10 Different Types of Horns (Instrument)

types of horns

There are different types of horns available for musical lovers. The horn is an instrument that many people are familiar with but few are knowledgeable about.

The horn isn’t everyone’s favorite instrument, and it’s typically thought of as a dull, nearly kooky instrument.

One that is simple to play and does not necessitate a great deal of expertise or technique. It is thought to be more of a supporting instrument for the rest of the ensemble.

While there are more sophisticated instruments, the horn does not deserve to have such a bad image. The horn isn’t as simple as it appears.

Horns come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Shape, style, and, of course, sound all differ.

Horns come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. These instruments have been around for almost as long as music itself, and each culture appears to have its horn variation.

The sorts of horns described below are the most prevalent types of horns ones you’ll hear and see in today’s world.

1. Natural Horns

Bugles, posthorns, and hunting horns of various shapes are natural horns, valveless and keyless instruments. This is one of the different types of horns.

The predecessor of current symphonic and band horns is a hunting horn. With relatively long tubing bent into a single hoop (or sometimes a double hoop).

The player could change the key by adding crooks to adjust the length of tubing starting in the early 1800s. It’s essentially a hunting horn with airspeed, aperture (the opening of the lips through which air travels).

And the right hand in and out of the bell controlling the pitch. It is still performed as a period instrument today.

Furthermore, just one length of tubing is available to the natural horn performer. They can only play from one harmonic series at a time.

A skilled player can change the pitch by partially muting the bell with the right hand. Allowing them to achieve notes that aren’t part of the instrument’s natural harmonic series—of course, this approach impacts the tone quality.

2. FingerHole Horns

Fingerhole horns are among the world’s earliest wind instruments. Animal horns (such as cow horns) were modified with holes in the sides to allow the player to obtain a more comprehensive musical range in the early versions.

The cornett is an example of a more modern fingerhole horn. During the Renaissance and early baroque periods, this was one of the most popular wind instruments.

The cornett has a nice curvature and was traditionally made from two sections of wood that were fastened together and wrapped with leather.

The cornett and the brass cornet are not the same instruments despite their similar names.

3. Russian Horns

Prince Naryshkin, Master of the Hunt to Empress Elizabeth of Russia, had a set of sixteen meticulously tuned metal horns created in 1751 to ensure that his huntsmen could signal each other with a harmonious D-major chord.

He then had the brilliant idea of enlisting the help of a Bohemian horn player, J. A. Mare, who was serving with the Imperial court in St. Petersburg, to form a band out of these new horns.

Maresch had created a second set of thirty-two (or perhaps thirty-seven) horns, each capable of playing a single note from a C-major scale spanning multiple octaves—the instrument’s second harmonic. (The band’s size was later raised to sixty horns covering five octaves).

Furthermore, The horns were constructed of copper or brass, were straight or slightly curved, had a broad conical bore. And were played with a cupped trumpet-type mouthpiece.

The tuning was adjusted with a metal cap attached to the bell end. Each band member was taught to play their note in turn, similar to how a group of handbell ringers performs tunes by ringing their bells simultaneously. 

In addition, Some bands toured Europe and the British Isles, performing unique compositions and interpretations of classic concert repertory and Russian folk music.

They were praised for their achievements but chastised for “lowering man to a machine level.”. Workers’ bands in Eastern Germany improved these horns’ approach by adding the upper octave to each instrument’s note.

And using hand-stopping for the smaller horns adds one or two lower semitones.

4. Vienna Horn

The Vienna horn is primarily used in Vienna, Austria, and is the Vienna Philharmonic’s favored horn. This is one of the different types of horns.

These horns are close to natural in size and weight, and they commonly have funnel-shaped mouthpieces. A Vienna horn mouthpiece is likely to have a skinny rim and little (if any) backbore. Pumpenvalves are used by Vienna horns (also known as Vienna Valves).

Double-pistons are used on the inside of the valve slides in these valve types, and they are commonly orientated opposing the player’s left hand. A lengthy pushrod is used to operate pumps valves.

Additionally, Vienna horns are challenging to play, requiring precise methods that even skilled horn players have trouble mastering.

A player may generate several notes out of tune if they do not use precise motions. But the Vienna horn produces a pleasant, warm tone when played correctly. The valves allow players to glissando quickly between notes.

5. French Horns

One of the popular types of horns is the French horn, which differs from its German and Austrian counterparts in several ways.

The bore of the French horn is smaller than that of the German horn, but it is greater than that of the Vienna horn. Like the Vienna horn, it has piston valves (Périnet valves), whereas the German horn does not.

While double horn types exist, most real French horns are single horns with three valves to control airflow.

6. German Horns

The German horn, also known simply as the “horn,” is the most popular form of a symphonic horn. There is a double horn in the variant most commonly used by professional bands and orchestras.

A horn player is a musician who plays the German horn (or, less frequently, a hornist). Pitch is regulated by adjusting the lip tension in the mouthpiece and using the left hand to operate valves that direct the air into extra tubing.

A lever actuates the rotary valves on German horns. In contrast to the trumpet’s more piercing character, the bell’s backward-facing orientation indicates the need to provide a quieter sound in concert conditions.

7. Mellophone

While mellophone refers to a 12th-century instrument, the term “horn” nowadays usually refers to the horn used in marching bands, drum corps, and bugle corps.

The right-hand plays the piston valves on the marching mellophone, formed like a flugelhorn. These horns are designed to propel sound forward, making them ideal for the middle voice in marching circumstances. Furthermore, this is one of the types of horns.

The horn’s position also improves stability in the mouth, and these horns are lighter, and players can move around more freely without sacrificing sound quality.

Instead of a typical horn mouthpiece, they are commonly played with a v-cup voice like a cornet. While still operating within the range of a horn.

This allows the musician to generate a louder, less mellow, and more brassy sound. The marching mellophone differs from the marching horn in that it is tuned to B instead of F. Marching horns employ a horn mouthpiece as well.

Although they are more challenging to balance in a marching band with other brass instruments.

8. Marching Horn

In shape and appearance, the marching horn is similar to the mellophone, except it is pitched in the key of B (the same as the B side of a standard double horn).

It’s also available in the key of F alto (one octave above the F side of a regular double horn). A horn mouthpiece is also used to play the marching horn (unlike the mellophone. Which needs an adapter to fit the horn mouthpiece).

Because sound dissipation from the backward-facing bell is a concern in open-air conditions. These instruments are generally utilized in marching bands so that the sound originates from a forward-facing bell.

9. Saxhorns

A brass instrument with tapered bores, the saxhorn is a brass instrument with tapered bores. They were created by Adolphe Sax and, as a result, have many similarities to saxophones.

Saxhorns, for example, are pitched in E and B in 8 alternate sizes. They were initially developed for use in the army, and their use influenced the redesign of military and brass bands in the United States and Europe.

Furthermore, especially in more modern instruments, Saxhorns can grow so large that it’s impossible to tell them apart from tubas. In addition, Saxhorns make up the majority of tenor and baritone horns.

10. Wagner Tuba

The Wagner tuba is a rare brass instrument, simply a horn with a vertical bell and a larger bell throat. This is one of the types of horns. Despite its name, it is not commonly considered a tuba member.

It was initially composed for Richard Wagner’s masterpiece Der Ring des Nibelungen, but it has been adapted by several other composers, including Bruckner, Stravinsky, and Richard Strauss.

More recently, it has a horn mouthpiece and is available as a single tuba in B or F or as a double tuba, comparable to the double horn.

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