The euphonium is a large, conical-bore, baritone-voiced brass instrument that derives its name from the Greek word euphonos, meaning "well-sounding" or "sweet-voiced". The euphonium is a valved instrument; nearly all current models are piston valved, though rotary valved models do exist. The euphonium is a non-transposing instrument known for its distinctive tone color, wide range, variety of character and agility.
The euphonium is sometimes confused with the baritone horn, but the euphonium and the baritone differ in that the bore size of the baritone horn is typically smaller than that of the euphonium, and the baritone is primarily cylindrical bore, whereas the euphonium is predominantly conical bore. The two instruments are easily interchangeable to the player, with some modification of breath and embouchure, since the two have identical range and essentially identical fingering. The cylindrical baritone offers a brighter sound and the conical euphonium offers a mellower sound.
Several late 19th century music catalogues (such as Pepper and Lyon & Healy) sold a euphonium-like instrument called the "Bb Bass" (to distinguish it from the Eb and BBb bass). In these catalog drawings, the Bb Bass had thicker tubing than the baritone; both had 3 valves. Along the same lines, drum and bugle corps introduced the "Bass-baritone", and distinguished it from the baritone. The thicker tubing of the 3-valve B? Bass allowed for production of strong false-tones, providing chromatic access to the pedal register.
Ferdinand Sommer's original name for the instrument was the euphonion. It is sometimes called the tenor tuba in Bb, although this can also refer to other varieties of tuba. Names in other languages, as included in scores, can be ambiguous as well. They include French basse, saxhorn basse, and tuba basse; German Baryton, Tenorbass, and Tenorbasshorn; Italian baritono, bombardino, eufonio, and flicorno basso. The most common German name, Baryton, may also have caused the American use of the term "baritone" for the instrument with the influx of German musicians to the United States in the nineteenth century.
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