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French (German double) horn
(Valved aerophone sounded by lip movement)
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The French horn (since the 1930s known simply as the "horn" in some professional music circles) is a
Pitch is controlled through the combination of the following factors: speed of air through the instrument (controlled by the player's lungs and
Three valves control the flow of air in the single horn, which is tuned to F or less commonly B♭. The more common double horn has a fourth, trigger valve, usually operated by the thumb, which routes the air to one set of tubing tuned to F or another tuned to B♭ which expands the horn range to over four
French horns are notoriously difficult to play at very low tones (called "
A crucial element in playing the horn deals with the mouthpiece. Most of the time, the mouthpiece is placed in the exact center of the lips, but, because of differences in the formation of the lips and teeth of different players, some tend to play with the mouthpiece slightly off center. Although the exact side-to-side placement of the mouthpiece varies for most horn players, the up-and-down placement of the mouthpiece is generally two-thirds on the upper lip and one-third on the lower lip. When playing higher notes, the majority of players exert a small degree of additional pressure on the lips using the mouthpiece. However, this is undesirable from the perspective of both endurance and tone: excessive mouthpiece pressure makes the horn sound forced and harsh, and decreases player's stamina due to the resulting constricted flow of blood to the lips and lip muscles.
The name "French horn" is found only in English, first coming into use in the late 17th century. At that time, French makers were preeminent in the manufacture of hunting horns, and were credited with creating the now-familiar, circular "hoop" shape of the instrument. As a result, these instruments were often called, even in English, by their French names: trompe de chasse or cor de chasse (the clear modern distinction between trompes, trumpets, and cors, horns, did not exist at that time). German makers first devised crooks to make such horns playable in different keys—so musicians came to use "French" and "German" to distinguish the simple hunting horn from the newer horn with crooks, which in England was also called by the Italian name corno cromatico (chromatic horn). More recently, "French horn" is often used colloquially, though the adjective has normally been avoided when referring to the European orchestral horn, ever since the German horn began replacing the French-style instrument in British orchestras around 1930. The
There is also a more specific use of "French horn" to describe a particular horn type, differentiated from the