in a curved conical form, from about three-quarters of an inch in diameter at the embouchure, to a size enabling the smaller end of the mouthpiece to be slipped tightly into the upper orifice of the crook. It is to be noted that the cavity into which the lips vibrate is thus not cup-shaped, as in the trumpet and cornet, but conoidal downwards, with curved sides approximately hyperbolic in contour. The peculiar softness of quality
|of the Horn||and||of the Trumpet.|
|half the real size.|
The original use of the French Horn was to give signals in hunting. In this function it is difficult to say at what precise date it superseded the more ancient cornet, of wood, horn, or ivory, which was more akin to the Bugle. Louis XI of France ordered the statue on his tomb to be dressed in the costume of a hunter with his cornet at his side. Dufouilloux dedicated a treatise on Venery to Charles IX, who had himself written a similar work. He therein praises the cornet, and imitates its sound by the word tran. In the woodcuts contained in his work, and in pictures of Louis XI's projected monument, the cornet appears to have only a single ring or spiral; being thus competent to produce only a few notes. In the edition of Dufouilloux published in 1628, however, the king and his lords are represented as having cornets with a second half-circle in the middle. Louis XIII, who was extremely fond of hunting the fox, invented a call, to distinguish that animal, containing several different notes, which show that for their proper intonation the instrument itself must have made progress, and increased in length. Louis XV, however, and his master of the hunt, M. de Dampierre, composed and selected the greater number of calls and fanfares used in the royal hunt, which continue to be employed up to the present time.
The hunting horn finally adopted differs from the orchestral horn in consisting of an unbroken spiral of three turns, sufficiently large to be worn obliquely round the body, resting on one shoulder and passing under the opposite arm. The hands are thus left at liberty, and the mouthpiece can easily be brought to the lips by a single movement.
Three kinds of hunting airs are to be made out. (1) Calls (tons de chasse), of which there are about 31. These are intended to cheer on the hounds, to give warning, to call for aid, and to indicate the circumstances of the hunt. (2) Fanfares, of which there is one for each animal, and several for the stag, according to his age and antlers. (3) Fancy airs performed as signs of joy or after a successful hunting.
The best-known calls are the Reveillée, the Lancé and Relancé; the Hourvari, or default; the Debuché; the Volcelest (when the fresh footmark of the animal is found); the Halali, and the Mort. Of fanfares there are the Royale, sounded for a stag of ten points—invented by Louis XV; the petite Royale, sounded for the wild boar; various others distinguishing the wolf, fox, weasel, and hare; and the Fanfare de St. Hubert, as the patron saint of hunting, only sounded on his day. (3) The third series approximates more than the others to regular musical performances, and furnishes the link between the use of the Horn as a signal, and as a melodious instrument. These airs are many and various, named after royal personages or distinguished hunters.—Donner du cor is the term for sounding the horn.
The introduction of the Horn into the orchestra in France is attributed to Gossec. He, when still very young, was requested to write two airs for the debut of Sophie Arnould at the opera in 1757, in which he introduced obbligato parts for two Horns and two Clarinets; the latter instrument being also heard for the first time. Lotti and Scarlatti introduced it into Italy, and were followed by Hasse and Alberti. It must have been previously used in Germany, since it appears frequently in the scores of J. S. Bach, who died in 1750. It was first used in England as early as 1720 by the opera band in the Haymarket, at the performance of Handel's Radamisto.
It was much objected to when first heard, as coarse and vulgar; and severe strictures were indulged in at the introduction of a rude instrument of the chase among more refined sources of sound, such as the Violins and Oboe. It is remarkable how subsequent experience has reversed this hasty judgment; the smooth tender tone peculiar to the Horn contrasting admirably with its orchestral companions, and forming a firm foundation for harmony in chords and holding notes.In consequence of this prejudice, when the Horn was originally transferred in Germany from the hunting field to the orchestra, it was suggested to introduce a mute or damper into the bell, for the purpose of softening the tone; this was at first made of wood, and afterwards of card-board. It was the custom to produce a like effect in the Oboe by filling the bell, made globular for the purpose, with cotton-wool; a plan
- In English we say 'sound the horn,' 'wind the horn'; Tennyson (Locksley Hall), 'sound upon the bugle horn.'
- Gossec is also said to have introduced the Trombone in his opera, 'The Babines,' in 1773.