is a member of the horn family, specifically the brass family,
which in turn is a member of the wind instrument family (Aerophones).
Instrument scholar Anthony Baines describes it as a valve bugle
which is related to both the key bugle (a precursor of the bass
saxophone, which was replaced by the tuba in orchestras) and
the signal horn (a bugle used as a signal in battle).
Flugelhorns have a short, wide mouthpiece; three or four valves;
and a flared bell. They range in size from bass instruments with
wider bores (the bore is the inside diameter of the tubing) to
small soprano horns in f or e flat. To the casual observer, a
flugelhorn looks very much like a trumpet or cornet. Inasmuch
as it belongs to the instrumental family called the brass, is
traditionally made of a brass or a brasslike material, although
there are valveless models made of clay. Its range is two and
a half octaves, and it is approximately nineteen inches long.
The flugelhorn is basically a bugle, pitched in B flat with valves.
It has a larger bell; a wider bore; and a larger, deeper mouthpiece
than its predecessor. Thus, it produces a much more mellow sound.
Although the flugelhorn is primarily used for military bands,
it has been utilized by some contemporary composers for orchestral
Flugelhorns were being made as early as 1890
in Germany by Ferdinand
Julius Altrichter, official court maker to prince Friedrich Karl
of Prussia. After
being used primarily as a band instrument during the 19th century,
the versatile flugelhorn has been adopted since the 1930s by
many jazz musicians including Dmitri Matheny, composer/performer
Tom Harrell from the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Hugh Masekela, and
Jerry Gonzalez from the Fort Apache Band.
One of the most beautiful flugelhorn solos ever recorded was
done by the Roberts Bakery Band of Great Britain directed by
Colin Cranson. Click
The soloist, Rachel Woollam, gives an exquisite performance of
the Intermezzo from Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana that
elevates the flugelhorn from the trenches of the battlefield
to the first chair of symphony hall. A small segment of Rachel
Woollam's solo may be heard by clicking a link at the bottom
of this page.
Snide remark about brass bands made by Sir Thomas Beecham, the
great English conductor:"Brass bands are all very well
in their place - outdoors and several miles away."
Heritage Dictionary defines the flugelhorn as follows:
lips to hear someone say it.
NOUN: A bugle with valves,
similar to the cornet but having a wider bore.
ETYMOLOGY: German Flügelhorn , Flügel
, flank (from its use to summon flanks during a battle),
from Middle High German vlügel , wing, flank, See
pleu-. + Horn , horn, from Middle High German,
from Old High German. ker-
OTHER FORMS: flü´gel·horn´´ist
- NOUN. A player of flugelhorns.
ADJECTIVE (Contributed by a wise-ass High-School Harry in an
out-of-step marching band):
- Used to describe a composition or a band featuring a multiplicity
of flugelhorns. Also, the condition of a flugelhorn fanatic.