Quick guide to popular Bugles

The Bugle

Bugle is the simplest if not one of simplest of brass/wind instruments without valves or other tune/pitch altering parts. Pitch control varies depending on player’s lipping or embouchure.

This results to limitations in notes within the bugles’ and the player’s lipping creativity and capability. Embouchure or lipping is utilizing the lips, facial muscles, tongue and teeth in creating pitches and playing brass instruments. This enables the player full range and clear tone without causing strain on their muscles.

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The Name and the History of the Bugle

The name bugle came from the latin word buculus which means castrated bull. Early accounts on the instrument show that it was made from animal horns thus the name. And it was developed as a musical as well as a communication instrument. The earliest forms of bugles were coil shaped with single, double or even a triple coil.

They were used for calling out on hunts and warning instruments for coaches and horse drawn carts. The modern/brass bugle was first used in the army called Halbmond Blaser or half-moon bugle in Hanover, 1758. It fitted and carried by a shoulder strap. The use of the brass bugle spread throughout Europe, first in England in 1764. Accepted as the marching and communication instrument by foot regiments.


How to Play the Bugle

By British Army standards and their own basic guide to playing the bugle, it takes 4 months to be an accomplished bugler. Accomplished means playing it proficiently in a solo performance without accompaniment. The method of training begins with theory and then putting the theory into practice with basic music.

The tones and notes used in most music sheets and military bugle calls are middle C, E, G, C, E and G. When a bugler is able to proficiently play these notes, he/she can play almost all compositions for the bugle. Here is a step by step guide to begin your bugle practice:

  • To play the bugle, you must be standing tall, chest out but still comfortable with shoulders up and head held erect. Do not slouch. Place the mouthpiece on the lips and blow through it, vibrating the lips.
  • It is important that the lips are properly moist to attain the proper vibration.
  • It is frustrating at first to achieve that right vibration of the lips, but as you keep on practicing and strengthening your lips, you’ll be able to accomplish this.
  • You also need to strengthen your lungs, because bugle playing requires learning the correct breathing technique.
  • The breathing method entail practice breathing through the sides of the mouth and not through the nose. Mouth breathing is faster than nose breathing, and in playing the bugle, rapid breathing through the corners of the mouth enables drawing air and blowing it to the mouthpiece.

Practice breathing and blowing first, to retain memory until breathing and blowing to the mouthpiece becomes second nature as well as strengthening the muscles surrounding the lips and the lips itself; and the diaphragm.


Top 3 Benefits of Playing the Bugle

Learning to play a musical instrument such as a bugle, at any age, is a source of relaxation, brings emotional stability and helps in physical fitness. Yes folks, bugle playing exercise your lungs and diaphragm through proper breathing techniques.

  1. Bugle playing can be a stress reliever or source of relaxation after a tiring day from school or the office. Being a stress reliever, it releases relaxing hormones in the body and makes you feel happier. If bugle is your musical instrument of choice because of simplicity and handiness, practice and love the whole experience of learning to play it and feel accomplished in the process. Forget your worries and play your heart out with the bugle.
  2. Bugle playing can also balance your emotions. Learning and experiencing something new is fun and exciting. But it can also be challenging as there are points in the learning process that can cause frustration, like when you’ve practiced the breathing technique and lip vibration but can’t get the right tone of the notes. Overcoming this struggles by taking on the learning challenge gives you profound satisfaction and enable you to see your capabilities to beating hurdles and frustrations.
  3. Playing the bugle requires core muscle control. Breathing technique exercises your lungs and diaphragm. The utility of the diaphragm necessitates the use of abdominal muscles to help you in controlling your breathing. The more you practice the brass instrument, the stronger your core gets. Thus, breathing and exercising your core muscles makes you fitter.


Bugle Prices

A quick look into some bugle prices online, The price of a brand new brass/copper bugle range from $14.70 to $205.75. Top brands include US Regulation, Regiment Regulation and Getzen M2003 American Heritage series. But as a beginner, a bugle with a price ranging from $14 to $50 that allows you to practice on the basic 5 notes is enough. You can look into the fancier brands that plays on the notes at BFlat (basic) , G and F.

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