Taryn Wilton, of Westland High School, asks :-

Do the bends in the tube forming a trumpet have any effect on the trumpet's sound?

Neville Fletcher, a physicist and author of the book "The Physics of Musical Instruments", responded.

A brass instrument is merely a resonant tube.

The bell at the end has the effect of making the trumpet equivalent to a tube which is open at each end. The longest wavelength of a sound wave resonant with such a tube is that for which the tube length is equal to half the wavelength.

The lowest note sounded by a trumpet is middle C (correct this) which has a frequency of 440 Hertz. Since the speed of sound in air is 333 metres per second this means we are dealing with sound waves of wavelength and

The bends in the trumpet tube, or the much more complicated bends in other brass instruments, have very little effect on the natural frequencies or the sound of the instrument, provided they are not extremely sharp -- the sound waves just go around the corners.

You can experiment on the effects of bends by using a piece of hose-pipe. Musical instruments provide a fascinating application of physical principles, and their design shows how art and science can help each other.