A major concern of all Horn (French Horn) players who are operating in the non-classical realm is how to be heard when there is a loud rhythm section, or even a loud group of brass, woodwinds or whatever! The bell pointing ‘backwards’ and the hand in the bell are hindrances, but they’re part of our instrument, so what to do? For me, keeping the bell elevated off the leg and hand position are important, but that’s not enough in some circumstances. When I need to amplify myself, I use the AMT wireless. http://www.appliedmicrophone.com/. If there’s no sound system, and I need to provide my own amplification, I bring my lunchbox amp. https://www.ztamplifiers.com/products.html It’s not super-powerful but if you locate it behind you, you can hear yourself!
First, the “Why”, because that’s the point I really want to make. In a word: CLARITY.
It seems to me there are many ways of explaining this. An example is perhaps best: Play a bebop tune as fast as you can, on the double horn. Then play the exact same thing on the F alto horn (descant or triple). Which do you think sounds clearer / more intelligible / listenable?
Another reason which is applicable to those who played trumpet before they played horn: It feels familiar. You relate to the instrument in a similar way: range / register / fingerings; although in a different key.
There is some great information from John Ericson here: http://hornmatters.com/2012/10/playing-descant-and-triple-horns-a-new-e-book/
I’ve recently recorded an e-lesson for https://vimeo.com/hipbonemusic/vod which should be available around September or so.
As a player, when sight-reading new music, I really prefer not to see too much information. Sure, you need the essentials – time and key signatures, tempo and the notes. But I’ve played many pieces of music that have so much detailed information that it distracts me from listening to the other instruments. Listening is so very important, and I’m afraid many of us including myself, don’t pay enough attention to it.
Of course, a lot depends on what the composer intends. If the composer has a very clear, specific goal for how a piece should be played, then perhaps there should be as much information as possible? But if the composer is willing to allow for personal and group interpretation, the musicians will be more able to find their own voice in a piece, if there aren’t too many markings and instructions.
Another thing to be considered is: what do the musicians prefer? I’ve already said that I really like openness, not too much instruction and allowing for more interpretation. But I realize that some ensembles and individuals prefer to see a lot of information, and if they don’t see it, they’ll be wanting to ask the composer “How do you want me to play this?”
So, I sincerely welcome any feedback regarding my own compositions and arrangements – I’ve even considered making two versions of each arrangement; one with very little information, and another with a maximum directions! That’s it for today, looking forward to your comments!
Hi Jazz Horn aficionados; here goes my first blog post! This will be a place to discuss arrangements for French Horn. First, I’d like to ask if there’s any interest out there, in new arrangements of Christmas songs?