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Saturday, 25 July 2015

Horn (instrument)

Although there are several different bell-shaped brass instruments, from trumpets to tubas, it’s the French horn that people are talking about when they mention “the horn.”

Horn musical instruments began to emerge in the Bronze Age (c. 2300-1000 BC). The first ones were shell horns fashioned from sea shells and ox horns, which were natural ox horns with bronze fittings on the ends.

The first written records of horn music were hunting-horn signals, which date back to the fourteenth century. The early brass instruments used in hunting were round so that the hunter could put his arm through it and carry it on his shoulder and blow it while riding a horse. The riders could send messages to one another by blowing particular notes.

In the 17th century the modern orchestra was developing. Orchestras played for operas and there was often a hunting scene in the story. Hunters were asked to come and play their horns in the orchestra for these scenes. This is how the horn became an orchestral instrument.

The French horn made its first known debut in the comedy-ballet La Princesse d’Elide in Paris in 1664.

The horn officially did not officially enter the Imperial court orchestra in Vienna until 1712, but from there it was quickly adopted into Neapolitan opera, the most fashionable in Europe at the time. One of the first Neapolitan works to use horns was Alessandro Scarlatti's serenata Il genio austriaco: Il Sole, Flora, Zefiro, Partenope e Sebeto, performed August 28, 1713 as part of the celebrations for the birthday of Empress Elizabeth Christina.

Vienna horn. CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia Commons

By the 1830s the modern horn with three valves had been invented. These valves changed the length of the tube, so that the horn had now become chromatic i.e. it could play all the notes including sharps and flats.

When uncoiled, the French horn is 12 to 13 feet long.

Here is a list of pop songs that feature a horn section.

Source Oxford Music Online

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