1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Horn (music)

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HORN (Lat. cornu; corresponding terms being Fr. cor, trompe; Ger. Horn; Ital. corno), a class of wind instruments primarily derived from natural animal horns (see above), and having the common characteristics of a conical bore and the absence of lateral holes. The word “horn” when used by modern English musicians always refers to the French horn.

Modern horns may be divided into three classes: (1) the short horns with wide bore, such as the bugles (q.v.) and the post-horn. (2) The saxhorns (q.v.), a family of hybrid instruments designed by Adolphe Sax, and resulting from the adaptation of valves and of a cup-shaped mouthpiece to instruments of the calibre of the bugle. The Flügelhorn family is the German equivalent of the saxhorns. The natural scale of instruments of this class comprises the harmonics from the second to the eighth only. (3) The French horn (Fr. cor de chasse or trompe de chasse, cor à pistons; Ger. Waldhorn, Ventilhorn; Ital. corno or corno di caccia), one of the most valuable and difficult wind instruments of the orchestra, having a very slender conical tube wound round in coils upon itself. It consists of four principal parts — the body, the crooks, the slide and the mouthpiece.

(a) The body is the main tube, having a bore of the form known as trunco-conical, measuring approximately 7 ft. 4 in. in length, in which the increase in the diameter of the bore is very gradual in proportion to the length, the cone becoming accentuated only near the bell. In the valve horn the bore is only theoretically conical, the extra lengths of tubing attached to the valves being practically cylindrical. The body is coiled spirally, and has at one end a wide-mouthed bell from 11 to 12 in. in diameter having a parabolic curve, and at the other a conical ferrule into which fit the crooks.

(b) The crooks (Fr. corps or tons de rechange; Ger. Krummbogen, Stimmbogen, Einsetzbogen) are interchangeable, spiral tubes, tapering to a diameter of a quarter of an inch at the mouthpiece end and varying in length from 16 in. for the B♭ alto crook to 125 in. for the B♭ basso. Each crook is named according to the fundamental tone which it produces on being added to the body. By lengthening the tube at will the crook lowers the pitch of the instrument, and consequently changes the key in which it stands. Although the harmonic series remains the same for all the crooks, the actual sounds produced by overblowing are lower, the tube being longer, and they now belong to the key of the crook. The principle of the crook was known early in the 17th century; it had been applied to the trumpet, trombone and Jägertrummet[1] before being adapted to the horn. Crooks are merely transposing agents; they are powerless to fill up the gaps in the scale of the horn in order to make it a chromatic or even a diatonic instrument, for they require time for adjustment. The principle of the crook doubtless suggested to Stölzel the system of valves, which is but an instantaneous application of the general principle to the individual notes of the harmonic series, each of which is thereby lowered a semitone, a tone or a tone and a half, as long as the valve remains in operation. The body of the horn without crooks is of the length to produce 8 ft. C., and forms the standard, being known as the alto horn in C, which is the highest key in which the horn is pitched. The notes are sounded as written.

(c) The mouthpiece of the horn differs substantially from that of the trumpet.[2] There is, strictly speaking, no cup, the inside of the mouthpiece being, like the bore of the instrument itself, in the form of a truncated cone or funnel. Like the other parts of this difficult and complex instrument, the proportions of the mouthpiece must bear a certain undefined relation to the length and diameter of the column of air. The choice of a suitable mouthpiece is in fact a test of skill; the shape of the lip of the performer and the more special use he may wish to make of either the higher or the lower harmonics have to be taken into consideration. In orchestral music the part for first horns naturally calls for the use of the higher harmonics, which are more easily obtained by means of a somewhat smaller and shallower mouthpiece[3] than that used upon the second horn, which is called upon to dwell more on the lower harmonics.

(d) The tuning slides (Fr. coulisses; Ger. Stimmbogen) consist of a pair of sliding U-shaped tubes fitting tightly into each other, by means of which the instrument can be brought strictly into tune, and which also act as compensators with the crooks. On these tuning slides, placed across the ring formed by the coils of the valve-horn, are fixed the pistons with their extra lengths of tubing; as the connexion of the pistons with the body of the horn is made through the slides, the value of the latter as compensators will be readily understood. Those accustomed to deal with instruments having fixed notes, such as the piano and harp, hardly realize the extreme difficulties which confront both maker and performer in intricate wind instruments such as the horn, on which no sounds can be produced without conscious adjustment of lips and breath, and but few without the additional use of some such contrivance as slide, crook, piston or of the hand in the bell, in the case of the natural or hand horn.

The production of sound in wind instruments has a fourfold object: (1) pitch; (2) range or scale of available notes; (3) Acoustics. quality of tone or timbre; (4) dynamic variation, or crescendo and diminuendo. The pitch of the horn, as of other wind instruments, depends almost exclusively on the length of the air-column set in vibration, and remains practically uninfluenced by the diameter of the bore. In the case of conical tubes in which the difference in diameter at the two extremities, mouthpiece and bell, is very great, as in the horn, the pitch of the tube will be slightly higher than its theoretical length would warrant.[4] When, for instance, three tubes of the same length are sounded — No. 1, conical diverging; No. 2, conical converging in the direction from mouthpiece to bell No. 3, cylindrical — No. 1 gives a fundamental tone somewhat higher, No. 2 somewhat lower, than No. 3. Victor Mahillon[5] adds that the rate of vibration in such conical tubes as the horn is slightly less than the rate of vibration in ambient air; therefore, as the rate of vibration (i.e. the number of vibrations per second) varies in the inverse ratio with the length of the tube, it follows that the practical length of the horn is slightly less than the theoretical, the difference for the horn in B♭ normal pitch amounting to 13.9 cm. (approximately 5½ in.).

The tube of the horn behaves as an open pipe. E. F. F. Chladni[6] states that the mouthpiece end is to be considered as open in all wind instruments (excepting reed instruments), even when, as in horns and trumpets, it would seem to be closed by the lips. Victor Mahillon, although apparently holding the opposite view, and considering as closed the tubes of all wind instruments played by means of reeds, whether single or double, or by the lips acting as reeds, gives a new and practical explanation of the phenomenon.[7] The result is the same in both cases, for the closed pipe of trunco-conical bore, whose diameter at the bell is at least four times greater than the diameter at the mouthpiece, behaves in the same manner, when set in vibration by a reed, as an open pipe, and gives the consecutive scale of harmonics.[8]

In order to produce sound from the horn, the performer, stretching his lips across the funnel-shaped mouthpiece from rim to rim, blows into the cavity. The lips, vibrating as the breath passes through the aperture between them, communicate pulsations or series of intermittent shocks to the thin stream of air, known as the exciting current, which, issuing from them, strikes the column of air in the tube, already in a state of stationary vibration.[9] The effect of this series of shocks, without which there can be no sound, upon the column of air confined within the walls of the tube is to produce sound-waves, travelling longitudinally through the tube. Each sound-wave consists of two half-lengths, one in which the air has been compressed or condensed by the impulse or push, the second in which, the push being spent, the air again dilates or becomes rarefied. In an open pipe, the wave-length is theoretically equal to the length of the tube. The pitch of the note depends on the frequency per second with which each vibration or complete sound-wave reaches the drum of the ear. The longer the wave the lower the frequency. The velocity of the wave is independent of its length, being solely conditioned by the rate of vibration of the particles composing the conveying medium: while one individual particle performs one complete vibration, the wave advances one wave-length.[10] The rate of particle vibration or frequency is therefore inversely proportional to the corresponding wave-length.[11] Sound-waves generated by the same exciting current travel with the same velocity whatever their length, the difference being the frequency number and therefore the pitch of the note. As long as the performer blows with normal force, the same length of tube produces the same wave-length and therefore the same frequency and pitch. By “blowing with normal force” is understood the proper relative proportions to be maintained between the wind-pressure and the lip-tension — a ratio which is found instinctively by the performer but was only suspected by the older writers.[12] If the shocks or vibrations initiated by the lips through the medium of the exciting current be sharper owing to the increased tension of the lips, and at the same time succeed each other with greater velocity, the wave-length breaks up, and two, three or more proportionally shorter complete waves form instead of one, and traverse the pipe within the same space of time, producing sounds proportionally higher by an octave, a twelfth, &c., according to the character of the initiatory disturbance. We may therefore add this proposition: the rate of vibration of a tube varies as the number of segments into which the vibrating column of air within it is divided. In order to obtain the fundamental, the performer's lips must be loose and the wind-pressure gentle but steady, so that the exciting current may issue forth in a broad, slow stream. To set in vibration a column of air some 16 or 17 ft. long is a feat of extreme difficulty; that is why it is quite exceptional to find a horn-player who can sound the fundamental on the low C or B♭ basso horns. In the organ, where even a 32 ft. tone is obtained, the wind-pressure and the lip-opening controlling the exciting current are mechanically regulated for each length of pipe only one note being required from each. In order, therefore, to induce the column of air within the tube to break up and vibrate in aliquot parts, the exciting current must be compressed into an ever finer, tenser and more incisive stream. There is in fact a certain minimum pressure for each degree of tension of the lips below which no harmonic can be produced.

