French horn

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Related to French horn: tuba, trumpet

French horn,

brass wind musical instrument. Fundamentally a metal tube of narrow conical bore, it is curved into circles because of its great length. The horn ends in a wide flare. It is a development (c.1650) of the small hunting horn. Although sometimes used in a more grandiose manner, it is still employed symphonically to produce the simple woodland sound. In modern orchestras it is usually in the key of F and is a transposing instrumenttransposing instrument,
a musical instrument whose part in a score is written at a different pitch than that actually sounded. Such an instrument is usually referred to by the keynote of its natural scale—the clarinet in A, for example—in which case A is sounded when
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. The present-day French horns normally have three valves, introduced in the 19th cent. The valves supplanted crooks that were used in the 18th cent. to reduce the horn to different keys. Hand stopping and modulation are still used to control the open tone, though mutes may also be used. The first important work to call for valved horns was Halévy's opera La Juive.


See Morley-Pegge, The French Horn (2d ed. 1973).

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French horn

Music a valved brass instrument with a funnel-shaped mouthpiece and a tube of conical bore coiled into a spiral. It is a transposing instrument in F. Range: about three and a half octaves upwards from B on the second leger line below the bass staff
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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