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> INSTRUMENTOLOGY > BRASS > Horn in F > Brief Description

Brief description

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Viennese horn
German: Wiener Horn in F
French: Cor Viennois
Italian: Corno di Vienna


The tubing of the Viennese horn is 55% conical and narrower than the most commonly used double horn in F/Bb. The so-called F crook is not a fixed part of the Viennese horn but is detachable. Other tunings are used especially for natural horn parts.

The three valves are Viennese valves (twin-piston valves) and are operated by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers of the left hand. In contrast to the Vienna horn the double horn in F/Bb has rotary valves with an optional additional stopping valve. The higher pitch that results from stopping on the Viennese horn is not compensated for by a stopping valve but by playing the note a half tone lower.

By placing his hand in the bell the player can make very subtle adjustments to the intonation. This intonation check, called stopping, is also what produces the typically soft and romantic sound of the French horn. Intonation can also be controlled by means of the embouchure (altering lip tension).

Vienna valve

The Vienna valve is a double-piston valve that was developed in 1830 by the Viennese Leopold Uhlmann in emulation of the first piston valve that was patented in 1818 by Blühmel and Stölzel. Nowadays the Viennese Horn is the sole instrument built with Viennese valves. It is used only in a few European orchestras, principally in Vienna itself by the Vienna Philharmonic among others.

Rotary valve

This valve was developed in Vienna by Joseph Riedl in 1835 and is now the most commonly used valve on brass instruments along with the Périnet or piston valve.

Stopping valve

An additional valve on the valve horn which lowers the instrument’s pitch by about a half tone. It is used to compensate for the rise in pitch caused by stopping.

Stopping

1. A playing technique on the natural horn from the middle of the 18th century. The horn player reduced the tube’s width by putting his right hand into the bell, which faced downward. The lowering of the horn’s pitch that this technique produced made it possible to play those intermediate notes of the natural harmonics series which had hitherto been missing. Stopping gave the horn a certain chromaticism. The stopped notes sounded weaker and muffled, however, and were therefore really only useful as transitional notes and not suitable for inclusion in melody lines. The use of stopping for the purposes of chromatization was rendered obsolete by the invention of valves.

2. An integral part of modern valve horn playing technique which should not be confused with stopping on the natural horn: the horn player inserts his right hand into the ball, the back of the hand lying against the tube. The air flows over the palm and out of the bell. By moving his wrist up and down the horn player alters the tube width very subtly, thus making very fine adjustments to the instrument’s intonation. It also plays a very important role in giving the valve horn its typical sound.

3. Total stopping: A modern playing technique on the valve horn. The bell is filled completely by the right fist, which is often wrapped in a cloth. This has the effect of projecting the sound not through the bell but through the closed and vibrating tube. Stopping raises the instrument’s pitch by about a half tone, which is compensated for by the stopping valve.

Classification
Aerophone, brass wind instrument

Material
Brass, gold brass, nickel silver

Mouthpiece
Funnel-shaped mouthpiece

Tubing
Length 3.7 m, coiled several times, predominantly conical, detachable F crook, length 105–120 cm

Bore
Narrow, inner diameter in cylindrical tubing approx. 10.8 mm

Valves
Three Vienna valves

Bell
Rim diameter 30.5 cm, widely flared and parabolically curved