Baritone horn: Wikis


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Baritone horn
Brass instrument
Other names Baritone

Wind Brass

Hornbostel-Sachs classification 423.232
(Valved aerophone sounded by lip movement)
Playing range
Euphonium range.svg
F four below middle C to F two above middle C
Related instruments

The baritone horn, or simply baritone, is a member of the brass instrument family.[1] The baritone horn is a cylindrical bore instrument like the trumpet and trombone. [2 ] A baritone horn uses a large mouthpiece much like those of a trombone or euphonium. It is pitched in B, one octave below the B trumpet. In the UK the baritone is frequently found in brass bands. The baritone horn is also a common instrument in high school and college bands, as older baritones are often in schools' inventories. However, these are gradually being replaced by intermediate-level euphoniums.


Construction and general characteristics


The baritone is pitched in concert B, meaning that when no valves are in use the instrument will produce partials of the B harmonic series. Music for the baritone horn can be written on both the bass clef and the treble clef. When reading from the bass clef, the baritone horn is a non-transposing instrument. However, when reading from the treble clef, it can become a transposing instrument, where the C on the horn is the concert B, with the fingerings matching those of the trumpet or can continue to be played as a non-transposing instrument by continuing to play the same fingerings as played in the lower octave.

The baritone is part of the low brass section of the band.


The baritone has a fairly mellow timbre in between the bright sounds of the trombone and the more mellow tone of the euphonium.

Distinguishing the Baritone from the Euphonium

Although both baritone and euphonium produce partials of the B harmonic series, and both have a nine-foot-long main tube, the baritone has a smaller and more cylindrical bore while the euphonium has a larger and more conical bore. The baritone horn also has a tighter wrap and a far smaller bell, and is thus physically smaller. The euphonium has a more solid, bassy timbre.[1][2 ]

There is some confusion of nomenclature in the United States between true baritones and euphoniums, in part 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. This practice has nearly stopped. Another common misconception is that the three-valve instrument is a baritone and that the four-valve instrument a euphonium. True baritone horns are sometimes called "British-bore Baritones" in the US to avoid this confusion.

A so-called 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.

Marching baritone

Marching baritone
Marching baritone (center) in Ottrott

Within Drum and Bugle Corps (and many marching bands), the instrument referred to as a baritone is a bugle in the key of B that is usually played by trombonists, euphoniumists, or concert baritonists. It has 3 valves and a front-facing bell and is the tenor voice of a drum corps, below the high sopranos and altos, and above the low contras. Although it is referred to as a baritone, it bears hardly any resemblance to its concert namesake. It has a mellow tone similar to the tenor trumpet. There also exists a marching version of the euphonium; the primary differences between the two are nearly the same as their concert counterparts.

Drum and bugle corps

Up until 1977, baritone bugles, as with all bugles at the time, were restricted to one horizontal piston valve and one rotary valve. That year, the Drum Corps International rules congress passed a rule allowing 2 vertical piston valves. The rules were amended once more in 1989 permitting the addition of a third valve.

From the 1950s until 2000, all drum and bugle corps were required to use instruments pitched in the key of G. That year, Drum Corps International changed its rules again, allowing instruments in any key, with most other major organisations (e.g. Drum Corps Associates) following suit soon after. Since this change, the standard baritone has been the instrument pitched in B.

Marching band

Within the high school and college marching band activity, marching baritones are nearly always present to facilitate concert baritone (and sometimes euphonium) players. In some ensembles, trombones are not used, in which case baritones also provide an alternative for trombonists who can't bring their instrument onto the marching field.


  1. ^ a b Robert Donington, "The Instruments of Music", (pp113 ffThe Family of Bugles) 2nd ED., Methuen London 1962
  2. ^ a b Apel, Willi (1969), Harvard Dictionary of Music, Cambridge:: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1972., pp. 105–110  

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