french horns

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by stevesnowy, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. stevesnowy

    stevesnowy New Member

    how about allowing french horns in brass bands? lots of youngsters play theese in school wind bands, much more powerfull and versitile than tenors and to transpose the music you just take it down a tone.
  2. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    A few bands on the continent have a couple of these hiding away, they take some work to blend though!

    Also seen some youth bands with these and trumpets etc, presumably hoping to get the players on to the 'real deal' as well down the track.

    I have to say that a well played tenor horn is a beautiful thing and is like chalk to cheese when compared to the French variety (which I believe was actually invented in Germany), athough sadly a poorly-played horn is one of the most upsetting sounds in a brass band.
  3. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    the french horn is as welcome and well understood in the brass band as the tenor horn is in the orchestra :)
  4. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    When I played in Sparkhill SA Band some years ago we had a french horn in the horn section. whne listening to play back of recordings it sounded like a french horn with band accompaniment. to strong a sound to blend.
  5. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    it is a very powerful instrument, and a skilled player can probably cover most of the range of the entire brass band (5-6 octaves), with considerable techniques for tone colour, I am not sure that the brass band offers these players enough to keep them interested.
  6. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    agreed and a sound I love to hear in the correct setting. One favorite french horn part comes from the movie " Dances With Wolves " could listen to that all day.
  7. Experienced french horns in brass bands once or twice, sounded fine, but they were in no way superior to tenor horn!

    I reckon that a well played tenor horn always has the edge, even in say.. wind bands :tongue:
  8. Alyn James

    Alyn James Member

    Here we go again....
  9. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    :clap: ... if you think about it, baris and horns could be replaced with french horns!
  10. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Add French horns if you like. Don't call it a brass band, though, unless the reason is that you cannot otherwise get enough players together. They change the sound of the group distinctly.

    Curious statement in a number of ways... Let's take it apart piece by piece: 1) In saying "powerful", I suspect you are referring to the blending difficulties others have referred to, due to the timbre of the instrument - not the same thing as power; 2) A skilled French horn player is comfortable and flexible over about 3-4 octaves - a similar range to that of a skilled tuba, trombone or euphonium player; 3) I'm not quite sure where to start with the assertion about offering the players enough to keep them interested! How about: - French horn players sit happily in wind bands, - French horn players sit happily in orchestras where usually there is a smaller amount to play than in a brass band, - French horn is an instrument that is often played relatively inaccurately at an amateur level; if all brass bands had French horn sections, I suspect strongly that they would reliably be the weakest section of the band, due to the relative difficulty of being accurate on it.

    I see what you are getting at, but it was phrased in a very strange way...
  11. Coverhead

    Coverhead Member

    I think I can hear Adolphe Sax turning in his grave! ;)

    As much as it pains me to say it, tenor horns are possibly the most integral part of the traditional 'brass band' sound. And what pains me even more is that I agree with Nethers when he says 'a well played tenor horn is a beautiful thing'!
    Besides, if placed in the middle of a brass band the average french horn player would undoubtably rip a whole in the bandroom wall as soon as they saw anything marked 'forte'!
  12. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Curious. You must work with a different standard of "average" french horn player than those that I know. Most "average" players in my experience rarely play anything other than mezzo-forte ...
  13. GordonH

    GordonH Active Member

    I play the french horn a little bit. It was my first instrument and I can still double well enough for a less demanding orchestral horn part. It has a huge range compared to the tenor horn and depending on the type of horn can be difficult to overblow. Compared to the cornet it feels like blowing down a drinking straw and the notes are there somewhere but they feel very close together.

    However, where Saxe got it right was having a set of uniform instruments with identical fingering that it was possible to move between. Having an instrument in a brass band that had different fingering (and uses the left hand) would break that convention. There are other brass instruments like melophoniums, piccolo trumpets, big F trumpets and all sorts that we don't get in brass bands. I don't think they would really add much or increase the opportunities for composers. The range of the french horn is covered between the tenor horn, euphonium and flugel in the band.
  14. Coverhead

    Coverhead Member

    Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration on my part! My point was that a french horn would stick out like a sore thumb in a brass band. They create an amazing sound within an orchestra... the ones I work with as much as any ;)
  15. GordonH

    GordonH Active Member

    Oh and the other obvious problem is that brass band low instruments point up the way. French horns point back the way which makes trying to get the sound balanced a bit difficult. In an orchestra its less of a problem because the horns are usually playing either insignificant parts or the main features of the piece. If you had french horns in a brass band the music would have to be scored differently.
  16. bumper-euph

    bumper-euph Member

    The only people that should play a french horn are midwives..........think about it.........
  17. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    ...and vets...
  18. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Sounds like you haven't heard recordings from the London Collegiate Brass :cool:
  19. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Indeed; however it's probably fair to say that their french horns were slightly better than "average" ... ;)
  20. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    At least they can be heard ... ;)