It is often stated that the harmonics are obtained by increasing the tension of the lips and a crescendo by increasing the pressure of the breath.[13] Victor Mahillon[14] accounts for the harmonics by increased wind-pressure only. It is evident that the greater the tension of the lips, the greater the force of wind required to set them vibrating; therefore the force and velocity of the air must vary with the tension of the lips in order to produce a steady or musical sound. D. J. Blaikley considers that the ratio of increase in lips and breath follows that of the harmonic series. The tension of the lips has the effect of reducing the width of the slit or aperture between them and the width of the exciting current. While increasing its density the energy of the wind must, therefore, either expend itself in increasing the rate of vibration, or frequency of the pulses, which influences the pitch of the note; or else in increasing the extent of excursion or amplitude of the vibrations, which influences the dynamic force of the sound or loudness.[15] If the aperture be narrowed without providing a proportional increase of wind-pressure, the harmonic overtone may be heard, but either the intonation will suffer or the intensity of the tone will be reduced, because the force required to set the tenser membrane in vibration is insufficient to give the vibrations the requisite amplitude as well as the frequency. If the force expended be excessive, i.e. more than the maximum required to ensure the increased frequency proportional to the increased tension, the superfluous energy must expend itself in increasing the amplitude of the vibrations so that a note of a greater degree of loudness as well as of higher pitch will be produced. The converse is equally true; the lower the pitch of the note the slower the pulses or vibrations and therefore the looser the lip and the gentler the force of current required to set them vibrating. To draw a parallel from organ-pipes: as long as even wind-pressure is maintained, the mouthpiece being fixed proportional to the length of tube, the pipe gives out one note of unvarying dynamic intensity; increase the pressure of the wind and harmonics are heard, but it is impossible to obtain a crescendo unless the mouthpiece be dispensed with and a free reed (q.v.) adapted.

Reference has already been made above to the difficulty of obtaining the fundamental on tubes of great length and narrow bore like the horn. The useful compass of the horn, therefore, begins with the note that an open pipe half its length would give; the Germans term instruments of such small calibre half instruments, and those of wide calibre, such as bugles and tubas, whole instruments,[16] since in them the whole of the length of the tube is available in practice.

The harmonic series of the horn, or the open notes obtainable without using valves or crooks, is written as for the alto horn in C of 8 ft. tone, which forms the standard of notation. Notes written in the bass clef are generally, for some unexplained reason, placed an octave lower than the real sounds.


Written. Sounded. Written and sounded.
Britannica Horn Harmonic Series.png
Very
difficult.


All the crooks, a list of the principal of which is appended, therefore necessarily give real sounds lower than the above series according to their individual length.


Table of Principal Crooks now in Use.[17]


Key of
Crook.
Actual Sounds of Range of Useful Harmonics. Length of
Crook in
Inches.
Transposes to
B♭ alto Britannica Horn B♭ alto Crook Harmonic Series.png 2nd to 10th 16 major 2nd lower
A♮ Britannica Horn A♮ Crook Harmonic Series.png 2nd to 10th 22½ minor 3rd lower
A♭ Britannica Horn A♭ Crook Harmonic Series.png 2nd to 10th 29½ major 3rd lower
G Britannica Horn G Crook Harmonic Series.png 2nd to 12th 36¾ perfect 4th lower
F Britannica Horn F Crook Harmonic Series.png 2nd to 16th 52½ perfect 5th lower
E Britannica Horn E Crook Harmonic Series.png 2nd to 16th 61 minor 6th lower
E♭ Britannica Horn E♭ Crook Harmonic Series.png 2nd to 16th 70¼ major 6th lower
D Britannica Horn D Crook Harmonic Series.png 2nd to 16th 80 minor 7th lower
C basso Britannica Horn C basso Crook Harmonic Series.png 3rd to 16th 101 8ve lower
B♭ basso Britannica Horn B♭ basso Crook Harmonic Series.png 3rd to 16th 125 major 9th lower


The practical aggregate compass of the natural horns from B♭ basso at the service of composers therefore ranges (actual sounds) from Britannica Horn Range.png or with 3 valves from Britannica Horn Range with 3 Valves.png By means of hand-stopping, i.e. the practice of thrusting the hand into the bell in order to lower the sound by a tone or a semitone, or by the adaptation of valves to the horn, this compass may be rendered chromatic almost throughout the range.

The principle of the valve as applied to wind instruments differs entirely from that of keys. The latter necessitate lateral holes bored through the tube, and when the keys are raised the vibrating column of air within the tube and the ambient air without are set in communication, with the result that the vibrating column is shortened and the pitch of the note raised. The valve system consists of valves or pistons attached to additional lengths of tubing, the effect of which is invariably to lower the pitch, except in the case of valve systems specified as “ascending” tried by John Shaw and Adolphe Sax. Insuperable practical difficulties led to the abandonment of these systems, which in any case were the exception and not the rule. The valves, placed upon the U-shaped slides in the centre of the horn, are worked by means of pistons or levers, opening or closing the wind-ways at will, so that when they are in operation the vibrating column of air no longer takes its normal course along the main tube and directly through the slides, but makes a devour through the extra length of tubing before completing its course. Thus the valves, unlike the keys, do not open any communication with the ambient air. Even authoritative writers[18] have confused the two principles, believing them to be one and the same.

French horns are made with either two or three valves. To the first valve is attached sufficient length of tubing to lower the pitch of the instrument a tone, so that any note played upon the horn in F while the first valve is depressed takes effect a tone lower, or as though the horn were in E♭. The second valve opens a passage into a shorter length of tubing sufficient to lower the pitch of the instrument a semitone, as though the instrument were for the time being in E. The third valve similarly lowers the pitch a tone and a half. It will thus be seen that the principle applied in the crook and the valve is in the main the same, but the practical value of the valve is immeasurably superior. Thanks to the valve system the performer is able to have the extra lengths of tubing necessary to give the horn a chromatic compass permanently incorporated with the instrument, and at will to connect one or a combination of these lengths with the main tube of the instrument during any interval of time, however short. The three devices, crooks, valves and slides, are in fact all based upon the same principle, that of providing additional length of tubing in order to deepen the pitch of the whole instrument at will and to transpose it into a ditterent key. Valves and slides, being instantaneous in operation, give to the instrument a chromatic compass, whereas crooks merely enable the performer to play in many keys upon one instrument instead of requiring a different instrument for each key. The slide is the oldest of these devices, and probably suggested the crook as a substitute on instruments of conical bore such as the horn.

The invention of the valve, although a substantial improvement, was found to fall short of perfection in its operation on the tubes of wind instruments so soon as the possibility of using the three valves in combination to produce six different positions or series of harmonics was realized, and for the following reason. In order to deepen the pitch one tone by means of valve 1, a length of tubing exactly proportional to the length of the main tube must be thrown into communication with the latter. If, in addition to valve 1, valve 3 be depressed, a further drop in pitch of 1½ tone should be effected ; but as the length of tubing added by depressing valve 3 is calculated in proportion to the main tube, and the latter has already been lengthened by depressing valve 1, therefore the additional length supplied by opening valve 3 is now too short to produce a drop of a minor third strictly in tune, and all notes played while valves 1 and 3 are depressed will be too sharp. Means of compensating slight errors in intonation are provided in the U-shaped slides mentioned above.

The timbre of the natural horn is mellow, sonorous and rich in harmonics; it is quite distinctive and bears but little resemblance to that of the other members of the brass wind. In listening to its sustained notes one receives the impression of the tone being breathed out as by a voice, whereas the trumpet and trombone produce the effect of a rapid series of concussions, and in the tuba and cornet the concussions, although still striking, are softened as by padding. The timbre of the hand-stopped notes is veiled and suggestive of mystery; so characteristic is the timbre that passages in the Rheingold heard when the magic power of the Tarnhelm reveals itself sound meaningless if the weird chords are played by means of the valves instead of by hand-stopping. The timbre of the piston notes is more resonant than that of the open notes, partaking a little of the character of the trombone, which is probably due to the fact that the strictly conical bore of the natural horn has been replaced by a mixed cylindrical and conical as in trumpet and trombone.

The form of the mouthpiece (q.v.) at the point where it joins the main bore of the tube must also exercise a certain influence on the form of vibration, which it helps to modify in conjunction with the conformation of each individual horn-player's lip. In the horn the cup of the mouthpiece is shaped like a funnel, the bore converging insensibly into the narrow end of the main conical bore without break or sharp edges as in the mouthpieces, more properly known as cup-shaped, of trumpet and bombardon.

The brilliant sonorousness and roundness of the timbre of the horn are due to the strength and predominance of the partial tones up to the 7th or 8th. The prevalence of the higher harmonics from the 10th to the 16th, in which the partial tones lie very close together, determines the harsh quality of the trumpet timbre, which may be easily imitated on the horn by forcing the sound production and using a trumpet mouthpiece, and by raising the bell, an effect which is indicated by composers by the words “Raise the Bells.”[19]

The origin of the horn must be sought in remote prehistoric times, when, by breaking off the tip of a short animal horn, one History. or at best two notes, powerful, rough, unsteady, only barely approximating to definite musical sounds, were obtained. This was undoubtedly the archetype of the modern families of brass wind instruments, and from it evolved the trumpet, the bugle and the tuba no less than the horn. The common characteristics which link together these widely different modern families of instruments are: (1) the more or less pronounced conical bore, and (2) the property possessed in a greater or lesser degree of producing the natural sounds by what has been termed overblowing the harmonic overtones. If we follow the evolution of the animal horn throughout the centuries, the ultimate development leads us not to the French horn but to the bugle and tuba.

