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Music Appreciation 101, part 5: the Double-Bell Euphonium

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The double-bell euphonium was an interesting invention. It is rumored that it was created so that euphonium players could choose between the large, soloist euphonium sound or a smaller, more trombone-like sound. Here is a photo of a double-bell euphonium:


The horn has one additional valve. In the photo above, the main horn is a 4-valve euphonium. The 5th valve is used only to divert the air to the small bell when desired. Both bells can not be played at the same time. Other models were based on a 3-valve euphonium, so a 4th valve would be used to activate the small bell.


These were manufactured into the 1960's, but sales at that point were extremely small. They were more-or-less popular in the early 1900's, but gradually players became bored with the novelty. Some who owned one used the small bell so seldom that the extra valve would have corroded in its "up" position.


The instrument is actually mentioned in the lyrics to 76 Trombones from the musical The Music Man ("double-bell euphoniums and big bassoons"). I still use one now and then for special solos.


Amazon's aStore has a special section supporting the Music Appreciation 101 series. Here is the link for this section:


Music Appreciation 101: the Double-Bell Euphonium


There you will find two version of the movie. I prefer the original Music Man with Robert Preston. In it you actually see some double-bell euphoniums in the final parade scene. You also see 76 trombones in that parade! They don't make 'em like that any more (except with computer animation). There are also CD's of the soundtrack and a CD of jazz player Betty O'Hara, who uses a double-bell euphonium on here album Horns Aplenty.


YouTube has a few clips of the Dixie band Cell Block Seven, where they use up to 3 double-bell euphoniums:


Apex Blues


Buglers Holiday


Apex Blues


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