What is a French Horn?

What is a French Horn?

Brent Phillips

Most non-musicians have no idea what a French horn is. Most people think it is hollow pipes going in circles to produce a sound or tone. What kind of tone: mellow, loud, or muted? We will explore what the French horn is.

Requirements of the French Horn Player.

The demands on a French horn player takes certain physical stamina, and a musical knowledge of composers who have written specifically for any French horn score.

The two most important requirements are:

 The Embouchure. Most important is having the right lips in forming vibrations to produce a tonal quality. A degree between the smiling and whistling is most important for the lips, but most important is placement between lower and upper lips. 

Correct breathing. The speed of the air column through the lip opening while vibrating, controls volume, on the other hand your embouchure controls the pitch. Without correct breathing techniques, horn playing becomes an exercise, not a discipline.

      Components of a French Horn Player.

      The mouthpiece.  The wider the inside of the diameter, the low notes flow. A more rounded bottom end of the mouthpiece makes for high notes, but chokes tone and volume. A straight-sided cup for the French horn player has more style so stick to only one because; a embouchure and constant practice makes the player. 

      Kind of instrument. Their are two types of French horns, the F horn and B flat. When combined, the player favors the double horn, where fingering and tuning is switched between them.

      Playing position. Always sit when practicing, certainly breathing is easier when standing, but most concert performances require sitting in place the horn to the right side. Holding the horn produces a bright tone, while leaning it on the thigh, a more dark, covered tone.

      Use of right hand. The most dominant feature of the right hand is the veiled muted sound usage. Closing the bell flattens the pitch, and opening it sharpens it also. The traditional player can make a test to use correctly, by playing a hand scale with the hand position.

       The French horn is the reflection of the person playing it. Anybody can play and read sheet music, but can they transpose and hear each note when played or mute the horn with their right hand and get the right notes. 

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