Template:Infobox Instrument The baritone horn, or simply baritone, is a member of the brass instrument family.[1] The baritone horn has a predominately cylindrical bore as do 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 found in schools' inventories. However, these are gradually being replaced by intermediate-level euphoniums.

Construction and general characteristics Edit


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 in either the bass clef or the treble clef. When reading from 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 downwards a major ninth, so that written middle C for the baritone is concert B below low C, with the fingerings thus matching those of the trumpet but sounding an octave lower.

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


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

Distinguishing the Baritone from the Euphonium Edit

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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] Euphoniums normally have a fourth valve as an alternate fingering for split fingering on baritones.

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.[citation needed]

Marching BaritoneEdit


Specially wrapped versions of the baritone horn have been created for use in marching bands and Drum and Bugle Corps. They have 3 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 contrabass bugles or tubas.

Over the past several decades, the baritone advanced in the drum and bugle corps due to certain rule changes. 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 organizations (e.g. Drum Corps Associates) following suit soon after. Since this change, the standard baritone has been the instrument pitched in B.

Some high school and college bands do not use marching baritones and continue to upright-bell front baritone horns on the field.

Some marching bands substitute a section of baritones for the trombone section.


The baritone horn has largely receded into the background in the concert band world of today. Notable artists who are today referenced as great euphonium players who in fact played baritone were Simone Mantia and Leonard Falcone. The Leonard Falcone International Tuba and Euphonium Festival is the premier venue for aspiring artists on baritone & euphonium, but its namesake played baritone horn on his many recordings[3].

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Robert Donington, "The Instruments of Music", (pp113 ffThe Family of Bugles) 2nd ED., Methuen London 1962
  2. 2.0 2.1 Apel, Willi (1969), Harvard Dictionary of Music, Cambridge:: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1972., pp. 105–110 
  3. Michigan State University Archives - Leonard Falcone Collection

External linksEdit

da:Baritone (horn) de:Baritonhorn es:Bombardino barítono fy:Bariton id:Baritone horn he:בריטון (כלי נגינה) hu:Baritonkürt nl:Bariton (instrument) fi:Baritonitorvi sv:Baryton (bleckblåsinstrument)