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6 June 2006
Valves are actually a fairly recent invention (1830's) and revolutionized brass-type instruments. This is a cutout of a trumpet, showing the air paths through the instrument and through the valves.
Before valves, people played trombones, natural trumpets like the cornetto or the serpent and french horns, which they changed the pitch of by moving their fist deeper into the bell. Or they played the overtone series on a brass trumpet.