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Chronology of Innovation: Vol II, The Trumpet Mute, by R. Dale Olson


Item Details



1848 – 2014


Within this impressive treatise, R. Dale Olson has produced a book that addresses every facet of sound modulation devices for brass musical instruments in history. Considering its 441 pages, this is the most complete, and massive writing ever created to fully explore the mute.

Typical of all Olson writings, the author has first provided an historical background of the subject, and continued to deeply explore every element of mute design, concept, and construction independently. Olson has, for the first time, created formulae from which vintage mutes described within United States Patent and Trademark Office documents may be reproduced.

Topics include, but are not limited to, issues such as:

The History of Mutes

  • Classification Systems
  • Acoustics of the Muted Trumpet
  • The Mute: Its Physical Structure
  • Concomitants of Performance Characteristics
  • Approximately 240 pages of graphics from U.S. Patents for mutes, with critiques
  • Eleven Appendices
  • A List of over 200 Mute Makers, Both Historic and Contemporary
  • Fourteen pages of References and Bibliography


The first mute to have been given a United States patent was Serial Number 51,363, a very simple invention of John F. Stratton, of New York City, New York, on December 5, 1865. The Stratton invention was for a “practice mute”.

Nearly 150 years, and 123 patents later, several designers were granted U.S. Patents for very sophisticated, acoustically complex inventions. Like Stratton, their mutes were also essentially “practice mutes”.

Certain mutes over many decades were designed to soften the sound, others were created to modify the tonal quality, and even two were made to amplify the tone. Many variants appeared within that Century and one-half. And, they are all dissected, analyzed, and critiqued within this writing by Olson.

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