The History of the French Horn

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In Prehistoric times, the bell was pointed forwards above the head. It was used to make a lot of noise in battle. It could only produce one or two notes. Around the 1600s, shells and animal horns used for signalling, particularly in hunting. These were gradually replaced by metal instruments which were made longer in order to get more notes to give more complicated signals. As they increased in length, they were coiled up to make them easier to handle and to use on horseback. They called them cor de chasse, trompe de chasse, corno da caccia, jagdhorn or parforce horn. They were only used outdoors. In 1963, they began to use horns indoors for special effects in an opera by Rossi. They were used separately from the rest of the orchestra because of tuning problems and because they were played very crudely. In between 1640 - 1700 Horns were gradually accepted into the orchestra, but were still usually only for special effects and often used on their own. Many aristocrats engage horn players in order to keep up with French fashion and send their servants away to learn how to play the "French horn". In 1690 they began to make horns in Austria and Bohemia specially for playing in orchestras. It was called a Waldhorn, to distinguish it from a hunting horn. It is wider and has a more mellow sound. In 1720, crooks were developed for horns to put them into different keys. Before this, horns were made in different keys in one piece, so a set of complete instruments was needed to cover all the keys used. For lower keys, 2 systems were used - either several shorter crooks were added to each other to make up the extra length of tubing or one long length of tubing was coiled up. The second system was easier for the player but more expensive as one crook was needed for each key. Around 1740, hand stopping was "invented" by Hampel, allowing scales and chromatic notes to be played over nearly the whole range of the instrument. Hampel did not invent hand stopping but perfected a technique that had been used before by many brass players to correct out of tune harmonics. Horn players divided into two types - Corno secondo (who were expert in the use of hand stopping in the lower register and in big leaps where the harmonics are further apart) and Corno primo (who were expert in the high register where there is not much need for hand stopping). Each type of player used a different mouthpiece (large cup-shaped for corni secondi and small and shallow for corni primi). From 1790 - 1870 Omnitonic horns developed, incorporating crooks for all keys in one instrument, usually with some sliding mechanism to select the appropriate crook. There were problems with the mechanisms and with air leakage and these instruments do not seem to have had any real influence on the way composers wrote. In 1830 , composers still wrote basically for natural horns, but increasingly add

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