Can mellophone be used as a lead instrument?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by chet fan, May 12, 2010.

  1. chet fan

    chet fan Piano User

    Jul 3, 2009
    Can mellophone be used as a lead instrument, and are here any mellophone players that can tellm e about the instrument first hand. I would like to play something besides tpt. And it is simmilar. is it? fingering is the same, mpc is of the same size and cup...etc
  2. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    Hi, Chet!

    I haven't played mellophone in decades, so I'm not the best person to ask, but IIRC, it's usually used as a "marching french horn" The one I played was shaped like a french horn, it played in Eb, but the bell pointed forwards and had piston valves (on the right, I think. I also played french horn in those days, and could have gone the other way and not remembered! :dontknow:)

    I would approach mellophone as an alto flugelhorn type of instrument. I would go for the "mello" sound. :cool: I would, above all, not try to play it like a lead trumpet.:shhh:

    I would use as large and deep a mouthpiece as I possibly could, and make the sound as sweet and full as possible. :thumbsup:

    This advice would also apply to the Frumpets that I see on eBay lately. Again, marching french horns, this time in F, and wrapped more like an alto trumpet, but with a smaller bell than a french horn (more like a trombone bell). I had a boss nearly twenty years ago who bought a frumpet to play in his church "praise band" I found it a ghastly instrument to play :shhh:(at the time) but in its defense, I didn't spend a lot of time with it.:roll:

    Hope this is of some help!

    Guy Clark
  3. hup_d_dup

    hup_d_dup Piano User

    May 28, 2009
    Tewksbury, NJ, USA
    Here's an interesting article about the "mellophonium" section of the Stan Kenton band. They were used to fill in the register between trumpets & trombones, not as lead instruments. Apparently the instruments weren't too popular with the players, who preferred trumpets. However, they did discover that they could shriek by using cornet mouthpieces.

    The Stan Kenton Mellophoniums
  4. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA

    Please don't shriek around me, then!!!


  5. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008

    Well, I traditionally I think the answer is no, a mellophone isn't considered a "lead" instrument. They are very common in marching bands and drum corps and play more of a supporting role.

    Unlike guyclark, most of the mellophones I've seen are in pitched in Bb and use the same fingerings and mouthpieces as trumpets (I've seen marching french horns as well, but they are a slightly different animal).

    With that said, if you're a jazz soloist you could probably get away with using one as your primary instrument if that's your thing, but I'm not aware of any pro's that use them.

    If you're just looking for something a bit different or more mellow than a trumpet, I'd suggest a flugel horn. They are a more dynamic instrument than a flugelhorn and are a more commonly used instrument.

    Mellophones are pretty exclusive to marching activities.
  6. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    Ahhh, you made me have to go look it up!

    Mellophone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The instrument I played was the Mellophonium shown halfway down the page.

    Typically (according to the article) they're typically pitched in F, which would make sense from a "marching French Horn" standpoint.

    Maybe its a regional thing. I was in the Chicago area at the time.

    Guy Clark
  7. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Anything with a french horn mouthpiece LEADS to desaster. So the answer to your question is a qualified yes.

    Mellophones were built to let french horn players play in the same direction that they are looking - none of this sneaking up from behind!
  9. brassplayer

    brassplayer Pianissimo User

    May 6, 2009
    San Gabriel, CA
    Can a mellophone be used as a lead instrument? ABSOLUTELY!

    When I have arranged for marching band, I have occasionally scored mellophones as the lead instrument. Admittedly, I would generally only use mellos as the lead for a short period of time. But they definitely provide a nice contrast of timbre in the melody.

    (As an aside, one of my favorite arranging "tricks" is to score a short snippet of melody as a unison between the mellos and 2nd trumpets, with the 1st trumpets tacit. This is quite effective when the melody line is near the bottom of the trumpet staff. The trumpets obviously don't project well in that register, however the mellos will help fill out the sound and give it a warmer feel than just trumpets by themselves.)

    As you can see from some of the other posts, what exactly constitutes a "mellophone" is not clearly defined. They come in different shapes and sizes. And while they are primarily pitched in F, you might also find some pitched in Eb. The bottom line is that while mellophones are generally thought of as a supporting voice, they definitely have a unique sound as a lead voice.
  10. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    hi chet fan,
    Any instrument can be a lead instrument. Probably the most important thing is the fit. You wouldn't put Eddie Van Halen with a violin wait..that might sound pretty good!
    Let me just say if a bassoon can do it, a tuba can do it(check out Tuba U which is a video basically about Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble) then a mellophone can do it. Just be sure YOU can do it.

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