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Brass French horn

C_Claudemonster

Formerly saxgirl22
Messages
399
Location
England, UK
Hi all, Obviously I'm a sax player. Today I agreed to a purchase a French horn! Does anyone on here play one and can any advice be offered?
I gather they aren't the easiest blighter's to try and play!
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Location
Just north of Munich
If you search the forum there are quite a few threads on brass instruments, but I can't remember one on the french horn. Lovely sounding instrument. But tricky, I believe.
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
Location
Twickenham
Hi Saxgirl,

You're setting yourself up for some work! I grew up listening to my brother practising the french horn. It's a very, very demanding instrument. You know how they say that all instruments are difficult to play well? The horn is one of those instruments that is easy to play very badly too - like the violin, I guess.

I'm a few months into learning the bass trombone and my progress with it has been reasonable - but I tried to play my brother's double horn the other day, and the mouthpiece is terrifyingly small compared to a trombone, and I made a very unrewarding sound on it. I would never dream of trying to double on horn - I'm in my early 40s now and I don't have enough time left to make it sound any good.;} Anyway. I'm mainly a jazzer and with the notable exception of Julius Watkins it is a pretty useless jazz instrument. Very straight-laced sound, amazing in Mahler symphonies, clunky and out-of-place in "vernacular" music.
 

dooce

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,431
Location
Daventry
it is a pretty useless jazz instrument. Very straight-laced sound, amazing in Mahler symphonies, clunky and out-of-place in "vernacular" music.

Maybe not jazz, but get yourself along to the Thursday jam night at The Earl Clarendon in Leamington Spa - a bloke regularly turns up there with a French Horn with which he grooves to da funk (as they say) very effectively, and pretty good it sounds too.
 

C_Claudemonster

Formerly saxgirl22
Messages
399
Location
England, UK
hi all, many thanks! Luckily for me I can play the violin to an ok standard. I got my grade 8 distinction on it 10+ years ago so if the violin is anything to compare it with for learning then I'm ready to set myself a challenge! I listened on youtube to some clips and played well it is just amazing :)
Thanks for thoughts. I'll keep you posted how I get on, if I'm cr*p it could end up on the yard sale hahahaha
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
From watching French Horn players in orchestras, they position the MP two thirds on the top lip, unlike Trumpet, normally two thirds on the bottom lip.
 

MLoosemore

Deluded Senior Member...
Messages
759
Location
Spalding Lincs
Good luck Saxgirl... I worked with a girl who played Oboe and was married to a horn player in the Peterborough City Orchestra. Her opinion was that the horn was a nightmare so if you master it you are a star.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,420
Location
Coulsdon, London/Surrey
Indeed, different embouchure to trumpet. Difficult to get a clean attack to a note, tuning issues and you've got your hand stuck in the bell as well. Don't like the tone, even in classical music. Tried one at school many (many) years ago when learning trumpet and glad I didn't change.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
I had one and played it for about 20 months - did not continue as did not like the repertoire or having a classical teacher - not enough motivation. If I only knew this was possible at the time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM5g6IULCXs

Since seeing one being played in the group Beirut I have been tempted but stuck with flugelhorn instead. I did not find it hard to play etc. at all - it maybe suffers in the same way as the soprano sax does, by Chinese whispers and loose tongues. If you want to learn it, just get on with it. Motivation is the key. Just always practice it first if you are also playing sax, and get a good mouthpiece - the Denis Wick Paxman mouthpieces are quite exceptional and are about £45: http://www.deniswick.com/all-products/category/dw-paxman-range .

Good luck!
 
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baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
Location
Twickenham
I had one and played it for about 20 months - did not continue as did not like the repertoire or having a classical teacher - not enough motivation. If I only knew this was possible at the time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM5g6IULCXs

That's some mouthpiece he's using - looks easily as big as trombone's. About as fluid jazz horn as I've heard - but I'm still not really convinced. It doesn't sound like a french horn much - so why use one? It's sounds like a muffled mellophone. He's clearly a very skilled player - but there are some classical instruments that just don't carry over that well - french horn, bassoon, oboe come to mind. This is either because they're just not loud enough, or more likely because their intonation isn't flexible enough.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
Or some folks have very fixed ideas about how an instrument should sound. After all he is using a French Horn and producing a sound out of it - what is the problem? In the same way I saw Jon Boden's Remnant Kings last week and the Oboe featured regularly in folk music and sounded great - just like an Oboe in fact!
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
Location
Twickenham
Or some folks have very fixed ideas about how an instrument should sound.

Haha. Well said. I'm no purist about anything - but some instruments have more of an uphill struggle crossing out of their "home" genres. That doesn't mean that they couldn't sound good. Paul McCandless' jazz oboe works great in the contexts that he plays it, but if he showed up to a jam and somebody counted off Koko it wouldn't work so well for him. Which is probably why he's also a nifty soprano sax player.
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
Sometimes it just needs someone to lead the way, violin was at one time considered a difficult instrument to play jazz, until Stephane grappelli.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,420
Location
Coulsdon, London/Surrey
Joe Venuti pre-dated him, but I'd agree Grappelli was far more fluent and had a far greater command of the violin for jazz purposes. I was privileged to see Grappelli several times. I've heard some of Gunther Schuller's jazz horn work and much as I respect him as a writer, the horn just doesn't inspire me in jazz.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
Haha. Well said. I'm no purist about anything - but some instruments have more of an uphill struggle crossing out of their "home" genres. That doesn't mean that they couldn't sound good. Paul McCandless' jazz oboe works great in the contexts that he plays it, but if he showed up to a jam and somebody counted off Koko it wouldn't work so well for him. Which is probably why he's also a nifty soprano sax player.

Of course oboes can be quite cool - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2gVwAcA2Bw
 

flamingoer

Member
Messages
139
Location
london
John Graas made a decent stab at playing Jazz in the 50s on the West coast, notably with Shorty Rogers Giants -
and particularly with Bob Cooper in a number entitled 'Coop de Graas', where he manages to swing somewhat
in spite of the almost totally legato feeling of the horn. I liked him, but I'm glad I tried the Alto.
Lots of luck!
 

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