Before civilization had dawned in classic Greece, Egypt, Assyria and the Semitic races were using wind instruments of wood and metal which had left the primitive ram or bugle horn far behind. Even in northern Europe, during the Bronze age (c. 1000 B.C.), prehistoric man had evolved for himself the prototype of the Roman cornu, a bronze horn of wide conical bore, bent in the shape of a G. One of these instruments, known among the modern Scandinavian races as luurs or lurs, found in the peat beds of Denmark and now preserved in the Museum of Northern Antiquities in Copenhagen, has a length of 1.91 m. (about 6 ft. 4 in.). The U-shaped mouthpiece joint is neatly joined to the remainder of the crescent-tube by means of a bronze ring; the bell, which must have rested on the shoulder, consists merely of a flat rim set round the end of the tube. There is therefore no graceful curve in the bell as in the French horn. An exact facsimile of this prehistoric horn has been made by Victor Mahillon of Brussels, who finds that it was in the key of E♭ and easily produces the first eight harmonics of that key. It stands, therefore, an octave higher than the modern horn in E♭ (which measures some 13 ft.), but on the lur the fundamental E♭ can be reached owing to the wider calibre of the bore.[20]

Among the Romans the wind instruments derived from the horn were well represented, and included well-developed types which do not differ materially from the natural instruments of modern times. The buccina developed directly into the trumpet and trombone during the middle ages, losing no characteristic of importance but the bent form, which was perforce abandoned when the art of bending hollow tubes was lost after the fall of the Roman Empire. The name clung through all the changes in form and locality to the one type, and still remains at the present day in the German Posaune (trombone). There were four instruments known by the name of cornu among the Romans: (1) the short animal horn used by shepherds; (2) the longer, semicircular horn, used for signals; and (3) the still longer cornu, bent and carried like the buccina, which had the wide bore of the modern tuba. But whereas on the buccina the higher harmonics were easily obtained, on the cornu the natural scale consisted of the first eight harmonics only. The cornu, although shorter than the buccina, had a deeper pitch and more sonorous tone, for, owing to the wider calibre of the bore, the fundamental was easily reached. In the reliefs on Trajan's Column, where the two instruments may be compared, the wider curve of the buccina forms a ready means of identification. In addition to these was (4) the small instrument like the medieval hunting-horn or post-horn, with the single spiral turn similar to one which figures as service badge in many British infantry regiments,[21] such as the first battalion of the King's Own Light Infantry. A terra-cotta model, slightly broken, but with the spiral intact, was excavated at Ventoux in France and is at present preserved in the department of Greek and Roman antiquities at the British Museum, having been acquired from the collection of M. Morel.

The lituus, or cavalry trumpet of the Romans, consisted of a cylindrical tube, to which was attached a bent horn or conical bell, the whole in the shape of a J. The long, straight Roman tuba was similar to the large, bent cornu so far as bore and capabilities were concerned, but more unwieldy. All these wind instruments seem to have been used during the classic Greek and Roman periods merely to sound fanfares, and therefore, in spite of the high degree of perfection to which they attained as instruments, they scarcely possess any claim to be considered within the domain of music. They were signalling instruments, mainly used in war, in hunting and in state or civic ceremonial. Vegetius (A.D. 386) describes these instruments, and gives detailed instructions for the special traditional uses of tuba, buccina and cornu in the military camp: “Semivocalia sunt, quae per tubam, aut cornua, aut buccinam dantur. Tuba quae directa est appellatur buccina, quae in semet ipsam aereo circulo flectitur. Cornu quod ex uris agrestibus, argento nexum, temperatum arte, et spiritu, quem canentis flatus emittit auditur.[22] It will be seen that Vegetius demands a skilled horn-player. These service instruments may all be identified in the celebrated bas-reliefs of Trajan's Column[23] (fig. 1) and of the Triumphal arch of Augustus at Susa.[24]

Interesting evidence of a collegium cornicinum (gild of horn-players) is furnished by an altar stone in the Roman catacombs, erected to the memory of one “M. Julius victor ex Collegio Liticinum Cornicinum,” on which are carved a lituus, a cornu and a pan's pipe, the cornu being similar to those on Trajan's Column.

All three Roman instruments, the tuba, the buccina and the cornu, had well-formed mouthpieces, differing but little from the modern cup-shaped form in use on the trumpet, the trombone, the tubas, &c.[25] It would seem that even, the short horn in the 4th century was provided with a mouthpiece,[26] judging from a carved specimen on an ivory capsa or pyxis dating from the period im- mediately preceding the fall of the Roman Empire, preserved among the precious relics at Xanten.


Britannica Horn Trajan's Column Reliefs.png
From Conrad Cichorius, Die Reliefs der Traiansäule, by permission of Georg Reimer.
Fig. 1. — Roman Cornua and Buccina.


After the fall of the Roman Empire, when instrumental music had fallen into disrepute and had been placed under a ban by the church, the art of playing upon such highly-developed instruments gradually died out in western Europe. With the disappearance of the civilization and culture of the Romans, the skilled crafts also gradually vanished, and the art of making metal pipes of delicate calibre and of bending them was completely forgotten, and had to be reacquired step by step during the middle ages from the more enlightened East. The names of the instruments and representations of them survived in MSS. and monuments of art, and as long as the West was content to turn to late Roman and Romano-Christian art for its models, no difficulties were created for the future archaeologist. By the time the Western races had begun to express themselves and to develop their own characteristics, in the 11th century, the arts of Persia, Arabia and the Byzantine Empire had laid their mark upon the West, and confusion of models, and more especially of names, ensued. The greatest confusion of all was created by the numerous translations and glosses of the Bible and by the attempts of miniaturists to illustrate the principal scenes. In Revelation, for instance (ch. viii.), the seven angels with their trumpets are diversely represented with long tubas, with curved horns of various lengths, and with the buisine, busaun or posaune, the descendant of the buccina.

We know from the colouring used in illuminated MSS., gold and pale blue, that horns were made of metal early in the middle ages. The metal was not cast in moulds but hammered into shape. Viollet-le-Duc[27] reproduces a miniature from a MS. of the end of the 13th century (Paris, Bibliothèque du corps législatif), in which two metal-workers are shown hammering two large horns.

Britannica Horn Medieval Hunting-Horn.png
Fig. 2. — Medieval Hunting-Horn with the Tablature in use in the 14th Century.

The early medieval horns had no mouthpieces, the narrow end being merely finished with a rim on which the lips rested. The tone suffered in consequence, being uncertain, rough and tremulous, where fore it was indicated by the neume known as quilisma: “Est vox tremula; sicut est sonus flatus tubae vel cornu et designatur per neumam, quae vocatur quilisma.”[28] During the middle ages the bugle-horn or bull's horn was extensively used as a signal instrument on land and sea (see Bugle), by the night-watchmen in cities, in the watch tower of the feudal castle and by foresters and huntsmen. The hunting-horn was generally represented as small in the hunting scenes which abound in illuminated MSS. and early printed books; it was crescent-shaped and was worn slung by a leather strap over one shoulder and resting on the opposite hip. When played it was held with the wide end curving upwards in front of the huntsman's head. A kind of tablature for the horn was in use in France in the 14th century; an example of it is here reproduced (fig 2) from a 14th-century French MS. treatise on venery.[29] Only one note is indicated, the various calls and signals being based chiefly on rhythm, and the notes being left to the taste and skill of the huntsman. The interpretation[30] of the Cornure de chasse de veue seen in the figure is as follows:

First line — Britannica Horn Hunting-Horn First Line.png
Second line — Britannica Horn Hunting-Horn Second Line.png
Third line — Britannica Horn Hunting-Horn Third Line.png

In the first poem is given a list of these signs with the names by which they were known in venery.

In the 16th century in England the hunting-horn sometimes had a spiral turn in the centre, half-way between mouthpiece and bell end; the extra length was apparently added solely in order to lower the pitch, the higher harmonics not being used for the hunting calls. In George Turbevile's Noble Arte of Venerie (1576, facsimile reprint, Oxford, 1908) the “measures of blowing according to the order which is observed at these dayes in this Realme of Englande” are given for the horn in D. One of these, given in fig. 3, is the English 16th-century hunting call, corresponding to the 14th-century French Cornure de chasse de veue given above.


Britannica Horn English Hunting Call.png
From Turbevile's Noble Arte of Venerie (1576), by permission of the Clarendon Press.
Fig. 3. — Hunting Call.


The hunting-horn, whether in its simplest form or with the one spiral, was held with the bell upwards on a level with the huntsman's head or just above it.[31]

A horn of the same fine calibre as the French horn, 3 or 4 ft. in length, slightly bent to take the curve of the body, was in use in Italy, it would seem, in the 15th century.[32] It was held slanting across the body with the bell already slightly parabolic, at arm's length to the left side.

The hunting- and post-horns were favourite emblems on medieval coats of arms, more especially in Germany[33] and Bohemia.

It is necessary at this point to draw attention to the fact that the French horn is a hybrid having affinities with both trumpet and primitive animal horn, or with buccina and cornu, and that both types, although frequently misnamed and confused by medieval writers and miniaturists, subsisted side by side, evolving independently until they merged in the so-called French horn. Both buccina and cornu after the fall of the Roman Empire, while Western arts and crafts were in their infancy, were made straight, being then known as the busine or straight trumpet (busaun or posaun in Germany), and the long horn, Herhorn, slightly curved.[34]


Britannica Horn 14th Century Circular Horn.png Britannica Horn 1589 Circular Horn.png
Fig. 4. — Medieval Circular Horn. Fig. 5. — Medieval Circular Horn, 1589.


