1Instrument Improvements of the Early Nineteenth-Century and the Evolution of the Wind Band By: Mandee Howell Wind instruments have been around for centuries, since before the time of Christ. The first examples of any type of musical instruments were flutes from the Upper Paleolithic Period (30,000-10,000 B.C.).1 The flutes that existed before the time of Christ look basically the same as flutes today, minus the additional keys that were added in the early 1800's…
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There have been many different versions of wind instruments as they too have slowly evolved and improved with the passage of time. It is the intention of this paper to demonstrate how the invention of modern day wind instruments helped to bring the wind band out of the realm of pure functionality, and into the realm of artistic expression. Through the additions and improvement of modern wind instruments, the wind band is becoming another respected art medium. It was through the work of European wind instrument makers that all of the wind instruments gained the ability to play chromatic notes, allowing them to play melodies, and gradually changing the role of the wind band from one of functionality to artistic expression. In this paper, it is argued, wind band while attaining this status by way of instrument improvements, facilitated better scope for individual performance within the band without sacrificing the element of harmony and this was what contributed to the growth of wind bands as an artistic medium. Background The proposition that “invention and development” led to wind bands entering “musical life” in a big way, is an acknowledged fact.2 The major developments in this realm have been, the invention of saxophone, use of pistons in brass instruments, use of pistons in wood wind instruments, improvements made to the clarionet “by bass and contrabass”, development of a new form of oboe by incorporating “contrafaggotto”, and the emergence of the new brass instruments “in the lower bass section.”3 These changes and improvements were either effected simply by enthusiastic innovators or were made on demand from the master composers in order to meet their creative requirements.4 Above four thousand patents for innovations were allocated in France alone in the nineteenth century and among them, piano and wind instruments were the majority.5 In general, it was to “bridge over the long gaps and intervals between […] [the] open notes that all systems of valves, slides and keys are intended.6 This enhanced the quality of the music being produced and provided wind band music with an added dimension of individualism. Theobald Boehm The earlier existing forms of wind instruments were so under-developed that the creation of harmony using them was a near impossibility.7 In the early nineteenth century, European instrument makers were hard at work trying to devise a way to improve the tuning of wind instruments. The keyed bugle was the invention in the series of improvements to wind instruments and the inventor was Joseph Halliday to whom the product was patented.8 Theobald Boehm (1794-1881) was born in Germany and was “a professional flautist who became dissatisfied with the tone quality and imperfect mechanism of the old-style conical bore flute.”9 He decided to redesign his own flute after hearing a concert given by Charles Nicholson in London.10 Boehm was impressed by Nicholson's powerful tone drawn from his large-holed flute. In 1832, Boehm emerged from his shop in Munich with a new large-holed conical bore flute that incorporated interlocking rings with which to cover the 14 newly placed tone holes.11 Boehm did not start making cylindrical flutes until 1847 after studying and applying the science of acoustics to his instrument making.12 It would be another
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