The origins of the Horn
The modern horn
The allure of the horn
The horn is a mid-range brass instrument that has the widest tonal range of all brass instruments. The extremely rich, soft timbre gives it a special quality half-way between brass and woodwinds, and in harmonies, it blends well with the timbres of many other instruments. It is also one of the more expressive instruments, able to create a mysterious aura as well as a buoyant or violent mood. This cornucopia of timbres and variety of expression is the essence of the horn's allure. Being able to alter the tone and fine-tune the pitch by putting a hand in the bell is one of the more distinctive traits of the horn.
The horn family
The F single horn
This is the F single horn, or F horn. The basic pitch of the F horn has a unique, beautiful timbre.
The B♭ single horn
This is the B♭ single horn, or B♭horn. The pitch of the B♭horn is four steps higher than the F horn, and so this horn has a brighter, clarion tone. Horn music is written in the key of F, and so transposition is necessary when playing the B♭horn.
The F/B♭full-double horn
The F/B♭full-double horn, the most common and widely used horn today, can produce both F and B♭notes from a single instrument, and can produce both F and B♭ timbre.
F/B♭ semi-double horn
The F/B♭semi-double horn consists of a B♭tube and a supplementary F tube, and as a result it is lighter than the full-double horn.
The B♭- High F descant double horn
The B♭- High F descant double horn has the same structure as a full-double horn, but instead of a standard F tube, it has a half-length high-F tube that allows this instrument to perform in a higher tonal range.
The triple horn
The triple horn is really a full-double horn with a high-F tube for playing in the higher ranges, and though the overall tonal range is unchanged, it is more stable in the higher range. The B♭tube is the primary tube, with the player switching to the other tubes as necessary.