From two medieval representations of instruments like the Roman cornu one might be led to conclude that the instrument had been revived and was in use from the 14th century. A wooden bas-relief on the under part of the seats of the choir of Worcester cathedral,[35] said to date from the 14th century, shows a musician in a robe with long sleeves of fur playing the horn (fig. 4). The tube winds from the mouth in a circle reaching to his waist, passes under the right arm across the shoulders with the bell stretching out horizontally over his left shoulder. The tube, of strictly conical bore, is made in three pieces, the joints being strengthened by means of two rings. The other example is German, and figures in the arms of the city of Frankfort-on-Main.[36] Here in the two opposite corners are two cherubs playing immense cornua. The bore of the instruments (fig. 5) is of a calibre suggestive of the contrabass tuba; the circle formed is of a diameter sufficiently large to accommodate the youthful performer in a sitting posture; the bell is the forerunner of that of the modern saxophone, shaped like a gloxinea; the mouthpiece is cup-shaped. It is possible, of course, that these two examples are attempts to reproduce the classic instrument, but the figures of the musicians and the feeling of the whole scheme of ornamentation seem to render such an explanation improbable. Moreover, Sebastian Virdung,[37] writing on musical instruments at the beginning of the 16th century, gives a drawing of a cornu coiled round tightly, the tubing being probably soldered together at certain points. Virdung calls this instrument a Jegerhorn, and the short hunting-horn Acherhorn (Ackerhorn — the synonym of the modern Waldhorn). The scale of the former could have consisted only of the first eight harmonics, including the fundamental, which would be easily obtained on an instrument of such a large calibre. Mersenne,[38] a century and a quarter later, gives a drawing of the same kind of horn among his cors de chasse, but does not in his description display his customary intimate knowledge of his subject; it may be that he was dealing at second-hand with an instrument of which he had had little practical experience. Praetorius[39] gives as Jägerhorn only the simple forms of crescent-shaped horns with a single spiral; the spirally-wound horn of Virdung is replaced by a new instrument — the Jägertrummet (huntsman's trumpet) — of the same form, but less cumbersome, of cylindrical bore excepting at the bell end and having a crook inserted between the mouthpiece and the main coils. The tube, which could not have been less than 8 ft. long, produced the harmonic series of the cavalry trumpet from the 3rd. to the 12th. The restrictions placed upon the use of the cavalry trumpet would have rendered it unavailable for use in the hunting-field, but the snake-shaped model, as Praetorius describes it, was a decided improvement on the horn, although interior in resonance to the cavalry model. Here then are the materials for the fusion of the trumpet and hunting-horn into the natural or hand-horn of the 17th and 18th centuries. There is evidence, however, that a century earlier, i.e. at the end of the 15th century, the art of bending a brass tube of the delicate proportions of the French horn, which is still a test of fine workmanship, had been successfully practised. In an illustrated edition of Virgil's works published in Strassburg in 1502 and emanating from Grüninger's office, Brant being responsible for the illustrations, the lines (Aen. viii. 1-2) “Ut belli signum Laurenti Turnus ab arce Extulit: et rauco strepuerunt cornua cantu” are illustrated by two soldiers, one with the sackbut (posaune, the descendant of the buccina), the other with a horn wound spirally round his body in three coils, which appear to have a conical bore from the funnel-shaped mouthpiece to the bell which extends at the back of the head horizontally over the left shoulder (fig. 6). There is ample room for the performer's head and shoulders to pass through the circle: the length of the tube could not therefore have been much less than 16 ft. long, equivalent to the horn in C or B♭ basso. In the same book (pl. ccci.) is another horn, smaller, differing slightly in the disposition of the coils and held like the modern horn in front.

Britannica Horn Spirally Coiled Horn.png
Fig. 6. — Spirally Coiled Horn from Virgil's Works (1502), folio cccviii. versa.

These horns were not used for hunting but for war in conjunction with the draw-trumpet. Brant could not have imagined these instruments, and must have seen the originals or at least drawings of them; the instruments probably emanated from the famed workshops of Nuremberg, being intended mainly for use in Italy, and had not been generally adopted in Germany. The significance of these drawings of natural horns in a German work of the dawn of the 16th century will not be lost. It disposes once and for all of the oft-repeated fable that the hunting-horn first assumed its present form in France about 1680, a statement accepted without question by authorities of all countries, but without reference to any pièce justificative other than the story of the Bohemian Count Spörken first quoted by Gerber,[40] and repeated in most musical works without the context. The account which gave rise to this statement had been published in 1782 in a book by Faustinus Prochaska:[41] “Vix Parisiis inflandi cornua venatoria inventa ars quum delectatus suavitate cantus duos ex hominibus sibi obnoxiis ea instituendos curavit. Id principium apud nos artis, qua hodie Bohemi excellere putantur.” In a preceding passage after the count's name, Franz Anton, Graf von Spörken, are the words “anno saeculi superioris octogesimo quum iter in externas provincias suscepisset,” &c. There is no reference here to the invention of the horn in Paris or to the folding of the tube spirally, but only to the manner of eliciting sound from the instrument. Count Spörken, accustomed to the medieval hunting fanfares in which the tone of the horn approximated to the blare of the trumpet, was merely struck by the musical quality of the true horn tone elicited in Paris, and gave France the credit of the so-called invention, which probably more properly belonged to Italy. The account published by Prochaska a hundred years after, without reference to the source from which it was obtained, finds no corroboration from French sources. Had the French really made any substantial improvement in the hunting-horn at the end of the 17th century, transforming it from the primitive instrument into an orchestral instrument, it would only be reasonable to expect to find some evidence of this, considering the importance attached to the art of music at the court of Louis XIV., whose musical establishments, la Chapelle Musique,[42] la Musique de la Chambre du Roi and la Musique de la Grande Écurie, included the most brilliant French artists. One would expect to find horns of that period by French makers among the relics of musical instruments in the museums of Europe. This does not seem to be the case. Moreover, in Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie (1767) the information given under the heading trompe ou cor de chasse grand et petit is very vague, and contains no hint of any special merit due to France for any improvement in construction. Among the plates (vol. v., pl. vii.) is given an illustration of a horn very similar to the instruments made in England and Germany nearly a century earlier, but with a funnel-shaped mouthpiece. Dr Julius Rühlmann states that there are two horns by Raoux, bearing the date 1703,[43] in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich,[44] but although fine examples, one in silver, the other in brass (fig. 67) by Raoux, they turn out on inquiry[45] to bear no date whatever. Rühlmann's statement in the same article, that in the arms of the family of Wartenberg-Kolb (now extinct), which goes back to 1169, there is a hunting-horn coiled round in a complete circle is also misleading. The horn (a post-horn) did not appear in the arms of the family in question until 1699, when the first peer Casimir Johann Friedrich was created hereditary Post-Master. The influence of such erroneous statements in the work of noted writers is far-reaching. Inquiries at the department of National Archives in Paris concerning Raoux, the founder of the afterwards famous firm of horn-makers whose model with pistons is used in the British military bands and at Kneller Hall, proved fruitless. Fétis states that he worked during the second half of the 18th century. Albert Chouquet[46] states that he has seen a trumpet by Raoux, “seul ordinaire du Roy, Place du Louvre” dated 1695. The inscriptions on the horns in question are: For No. 105, a silver horn of the simplest form of construction in D, “Fait a Paris par Raoux”; for No. 106, a brass horn engraved with a crown on an ermine mantle with the initials C. A. (Carl Albert), “Fait à Paris par Raoux, seul ordinnaire du Roy, Place du Louvre.” Both horns measure across the coils 56 cm. and across the bell 27½. They are practically the same as the cors de chasse now in use in French and Belgian military bands, the large diameter of the coil enabling the performer to carry it over his shoulder. The orchestral horn was given a narrower diameter in order to facilitate its being held in front of the performer in a convenient position for stopping the bell with the right hand. No. 107 in the same collection, a horn of German construction, bears the inscription “Macht Jacob Schmid in Nurnberg” and the trademark “J. S.” with a bird. A horn in E♭ of French make, having fleur-de-lys stamped on the rim of the bell, and measuring only 15 in. across the coils to the exterior edge of the bell — therefore a very small horn — is preserved in the Grand Ducal Museum at Darmstadt.[47] A horn in F# (probably F in modern high pitch), having the rim ornamented as above and the inscription “Fait à Paris, Carlin, ordinaire du Roy,” readily gives the harmonics from the 3rd to the 12th.[48] The extreme width is 20 in.[49] Carlin, who lived at rue Croix des Petits Champs, died about 1780. The earliest dated horn extant is believed to be the one preserved in the Hohenzollern Museum in Sigmaringen, “Machts Wilhelm Haas, Nürnberg, 1688.”[50] Another early German horn engraved “Machts Heinr. Rich. Pfeiffer in Leipzig, 1697,”[51] formerly in Paul de Wit's museum in Leipzig and now transferred with the rest of the collection to Cologne, is of similar construction.


Britannica Horn Early Raoux Horn.png
From a Photo by K. Teufel.
Fig. 7. — Early Raoux Horn (Munich).


