The horn, commonly known as the French horn, is a brass instrument made of about 12–13 feet (3.7–4.0 m) of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. A musician who plays the horn is called a horn player (or less frequently, a hornist). In informal use, "horn" can refer to nearly any wind instrument with a flared exit for the sound.
French horn players can tell you... it's all about consistency. And that's not an easy thing to develop. The best horn players have not only beautiful tone but can produce their musical brilliance on a consistent basis.
Orchestral instruments don’t come more treacherous than the French horn, either for the musicians who play it, or, when the going gets rough, for the listeners who find themselves within earshot. Sometimes you wonder how the instrument found its way from the hunting lodge to the orchestra.
A classical orchestra usually contained two horns. Typically, the 1st horn played a high part and the 2nd horn played a low part. Composers from Beethoven onwards commonly wrote for four horns. Chamber music also uses the French Horn including woodwind quintets and horn trios due to its warm tone and extensive range.
The modern F horn has 3 valves, circular coils of narrow tubing flaring at the one end to a wide bell, and a funnel-shaped mouthpiece that accounts for the horn's soft, mellow tone. The double horn in F and Bb, introduced about 1900, is rapidly superseding the F horn. Equipped with an extra valve to switch to the Bb tubing, it offers certain technical advantages. Most modern orchestras include four horns.
The French horn was fully accepted by 1750. The trombone was used in church music even before the 17th cent. and occasionally in opera thereafter; it did not become a regular member of the symphony orchestra until after 1800.
The Orchestral horn, or French Horn, was developed about 1650 in France and is a large version of the smaller crescent-shaped horns that had been redesigned with circularly coiled tubing. The French hunting horn, which entered the orchestra in the early 1700s, produced about 12 tones of the natural harmonic series. The horn gained greater flexibility about 1750 with the invention of the technique called hand-stopping. Hand-stopping involves placing a hand in the bell of the horn to alter the pitch of the natural notes by as much as a whole tone.
THE HORN BEGAN LIFE as a long, fairly thin piece of tubing with a mouthpiece at one end down which air was blown by the player, and a bell at the other end. The only notes it could play were ones that were part of the harmonic series derived from the bass fundamental (lowest note).
The French Horn is the second highest sounding instrument in the brass family consisting of about 12 feet of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. It also uses a cupped mouthpiece shaped in a way that allows the player’s lips to vibrate to generate the instrument’s sound.
Descended from the natural horn, the instrument is often informally known as the French horn. However, this is technically incorrect since the instrument is not French in origin, but German. Therefore, the International Horn Society has recommended since 1971 that the instrument be simply called the horn. French horn is still the most commonly used name for the instrument in the United States.
Horns are often used for long tones in the middle register of the orchestral pitch spectrum. Frequently these long tones will sweep into the music in a portentous or solemn manner. Other times, solo horns are used to create gentle or rapturous melodies.
Horns are perfect for holding long, sustained notes discretely in the background above which melodies can float, around which accompaniments weave and beneath which bass lines wander. This use of the horn is one of the key orchestral techniques that composers learn early on.