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Horns

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RichZA
743951.  Thu Sep 16, 2010 7:06 pm Reply with quote

I'm fairly surprised this topic hasn't come up on the QI forums, there can be said to be alot of of quite interesting information about the history of the Horn/French Horn and how it came to be. Being a 22 year old Hornist at the University of Cape Town, I thought I could share some interesting points.

As is pretty common knowledge, the horn originated from hunting horns.

The first instruments they made are in this day and age known as "hand horns", and was the way of playing horn for hundreds of years, and was first seen in the 1600's in opera.

They were also monotone instruments (ie. could only play in 1 key). With the invention of Crooks in 1753 by a German musician called Hampel , hornists could now change key without changing horns, by putting different shaped and lengthed "Crooks" into the mouthpiece end,thus shortening or lengthening the acoustic length of the instrument so that it was in a different key.



Shorty after in about 1760, they found that by putting your hand into the bell of the horn, you could flattern or sharpen a note, and subsequently was named "Stopping". This suddenly changed the horn into a chromatic instrument, using a combination of hand stopping and the overtone series upon which the horn is built.

For example, from our(Horn's) middle C, we can play the notes C, E, G, Bb, C, from which, using stopping, we can flattern or sharpen into an entire C major scale.

Too this day hornists find it extremely difficult to play on hand horn, and there are only a few hand horn specialists in the world.

The "French Horns" we see today are not actually French, but rather of German origin and design, and should actually be called a "German Horn", not a French.



The German Horn has a wider bore than the French Model, and it wasn't until the Berlin Philharmonic toured Europe in the 1920's that people switched over because of the rich,dark sound the German horn players were producing.

The rotary valves used today basically combine different crooks, and in essence the double horn contains both an F horn and a Bb horn.

However, it is still necessary for Horn players to keep their hands in their bells. This is actually for tuning, as the acoustic length of the horn is +/- 152 inches, while the length is +/- 148 inches (obviously it differs between different brands). The hand is thus used to "shorten" the sound, as you would find the same tone to be played without a hand in the bell to be very sharp, thus "shortening" or "flatterning" the sound into tune.

Feel free to point out any errors, I am always eager to learn. Hope its been Quite Interesting :)

Regards,
Rich

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horn_%28instrument%29
http://inventors.about.com/od/fstartinventions/a/French_Horn.htm

 
suze
743953.  Thu Sep 16, 2010 7:20 pm Reply with quote

RichZA wrote:
The "French Horns" we see today are not actually French, but rather of German origin and design, and should actually be called a "German Horn", not a French.


Whereas the cor anglais or English horn is actually a Polish oboe.

 
Sadurian Mike
744063.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:43 am Reply with quote

I forsee plenty of innuendo around the corner in this thread.

 
Bondee
744145.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:29 am Reply with quote

RichZA wrote:
I'm fairly surprised this topic hasn't come up on the QI forums


Horn... Come up...

Huh, huh, huh.

 
Jenny
744186.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:48 pm Reply with quote

Thank you Rich, welcome to QI and please ignore the innuendo above...

One of my sons had a couple of years' lessons on the French Horn, but I don't remember him using the hand stopping thing. Is that because he was a beginner (and never got much beyond Grade 1)?

 
RichZA
753770.  Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:50 pm Reply with quote

Yes Jenny, thanks for showing an interest. Although from the start you are tought to have your hand in a certain position in the bell, the stopping only comes much later in terms of playing and the skills required.

As far as I am aware the only players proficient enough to actually perform works on the hand horn nowadays at least have a Masters in Music. As for stopping, Its use only starts to pop up around the late classical, early romantic period, where sound effects started to play an important part in music.


PS. On a side note, very interesting initiative by Youtube, http://www.youtube.com/symphony

 
Zebra57
753777.  Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:06 pm Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
I forsee plenty of innuendo around the corner in this thread.


Do you mean Japanese enimas?

 
Spud McLaren
753785.  Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:28 pm Reply with quote

When I played brass, I never tried French horn (stop sniggering, Mike). I was fascinated as to how a relatively low note could be obtained through such a small mouthpiece.

 

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