The ''salpinx'' (trumpet)

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The ''salpinx'' (trumpet)


It was a wind instrument which due to its exceptional sonority was usually used for giving signals to a large crowd or at a distance (up to ten kilometres). It was particularly suitable for giving the starting signals in athletic competitions, signals for co-ordination in teamwork and military commands. More seldom, they were used for ritual and clearly musical purposes.

The Greek salpinx (trumpet), known since the years of Homer, consisted of a long, straight tube of narrow, cylindrical bore (roughly 90 cm) that ended in a prominent tulip-shaped bell. It was usually copper with a bone or metal mouthpiece. The Anatolian salpinx (trumpet) consisted of a simple pipe of conical form.

The trumpeter usually wore a strap "phorbeia" and applied his mouth on the mouthpiece. The sound was produced with a direct blow into the mouthpiece and a suitable lip and tongue technique. The produced sound was acute metallic and penetrating. Different sound production was possible for the different commands that were to be transmitted.

SOURCES: "M.L. West, Ancient Greek Music", "Curt Sachs, The History of Musical Instruments", "Julius Pollux, Onomasticon", "Aristotle, On Acoustics", "Athenaeus of Naucratis, Deipnosophistai".