The cornet, in external appearance, looks very much like the trumpet. Its main difference from the trumpet is that it is more conical, making it sound mellower. The cornet was at one time the most widely played of all brass instruments. Brass bands, a very popular kind of band in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, included eight cornets in each band, and at one time there were around 100,000 brass bands in Britain.
The cornet was invented in the beginning of the nineteenth century in Paris. It was the valved version of the posthorn, a small valveless instrument used for sounding signals. It actually signaled the approach of the mail coaches and that is how the posthorn got its name because it was use to signal the delivery of the post!
The cornet initially had two valves, but a third one was later added. For a time it was adopted for use in the orchestra, although today the cornet is mainly considered a band instrument.
A very interesting instrument in our collection is this cornet, called an “echo cornet”. This instrument has a second – echo – bell, which when used gives the impression of a melody played at a distance…
Video: Crispian Steele-Perkins plays the echo cornet
Video: He also discusses the echo cornet