The horn must have been well known at this time in England, for there are 17th-century horns of English manufacture still extant, one, for instance, in the collection of the Rev. F. W. Galpin by William Bull, dated 1699.[52] In 1701 Clagget[53] invented a contrivance by means of which two horns in different keys could be coupled and played by means of one mouthpiece, a valve or key opening the passage into the airways of one or the other of these horns at the will of the performer. Another horn of English manufacture about 1700 was exhibited at the South Kensington Museum in 1872, bearing No. 337 in the catalogue, in which unfortunately no details are given. Enough examples have been quoted to show that, judging from the specimens extant, Germany was not behind France, if not actually ahead, in the manufacture of early natural horns. Data are wanting concerning the instruments of Italy; they would probably prove to be the earliest of all, and as brass wind instruments are perishable are perhaps for that very reason unrepresented at the present day.

The horn at the present stage in its evolution was also well represented among the illustrations of the musical literature in Germany[54] during the first half of the 18th century, and references to it are frequent.

The earliest orchestral music for the horn occurs in the operas of Cavalli and Cesti, leaders of the Venetian Opera in the 17th Music. century. Already in 1639 Cavalli in his opera Le Nozze de Tito e Pelei (act i. sc. 1) introduced a short scena, “Chiamata alia Caccia”[55] in C major for four horns on a basso continuo. An examination of the scoring in C clefs on the first, second, third and fourth lines shows, by the use of the note Britannica Horn Nozze C Clef Note A.png = Britannica Horn Nozze Bass Clef Note A.png in the bass part and in the second tenor of Britannica Horn Nozze C and Bass Clef Note B.png the 5th harmonic of the series, that the fundamental could have been no other than the 16-ft. C; the highest note in the treble part is Britannica Horn Nozze Highest Note.png, the 12th harmonic of the 8-ft. alto horn in C, now obsolete. It is clear therefore that horns with tubing respectively 8 ft. and 16 ft. long, which must have been disposed in coils as in the present day, were in use in Italy before the middle of the 17th century, fifty years before the date of their reputed invention in Paris.

In the same opera, act i. sc. 4, “Coro di Cavalieri” is a stirring call to arms of elemental grandeur, in which occur the words: “all' armi, ò la guerrieri corni e tamburi e trombe, ogni campo ogni canto, armi rimbombe.” There are above the voice parts four staves with treble and C clef signatures above the bass, and, although no instruments are indicated, the music written thereon, which alternates with the voices but does not accompany them, can have been intended for no instruments but trumpets and horns, thus carrying out the indications in the text. The horn is here once again put to the same use as the Roman cornu, and associated in like manner with the descendant of the buccina in a call to arms. It may be purely a coincidence that the early illustration of a horn with the tubing wound in coils round the body in the Strassburg Virgil mentioned above was put to the same use and associated with the same instrument.

Cesti's operas likewise contain many passages evidently intended for the horn, although the instruments are not specified in the score, which was nothing unusual at the time. Lulli composed the incidental music for a ballet, La Princesse d'Elide, which formed part of Molière's divertissement, “Les plaisirs de l'île enchantée,” written for a great festival at Versailles on the 7th of May 1664. A copy of the music for this ballet, made about 1680, is preserved in the library of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. The music contains a piece entitled “Les violons et les cors de chasse,” written in the same style as Cavalli's scena; there are but two staves, and on both the music is characteristic of the horn, with which the violins would play in unison. The piece finishes on B♭ Britannica Horn Elide Last Note.png and to play this note as the second of the harmonic series, the fundamental not being obtainable, the tube of the horn must have been over 17 ft. long. Among Philidor's copies of Lulli's ballets preserved in the library of the Paris Conservatoire of Music (vol. xlvii., p. 61) is a more complete copy of the above. The second number is an “Air des valets de chiens et des chasseurs avec les cors de chasse,” which is substantially the same as the one in the Fitzwilliam Museum, but set for five horns in B♭. Here again the use of D, the fifth note of the harmonic series, indicates that the fundamental was Britannica Horn Lulli Horn Fundamental.png a tone lower than the C horn scored for by Cavalli, and known as B♭ basso. Victor Mahillon[56] considers that the music reveals the fact that it was written for horns in B♭, 35 degrees (chromatic semitones) above 32-ft. C, or Britannica Horn 32-ft C + 35 degrees.png having a wave-length of 1.475 m. To this statement it is not possible to subscribe. The quintette required four horns in B♭ over 8 ft. long and one B♭ basso about 17 ft. long. It is obvious that the present custom of placing the bass notes of the horn on the F clef an octave too low, as is now customary, had not yet been adopted, for in that case the bass horn would in several bars be playing above the tenor.

In 1647 Cardinal Mazarin, wishing to create in France a taste for Italian opera, had procured from Italy an orchestra, singers and mise-en-scène. That he was not entirely successful in making Paris appreciate Italian music is beside the mark; he developed instead a demand for French opera, to which Lulli proved equal. The great similarity in the style of the horn scene by Cavalli and Lulli may perhaps provide a clue to the mysterious and sudden apparition of the natural horn in France, where nothing was known of the hybrid instrument thirty years before, when Mersenne[57] wrote his careful treatise on musical instruments.

The orchestral horn had been introduced from Italy. It is not difficult to understand how the horn came to be called the French horn in England; the term only appears after Gerber and other writers had repeated the story of Count Spörken introducing the musical horn into Bohemia.[58] By this time the firm of Raoux, established in Paris a hundred years, had won for itself full recognition of its high standard of workmanship in the making of horns.

This use of the horn by Lulli in the one ballet seems to be an isolated instance; no other has yet been quoted. The introduction of the natural horn into the orchestra of the French opera did not occur until much later in 1735 in André Campra's Achille et Deidamie, and then only in a fanfare. In the meantime the horn had already won a place in most of the rising opera houses and ducal orchestras[59] of Germany, and had been introduced by Handel into the orchestra in London in his Water-music composed in honour of George I.

Although the Italians were undoubtedly the first to introduce the horn into the orchestra, it figured at first only as the characteristic instrument of the chase, suggesting and accompanying hunting scenes or calls to arms. For a more independent use of the horn in the orchestra we must turn to Germany. Reinhard Keiser, the founder of German opera, at the end of the 17th century in Hamburg, introduced two horns in C into the opening chorus of his opera Octavia in 1705, where the horns are added to the string quartette and the oboes; they play again in act i. sc. 3, and in act ii. sc. 6 and 9. The compass used by the composer for the horns in C alto is the following: —

Britannica Horn Keiser Octavia C alto Compass.png

Wilhelm Kleefeld draws attention to the characterization, which differed in the three acts. In Henrico (1711), in Diana (1712) and in L'Inganno Fedele (1714) F horns were used. This called forth from Mattheson[60] his much-quoted eulogium, the earliest description of the orchestral horn: “Die lieblich pompeusen Waldhörner sind bei itziger Zeit sehr en vogue kommen, weil sie theils nicht so rude von Natur sind als die Trompeten, teils auch weil sie mit mehr Facilité konnen tractiret werden. Die brauchbarsten haben F und mit den Trompeten aus dem C gleichen Ambitum. Sie klingen auch dicker und füllen besser aus als die übertäubende und schreyende Clarinen, weil sie urn eine ganze quinte tiefer stehen.”

Lotti in his Giove in Argo, given in Dresden, 1717, scored for two horns in C, writing for them soli in the aria for tenor[61] (act iii. sc. 1). Examples of C. H. Graun's[62] scoring for horns in F and G respectively in Polydorus (1728-1729) and in Iphigenia (1731) show the complete emancipation of the instrument from its original limitations; it serves not only as melody instrument but also to enrich the harmony and emphasize the rhythm. A comparison of the early scores of Cavalli and Lulli with those of Handel's Wasserfahrtmusik[63] (1717) and of Radamisto, performed in London in 1720, shows the rapid progress made by the horn, even at a time when its technique was still necessarily imperfect.

While Bach was conductor of the prince of Anhalt-Cöthen's orchestra (1717-1723), it is probable that horns in several keys were used. In Dresden two Bohemian horn-players, Johann Adalbert Fischer and Franz Adam Samm, were added to the court orchestra in 1711.[64] In Vienna the addition is stated to have taken place in 1712 at the opera.[65] It is probable that as in Paris so in Vienna there were solitary instances in which the horn was heard in opera without attracting the attention of musicians long before 1712, for instance in Cesti's Il Pomo d'Oro, printed in Vienna in 1667 and 1668 and performed for the wedding ceremonies of Kaiser Leopold and Margareta, infanta of Spain. A horn in E (former F pitch) in the museum of the Brussels conservatoire bears the inscription “Machts Michael Leicham Schneider in Wien, 1713.”[66] Fürstenau[67] gives a further list of operas in Vienna during the first two decades of the 18th century.

It will be well before the next stage in the evolution is approached to consider the compass of the natural horn. The pedal octave from the fundamental to the 2nd harmonic was altogether wanting; the next octave contained only the 2nd and 3rd harmonics or the octave and its fifth; in the third octave, the 8ve, its major 3rd, 5th and minor 7th; in the fourth octave, a diatonic scale with a few accidentals was possible. It will be seen that the compass was very limited on any individual horn, but by grouping horns in different keys, or by changing the crooks, command was gained by the composer over a larger number of open notes.

