Fun Horn Facts
Which genre of music is least likely to have French Horns?
In what century were valves invented for the French horn?
- 19th. The valves were a welcome change. It sure made changing notes easier.
The early French horn, or "hunting horn" as it was called back then, had a specific purpose. What was it?
- Hunting. I really hope you got this one right. The answer was in the question. It was used to communicate with each other and was played while on the back of a horse.
What is the main difference between a single horn and a double horn?
- The single has 3 valves while the double has 4. The double horn has an extra valve called the "thumb valve" which makes lower notes and higher notes a little easier to reach. Another difference is that the single has 4 slides and the double has 9 (sometimes 10).
Some credit the mouthpiece with giving the French horn its distinctive mellow sound. What shape does the mouthpiece of a French horn have?
- A funnel. The French horn uses a deep, funnel-shaped mouthpiece. The shape of the mouthpiece also wreaks havoc on the player's lips as any French horn player knows.
How long is the single horn when it is uncoiled?
- 12 feet (4 meters). Incredible isn't it? And the French horn is not alone when it comes to the long length of its tubing. The Tuba is 16 feet long.
- BUT, the double horn is 18' feet long uncoiled!!!
What is one thing that separates the French horn from other popular brass instruments?
- It's the only one that's played left-handed. It is also the only one that has the bell pointing backwards.
- You can also get French horns altered for right-handed playing.
What is the name of a particular French horn that is used commonly in marching bands?
- Mellophone. The Mellophone resembles a Trumpet but with more tubing. It is much easier to play while moving than a standard French horn and requires the person playing to play with their right hand.
What is an invention that made the French horn easier to carry?
- The screw bell. The screw bell does exactly what its name suggests, it can become detached from the rest of the horn. It comes in handy because the French horn case has a bulge in it for the bell. Which makes the case a bit unwieldy. But, if you take the bell off, the case can become much more slim and easier to carry.
Suppose that the French horn were in a choir. What vocal sections would it cover?
- Tenor, Alto, and Baritone. Cool, isn't it? That shows how versatile the French horn is.
There are a lot of fun facts about the French Horn, but here are a few:
- The French Horn is obviously a member of the Brass family of instruments: constructed of brass (or at least metal) tubing, sounded by a brass-style (lip-reed) mouthpiece. And yet, while it sits easily in the Brass Quintet and other Brass ensembles, it is also considered irreplaceable in the Woodwind Quintet!
- The French Horn sits easily in the lap of its player, and can be lifted and carried with ease. However, the tubing, if stretched straight, would be about (and I do mean about!) 18' long. The 'double horn', which has two sets of valves and an additional valve which chooses between the sets, will be even longer.
- The French Horn is one of a small group of instruments which have changed little from their roots in the Renaissance. The natural horn is roughly the same length, has approximately the same bore size (although thicker walls) and pretty much the same bell diameter as the modern single Horn, and a good player can play most Baroque and Renaissance music that would have been played on a natural horn without touching his valves! The natural horn used "crooks" to change the key it played in: each crook was a turn of tubing which added just enough length to the over all horn to change the key properly. It was inserted between the mouthpiece and the horn. The valves of the modern horn do exactly the same thing, except that the tubing is 'switched' in by valves and are located more near the center of the horn's tube.
- French Horn players are known for having a bizarre sense of humor, although this may be stereotyping. It is generally felt that the Horn is so hard to play, that no one who lacks a bizarre sense of humor would stick with it.
- The Horn player puts his hand into the bell of the horn to play it. This is both utilitarian (since it allows the player to modify the tone and perhaps even the pitch as they play) and a holdover from the Natural Horn. By pressing their hand into the bell, the horn player could raise the pitch of the instrument by a half-tone, filling in the gaps between diatonic notes in the harmonic series.
There are 43 facial muscles. Horn players use nearly all of them to form a proper embouchure!
- Here's one last one, at least for now: In the orchestra, the Horn section is divided into "high horns" and "low horns". Although the best players can play the entire range of the instrument with the same facility and beauty of tone, there was a time a century or two ago when horn players specialized in playing high or low.