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Topic: Alto Horns...Mellophones...confused

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  1. #1

    Talking Alto Horns...Mellophones...confused

    Is a Mellophone an Alto Horn? Or are they two different instruments?

    Wow, there is so much I've yet to learn about brass instruments.

    Thesaurus of Musical Instruments

    Search: Mellophone

    USE Alto Horn

    Click here for the link:
    Thesaurus of Musical Instruments



    Oh life, so funny

  2. #2

    Re: Alto Horns...Mellophones...confused

    Quote Originally Posted by benjamind
    Is a Mellophone an Alto Horn? Or are they two different instruments?

    Wow, there is so much I've yet to learn about brass instruments.

    Thesaurus of Musical Instruments

    Search: Mellophone

    USE Alto Horn

    Click here for the link:
    Thesaurus of Musical Instruments



    Oh life, so funny
    A mellophone is a wretched thing that is best described as a stretched-out bell-forward french horn. They are pitched in Eb or F and often played by highschool french horn players. If you think about it, marching with a french horn is a sorta self-defeating behavior
    They had a brief life in jazz thanks to Don Elliott, and some members of the Stan Kenton orchestra often had to play them. They expressed universal hatred for the instruments.

    An Alto horn* is pitched in Eb in the UK and Eb or F here. In the UK, they are bell-up and conical bored with top-action valves and are midrange instruments in the brass band. Here they are used VERY infrequently. They could be bell-front or bell-up, are cone/cylinder bored, and usually have front action valves. Here, their popularity is long gone.

    I'll see if I can nab some pictures somewhere.
    Jim

    *The british incorrectly call them tenor horns, not to be confused with what the Germans call tenorhorns, which are actually baritones, which in NO case should be confused with euphoniums, even though Americans sometimes call euphoniums baritones.
    Jim Williams
    Professor of Capitalism
    N9EJR
    Indianapolis Brass Choir
    All Your Bass Sus&Short Are Belong to Us.

  3. #3

    Re: Alto Horns...Mellophones...confused

    I play an Eb Tenor horn. I do call it a tenor, as I started playing it after I heard UK jazzbo Django Bates playing his. His is bell-up, but mine is bell-front.

    There's also a colloquialism of calling it a "Peck horn". This is because in the UK northern brass band position the tenor's are often relegated to playing up-beats, which is voiced by a human as: "Umm-Peck! Umm-Peck! Umm-Peck! Umm-Peck!"

    I love my tenor/alto horn! It's my favorite range (near about Tenor sax) and has a great breathy tone. Here's an example of solo playing I did for a soundtrack:

    Horn Requiem

    I also have a Getzen "Frumpet" (has both Eb and F slides), which is somewhat of a maligned instrument. That's probably closer to an actual mellophone.

    I'll also come up with some pictures if you need more. I the meantime you can play "spot the alto/tenor horn" here!

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  4. #4
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    Re: Alto Horns...Mellophones...confused

    That's very interesting. I played a "mellophone" in grade school back in the 1940's and I remember it as looking like a french horn except that you held it with the bell on the left side of your body and it had piston valves instead of rotary ones and it was almost impossible to play it in tune, and it wasn't just me as a kid because the high school band director couldn't play it in tune either, so he was very forgiving of me! The one I played was silver colored.

    Tom

  5. #5
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    Re: Alto Horns...Mellophones...confused

    Quote Originally Posted by snorlax
    A mellophone is a wretched thing ...
    A wretched thing? Say it isn't so!

    We sampled one for GPO-A and it s thing of beauty - in instrument of splendor and beauty. One can be in love with a mellophone

  6. #6

    Re: Alto Horns...Mellophones...confused

    Quote Originally Posted by Garritan
    A wretched thing? Say it isn't so!
    That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Garritan
    We sampled one for GPO-A and it s thing of beauty - in instrument of splendor and beauty. One can be in love with a mellophone
    See above.

    Besides, we all know what the real reason is for people to buy GPO-A...the EUPHONIUM...everything else is fluff.

    But you did get the contralto sarrusophone, right, Gary? You better have that!!
    Jim Williams
    Professor of Capitalism
    N9EJR
    Indianapolis Brass Choir
    All Your Bass Sus&Short Are Belong to Us.

  7. #7
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    Re: Alto Horns...Mellophones...confused

    Quote Originally Posted by snorlax
    That's my story and I'm sticking with it.



    See above.

    Besides, we all know what the real reason is for people to buy GPO-A...the EUPHONIUM...everything else is fluff.