An important period in the development of the horn has now been reached. Anton Joseph Hampel is generally credited[68] with the innovation of adapting the crooks to the middle of the body of the horn instead of near the mouthpiece, which greatly improved the quality of the notes obtained by means of the crooks. The crooks fitted into the two branches of U-shaped tubes, thus forming slides which acted as compensators. Hampel's Inventionshorn, as it is called in Germany (Fr. cor harmonique), is said to date from 1753.[69] the first instrument having been made for him by Johann Werner, a brass instrument-maker of Dresden. The same invention is also attributed to Haltenhof of Hanau.[70] Others again mention Michael Wögel[71] of Carlsruhe and Rastadt, probably confusing his adaptation of the Invention or Maschine, as the slide contrivance was called in Germany, to the trumpet in 1780. The Inventionshorn, although embodying an important principle which has also found its application in all brass wind instruments with valves as a means of correcting defective intonation, did not add to the compass of the horn. At some date before 1762 it would seem that Hampel[72] also discovered the principle on which hand-stopping is founded.

By hand-stopping (Fr. sons bouchés, Ger. gestöpfte Töne) is understood the practice of inserting the hand with palm outstretched and fingers drawn together, forming a long, shallow cup, into the bell of the horn; the effect is similar to that produced in wood wind instruments, termed d'amore, by the pear-shaped bell with a narrow opening, i.e. a veiled mysterious quality, and, according to the arrangement of the hand and fingers (which cannot be taught theoretically, being inter-dependent on other acoustic conditions), a drop in pitch which enables the performer merely to correct the faulty intonation of difficult harmonics or to lower the pitch exactly a semitone or even a full tone by inserting the hand well up the bore of the bell. J. Fröhlich[73] gives drawings of the two principal positions of the hand in the horn. The same phenomenon may be observed in the flute by closing all the holes, so that the fundamental note of the pipe speaks, and then gradually bringing the palm of the hand nearer the open end of the flute. As a probable explanation may be offered the following suggestion. The partial closing of the opening of the bell removes the boundary of ambient air, which determines the ventral segment of the half wave-length some distance beyond the normal length; this boundary always lies beyond the end of the tube, thus accounting for the discrepancy between the theoretical length of the air-column and the practical length actually given to the tube.[74] Hampel is also said to have been the first to apply the sordini[75] (Fr. sourdine) or mute, already in use in the 17th century for the trumpet,[76] to the horn. The original mute did not affect the pitch of the instrument, but only the tone, and when properly constructed may be used with the valve horn to produce the mysterious veiled quality of the hand-stopped notes. No satisfactory scientific explanation of the modifications in the pitch effected by the partial obstruction of the bell, whether by the hand or by means of certain mechanical devices, has as yet been offered. D. J. Blaikley suggests that in cases when the effect of hand-stopping appears to be to raise the pitch of the notes of the harmonic series, the real result of any contraction of the bell mouth (as by the insertion of the hand) is always a flattening of pitch accompanied by the introduction of a distorted or inharmonic scale, of such a character that for instance, the c, d, e, or 8th, 9th and 10th notes of the original harmonic scale become not the c# d# e# of a fundamental raised a semitone, but D♭, E♭, and f due to the 9th, 10th and 11th notes of a disturbed or distorted scale having a fundamental lower than that of the normal horn.

With regard to the discovery of this method of obtaining a chromatic compass for the horn, which rendered the instrument very popular with composers, instrumentalists and the public, and procured for it a generally accredited position in the orchestra, the following is the sum of evidence at present available. In the Kgl. öffentliche Bibliothek, Dresden, is preserved, amongst the musical MSS., an autograph volume of 152 pages, entitled Lection pro Cornui, bearing the signature A. J. H[ampel], the name being filled in in pencil by a different hand. There is no introduction, no letterpress of any description belonging to the MS. method for the horn, nor is any book or pamphlet explaining the Inventionshorn or the method of hand-stopping by Hampel extant or known to have existed. He has apparently left no record of his accomplishment. A few typical extracts copied and selected from the original MS., courteously communicated by the director of the Royal Library, Hofrath, P. E. Richter (a practical musician and performer on horn and trumpet), do not prove conclusively that they were intended to be played on hand-stopped horns, with the exception, perhaps, of the A, 13th harmonic from C, which could not easily be obtained except by hand-stopping on the hand-horn. On the blank sheet preceding the exercises is an inscription in the hand of Moritz Fürstenau, former custodian of the Royal Private Musical Collection (incorporated with the public library in 1896): “Anton Joseph Hampel, by whom these exercises for the horn were written, was a celebrated horn-player, a member of the Orchestra of the Electoral Prince of Saxony. He invented the so-called Inventionshorn. Cf. Neues biog.-hist. Lexicon der Tonkünstler by Gerber, pt. i. col. 493 ; also Zur Gesch. der Musik u. des Theaters ant Hofe zu Dresden, by M. Fürstenau, Bd. ii.” It will be seen that Fürstenau gives Gerber as his authority for the attribution of the invention to Hampel, although he searched the archives, to which he had free access, for material for his book.


Britannica Horn Hampel Exercise 21.png
p. 133, No. 21.
Britannica Horn Hampel Exercise 22.png
p. 133, No. 22.


The first possessor of the MS., Franz Schubert (1768-1824), musical director of the Italian opera in Dresden, wrote the following note in pencil on the last page of the cover: “Franz Schubert. The complete school of horn-playing by the Kgl. Polnischen u. Kursachs. Cammermusicus Anton Joseph Hampel, a celebrated virtuoso, invented by himself in 1762.” Judging from the standard of modern technique, there are many passages in the “Lection” which could not be played without artificially humouring the production of harmonics with the lips, and it is an open question to what extent this method of correcting intonation and of altering the pitch was practised in the 18th century. When, therefore, Franz Schubert states that the method was invented by Hampel, we may take this as indirectly confirming Gerber's statements. Further confirmation is obtained from the text of a work on the horn written by Heinrich Domnich[77] (b. 1760), the son of a celebrated horn-player of Würtzburg contemporary with Hampel. Domnich junior settled eventually in Paris, where he was appointed first professor of the horn at the Conservatoire. According to him the mute (sourdine) of metal, wood or cardboard in the form of a hollow cone, having a hole in the base, was used to soften the tone of the horn without altering the pitch. But Hampel, substituting for this the pad of cotton wool used for a similar purpose with the oboe, found with surprise that its effect in the bell of the horn was to raise the pitch a semitone (see D. J. Blaikley's explanation above). By this means, says Domnich, a diatonic and chromatic scale was obtained. Later Hampel substituted the hand for the pad. Domnich duly ascribes to Hampel the credit of the Inventionshorn, but erroneously states that it was Haltenhoff of Hanau who made the first instrument. Domnich further explains that Hampel, who had not practised the bouché notes in his youth, only made use of them in slow music, and that the credit of making practical use of the discovery was due to his pupil Giovanni Punto (Joh. Stich) the celebrated horn virtuoso, who was a friend of Domnich's.

It may be well to draw attention to the fact that hand-stopping was not possible so long as the tube of horn was folded in a circle wide enough to be worn round the body. The reduction of the diameter of the orchestral horn in order to allow the performer to hold the instrument in front of him, thus bringing the bell in front of the right arm in a convenient position for hand-stopping, must have preceded the discovery of hand-stopping. In the absence of contrary evidence we may suppose that the change was effected for the more convenient arrangement and manipulation of the slides or Inventions. So radical a change in the compass of the horn could not occur and be adopted generally without leaving its mark on the horn music of the period; this change does not occur, as far as we know, before the last decades of the 18th century. The rapid acceptance in other countries of Hampel's discovery of hand-stopping is evidenced by a passage from a little English work on music, published in London in 1772 but bearing at the end of the preface the date June 1766:[78] “Some eminent Proficients have been so dexterous as very nearly to perform all the defective notes of the scale on the Horn by management of Breath and by a little stopping the bell with their hands.”

Hampel's success gave a general impetus to the inventive faculty of musical instrument makers in Europe. At first the result was negative. Kölbel's attempt must, however, be mentioned, if only to correct a misconception. Kölbel, a Bohemian horn virtuoso at the imperial Russian court from 1754, spent many years in vain endeavours to improve his instrument. At last, in 1760, he applied keys to the horn or the bugle, calling it Klappenhorn (the bugle is known in Germany as Signal or Buglehorn), Kölbel's experiment did not become widely known or adopted during his lifetime, but Anton Weidinger, court trumpeter at Vienna, made a keyed trumpet[79] in 1801, which attracted attention in musical circles and gave a fresh impetus in experimenting with keys upon brass instruments. In 1813 Joseph Weidinger, the twelve-year-old son of the above, gave a concert in Vienna on the Klappenwaldhorn[80] (or keyed French horn), about which little seems to be known. Victor Mahillon[81] describes such an instrument, but ascribes the invention to Kölbel; there was but one key placed on the bell, which on being opened had the effect of raising the pitch of the instrument a whole tone. By alternately using the harmonic open notes on the normal length of the tube, and then by the action of the key shortening the air column, the following diatonic scale was obtained in the third octave:

Britannica Horn Keyed Horn Scale.png

In 1812 Dikhuth,[82] horn-player in the orchestra of the grand-duke of Baden at Mannheim, constructed a horn in which a slide on the principle of that of the trombone was intended to replace hand-stopping and to lower the pitch at will a semitone.

