Saturday, April 11, 2009

Double Horn

Working with the BE method, I've been rethinking approaches to the horn. One change was restringing the trigger so the horn is in Bb unless the trigger is depressed, which will switch it over to the other horn, the F. Since pretty much all of the music for the community band is in, for me, the high register, I use the shorter Bb horn to make getting those high notes easier. Restringing the trigger means my thumb is not not involved most of the time, removing one area of tension from the mix.

Previously I'd warmed up on the F horn and then switched over to the Bb as needed for higher notes. Now I warm up on, and do most all my playing, on the Bb horn. So when I started preparing the alto part of a Handel bourrĂ©e for the Gordon House performance, discovered I'd developed an embouchure that works well for the Bb horn, but on the F horn it's loose and the tone isn't focussed. 

I've seen where horn players with the luxury of other players in a section will specialize in either high or low ranges, and now it's more clear to me why that is. A corollary to this is understanding another reason I was having trouble with high notes before using BE and the lights came on.

Cousin Steve, a natural trombone player, said one time, "Warm up high if you're going to play high, or low if you're going to play low." So that makes more sense to me now. But the main thing is that I'd never really fully appreciated that there are two distinct instruments involved in the double horn, with an embouchure for each. I think if I'd really understood everything involved in learning the horn I wouldn't have been quite so cavalier about picking it up.

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