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Flugelhorn Oiram

aerophone

The flugelhorn is a brass instrument with a wide conical bore. It belongs to the family of "labrosones" or lip-vibrated aerophones.  It is played with a mouthpiece on which the musician vibrates his lips to make the air column vibrate.  A flugelhorn has three piston valves.  It is part of the basic equipment of a trumpeter, although some musicians specialise in playing it.  The flugelhorn plays a key role in British-style brass bands and, even more, in continental fanfare orchestras.  Its warm tones and lyrical qualities are often highlighted in jazz, although it can also sound agile and talkative if desired.

The immediate ancestor of the flugelhorn is the bugle. It has no keys or valves and can therefore only produce a limited range of notes.  In order to make the bugle entirely chromatic and to be able to play all the notes of the scale, tone holes with keys were added in 1810.  The keyed bugle, as it was then called, rapidly took hold and remained popular for about twenty years.  But the flugelhorn then obtained its present form with the introduction of piston valves. Adolphe Sax further transformed the instrument, in about 1843, into the B flat soprano saxhorn with a vertical bell.  By the end of the nineteenth century the flugelhorn finally stabilized, and the form with a forward-facing bell like the trumpet was preferred.  In the course of the twentieth century further minor variations appeared.

One of the most recent (2005) evolutions in the design of the flugelhorn results from the collaboration between a Belgian architect, Mario Garzaniti, and a Dutch instrument maker, Hub van Laar.  The Liege architect Mario Garzaniti is known in Brussels for his resolutely modern building on Place Liedts, with its striking façade in Corten steel.  The architect, himself an amateur flugelhorn player, gave the flugelhorn a sleek new design, reviewing each part to remove unnecessary aesthetic details and to improve the ergonomics.  The air flow has become extremely fluid and the structural elements have been arranged in a new way, their positioning calculated in the same way as for the distribution of the load throughout the skeleton of a building. Thus, the body of the third valve is lengthened in order to place reinforcements at specific points.  Another special detail: the finger buttons fit perfectly into the top valve caps, the bottom and top caps are integrated into the body of the valve and the leadpipe screw takes the form of an industrial tap. Hub van Laar for his part managed the fabrication and the acoustic parameters relating to the bore of the instrument. 

This model is given the name "Oiram" (Mario backwards) and is available in several versions.  Some big names in jazz that currently play on the Oiram include Ibrahim Maalouf, Paolo Fresu, Arturo Sandoval, Stéphane Belmondo, Ack van Rooyen, Alex Tassel, Luca Aquino and, in Belgium, musicians such as Greg Houben, Olivier Bodson, etc. 

Géry Dumoulin

 

Media
Images: 
Flugelhorn in B flat, Oiram ‘Ack’ model, H. van Laar & M. Garzaniti, Margraten
Flugelhorn in B flat, Oiram ‘Ack’ model, H. van Laar & M. Garzaniti, Margraten
Flugelhorn in B flat, Oiram ‘Ack’ model, H. van Laar & M. Garzaniti, Margraten
Flugelhorn in B flat, Oiram ‘Ack’ model, H. van Laar & M. Garzaniti, Margraten
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