The BARITONE is a member of the brass instrument family known as
saxhorns. This family also includes the
tenor (alto) horn, and the
euphonium. Baritones are usually similar in
appearance to the tenor horn. They are pitched in B-flat, with the same pitch
range as the tenor trombone.
Structurally, the baritone horn used in a British-style brass band is constructed in an upright pattern, with the bell pointing upward. The bore is moderately conical, and the tone of the instrument is midway between the bright sound of the trombone and the mellow timbre of the euphonium. There are usually three valves of the piston type, although some baritones are made with four valves (the photo accompanying this article shows a four-valve baritone). The standard three-valve baritone often has a compensating system that uses connecting tubes between the valves. These tubes alter the length of the air column for particular valve combinations. Some newer baritones include a trigger mechanism that kicks out the third or first valve slide for compensation.
Role in the Brass Band
The baritone is generally assigned the tenor part in a four-part setting, along with the lower horn parts, trombones, and/or euphonium. In more complex arrangements, such as those published in the Triumph and General Series, there are usually two baritone parts. Traditionally, the baritone is almost never used as a solo instrument, as its agility and range are often thought to be quite limited in comparison with the euphonium. However, in recent years, especially in the contesting band arena, baritone solos and solo specialists have become more common. The advent of the four-valve baritone has extended the downward range of the instrument, and larger bores and better design have improved agility and power.