The euphonium horn (often mistaken for the baritone horn) is a baritone/tenor range brass instrument and a part of the tuba family. Though it is sometimes used in bands in place of baritone sax and other deeper instruments, it often plays its own part or that of the baritones' if a baritone horn is not available. In the marches of John Philip Sousa it (if replacing the baritone) often plays the melody part of the flutes and/or clarinet but an octave lower. It is also referred to as a tenor tuba, as it is very closely related to the tuba in many aspects. While the euphonium more resembles a small tuba, the baritone is slightly more akin to a trombone only with valves and derives from the saxhorn family.
Differences Between the Baritone and Euphonium Horns
The differences between the baritone and euphonium are subtle, but very distinct. It is often said that a baritone has three valves and a euphonium four, or that the bell of the baritone faces forwards while the euphonium's is upright. None of those proclamations are entirely accurate. As seen in the pictures to the right, the baritone has a much narrower, more cylindrical bore and thus a brighter tone. The euphonium has a wider, more conical bore, and thus a deeper and darker tone more similar to that of the tuba. Both the euphonium and baritone are available in models with different numbers of valves. Some student models only have three valves, whilst more professional models may have four or even more in rare cases. The addition of extra valves is to facilitate intonation, some fingerings will be in tune for some notes, but not others, thus a different valve is put into use to correct the intonation error. Baritone horns more often have only three valves, but four is not uncommon. It is safe to assume most euphoniums have at least four valves.
Writing For the Baritone or Euphonium Horn
To Transpose, or not to transpose?
Both the euphonium and baritone can be transposing instruments pitched in Bb.
Both instruments are usually scored for in two ways:
- Non-transposing (concert pitch) bass clef
When baritone and euphonium parts are written in bass clef, they are read as concert pitch and the performer must compensate with learned fingerings just as a tuba player would. The non-transposing method of writing for these instruments can also facilitate the transition of a low brass player from tuba or trombone to euphonium or baritone.
- Transposing Bb treble clef
When the music is written in treble clef, it as treated as a Bb transposing instrument with a transposition interval of one octave plus a major 2nd, the same as that of the tenor saxophone and bass clarinet. This method is not used as often for euphonium and is sometimes for facilitating the transition of brass players from Bb trumpet to euphonium or baritone. This is because the fingering is the same as that of the trumpet and uses the same clef, a result of the homogeneous family of saxhorns which all played written in treble clef with the appropriate transpositions.
There is no preferred standard as to which method to use when scoring the euphonium or baritone horn in general, but the composer/arranger must usually provide the part in both forms for the instrumentalists.
The capabilities of both the euphonium and baritone are practically identical to that of the trumpet's at the professional level. In amateur ensembles, however, players of these instruments are often less capable of performing the most sophisticated passages. Slurred octave jumps are practical throughout the range of the instrument(s), but less feasible the wider the interval. The fastest chromatic passages should be avoided due to the larger and slower valves, but both instruments are highly agile, and due to their warm tone, they can be the most expressive of instruments when used wisely.
The practical range of the baritone or euphonium depends highly on the instrumentalist, but the playing range of most professionals on a general three-valved instrument is as follows:
- Notated in bass clef: First E below bass stave to Bb above middle 'C'.
- Notated in treble clef: F# below middle 'C' to C above treble staff.
Note that the proceeding ranges include the extremes. The most often used range is from (concert pitch) E below bass stave to F above middle C. There are also pedal notes, and these pitches lay one full octave below the lowest sounding notes in the typical playing range. These notes range (concert pitch) Bb below bass stave down to E (space after four ledger lines). An instrument with a fourth valve can feasibly further extend its range (including pedal tones) downward five semi-tones, and thus it can play all pitches between the 1st and 2nd partials. Note that these notes are not as full sounding as such notes on a tuba, they are much weaker and less pronounced and have a tendency to blatt.
Pantomime by Phillip Sparke, performed by the "Banda Municipal de Santa Cruz de Tenerife"
Euphonium soloist: Evaristo Ramos Alberto
Video recording hosted at YouTube.com: http://youtube.com/watch?v=RDMaaPf7khw&feature=related
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