    But you did get the contralto sarrusophone, right, Gary? You better have that!!
    Yes, the euphonium is the real reason for GPO-A...and the player who did the commanding performance. People will buy it just for the Euphonium (and maybe the contralto sarrusophone

  8. #8
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
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    Re: Alto Horns...Mellophones...confused

    Quote Originally Posted by Garritan
    Yes, the euphonium is the real reason for GPO-A...and the player who did the commanding performance. People will buy it just for the Euphonium (and maybe the contralto sarrusophone

    Well, I am thinking of selling my cornet and flugel horn, and buying a euphonium.

    But for GPO, what would be the most enticing thing for me would be an expanded pipe organ library. Being probably in the minority, I expect a long wait!

    Richard

  9. #9

    Re: Alto Horns...Mellophones...confused

    To all the Peck horn, mellophone, baritone and sarrusaphone snobs in this thread, all I can say is...

    Euphonium! (In the plural, Euphonia? Or just 'a bunch of phoniums'?) You KNOW you all want to play trumpet...

    BTW, I am authorised to say that because I was forced to play baritone horn in junior high school - too many trumpets, so the teacher picked the biggest guys to switch to trombone and baritone...

    But Jim, you do make that euphonium a thing of beauty-and a unique color in the family. (I heard your post a few months ago) Why don't YOU create the ultimate euphonium library?
    Dasher
    -------
    It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...

  10. #10

    Re: Alto Horns...Mellophones...confused

    Quote Originally Posted by snorlax
    A mellophone is a wretched thing that is best described as a stretched-out bell-forward french horn. They are pitched in Eb or F and often played by highschool french horn players. If you think about it, marching with a french horn is a sorta self-defeating behavior
    They had a brief life in jazz thanks to Don Elliott, and some members of the Stan Kenton orchestra often had to play them. They expressed universal hatred for the instruments.
    Actually, I have to partially disagree with this assertion.

    A "Mellophone" is an instrument that looks remarkably similar to a french horn (similar shape and tubing wrap), except that it has piston valves and is played "backwards" -- fingered with the right hand, like most other piston valve instruments. Some equate the sound with a French Horn, but it has it's own unique sound and personality.

    Now, the "Mellophonium" is a different beast entirely. Legend has it that it was created one night in a hotel room by Stan Kenton and Johnny Richards, with the help of a hacksaw and some liquor. Some dispute that claim, but in either event the Mellophonium looks a lot like a mellophone with the bell and leadpipe straightened out and the valves up. Stan Kenton incorporated them into his orchestra from 1960-1963 and produced several albums including his classic Christmas album, "A Merry Christmas" which was leter re-released as "Kenton's Christmas." It remains my all-time favorite instrumental Christmas album. The mellophonium section adds a rich smoothness unlike anything else. To many purists, it was a boomy, blatty sound that they didn't like... but of course opposition will always accompany change. The horns were a little challenging at times, heavy and oddly balanced things with notorious intonation problems that were probably linked to their size and unusual center of gravity. Thus was developed a couple of well-worn sayings from those who disliked the Mellophoniums:

    "The cardinal rule about mellophioniums is that they are ALWAYS out of tune."
    and
    "Perfect Pitch: the ability to toss a Mellophonium into a toilet at 40 yards without hitting the lid."

    But, what killed the Kenton Mellophonium section wasn't their struggle with intonation. It was mostly childish infighting within the band. Some of the Mellophonium players had joined the band with an eye toward graduating to the Trumpet section, thus creating tension between sections. The trombone section didn't like them "horning in" on the lower end of the band, and the trumpets saw them as competitors -- and it didn't help that Stan was focused on his new, experimental sound that made the Mellophoniums a focal point. The intonation issue was just the excuse to complain -- the real complaint was that the children didn't like daddy having a new favorite. Eventually, the infighting got bad enough that the experiment was abandoned and the mellophoniums sent to the storage closet.

    The Conn 16E Mellophoniums used in the Kenton orchestra were sold for some time by Conn, and are often referred to as "marching french horns" when they show up on eBay. There is a more modern version used in many marching bands today that is more compact and has a better center of gravity, usually referred to as a "marching Mellophone."

    The Mellophonium is far from "wretched." Challenging and misunderstood, yes... but not a bad horn in the right hands. Some of those old Kenton mellophonium era recordings are really wonderful things. As an aside, a couple of years ago The Capitol Bones released a Christmas album that contains many of the arrangements from Kenton's christmas album, played from the same charts an with the same instrumentation, including the mellophomium section. It's an outstanding recording, although it is at times a little too trombone-heavy (but then again, they aren't called The Capital Bones for nothing!)


    D.
    "He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds"
    --Psalm 147:3

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