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The flugelhorn (also spelled fluegelhorn, flugel horn or flügelhorn; German: "winged horn") is a brass instrument resembling a trumpet but with a wider, conical bore. Some consider it to be a member of the saxhorn family developed by Adolphe Sax (who also developed the saxophone); however, other historians assert that it derives from the keyed bugle designed by Michael Saurle (father), Munich 1832 (Royal Bavarian privilege for a "chromatic Flügelhorn" 1832), thus predating Adolphe Sax's innovative work.[1]



The German word Flügel translates into English as "wing" or "flank". The instrument was used on the battlefield to summon the flanks of an army.[2]

Structure and variants

The flugelhorn is built in the same B pitch as many trumpets and cornets. It usually has three piston valves and employs the same fingering system as other brass instruments, but four piston valve and rotary valve variants also exist. It can thus be played without too much trouble by trumpet and cornet players, though some adaptation to their playing style may be needed. It is usually played with a more deeply conical mouthpiece than either trumpets or cornets (though not as conical as a horn mouthpiece).

Some modern flugelhorns are built with a fourth valve, which takes them down in pitch a perfect fourth (similar to the fourth valve sometimes found on euphoniums, tubas, horns and piccolo trumpets, as well as the trigger on trombones). This adds a useful area of low range which, when coupled with the flugelhorn's dark sound, gives an interesting extension to the instrument's abilities. More often, however, the fourth valve is used in place of the first and third valve combination, which is somewhat sharp (which is compensated for on trumpets and cornets and some three-valve flugelhorns by a slide for the first or third valve).


The tone is "fatter" and usually regarded as more "mellow" and "dark" than that of the trumpet or cornet. The sound of the flugelhorn has been described as approximately halfway between a trumpet and a horn, whereas the cornet's sound has been described as approximately halfway between a trumpet and a flugelhorn.[3] The flugelhorn has a similar level of agility to the cornet but is more difficult to control in the high register (from approximately written G above the staff), where in general it "slots" or locks onto notes less easily. It is not generally used for aggressive or bright displays as both trumpet and cornet can be, but tends more towards a softer and more reflective role.

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