One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large spiral bass tuba played encircling the player's head and resting on the shoulder.
- ‘Many free black and slave musicians who fought in the Civil War became adept at using piston-valve instruments of conical bore, including tubas, helicons, and saxophones.’
- ‘It was from the helicon that Conn in the USA devised the sousaphone for the American bandmaster John Philip Sousa.’
- ‘Keeping the faith with the Balkan brass-band traditions, he leads his boys through romps of full-bodied funkiness, cemented by blasts on the tuba-like helicon.’
Late 19th century: from Latin, associated with helix.
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