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Baritone horn

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Title: Baritone horn  
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Subject: Saxhorn, Euphonium, Maynard Ferguson, Brass instrument, The Klezmorim
Collection: B-Flat Instruments, Brass Instruments, Horns
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Baritone horn

Baritone horn
Brass instrument
Other names Baritone,

Wind, brass

Hornbostel–Sachs classification 423.232
(Valved aerophone sounded by lip movement)
Playing range

The written range of baritone horn, which when written in the treble clef as shown is transposed upwards a major ninth from the instrument's concert pitch.
Related instruments

The baritone horn is a low-pitched brass instrument.[1] It is a piston valve brass instrument with a predominantly cylindrical bore like the trumpet[2] and uses a wide-rimmed cup mouthpiece like that of its peers the trombone and euphonium. Like the trombone and the euphonium, the baritone can be considered either a transposing or non-transposing instrument.

In the UK the baritone is frequently found in brass bands. The baritone horn in the United States is common in school and university bands, the baritones found in school inventories often being older models as the instrument over time is yielding in popularity to the euphonium.

A person who plays a baritone horn is a baritone (horn) player or baritonist.


  • Construction and general characteristics 1
    • Key 1.1
    • Range 1.2
    • Tone 1.3
    • Distinguishing the baritone horn from the euphonium 1.4
    • Marching baritone horn 1.5
    • Artists 1.6
  • References 2
  • External links 3

Construction and general characteristics

The baritone, like the trombone and euphonium, is a nine-foot brass tube. Valves are most often piston-style. It is predominately of cylindrical bore, in contrast to the more conical bore of the euphonium, rendering its attack more distinct than the rounder attack of the euphonium.


The baritone is pitched in concert B, meaning that when no valves are actuated, the instrument will produce partials of the B harmonic series. Music for the baritone horn can be written in either the bass clef or the treble clef. When written in the bass clef, the baritone horn is a non-transposing instrument. However, when written in the treble clef, it is often used as transposing instrument, transposing downward a major ninth from the music as written, so that written middle C for the baritone is concert B below low C (B2 in scientific pitch notation), with the fingerings thus matching those of the trumpet but sounding an octave lower. It is often used to play parts written for the similarly pitched tenor trombone or euphonium.


The baritone is part of the tenor section of a band. Its second partial with no valves pressed is concert B on the second line from the bottom of the bass clef (B2 in scientific pitch notation). The eighth partial with no valves pressed is concert B in the center of the treble clef (B4). Virtuosi can reach certain pedal tones below the E2 second partial with all valves depressed which is the nominal lowest note on the instrument and several half-tones above the B4 which is the nominal top of the instrument's range.


The baritone sounds with a timbre between the brightness of the trombone and the more mellow tone of the euphonium.

Distinguishing the baritone horn from the euphonium

Four-valve continental baritone horn (center)

Although both baritone horn and euphonium produce partials of the B harmonic series in the same range, and both have a nine-foot-long main tube, the baritone horn tends to have a smaller and more cylindrical bore than the euphonium. The baritone horn usually has a tighter wrap and a smaller bell, and is thus smaller and lighter overall, and produces a "lighter" sound versus the more solid, brassy timbre of the euphonium.[1][2]

There is some confusion of nomenclature in the United States due to the old practice of American euphonium manufacturers calling their professional models by their proper names, and branding entry-level student models as baritones.[3] This practice has not yet stopped.

There is a common misconception that three-valve instrument is a baritone and that the four-valve instrument is a euphonium. Euphoniums often have a fourth valve as an alternate fingering for 1&3 split fingering with improved intonation. The fourth valve can also be viewed in the same way as an F trigger on trombone, repitching the instrument to expand the lower range. A fourth valve is rarely seen on baritones, but absence of a fourth valve is not a defining characteristic.[3]

An "American baritone", featuring three valves on the front of the instrument and a curved forward-pointing bell, was common in American school bands throughout most of the twentieth century. While this instrument is in reality a conical-cylindrical bore hybrid, neither truly euphonium nor baritone, it was almost universally labeled a "baritone" by both band directors and composers.[3]

Marching baritone horn

Marching baritone horn

Specially wrapped versions of the baritone horn have been created for use in marching bands and drum and bugle corps. They have three valves and a front-facing bell and are the tenor voice of a drum and bugle corps, below the soprano voice of the trumpet, the alto voice of alto horn or mellophone, and above the low tubas.


The baritone horn has largely receded into the background in the concert band world of today. Notable artists who are today referenced as great baritone horn and/or euphonium players include Mel Sykes, Simone Mantia, and Leonard Falcone. The Leonard Falcone International Tuba and Euphonium Festival is a notable venue for aspiring artists on euphonium, but its namesake played baritone horn on his many recordings.[4]

Trumpeter Maynard Ferguson used a baritone horn in the song "Gospel John" and in one of his three solos (the other two involving a valved trombone and a trumpet) in a live performance of his song "Great Guns". Japanese free-improvisation trumpeter Toshinori Kondo has played baritone horn on some dates and recordings.


  1. ^ a b Robert Donington, "The Instruments of Music", (pp. 113ff The Family of Bugles) 2nd ed., Methuen, London, 1962
  2. ^ a b Apel, Willi (1972) [1969], Harvard Dictionary of Music, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, pp. 105–110 
  3. ^ a b c Werden, David. "Euphonium, Baritone, or ???". Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Michigan State University Archives - Leonard Falcone Collection

External links

  • Retrieved on 29 January 2008
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