How Do French Horns Work

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French horns are basically amplifiers that work by producing vibrations and changing the length of the tubing by fingering different valves. Learn how to blow correctly into a French horn with help from a horn player in this free video on musical instruments and French horns.

Part of the Video Series: French Horn
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Video Transcript

So, how does a French horn work? Well, at its most basic level, the French horn is an amplifier, in the shape of a tube. Now what we have in an amplification system is a vibration at one end, and a sound coming out the other end. So, in order to produce a good sound on the horn, we have to have a good clean vibration, an instrument that works well, and a body that's in good enough shape to produce the pressure, the air pressure, to support that vibration. Now what I'm doing with my valves, is just changing the length of tubing. In order that the harmonics that I'm, that are supported in the instrument, are that the tube is the exact right length for the note that I'm playing. So, essentially I'm singing the note in my head, which is allowing this vibration to happen at just the right speed. All the horn is doing, is supporting that vibration. So remember, the horn itself doesn't make the sound. The sound is made in the head, by singing the notes that you want to come out, and allowing that signal to be transferred to the embouchure. What looks like complicated here in the horn, is extremely simple, compared to what's going on in your head. We have to learn the fingerings yes, but, learning the notes, learning how to sing, learning how to blow,, learning how to transfer in a very relaxed way what's going on in your mind to your embouchure, that's what's most important.

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