Another French Horn?

• Nov 23, 2017 - 04:10

With the Muse Score, I have a written a piece with French Horns where the notes are exceeding their actual range (which I really like), however I would like real French horn players to play what is in their range. So what other horn can play these high notes and still sound like a French horn?


Historically all horns (and trumpets) could be retuned by changing the length of a section of the horn, normally attached to the mouth piece. The lowest of these horns were in C and had a range that went a 4th below the french horn, while the highest (no extension just a mouthpiece) went to "High C" which had a range a 5th above the French horn. Those horns and trumpets did not have valves and the number of notes that could be reliably played were not chromatic (all 12 tones of the chromatic scale). The pitch of the horn wast determined by the key of the piece so the main tones could be reliably played.

Amateur French horns do not have this retuning ability but the valves make then chromatic. I have seen professional French Horns that have valves and can be retuned like the historic horns. I'm not sure how common these are since I don't watch a lot of concerts on YouTube or anything.

MuseScore give a wide variety of horns with various tunings in the instruments list under All instruments or search for "Horn."

Remember that all instruments sound different in different parts of their ranges. A French horn at the top of its range sounds sharper and a bit more trumpet like than in the medium or low range. So Bugle seems excellent.

For brass instrument, there is no hard upper limit on what can be played. MuseScore might mark notes as out of range based on what orchestration textbooks say is a safe range to write, but most professional horn players can go rather higher as needed from time to time. If you post the passage in question here, maybe a skilled horn player can comment on its playability. You can substitute a brass instrument that has these notes in range, but it will no longer have the sonic quality of a brass instrument being pushed to its limtis that may well be what you are enjoying about the playback currently.

That said, while bugle might work, I'd recommend flugelhorn if you are looking for something more horn-like at the upper range.

In reply to by Lafayette

OK, that's way too high for any horn player I know, and in fact, it's still extremely high and thus quite difficult for all but a very small percentage of high-note specialists on trumpet, even then it will probably be about 10 times louder than anything else in the ensemble. Realistically, you will probably need to take that down at least an octave.

In reply to by Lafayette

"Horn" generally refers specifically to "Horn in F", colloquially known as the French horn. There basically isn't another type of horn anyone would ever mean by that word alone. So yes, I mean, there is basically no chance a French horn player could play that in the octave written.

Piccolo trumpet is a funny instrument. I used to think it would allow you to play lines an octave higher than a standard trumpet with the same ease, but I'm assured by several people I know who play it that this isn't true - while it's easier to play high, it still requires expertise and endurance to maintain the necessary embouchure. No doubt a real trumpet player would be able to say with more authority. In any event, the sound quality of a piccolo trumpet is more noticeably different from a French horn than a flugelhorn is.

I did listen to the passage, but it seems you must be using a non-standard soundfont because all I heard was piano.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I really appreciate you educating me in this area of music for my ignorance is profound. Your suggestion of a flugelhorn has inspired me to go to youtube and listen to one. Right now I'm listening to Sergei Nakariakov and I'm really enjoying it.

Concerning the passage I sent I'm a bit disappointed for I went through some effort with the mixer and synthesizer to make sure all the instruments had their say. This is what what was lined up: MagiCs5StringBanjo.sf2, Framus_western.sf2 (the guitars) and FluidR3Mono_GM.sf3 (for the other instruments). Are these considered non-standard?

By the way, thanks to the rest of you for your input.

In reply to by Lafayette

The only relevant standard here is General MIDI. That is what MuseScore understands, enabling it to automatically associate instruments with sounds without requiring you to use the Mixer.

Basically, if you are using anything other than one single GM-compatible soundfont, that's non-standard. That's why you need to use the Mixer to tell MuseScore how to find sounds, and why it won't sound the same on anyone else's system unless they happen to have the same soundfonts installed.

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