The most felicitous, far-reaching and important of all improvements was the invention of valves (q.v.) pistons or cylinders (the principle of which has already been explained), by Heinrich Stölzel,[83] who applied them first of all to the horn, the trumpet and the trombone,[84] thus endowing the brass wind with a chromatic compass obtained with perfect ease throughout the compass. The inherent defect of valve instruments already explained, which causes faulty intonation needing correction when the pistons are used in combination, has now been practically overcome. The numerous attempts to solve the difficulty, made with varying success by makers of brass instruments, are described under Valve, Bombardon and Cornet.[85] (K. S.)


  1. See Michael Praetorius, De organographia (Wolfenbüttel, 1618), tab. viii., where crooks for lowering the key by one tone on trumpet and trombone are pictured.
  2. See Victor Mahillon, Les Éléments d'acoustique musicale et instrumentale (Brussels, 1874), pp. 96, 97, &c.; Friedrich Zamminer, Die Musik und die musikalischen Instrumente (Giessen, 1855), p. 310, where diagrams of the mouthpieces are given.
  3. See Joseph Fröhlich, Vollständige theoretisch-praktische Musikschule (Bonn, 1811), iii. 7, where diagrams of the two mouthpieces for first and second horn are given.
  4. See Gottfried Weber, “Zur Akustik der Blasinstrumente,” in Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (Leipzig, 1816), p. 38.
  5. Les Instruments de musique au musée du Conservatoire royal de musique de Bruxelles, “Instruments à vent,” ii., “Le Cor, son histoire, sa théorie, sa construction” (Brussels and London, 1907), p. 28.
  6. Die Akustik (Leipzig, 1802), p. 86, § 72.
  7. Op. cit. p. 13, § 20, and p. 15, §§ 24 and 25. This apparent discrepancy between an early and a modern authority on the acoustics of wind instruments is easily explained. Chladni, when speaking of open and closed pipes, refers to the standard cylindrical and rectangular organ-pipes. Mahillon, on the other hand, draws a distinction in favour of the conical pipe, demonstrating in a practical manner how, given a certain calibre, the conical pipe must overblow the harmonics of the open pipe, whatever the method of producing the sound.
  8. See Gottfried Weber, loc. cit.
  9. See Ernst Heinrich and Wilhelm Weber, Wellenlehre (Leipzig, 1825), p. 519, § 281, and A Text-Book of Physics, part, ii., “Sound,” by J. H. Poynting and J. J. Thomson (London, 1906), pp. 104 and 105.
  10. See Sedley Taylor, Sound and Music (1896), p. 21.
  11. Id. pp. 23-25.
  12. See Gottfried Weber, op. cit., pp. 39-41, and Ernst H. and Wilhelm Weber, op. cit. p. 522, end of § 285.
  13. See A. Ganot, Elementary Treatise on Physics, translated by E. Atkinson (16th ed., London, 1902), p. 266, § 282, “In the horn different notes are produced by altering the distance of the lips.” Such a vague and misleading statement is worse than useless. See also Poynting and Thomson, op. cit. p. 113.
  14. “Le Cor,” p. 22; p. 11, § 18; pp. 6 and 7, § 8.
  15. The phraseology alone is here borrowed from Sedley Taylor, (op. cit. p. 55), who does not enter into the practical application of the theory he expounds so clearly.
  16. See Dr Emil Schafhäutl's article on musical instruments, § iv. of Bericht der Beurtheilungs Commission bei der Allg. Deutschen Industrie Ausstellung, 1854 (Munich, 1855), pp. 169-170; also F. Zamminer, op. cit.
  17. The measurements are for the high philharmonic pitch a' = 452.4. V. Mahillon, “Le cor” (p. 32), gives a table of the lengths of crooks in metres.
  18. Robert Eitner, editor of the Monatshefte für Musikwissenschaft, published therein an article in 1881, p. 41 seq., “Wer hat die Ventiltrompete erfunden,” in which, after referring to the Klappenwaldhorn and Trompete (keyed horn and trumpet) made by Weidinger and played in public in 1802 and 1813 respectively, he goes on to state that Schilling in his Lexicon makes the comical mistake of looking upon the Klappentrompete (keyed trumpet) and Ventiltrompete (valve trumpet) as different instruments. He accordingly sets matters right, as he thinks, by according to Weidinger the honour of the invention of valves, hitherto wrongfully attributed to Stölzel; and in the Quellenlexikon (1904) he leaves out Stölzel's name, and names Weidinger as the inventor of the Klappen or Ventil, referring readers for further particulars to his article, just quoted, in the Monatshefte.
  19. See Hector Berlioz, A Treatise on Modern Instrumentation and Orchestration, translated by Mary Cowden Clarke, new edition revised by Joseph Bennett (1882), p. 141.
  20. See Victor Mahillon, Catal. descriptif des instruments de musique, &c., vol. ii. p. 388, No. 1156, where an illustration is given. See also Dr August Hammerich (French translation by E. Beauvais), “Über altnordische Luren” in Vierteljährschrift für Musik-Wissenschaft x. (1894).
  21. See Major J. H. L. Archer, The British Army Records (London, 1888), pp. 402, &c.
  22. De re militari, iii. 5 (Basel, 1532). The successive editions and translations of this classic, both manuscript and printed, throughout the middle ages afford useful evidence of the evolution of these three wind instruments.
  23. See Wilhelm Froehner, La Colonne Trajane d'après le surmoulage exécuté a Rome en 1861-1862 (Paris, 1872-1874). On pl. 51 is a cornu framing the head of a cornicen or horn-player. See also the fine plates in Conrad Cichorius, Die Reliefs der Traiansäule (Berlin, 1896, &c.).
  24. Ermanno Ferrero, L'Arc d'Auguste à Suse (Segusio, 9-8 B.C.) (Turin, 1901).
  25. See the mouthpiece on the Pompeian buccinas preserved in the museum at Naples, reproduced in the article Buccina. The museums of the conservatoires of Paris and Brussels and the Collection Kraus in Florence possess facsimiles of these instruments; see Victor Mahillon, Catalogue, vol. ii. p. 30. Cf. also the pair of bronze Etruscan cornua, No. 2734 in the department of Greek and Roman antiquities at the British Museum, which possess well-preserved cup-shaped mouthpieces.
  26. See Bock, “Gebrauch der Hörner im Mittelalter,” in Gustav Heider's Mittelalterliche Kunstdenkmäler Osterreichs (Stuttgart, 1858-1860).
  27. Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français (Paris, 1889), ii. p. 246.
  28. Engelbertus Admontensis in De Musica Scriptores, by Martin Gerbert, Bd. ii. lib. ii. cap. 29; and Edward Buhle, Die Musikalischen Instruments in den Miniaturen des frühen Mittelalters, pt. i., “Die Blasinstrumente” (Leipzig, 1903), p. 16.
  29. Le Trésor de venerie par Hardouin, seigneur de Fontaines-Guérin (edited by H. Michelant, Metz, 1856); the first part was edited by Jérome Pichon (Paris, 1855), with an historical introduction by Bottée de Toulmon.
  30. As worked out by Edward Buhle, op. cit., p. 23.
  31. See Turbevile, op. cit., also J. du Fouilloux, La Vénerie (Paris, 1628), p. 70; cf. also editions of 1650 and of 1562, where the horn is called trompe, used with the verb corner; Juliana Bernes, Boke of St Albans (1496), the frontispiece of which is a hunting scene showing a horn of very wide bore, without bell. Only half the instrument is visible.
  32. See “Reliure italienne du xve siècle en argent niellé. Collection du Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild, Vienne,” in Gazette archéologique (Paris, 1880), xiii. p. 295, pl. 38, where other instruments are also represented.
  33. See Jost Amman, Wappen und Stammbuck (1589). A reprint in facsimile has been published by Georg Hirth as vol. iii. of Liebhaber Bibliothek (Munich, 1881). See arms of Sultzberger aus Tirol (p. 52), “Ein Jägerhörnlin,” and of the Herzog von Wirtenberg; cf. the latter with the arms of Wurthemberch in pl. xxii. vol. ii. of Gelre's Wappenboek ou armorial de 1334 à 1372 (miniatures of coats of arms in facsimile), edited by Victor Bouton (Paris, 1883).
  34. For illustrations see autotype facsimile of Utrecht Psalter, 9th century; British Museum, Add. MS. 10,546, Ps. 150, 9th century; Add. MS. 24,199, 10th century; Eadwine Psalter, Trin. Coll. Camb., 11th century, and Cotton MS., Nero, D.IV., 8th century; also Edward Buhle, op. cit., pl. ii. and pp. 12-24.
  35. See John Carter, Specimens of Ancient Sculpture and Paintings (London, 1780-1794), i. p. 53 (plates unnumbered); also reproduced in H. Lavoix, Histoire de la musique (Paris, 1884).
  36. See Jost Amman, op. cit.
  37. Musica getutscht und ausgezogen (Basel, 1511), p. 30. The names are not given under the drawings, but the above is the order in which they occur, which is probably reversed.
  38. Harmonie universelle (Paris, 1636), p. 245.
