About Brass Bands



1. What is a Brass Band?

A standard British brass band is a musical ensemble made up of specific instruments – brass with percussion.


2. How did British Brass Bands originate?


cb18The brass band in its modern form has its origins back in the 19th century.

Beginning in the time of the Industrial Revolution (which meant an increase in raw metal and consequently instruments being made more cheaply), brass banding was a popular means of entertainment for workers, being particularly prevalent in the mining communities from which came colliery bands.


3. What instruments are played in Brass Bands?

A list of instruments played in a British brass band (see pictures of instruments below).

Betteshanger Band
Player seating

There are usually 10 cornets in a brass band, all pitched in Bb except the Soprano cornet, which is pitched higher, in Eb.

1  Soprano (Sop. / Eb) Cornet  |  1 Repiano (Rep.) Cornet
1 Principal (Prin.) Cornet  |  3 Front Row (Solo) Cornets
4 Back Row Cornets (two 2nd, two 3rd)

The Eb Horn (also known as the tenor horn; alto horn in American English) It has come to be known as the ‘cinderella’ of the brass band, with it’s mellow sound hidden between the more powerful cornets and trombones.

Solo Horn  |  1st Horn  | 2nd Horn


There is usually only one Flugel in a British-style brass band.


Baritones are slightly bigger than Eb Horns.

1st Baritone  |  2nd Baritone


There are usually two Euphoniums in a brass band

1st Euphonium  |  2nd Euphonium


The trombone is mainly played with a slide, rather than valves. The position of the slide partly determines what notes are played.

Solo/1st Trombone  |  2nd Trombone  |  Bass Trombone


The biggest brass instruments.
There are two different types of Bass; Eb and Bbb (which is larger)

Bb Bass 1  |  Bb Bass 2  |  Eb Bass 1  |  Eb Bass 2


There are usually 2 – 4 percussionists playing (to name a few):

Drum kit  |  Kettle drums / timpani  |  Bass drum  |  Cymbals
Glockenspiel/Xylophone  |  Triangle  |  Tubular Bells