The Shepherds Crook
Newsletter of the
American Brass Band Association
Vol. 3 No. 2 Autumn 1998 (Revised 2013)
Fleugelhorn in the Brass Band
Please forgive the lack of umlauts in this article. We are aware that there are
German, English, and American spellings of the word Flugelhorn.
At the beginning of the 18th Century in Germany,
the flugelhorn was a large semicircular hunting horn of brass or silver carried by the Flugelmeister who directed
the various phases of a proper ducal hunt. It became a military instrument during the seven years war in Europe. This instrument
of the hunt was the direct parent of the bugle, which evolved into the flugelhorn.
In 1810, Halliday added
keys to this instrument, culminating in his keyed bugle. The substitution of valves for keys took place in Germany or Austria
before 1840. The resulting instrument made a great impression in France and suggested proportions for the saxhorns of Adolph
A soprano saxhorn or bugle was sold in England from about 1846, and the name Flugelhorn entered literature
under the influence of the German bandmasters around this time. An equally important instrument in the larger continental
bands of Europe is the small flugelhorn in Eb (and sometimes F) known in Germany as pikkolo and in France as petit
Even today, German Brass bands utilize flugelhorns to a greater extent than do the brass bands
of other nations.
To illustrate the difference between the saxhorns and the true (or clear) brass (the cornet,
trumpet, French horn and trombone), we can say that the flugelhorn compares with the trumpet or cornet the same way the baritone
compares with the trombone.
It should be pointed out that a primary difference between the two brass groupings
is illustrated by over-blowing. Increasing the force of blowing in a cornet, trumpet or trombone may cause the tone
to become brassy, while the flugelhorn and baritone (both of the saxhorn group of brass) will retain their characteristic
mellowness at any volume.
Accordingly, the saxhorn family of brass constitutes an additional brass section
in the brass band. The orchestra does not have the distinction of having two brass sections.
In band arranging, either
brass grouping can be used separately or together at the option of the composer or arranger. This is a primary point in scoring
for brass bands, and the principle of two brass sections in brass bands must be fully appreciated.
both brass sections (groupings) produces a more full and less brassy effect somewhat similar to an imaginary great organ.
These effects can provide interesting variety to the band and are instrumental in the production of the haunting tone quality
and blend of individual brass bands. The saxhorn family of brasses constitutes a bridge between the clear brasses and the
reed sections in a military style band.
When a brass band deletes the flugelhorn part, as is often done in
smaller bands, the saxhorn family of brass is deprived of its soprano member.
The following table illustrates
the two groupings:
Clear Brass (True Brass)
Eb Tenor Horn
Baritone & Euphonium
In French and Italian bands, the 1st flugelhorn is as important as the solo cornet. The instrument is softer,
more lyrical, and more flexible than the cornet, with easier emission throughout its entire compass.
cornet and/or third cornet parts in brass band can be played by the flugelhorn, making for interesting textures and individualization
in sound, voicing, and blend.
Flugelhorn in the Brass Band
Bb flugelhorn is essential to the Brass Band blend. It plays its own part, or may supplement
second (or third) cornet parts. It combines well in harmony with the Tenor Horns. One flugelhorn is essential, a section with
two or three is a security measure, or if your brass band gets larger than the contesting standard (25).
have undergone a renaissance in high school bands. They are in Bb, read treble clef, and should present no mysteries to anyone
who has ever played a cornet.
Most brass companies are now manufacturing a flugelhorn. I would check out the
Getzen as well as the Conn, Besson (Boosey and Hawkes) and Holton. Jupiter manufactures Bb flugelhorns at a very reasonable
price, attention beginners bands! The Jupiter is a great instrument for the price.
