New Instruments For Scout House

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Almost 60 years after introducing French horns to the horn line in the mid-1950s, Preston Scout House Alumni Band will introduce mellophones to its brass section in 2012. The mellophones will add a new voice to the upper register, which will still include first and second French horn parts in music scores.

Many drum and bugle corps began switching from French horns to mellophones as the middle range voice in the brass line in the 1960s. Scout House continued throughout its history to use French horns as a way of reinforcing the distinct sound of its B-flat instruments.

Scout House has made arrangements to purchase mellophones from Madison Scouts. The horns will go into instrument cases immediately following Madison’s performance in the Drum Corps International (DCI) final competition in August, for shipment to Scout House in Cambridge, Ontario so they will be available when new music sessions begin in September. Scout House winds up its summer season with its annual appearance in the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) Alumni Spectacular in Rochester, NY on Sunday, September 4.

The purchase of horns from Madison continues a relationship that extends back to the 1950s, when the two corps competed against each frequently on Scout House tours of the Upper Midwest. When Madison Scouts defeated Scout House for the first time in 1958, ending the Band’s 10-year undefeated streak in its class, Scout House members broke ranks on the field to shake hands and congratulate Madison, then returned to band formation for the remainder of the retreat ceremony.

The French horn is the second highest sounding instrument group in the brass family, pitched an octave below trumpets. The mouthpiece is funnel shaped, different than the cup shaped mouthpieces for other brass instruments. The cone shaped bore of the French horn, in contrast to the cylindrical bore of the trumpet, produces a characteristic mellow tone. French horns evolved from early hunting horns, which consisted of brass tubes wound in a circle with a slightly flared bell opening. The horns were often used to call hounds on a hunt because the sound carried much further than the human voice.

When valves were invented, smaller horns with piston valves were produced in France and larger horns with rotary valves were produced in Germany. It is actually the German-style horn that is commonly referred to in North America as the French horn.

Mellophones, sometimes called marching mellophoniums, have a sound similar to French horns and become the upper voice in the middle section of the horn line, in the same register as the trumpet. Mellophones are usually constructed with a smaller bore than French horns, allowing for louder volume. The combined voicing of mellophones and French horns greatly extends the range of the brass mid-section.

The mellophone is usually played with a mouthpiece similar to a cornet, producing a sound that is bright and brassy, but less mellow than the French horn.

The introduction of new instruments is part of a major Scout House recruiting drive to take place over the next year and a half, leading up to the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Band in 1938. Anyone interested in playing mellophone or any other instrument, marching in the colour guard or helping to provide support services should check for more information at the Website, at: or email Band president Bruce Witmer at: wwitmer [at] rogers [dot] com wwitmer [at] rogers [dot] com

Posted by on Friday, July 22nd, 2011. Filed under Current News, DCA News, FrontPage Feature.