Sound character of the Horn - Philipp Dangas

Register table from the horn in F

Graphic for register table of horn in F can be enlarged. It is Link-Sensitive [Clickable].

Sheet music for the register table from the horn in F

Structurally, the horn originally nothing more than a trumpet. was If you equip it with a cup mouthpiece and a small bell and blow it open, its sound corresponds to that of a trumpet or trombone. The sound of the horn, which differs greatly from the sound of the other wind instruments, has several reasons.

Reasons for the sound differences between horn and wind instruments

  1. Due to the considerable length of the tube.
  2. Due to the almost 2.5 cm deep, conical and relatively narrow funnel mouthpiece.
  3. Due to the particularly wide sound funnel.
  4. Through the playing technique of the right hand.

The horn is the most sensitive and technically difficult wind instrument to treat. The entire tone scale of the horn can generally be regarded as tonally very even, only the lowest tones differ from the others. In addition, a distinction is made between "low" and "high" orchestral horn players, due to the extraordinary range of the horn scale and the associated difference in approach.

As part of the „symphonic world music“

The horn is certainly the most important wind instrument in my music. On the one hand, the horn contributes to the realization of the sound and, on the other hand, it also plays the role of mediator (between the woodwind and brass instruments and the strings).

An remarkably fitting sound example of the horn in F sound [Music by Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus]
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The registers and timbres of the horn
Register Sound character Range (from – to)
high register From brilliant and clear to loud and penetrating c 3 [third octave] —
h1 [middle octave]
middle register Full and resonant, soft in the piano and powerful in the forte b1 [one-line octave] —
b [minor octave]
low register Quite rough in the forte, best possible effect in the piano a [minor octave] —
F# [major octave]

Dynamic effect of the horn in F

Graphic for the dynamic table of the horn in F can be enlarged. It is Link-Sensitive [Clickable].

Sheet music for the dynamic table of the horn in F

The musical dynamics are visible through the different degrees of intensity in the dynamic table. In addition to the sound pressure scale measured in decibels [dB], the degrees of strength of musical dynamics are given on the left, which can be understood as "objective" degrees.

A graphic of the db scale is drawn to the right. It shows the estimated dynamic effect over the entire tonal range of the instrument. The dynamic effect (volume) as judged (perceived) by the listener.

An example of this: In the low register of the trumpet, the dynamic range between pianissimo [pp] 46 decibels [dB] and fortissimo [ff] 82 decibels [dB] = 36 decibels [dB]. In the high register, the range is 8 decibels [dB]. The estimated values can deviate more or less from the "objective" ones.

The deviations vary from instrument to instrument. The mentioned "objective" levels of intensity piano pianissimo [ppp]= 40 decibels [dB], p=60 decibels [dB] etc. enable the composer to predict the dynamic effects of different instruments that are sounding simultaneously.

The achievable dynamic range of the horn - 30 decibels [dB]
Strength hight position low position
fortissimo [ ff ] 100 70
pianissimo [ pp ] 70 40