While the untrained eye may sometimes mistake the flugelhorn for a trumpet or cornet, the only thing that this unassuming descendant of the bugle family shares with those instruments (apart from its general look) is the same B-flat pitch. Originally developed as a military signal horn, the flugelhorn has survived to color the modern music scene with rich sound that can be heard in several different styles of music. When compared to a trumpet, the flugelhorn's bell is wider, with a more pronounced cone. Acoustically, this translates into a fuller and mellower sound that lacks some of a trumpet's sharpness. As a result, the flugelhorn is well suited to a more relaxed role in a brass band. In popular music, its laid-back and smooth nature has made the flugelhorn a favorite of jazz musicians. This instrument entered the jazz scene as far back as the 1930s and has been played by countless musicians over the decades. From there, the flugelhorn found its way into other genres, most notably being played by Paul McCartney in several songs for the Beatles as well as in his solo career. A standard flugelhorn, like many of its brass cousins, has three piston valves. If you're new to the flugelhorn and have already played trumpet or cornet, this layout will make the transition fairly easy. For the experienced or adventurous player, you can expand your range by opting for a horn with four valves. In this design, the fourth valve works to lower the pitch, bringing more notes into its repertoire. There are many flugelhorns to choose from, so it's worth your while to make a careful decision. Any of these horns will sound at home in the instrument's usual places, which for you may be anywhere from a marching band to a jazz club to a recording studio.