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Title: Ph.D.—Ph.D.; Art Farmer, flugelhorn. Label: Contemporary. Format: CD. Catalogue#: CCD-14055-2. Track: 1.

Contextual Associations

The flugelhorn is an end-blown lip-reed aerophone outfitted with valves (either piston, as seen in the gallery image, or rotary) that make it fully chromatic. Originating in continental Europe, the flugelhorn today can be found mostly there, strongly associated with military and marching bands. In the U.S.A. today it is encountered primarily in two domains: in jazz (listen to audio clip), where it is considered an auxiliary instrument on which trumpeters double; and in drum corps competitions. Though scored for in a few orchestral works it is not a standard member of that ensemble, and while the extensive classical solo repertoire of original pieces and transcribed works for the trumpet and cornet can be played on the flugelhorn it seldom is.


The flugelhorn is basically a 4.5-foot length of mostly conical brass tubing with a cup mouthpiece inserted at one end and a somewhat funnel-shaped bell at the other. This tubing passes through three spring-loaded piston valves that, when depressed individually or in combination, add varying lengths of tubing to the instrument’s basic length. Its three valves are located side-by-side at approximately the middle of the instrument. When a valve piston is unengaged (at the top of its casing) the air column passes directly through a channel bored into the piston; when the valve is engaged by pressing the piston down to the bottom of its casing two different channels come into alignment, one directing the air column out of the valve and through an additional length of tubing, and a second one allowing the air column back into and through the piston. The amount of tubing that is added is different with each valve: the first valve, closest to the mouthpiece end, adds enough tubing to lower the pitch of the instrument by a whole step (M2); the second valve by a half step (m2); and the third valve by a minor third (m3). Each additional length of tubing has its own tuning slide, and there is also a main tuning slide for general tuning in the instrument’s short lead pipe. Visually the flugelhorn can be distinguished from other soprano-register brass instruments with valves by its short, cylindrical, telescopic lead pipe, which functions as the instrument's tuning slide, that in a matter of a few inches enters the casing wall of the first valve; the much longer initial tube segment on trumpets and cornets typically includes one or more U-bends, one of which includes a tuning slide, before entering the third-valve casing wall. A deep cup mouthpiece is used for the instrument.

Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production

The player, either seated or standing, grasps the three valve casings with his or her left hand and positions the trumpet so that the mouthpiece touches their lips, the valve buttons point upwards, and the bell faces forwards. The first three fingers of the right hand operate the three valves. With any given length of tubing (of which there are seven--the basic length and six combinations of additional tubing), the performer may produce a fundamental pitch (called a pedal tone) and the notes in the natural harmonic series above it by controlling the force of the airstream (with their diaphragm muscles) and its modulation (with their embouchure muscles adjusting lip tension). The fundamental of the basic tube length of this flugelhorn is B-flat2; the practical range of the instrument is E3 to B-flat 5. The B-flat flugelhorn is a treble clef transposing instrument written in C but sounding a major second (M2) below. The flugelhorn has a wide dynamic range and a mellower sound then either of its cousins, the trumpet and the cornet.


The flugelhorn is thought to have evolved from the early-19th century keyed bugle, possibly in Vienna in the 1830s. The instrument has held a prominent place in the military bands of continental Europe since 1840, especially in Germany and Austria but also throughout Eastern Europe in general.

Bibliographic Citations

Baines, Anthony. 1976. Brass Instruments: Their History and Development. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

________. 1984. “Flugelhorn.” NGDMI v.1: 768-769.

Bate, Philip. 1966. The Trumpet and Trombone: An Outline of their History, Development and Construction. London: Ernest Benn Limited.

Campbell, Murray, Clive Greated, and Arnold Meyers. 2004. Musical Instruments: History, Technology, and Performance of Instruments of Western Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Carse, Adam. 1975 (1965). Musical Wind Instruments. New York: Da Capo Paperback.


Instrument Information


Continent: Europe

Region: Western Europe

Formation: European

Classification (Sachs-Von Hornbostel revised by MIMO)

423.231.11 aerophone--narrow-bore chromatic labrosone valve bugle with short air column (less than 2m); the tube is predominantly conical

Design and Playing Features

Category: aerophone

Air cavity design: tubular - conical with flaring open distal end

Source and direction of airstream: player exhalation through mouth into air cavity; unidirectional

Energy transducer that activates sound: lip reed (player’s lips) placed over cup mouthpiece at end of tube

Means of modifying shape and dimensions of standing wave in air cavity: incremental lengthening with valve mechanism of air cavity in which the standing wave is active

Overblowing utilization: overblowing at consecutive partials

Pitch production: multiple - changing length of standing wave by adding tube length with valves or slide and by selecting partials through overblowing


17.9 in. length

Primary Materials

metal - sheet
spring - spiral





Entry Author

Roger Vetter