using the 4th valve

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Catherine81, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. Catherine81

    Catherine81 New Member


    I have a Olds 4 valve flugel and am unsure on how to use the 4th valve. I know I can play bottom Ds with 4th and Db with 2nd and 4th, but that is my lot. Any pointers would be appreciated

    Many thanks
  2. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Well, at the end of the day, that's pretty much all the 4th valve is there for, (at least on a Flugel in the context of a brass band) ie to improve tuning on those two notes. Beyond that, it is possible to use the 4th valve to produce notes below the "official" bottom range of the flugel, for example, play bottom G on 4th, F# on 4+2, F natural on 4+1, E on 4+1+2 (or 4+3), and so on chromatically. Bear in mind that because the Flugel is a non-compensating design, the intonation will get progressively harder the lower you go. (Mind you, this hasn't stopped Sergei Nakariakov recording several pieces using this extreme low register of the flugel successfully ... )

    On top of that, the 4th valve will offer you the option to make some trills easier than they would be on a 3-valve instrument. To offer a comprehensive guide to these options would take far too long however. So long as you understand that a) the 4th valve is equivalent in length to the 1st + 3rd valves combined, and b) you have an understanding of the way in which the conventional 3-valve combinations add tubing to drop the pitch of the harmonic series chromatically, then you should be able to work it out ...
  3. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Over and above what Gareth said, a further option open to you away from the brass band is to depress the 4th valve with the left hand, which will effectively turn the pitch of the instrument into F. You could then play french horn parts without the need to transpose.

    *The above comment should smoke a couple of purists out ;)...
  4. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Purists aside, I shudder to imagine what that would do to the intonation in general ...
  5. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    You've got a point, plus with me plying my trade in lower brass, it's only a theory and may not work at all in practice. With lower non compensating instruments, you'd normally need to extend the fingering by one in the lower register. For instance, on a compensating euph, you'd play low F on 1 + 4. On a non-compensating you'd play the low F on 1,2 + 4 instead. Would I be right in thinking that a 4 valve flugel would act in a similar way?
  6. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    On non compensating BBb's you can play F on 1 + 4, but anything below that is usually about a semitone sharp, which means that without an incredibly good bit of lipping down of the note low Db/C# is unobtainable in the purest sense. I would imagine that the compensation on a smaller instrument could be less than a semitone, which would definitely require the player to lip down, rather than play a semitone out.

    Of course I might be talking complete and utter rubbish, and it may be exactly the same as the BBb!
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  8. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    I'm guessing the instrument is a non-compensator, what with the amount of weight and tubing a compensating system would add to a flugel. Also, the Courtois 156R which Nakariakov is playing in brassneck's youtube link up there shows no sign of a compensating system.

    This being the case I'd expect it would respond very differently to a fourth valve on a tuba, for example. Though non-compensated 4-valve tubas do exist, mostly the ones you'll encounter in a brass band are compensated, with the compensating system only cutting in when the fourth valve is used in combination with any of the other three. In short, a 2+4 C# on a compensated tuba is generally noticeably better for tuning than a 1+2+3 C#.

    Since the Flugel appears to have no compensating system the change in tuning behaviour is lost, so your 2+4 will be pretty well exactly the same as your 1+2+3 - though my guess is it's have a slightly longer slide, probably the same length as 1+3 with both triggers out on a 2-trigger model. If so it'll improve the tuning somewhat on low register notes, but lips and triggers als do that - so the purpose of the fourth valve can only really be to extend the range into the register between natural harmonics and pedal tones. Again though, because the instrument is non-compensated you're likely to find this register rather sharp even if the fourth valve is slightly flatter than 1+3.

    How much use that application would be in an everyday context I don't know. Clearly Nakariakov found one, but how often does one play a cello concerto on flugelhorn? I don't wish to sound disparaging, but for me it sounds similar to the four-valve baritone. An exercise in trying to fix something that ain't really broke.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  9. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Well ... yes, but ... no, but ...

    Thing is, not all flugels (not even some high-end models) have triggers anyway, and the 4-valve versions certainly don't, so, as you correctly surmise, the 4th valve is designed to be an "in-tune" version of 1+3, ie. a longer tube length than the sum of the 1st & 3rd valve tubes. Because there is no compensating system, that means that C#/Db is a compromise anyway, because the 2nd valve tube isn't long enough when added to the 4th to bring the C# down far enough, so, yes the lips come into play. In general, because the bore is wider and the bell is larger, a Flugel is usually easier to "bend" into tune than a cornet or trumpet anway.

    Long and short of it, your conclusion that "the purpose of the fourth valve can only really be to extend the range ... " isn't really supported. One, because the fact that the instrument is non-compensating means that the extra range isn't really useable (unless your name is Nakariakov), and two, because in fact the purpose of the fourth valve really is to replace a 3rd-valve trigger.

    Certainly supported by the fact that I only know of one colleague who actually uses a 4-valve flugel (a Getzen "Eterna"), and he says that all he uses it for is the low D/Db and bottom G/Gb

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