Flugelhorn vs. Cornet (What’s The Difference?)

With brass instruments, it may be a bit of an onerous task to try and distinguish some instruments, especially when they are very akin to one another. The quintessence of this fact is the flugelhorn and the cornet.

In the most fundamental of terms, the cornet simply means an instrument, one that is part of the brass family, which is slightly smaller when compared to the trumpet. Additionally, the default key for the cornet is a b-flat.

The flugelhorn, on the other hand, is also a member of the brass instruments. However, unlike the cornet, the flugelhorn has a wider and more conical-shaped bore. In addition to this, the flugelhorn has three valves.

Even though like the trumpet and the aforementioned cornet, the flugelhorn has a default key of b-flat, just like a majority of cornets and trumpets. Its deeper conical mouthpiece gives it a different sound altogether.

Differences Between The Two Instruments

Though we have already started a few differences, there is a myriad of other differences when it comes to the comparison between the cornet and the flugelhorn.

It is as clear as day that the shape of the bore, irrespective of the instrument, will affect the sound that the instrument produces. If a brass instrument has a conically shaped bore, then the tone of the sound produces is warmer.

However, the instrument will have fewer upper harmonics.

On the other hand, if an instrument has a cylindrically shaped bore, then the tone of the sound it produces is brighter as compared to instruments with a conical-shaped bore.

Additionally, the instrument will have more upper harmonics. The exception to this rule is the horn, otherwise, it is generally applicable to every other instrument.

There is an archaic formula used to describe the shape of the flugelhorn and the cornet respectively. It states that the cornet has a bore that is half-cylindrical and half conical, while the flugelhorn is a third cylindrical and two thirds conical.

Though a bit old-fashioned, this formula gives a slight clue on how the two instruments differ from one another, when it comes to the bore shape and consequentially, the sound the instruments make.

Another important thing to consider is the shape of the mouthpiece. The shape of the mouthpiece will affect the sound that the instrument produces.

In general terms, the shaper of the mouthpiece varies not only depending on the instrument, but also on the manufacturer.

That being said, there are some general rules when it comes to their shape. For the purest of the cornet, the mouthpiece tends to be funnel-shaped.

The mouthpiece the flugelhorn uses is in more than one way akin to the cornet’s, in that they all have a deep funnel cup. However, this isn’t to say that they are interchangeable.

As a result of the diameter of the receiving pipe, the lead pipe as some would call it, it is impossible to interchange the two instruments.

In terms of how the mouthpiece influences the sound that the instrument produces, the deeper the cup, the warmer the instrument will sound.

On the other hand, the shallower the cup, the brighter and more brilliant the instrument will sound. Thus, the flugelhorn produces a fatter tone, one that is regarded to be darker and more mellow than that or the cornet.

Which One Is Easier To Play?

This is one of the trickiest questions to answer, mainly because a lot of facts determine the difficulty of learning to play a particular instrument. Factors such as preference and the person or institution teaching will ultimately be decisive in how easy someone will find it to learn about a particular instrument.

That being said, when you consider the testimonials and referrals from individuals who have played both instruments, you may get a slight idea of which one is the easiest to play.

For beginners and people starting off, the cornet may be the easiest to play. The tighter wrap that has been installed in the instrument during its design makes it possible for the player to bring it classer to his or her body.

Therefore, the cornet is more suitable and comfortable for the smaller and younger brass players.

Since the flugelhorn and the cornet have the same default key, b-flat, for players, it is a bit easy to shifts between the two instruments. This is because the instruments have the same range, though they differ when it comes to the mouthpiece design and the bore structure.

Many brass players also describe the flugelhorn as more agile than the cornet. Notwithstanding, it should be noted that the flugelhorn is much more difficult to play and control in the higher registers.

Generally, the flugelhorn locks onto the musical notes less easily, but many still find it easier to play and use.

Which One Is Better?

In answering which one of the two instruments is better, you first have to understand where and when the two instruments are used.

The main use of the cornet is seen in British brass bands. Essentially, British brass bands are made up only of brass instruments and the percussion section. The cornet, in this case, is usually the leading instrument.

In the past and recently too, the cornet has been used in fanfare orkesten, which simply means fanfare orchestras. Such events are only found in Belgium, Lithuania, Northern France, and the Netherlands.

The said orchestras use the complete saxhorn family of instruments. The use of the cornet, in these events, over the years, has reduced gradually.

The flugelhorn has also been, and is still, used in British-style brass bands. Additionally, its frequency in jazz has also increased over the last couple of years. Even in the fanfare orkesten, the flugelhorn was raised in popularity.

In many instances where the flugelhorn is used, it is used as the base of the orchestra or the concerts. The reason behind this is the instrument’s timbre. The flugelhorn’s tone is fatter and mellower when compared to that of the cornets.

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