  39. Syntagma Musicum (Wolfenbüttel, 1618), pl. vii. No. 11, p. 39.
  40. Historisch-biographisches Lexicon der Tonkünslter (Leipzig, 1790-1792 and 1812-1814).
  41. De saecularibus Liberalium Artium in Bohemia et Moravia fatis commentarius (Prague, 1784), p. 401.
  42. See Ernest Thoinan, Les Origines de la chapelle musique des souverains de France (Paris, 1864); F. J. Fétis, “Recherches sur la musique des rois de France, et de quelques princes depuis Philippe le Bel jusqu'à la fin du règne de Louis XIV.,” Revue musicale (Paris, 1832), xii. pp. 193, 217, 233, 241, 257; Castil-Blaze, La Chapelle musique des rois de France (Paris, 1882); Michel Brenet, “Deux comptes de la chapelle musique des rois de France,” Intern. Mus. Ges., Smbd. vi., i. pp. 1-32; J. Ecorcheville, “Quelques documents sur la musique de la grande écurie du roi,” Intern. Mus. Ges., Smbd. ii. 4 (Leipzig, 1901), pp. 608-642.
  43. Neue Zeitschrift f. Musik (Leipzig, 1870), p. 309.
  44. See Die Sammlung der Musikinstrumente des baierischen Nat. Museum by K. A. Bierdimpfl (Munich, 1883), Nos. 105 and 106.
  45. Communication from Dr Georg Hagen, assistant director.
  46. See Musée du Conservatoire National de Musique. Catalogue des instruments de musique (Paris, 1884), p. 147.
  47. See Captain C. R. Day, Descriptive Catalogue of the Musical Instruments exhibited at the Military Exhibition (London, 1890), p. 147, No. 307.
  48. See V. Mahillon, Catal. vol. i. No. 468.
  49. See Captain C. R. Day, Catal. No. 309, p. 148.
  50. For an illustration see Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Ancient Musical Instruments at South Kensington Museum 1872 (London, 1873), p. 25, No. 332.
  51. See Katalog des musikhistorischen Museums von Paul de Wit (Leipzig, 1904), p. 142, No. 564, where it is classified as a Jägertrompete after Praetorius; it has a trumpet mouthpiece.
  52. For an illustration see F. J. Crowest. English Music, p. 449, No. 12.
  53. See Ignatz and Anton Böck in Baierisches Musik-Lexikon by Felix J. Lipowski (Munich, 1811), p. 26, note.
  54. See, for instance, frontispiece of Walther's Musikalisches Lexikon (Leipzig, 1732); J. F. B. C. Majer's Musik-Saal (Nuremberg, 1741, 2nd ed.), p. 54; Joh. Christ. Kolb, Pinacotheca Davidica (Augsburg, 1711); Ps. xci.; “Componimenti Musicali per il cembalo Dr Theofilo Muffat, organista di sua Sacra Maesta Carlo VI. Imp.” (1690), title-page in Denkmäler d. Tonkunst in Oesterreich, Bd. iii.
  55. See Hugo Goldschmidt, “Das Orchester der italienischen Oper im 17 Jahrhundert,” Intern. Mus. Ges., Smbd. ii. 1, p. 73.
  56. See “Le Cor,” pp. 23 and 24, and Dictionnaire de l'acad. des beaux arts, vol. iv., art. “Cor.”
  57. Mersenne's drawings of cors de chasse are very crude; they have no bell and are all of the large calibre suggestive of the primitive animal horn. He mentions nevertheless that they were not only used for signals and fanfares but also for little concerted pieces in four parts for horns alone, or with oboes, at the conclusion of the hunt.
  58. See William Tans'ur Senior, The Elements of Musick (London, 1772); Br. V. Dictionary under “Horn.” Also Scale of Horn in the hand of Samuel Wesley; in Add. MS. 35011, fol. 166, Brit. Mus.
  59. A horn-player, Johann Theodor Zeddelmayer, was engaged in 1706 at the Saxon court at Weissenfels; see Neue-Mitteilungen aus dem Gebiete histor. antiqu. Forschungen, Bd. xv. (2) (Halle, 1882), p. 503; also Wilhelm Kleefeld, “Das Orchester der Hamburger Oper, 1678-1738,” Intern. Mus. Ges., Smbd. i. 2, p. 280, where the appearance of the horn in the orchestras of Germany is traced.
  60. Das neu-eröffnete Orchester, i. 267.
  61. See Moritz Fürstenau, Zur Geschichte der Musik und des Theaters zu Dresden (Dresden, 1861-1862), vol. ii. p. 60.
  62. See “Carl Heinrich Graun als Opernkomponist,” by Albert Mayer-Reinach, Intern. Mus. Ges., Smbd. i. 3 (Leipzig, 1900), pp. 516-517 and 523-524, where musical examples are given.
  63. Cf. Chrysander, Haendel, ii. 146.
  64. See Moritz Fürstenau, op. cit. ii. 58.
  65. See Ludwig von Köchel, Die kaiserliche Hofkappelle in Wien (Vienna, 1869), p. 80.
  66. See Victor Mahillon, Catalogue descriptif, vol. ii. No. 1160, p. 389.
  67. Op. cit. ii. 60.
  68. The Department of State Archives for Saxony in Dresden possesses no documents which can throw any light upon this point, but, through the courtesy of the director, the following facts have been communicated. Two documents concerning Anton Joseph Hampel are extant: (1) An application by his son, Johann Michael Hampel, to the elector Friedrich August III. of Saxony, dated Dresden, April 3, 1771, in which he prays that the post of his father as horn-player in the court orchestra in which he had already served as deputy for his invalid father may be awarded to him. (2) A petition from the widow, Aloisia Ludevica Hampelin, to the elector, bearing the same date (April 3, 1771), wherein she announces the death of her husband on the 30th of March 1771, who had been in the service of the house of Saxony thirty-four years as horn-player, and prays for the grant of a monthly pension for herself and her three delicate daughters, as she finds herself in the most unfortunate circumstances. There is no allusion in either letter to any musical merit of the deceased.
  69. There is an instrument of this early type, supposed to date from the middle of the 18th century, in Paul de Wit's fine collection of musical instruments formerly in Leipzig and now transferred to Cologne; see Katalog, No. 645, p. 148.
  70. See Dictionnaire de l'acad. des beaux arts, vol. iv. (Paris), article “Cor.”
  71. See Dr Gustav Schilling, Universal Lexikon der Tonkunst (Stuttgart, 1840), Bd. vi., “Trompete”; also Capt. C. R. Day, pp. 139 and 151, where the term Invention is quite misunderstood and misapplied. See Gottfried Weber in Caecilia (Mainz, 1835), Bd. xvii.
  72. Gerber in the first edition of his Lexikon does not mention Hampel or award him a separate biographical article; we may therefore conclude that he was not personally acquainted with him, although Hampel was still a member of the electoral orchestra in Dresden during Gerber's short career in Leipzig. In the edition of 1812 Gerber renders him full justice.
  73. Vollständige theoretisch-praktische Musikschule (Bonn, 1811), pt. iii. p. 7.
  74. See Victor Mahillon, “Le Cor,” p. 28; Chladni, op. cit. p. 87.
  75. See Fröhlich, op. cit. 7; and Gerber, Lexikon (ed. 1812), p. 493; “Le Cor,” pp. 34 and 53.
  76. See Praetorius and Mersenne, op. cit.; the latter gives an illustration of the trumpet mute.
  77. Methode de premier et de second cor (Paris, c. 1807). The passage in question was discovered and courteously communicated by Hofrat P. E. Richter of the Royal Library, Dresden. There is no copy of Domnich's work in the British Museum.
  78. See William Tans'ur Senior, op. et loc. cit.
  79. See Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (Leipzig), Nov. 1802, p. 158, and Jan. 1803, p. 245; and E. Hanslick, Geschichte des Concertwesens in Wien (Vienna, 1869), p. 119.
  80. See Allgem. mus. Ztg., 1815, p. 844.
  81. “Le Cor,” pp. 34-35.
  82. See the description of the instrument and of other attempts to obtain the same result by Gottfried Weber, “Wichtige Verbesserung des Horns” in Allg. musik. Ztg. (Leipzig, 1812), pp. 758, &c.; also 1815, pp. 637 and 638 (the regent or keyed bugle).
  83. See Allg. musik. Ztg., 1815, May, p. 309, the first announcement of the invention in a paragraph by Captain G. B. Bierey.
  84. Ibid., 1817, p. 814, by F. Schneider, and Dec. p. 558; 1818, p. 531. An announcement of the invention and of a patent granted for the same for ten years, in which Blümel is for the first time associated with Stölzel as co-inventor. See also Caecilia (Mainz, 1835), Bd. xvii. pp. 73 seq., with illustrations, an excellent article by Gottfried Weber on the valve horn and valve trumpet.
  85. For a very complete exposition of the operation of valves in the horn, and of the mathematical proportions to be observed in construction, see Victor Mahillon's “Le Cor,” also the article by Gottfried Weber in Caecilia (1835), to which reference was made above. A list of horn-players of note during the 18th century is given by C. Gottlieb Murr in Journal f. Kunstgeschichte (Nuremberg, 1776), vol. ii. p. 27. See also a good description of the style of playing of the virtuoso J. Nisle in 1767 in Schubart, Aesthetik d. Tonkunst, p. 161, and Leben u. Gesinnungen (1791), Bd. ii. p. 92; or in L. Schiedermair, “Die Blütezeit d. Ottingen-Wallensteinschen Hofkapelle,” Intern. Mus. Ges. Smbd. ix. (1), 1907, pp. 83-130.


Britannica Horn Modern Horn.png

Fig. 8. — Modern Horn (Boosey & Co.)