Introducing the Soprano Cornet

Greta introduces the Soprano Cornet and plays us a short excerpt from Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter.

The Soprano Cornet, also known as the Eb Cornet, is mostly found in traditional Brass Bands, where it plays the high notes and supports the more common Bb Cornets. A Brass Band only has one Soprano Cornet but 9 standard Bb Cornets. Playing the Soprano Cornet is a very specialised role, and not many players are able to play the high notes!

Treat yourself to a bonus extra by listening to Greta play the whole of Hegwig’s Theme.

Here Greta shows us the difference between the Eb Soprano Cornet and the standard Bb Cornet

The Soprano Cornet is smaller and pitched higher than a standard Cornet. As Greta demonstrates, the same piece of music played on a Soprano Cornet sounds higher than on a standard Cornet.

To be a bit technical, a low note played with no valves pressed down (“open”) on a Soprano Cornet sounds the same as the note Eb played on the piano (“Concert Eb”), whereas a low note played with no valves pressed down on a standard Cornet sounds the same as the higher Bb on the piano (“Concert Bb”). But, when the note is written down as music, it’s a C for both instruments!

Why is it so complicated? Well, there a very good reason for it: a musician who reads music can easily switch between playing the two instruments, or any other brass instrument with valves.

When they see the note C written down, they know to play a low note with no valves pressed down, whatever the instrument. It’s up to the person writing the music to make sure the right sound comes out. Find out more about Bb versus Eb (transposing instruments).

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