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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The mellophone is a brass instrument that is typically used in place of the horn in marching bands or drum and bugle corps.

The mellophone has three valves, and the keys are pressed with the right hand. The fingerings of the mellophone are identical to the fingerings of a trumpet, though alternate fingerings on higher notes often are more in tune than normal trumpet fingerings. Mellophones are typically pitched in the key of F. The overtone series is an octave above that of the horn. Many drum and bugle corps, however, use mellophones pitched in G, although the number has dwindled somewhat since the two major United States drum and bugle corps circuits (first Drum Corps International and then Drum Corps Associates) passed rule changes allowing use of instrumentation in any key (although corps using mellophones pitched in G typically have the whole of their brass section also using G instruments, while those using mellophones pitched in F generally have the remainder of their brass section using B♭; instruments). Mellophones, like most brass instruments are available in a number of keys. Mellophones are usually in either E-flat, F, or B-flat.

The main reason that the mellophone is used in place of the horn for marching is that the mellophone is a bell-front instrument, so that the sound goes in the direction that the player is facing. Although, the marching french horn also is in this same bell front configuration. Mellophones also are usually constructed with a larger bore for louder volume than marching french horns. This is especially important in drum corps-style marching, in which the audience is typically standing or sitting on only one side of the band.

Another factor in the greater use of mellophones versus marching French horns is due to the fact that even a concert French horn is notoriously difficult to play consistently well in a seated concert setting. The mellophone and other alto range instruments with a cup mouthpiece are better suited to the physical demands of playing while marching.

Mellophones are also more directly related to bugle-horns such as the flugelhorn, euphonium and tuba. Their design is more radically cylindrical than horns producing a sound generally considered more suitable for martial music and tends to be easier to articulate sharply as is required by martial music. In rare occasions mellophones (usually old ones) have been made shaped like horns (and more modernly vice-versa) but due to the tonal qualities of the horn being more suitable for orchestral music and that of the mellophone being suitable for marching band or bugle-corps type ensembles, mellophones are almost always found as bugle shaped marching horns. A mellophone shaped as a concert horn is built with piston valves and with the bell facing the left, in reverse of the traditional horn.

The direction of the bell, as well as the much-reduced amount of tubing (as compared to a concert horn) makes the mellophone look like a large trumpet. In fact, many mellophones use trumpet-style parabolic ("cup") mouthpieces rather than the smaller, lighter, conical ("funnel") mouthpieces used on concert horns. When using a horn mouthpiece, an adapter is commonly used so that it fits in the lead pipe of the mellophone; other mellophones have lead pipes that do not require the use of an adaptor. However, use of a "cup" mouthpiece results in a more trumpet-like sound, as opposed to the horn-like sound produced from a "funnel" mouthpiece.


External links

  • Archived discussion about mellophones from
  • Mellophone fingering chart
  • The Middle Horn Leader
  • Al's Mellophone Page
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