What Are the Different Types of French Horns?

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Different types of French horns include double horns, triple horns and double descant horns. Find out how the sets of tubing and valves change on double French horns 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 there are basically three different types of horns that we play in a professional situation. All of them are what we call multiple horns, or two of them are actually double horns, and one is a triple horn, which is becoming much, much more popular. This is a standard double horn, this particular one's made by Walter Lawson in 1983, so it's about twenty-five years old or so. What it consists of is basically two instruments in one. We have an F horn, a horn pitched in F on the top, a B flat horn, or a horn pitched in B flat on the bottom, and a change valve here, or the thumb valve, that allows us to travel between the F horn, typically used for the low range, and the B flat horn, typically used for the high range. So here's your standard, double horn. Then, I also brought a double, descant horn, of which there are many different types, but the most standard type has the B flat horn that we saw on the double horn on the top on this one, and a high F horn, which is exactly half the length of the low F horn that we had on the double horn. So, this, this tubing length on the bottom is half the length, there by making the harmonics much further apart for any given note, so that when we go to play a note in the high range, the landing pad is much more solid, and much less of a chance of landing on the wrong note. So, we can go for a high C, and pretty much be assured that we're going to hit it because it, the feel with the much shorter length of tube is much more solid. We have to really be aware of the sound quality. When the tubing gets that short, it tends to sound a little bugaly, so we have to be very aware of how we're making the sound in order to make a proper sound. The last type of instrument, as I mentioned a second ago, is a triple horn, and that is this low F horn here, the B flat horn on the bottom, and the high F horn on the descant on the bottom there. So there are three sets of tubings and two change valves that the thumb has actuate. That's the most difficult part about a triple horn, other than the weight, which is quite heave, can be quite heavy, is figuring out how you're going to use the thumb to actuate two different change valves. It can be a great tool if you can figure that particular issue out.

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