The double French horn, also known as the double horn, is a brass instrument which has become a staple in orchestras and bands throughout the world. It is a variation of the French horn and was patented around 1900 by German instrument maker Friedrich (Fritz) Kruspe. Kruspe developed the instrument in response to the growing demand for a more versatile French horn and his design featured an additional valve that allowed the player to switch between two sets of tubing. The first valve was used for the normal key of F and the second valve was used to lower the pitch by a fourth to the key of B-flat. The F set of tubing produces a warm and mellow tone, whilst the B-flat set produces a brighter and more brilliant tone. The player can also use a combination of both sets of tubing in order to create a variety of tonal colours and textures.
Versatility and Benefits
The double French horn rapidly became popular amongst musicians, especially orchestral players, because its versatility and flexibility. As such, it has become a much valued addition to the orchestra brass section. With the ability to switch between keys, horn players are able to tackle a broader range of music, from delicate solos to powerful, brass fanfares.
One of the main benefits of the double French horn is its range. With the two sets of tubing, players can access a wider range of notes than they could with a single French horn. This makes the instrument ideal for playing solos as well as for playing in orchestras and other ensembles. Chamber music has also benefited from featuring the double French horn because of its flexibility and versatility and many brass quintets use the instrument.
Another great feature of the double French horn is the rich and warm tone it can produce. This is due in part to the instrument’s larger size which allows for a greater volume of air to pass through it. It also has a bell which is wider than that of the single French horn and this helps to produce a fuller, more resonant sound.
Where might you hear a double French horn?
The double French horn is used in a wide range of musical genres from classical to jazz and popular music.
Symphony Orchestra – The double horn is an essential instrument in the symphony orchestra where it often plays long, sustained notes that blend with other brass instruments.
Wind Ensembles – Many wind ensembles like to feature the double horn, sometimes in a solo context but generally to help create a richer and fuller sound.
Jazz – The double horn successfully moved with the times and found a place in the world of jazz where it is now popular in both big band and small jazz ensemble settings. The instrument’s ability to produce a range of tones and its warm, rich sound make it a popular choice amongst jazz musicians, particularly for solos in ballads and slower tempo pieces. A notable point is that Jazz horn players have adapted the instrument to suit the unique demands of the genre and they use a wide range of techniques. These techniques include mutes, flutter tonguing, and glissandos which help to create a distinctive sound.
Popular Music – In recent years the world of rock and pop music has recognised the worth of the double French horn. Bands such as Arcade Fire and Radiohead have incorporated the instrument into their music to add a unique texture and sound to their songs. In this kind of setting, the instrument is often played with effects pedals and other electronic devices in order to create new and interesting sounds.
In conclusion, the double French horn is a versatile and valuable musical instrument that is used in a wide range of settings. Its ability to produce a range of tones and its warm, rich sound make it a popular choice among musicians in classical, jazz, and popular music genres. Whether playing in an orchestra, a jazz ensemble, or a rock band, the double French horn adds depth and texture to any musical performance.