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French Horns

The french horn, often referred to as a horn, is part of the brass instrument family. It is used in a number of different genres of music including orchestral, big band and jazz.

This instrument is designed in a coil shape with a flared bell, and is often tuned to F and sometimes B♭. There are many variations of the French Horn, including a range of valves.

After the cornet and the trumpet, the horn is the third highest pitched instrument in the brass family. It can be played by musicians from all abilities from school children to professionals. 

The mouthpiece of this instrument is described as different from other brass instruments, with the ability to range across four octaves.

Notable French Horn players include:

  • Vincent DeRosa – played for Hollywood composers
  • Dennis Brain – former principal horn for the Royal Philharmonic
  •  John Cerminaro – former principal horn for the Seattle Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Ewan McGregor – actor
  • Jon Stewart – TV presenter
  • John Entwistle – The Who bassist and vocalist

Varieties of French Horn

Single Horn

  • Simple and lightweight
  • Ideal for beginners

Double Horn

  • Added fourth valve
  • Switch from low tones to high easily

Triple Horn

  • New design
  • Incorporates F, B♭ and a descant horn
  • Becoming more advanced and popular
  • Professional quality

Detachable Bell

Due to the shape of the instrument, some french horn bells can be detached, making it easier to travel with the instrument. This also provides the flexibility of using different bells on the same French Horn.

Music Styles

The French Horn can be played in a variety of musical genres, with the most common being orchestral and concert bands. 

Composers have used the instrument to create sounds from romantic, quiet melodies to strong and dominant fanfares.

Jazz is a genre that the horn is rarely featured in, but still plays a part in pieces by jazz composers.

There are many accessories available to buy for french horns, including:

  • Hard cases
  • Soft cases for comfort
  • Stands
  • Mutes
  • Mouthpieces
  • Valve oil 
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