About ABC

At the start of the summer in 2017, five musicians stood on a street corner in Cresson, PA, having just finished a brass quintet concert. These musicians had been playing for years in small quartets and quintets incorporating various professional brass players in the Blair County area. The conversation on this street corner quickly turned to the question of “what would happen if we brought together a larger number of players, and combined our individual strengths into a self-governing and collectively-operated ensemble?”

Fast forward several years…and we now know the answer to that question is “we’ve got a powerhouse band with a unique sound that takes full advantage of each member’s special strengths!” There’s no sound quite like the Altoona Brass Collective!

History of Brass

Brass instruments have existed for thousands of years. In ancient times, humans used conch shells, hollowed-out branches and bamboo-style plant shoots, and animal horns as brass instruments. In the Roman Empire era, brass instruments such as the LUR and the BUCCINA were made of metal tubes and used cup-shaped metal mouthpieces similar to those used on modern instruments. Examples of these two instruments have survived from this era.

The BUCCINA was used in the armies of the Roman Empire. It was roughly circular, and had a wooden crossbar for support, which assisted the player in holding the instrument. Players used the instrument  to signal commands and sound watches.

The LUR was made of a curved bronze tube which terminated in a flat metal disc. Over 50 LURS have survived from ancient times, and specimens have been discovered in Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Greece. These were used by armies to gather troops and to frighten members of the opposing forces.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the art of creating and bending metal tubes declined and all but disappeared until the early renaissance period. There are few surviving sources which mention brass instruments/trumpets from the ninth — eleventh centuries.