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French Horns

The French Horn is an instrument in the brass family. It is also known simply as a "horn." It has a flared bell with tubing that has been coiled, and sound is produced by blowing into a mouthpiece.

When were French horns invented?

In the 17th century, the bell ends of horns became bigger and more flared, and thus, the British-dubbed brass French horn was born. In 1814, Heinrich Stoelzel invented a valve to create what is considered the first French horn. Friedrich Blühmel, a miner with an interest in music, is also associated with the valve's invention. The double French horn was invented in the late 1800s.

What’s there to know about French horns?

  • Historically, these brass instruments were regularly used during royal hunting trips. Over time, due to the horn's mellow and rich tones, the double French horn came to be commonly found in orchestras and bands.
  • New players generally start learning on single French horns with the standard mouthpiece and stay on this horn for one to two years. Both students and professionals often use double French horns. Advanced players can also play the rare triple horn.
  • Caring for these instruments is relatively easy. Regular maintenance consists of oiling the valves and greasing the slides as needed.

What are the different types of horns?

  • Single French horn: This instrument has a full F horn. There is one layer of tubing on this instrument that corresponds to three keys and the three valve caps.
  • Double French horn: The double French horn features full horns in F and in B flat, and the player uses a thumb lever on the instrument to switch between the two.
  • Triple French horn: This instrument has five valves and is tuned in F, B flat, and F-alto.

How are French horns played?

Hold the horn properly at a 45-degree angle while sitting up straight. The right hand is placed inside the bell. Having the hand there supports the weight of the horn, and it can also affect certain note pitches. The left hand is then used to play the keys. With a relaxed mouth but pressed lips, blow air quickly into the mouthpiece of the horn in order to produce music.

What materials are used to make French horns?

French horns are most commonly made with yellow brass, which contains 70% copper and 30% zinc. Horns are less frequently made with red or gold brass, which has a higher percentage of copper than yellow brass. The least commonly used material is nickel; nickel contains 65% copper, 20% nickel, and 15% zinc.

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