms of playing technique and sound. On the contrary, it goes so far that some tones or effects can be generated with one type of valve, with the other hardly or not at all.

Expressions: Trilling tremolo and tied notes

Against this background, there are several reasons why the trumpet with pump valves has prevailed over the trumpet with rotary valves in jazz: It allows the typical squeaks and - because of the playable intervals - the tremolo. Bound passages and corresponding phrasing can be created more easily with pump valves. An effect that is frowned upon in classical music, but is absolutely desirable in jazzy and current music styles such as rock, pop and ska.

A simultaneous, albeit subjective, side effect is that with Périnet valves the notes in legato (uninterrupted notes) are more clearly separated from each other. Many brass players also report that playing with pump valves is more comfortable and smoother.

The reason why the rotary valves have a harder time in these points is, among other things, the construction of the instrument. More precisely, the positioning of the rotary valves. Rotary valves are placed at a point with maximum air column pressure. Result, wind players can hardly influence the tone at the valve. In addition, the valve does not seal completely for a short time, which makes the legato tones less clean. Bound tones can easily turn into spongy glissando.

From a practical point of view:

Rotary valves usually work more easily than pump valves right from the start. The Périnet valves, on the other hand, have to be imported first, which is a bit more complex. But when things go well, everything is okay. As long as you press sensibly, i.e. not particularly hard, but at the right angle Because:

With Périnet valves, correct finger posture on a straight axis is an absolute must. Otherwise the cylinders can tilt. Nothing works anymore. You can try to realign that yourself, which is relatively difficult. Usually the unfriendly handling of the valve leads you directly to the instrument maker.

With pump valves, you have to be prepared for a higher susceptibility to repairs. Sometimes it happens that the fluency is impaired by clumsy stronger touch. With Périnet valves, however, this can be done with a little delicate craftsmanship.

Rotary valves are more difficult to repair yourself

With rotary valves, you should keep your hands off the DIY method. You could kill the machine too easily or inflict unpopular injuries. Rotary valves cannot do without shrinkage. They have some wearing parts on board, which mainly relates to the joints.

At some point they are knocked out and wave the white flag. So it means again to get an appointment with the instrument specialist and have the affected parts replaced. Musical open heart surgery.

Instruments with rotary valves are supposedly more useful for beginners because you simply can't break something so quickly. The neuralgic point is that the valves - especially with pump valves - have to be pushed down sensibly, especially since they would otherwise jam.

This is often not easy not only for kids, but also for adult beginners due to the need to develop the hand position and coordination. The instrument then politely invites you to a repair shop at your trusted instrument maker. The risk of such "jamming" is significantly higher with the pump valve.

Maintenance & Co.

The maintenance of pump valves is easier than that of rotary valves, which is evident from the design. However, it also has to be done more frequently. Périnet valves dry out faster and need to be oiled every time you play. Rotary valves are more frugal in this regard. Constant oiling is not necessary. Nevertheless, be careful not to let the valve run dry.

By the way: the musicians do not agree on the point of the different speeds of the two systems. Okay, the distance over which the rotary valve has to be pressed is less. Does this really affect the speed of the game? We are already back in the realm of speculation. The fact is: a quarter note is a quarter note. No matter with which valve.

Construction concepts for different styles of music

We can also try to assign the two different types of valves to different styles of music. Instruments with rotary valves are more suitable for traditional brass music. The brass band, smaller brass ensembles, jazz & Co. are rather reserved for the pump valves. Common and Common; there is no compulsion.

Now, however, you shouldn't let yourself be led on a misjudgmental trail: The attempts to classify the instruments or the valves according to music genre are only a superficial clue. The rotary valve is not only suitable for classical music styles, nor is a pump valve exclusively at home in the jazz department. The fact remains, however, that there are tones - and intervals - that can be played with pump valves, but not with rotary valves.

Keywords: wind instruments, Périnet valves