How to Hit Low Notes on a French Horn

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How Does the French Horn Work?....5

Hitting low notes on the French horn requires manipulation of the lips in the mouthpiece and changing the way the lips vibrate to produce a different sound. Find out how to make a lower sound on the French horn with help from an experienced musician and music instructor in this free video on brass instruments.

Part of the Video Series: The French Horn
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Video Transcript

How to hit low notes. This is Dr. Steven Gross, horn professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and director of the Wind, Brass, Percussion Program. Horn pitches are produced by the manipulation of the lips or to use what we call an isolator like this. This isolator shows how the lips look in the inside of a mouthpiece. To produce low or high notes on a horn we change the way the lips vibrate in the horn. The horn is considered the most difficult of the brass instruments if not all of the instruments of the orchestra. Because of the extraordinary amount of range, which we must cover for potentially five octaves. To produce sounds that are different we have an ombissure or setting, lip setting that comprises roughly two thirds of the upper lip, and one third of the upper lip in the mouthpiece. Once again like this. The lower lip acts as an anchor, and doesn't vibrate much. The upper lip vibrates a great deal, and it vibrates in such a way as to effect what is called the aperture or the small hole that is right in the middle of the lips right here or it could be compared to like a hole like this. For high notes we want to make the aperture smaller. For low notes we want to make it bigger. Often times the best way to do this is to make syllables. For example, for the high notes T or too like the French to. For the low notes ta or Toe. Syllables that produce inside the mouth effect the aperture, and effect the tones that are produced inside the mouthpiece.

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