Pitched in Bb, the flugelhorn
has the same range and compass as the Bb cornet. It has the conical bore, wide bell, and large format of its parent instrument,
the keyed bugle. The mouthpiece cup is deep and almost funnel-shaped. A sliding mouth-pipe serves as the tuning-slide. The
tone of the flugelhorn is round and suave, albeit rougher and somewhat bugle-like when playing at louder dynamic
It is imperative that the flugelhorn be played with a flugelhorn mouthpiece, as either a cornet or trumpet
mouthpiece will alter the nature of the flugelhorn sound and cause bad intonation. Some report that a french horn mouthpiece
is a suitable substitute. The french horn mouthpiece is closer to the funnel-shape of the true flugelhorn mouthpiece.
Europe, the flugelhorn plays a leading role in many Brass Bands and Military Style Bands. It has thus performed its role for
over a century. Military bands in England and the United States do not generally utilize the flugelhorn. In the Brass Band,
at least one flugelhorn is obligatory.
The flugelhorn represents the Soprano instrument of the group described
as the Saxhorns. The other instrument so f the saxhorn group of brass are the Tenor horns, Baritones and Euphoniums, and the
Tubas. Many consider the true brass as being the grouping of cornets, trumpets, French horns and trombones. Balance between
these two brass groups may be what individualizes the sound of brass bands.
The flugelhorn plays from
its own part, or it is played from the same part as the repiano cornet. In the later instance, the flugelhorn part
is frequently marked Solo or Unis (with the instrument specified).
The word repiano is apparently
a distorted version of ripiano, which means supplementary. The function of the repiano and flugelhorn players therefore,
is to supplement the solo cornets.
Flugelhorn players in brass bands then, read from the same part as the
cornet player whose part is labeled Repiano. In modern scores, there is generally a separate flugelhorn part.
Wright in Scoring for Brass Band (Colne, Lancashire: Joshua Duckworth Ltd. 1935) makes the following statement about the flugelhorn:
Although most bands nowadays employ one flugel (but one does occasionally meet with two), there was a time when
they were more extensively used, as being fuller in tone than the lower cornets for accompanying work. Even now on the continent,
the Flugel plays a large part in the brass and military band, often there will be half a dozen flugels and only a couple of
cornets but in England, the standard number is one per band.
It is unfortunate that the Flugel should have to double
the repiano, for it could be employed far more usefully as a free-lance, available for helping the horn section or the lower
cornets. But very seldom do publishers issue separate Flugel parts, so for practical purposes, the arranger may consider that
the Flugel will expect to play from the repiano part. Any solo passages for Flugel should be so marked. Second and third cornets
can fill in harmonics above the repiano.
The indication ' Rep' should be added where the cornet is to join in. Similarly,
if only the cornet tone is desired, such passage should be marked, Rep.
Wright also states:
In tutti passages
it will usually double the solo cornets melody, when a phrase rises too high, the repiano will then join the accompanying
sections or even drop down and double the melody an octave lower, above the repiano. The more usual procedure, however, when
the melody goes too high for repiano, is for the part to be doubled at the octave below the (in the?) solo horn and for the
repiano to join in with the lower cornets on the accompaniment.
The flugelhorn in the brass bands of England was,
and is, of secondary importance (c. 1930). However, the lower pitched valved bugles such as Eb tenor horns, baritones and
euphoniums and tubas, are intimate parts of the brass band. Keep in mind that the flugelhorn is the soprano instrument
of this saxhorn group.
At this point, I would like to give credit where it is due. This article on Flugelhorn
was drawn from the resources of Frederick Allen Becks DMA Thesis, The Flugelhorn Its History and Literature, University
of Rochester, Eastman School of Music, 1979. It is available from University Microfilms International.
major resource for this article is The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians edited by Stanley Sadie,
Macmillan Publishers Limited, 1980. Anthony Baines contributed the section on Flugelhorn.
Finally, an important article
by Lucien Caillet, 1961, entitled Flugelhorn, was borrowed from the Brass Anthology, a compendium of brass
articles published by The Instrumentalist Company, Northfield, Illinois.
The Shepherds Crook
American Brass Band Association
2005 Extracts Vol. III No. II Autumn 1998