Double Horn - Doppelhorn

How to use the double horn: Wie nutzt man das moderne F-B Doppelhorn:

Have you ever thought how to produce 1.:"sotto voce" ?
2.: How to play two consecutive eight-note strokes with the same loud dynamics ?
3.: How to make the lower not of a down & up again jump sound full & as same strong as the other notes ?
4.: how to improve endurance (applies for all horn players including the principals)

There is a simple solution:
Use the double horn in the right way.

How is this for point 1. ? Sing the simple melodic line "sotto voce" on the F-horn.

You will immediately feel the difference in the sound, the warmth, - and no zzsschh in the sound. Well admitted, if the line goes up to a peak note as f2, f#2 or g2, why not switching to B-flat-side just for this note.

How about point 2. ?
Simply playing the first eight of the two strokes (I am talking about two consecutive & connected notes) on the F-side, but the second one, which is weaker by nature, on the B-flat-side & watch the improved effect (sample: Aida : didleduddlediuddle -rum-pum, where rum-pum is the horn).

How about point 3. ? Well, nearly the same as under point 2. Play the upper note on the F-side & the single low notes on the B-flat-side. Reverse the normal process. Watch how present the low notes are now.

How about point 4. ?
Be clever, play as much as possible & as much as you can be responsible for on the F-side, occasionally hitting the thumb valve to B-flat for some better intonation (playing the written e-flat2 together with trumpets or clarinets), or securing higher entrances, or strengthen very loud passages, but keep most of the B-flat-side playing for the later part of the symphony or whatever you play. There can be nothing said against the use of the B-flat-side, if it makes finger technique easier (easier means less movement).

Have you ever thought about that more tension in the lips can be achieved by different way. The one is to stretch them, resulting in higher pitch, but less endurance, because the flesh gets thinner. It also results in much tension. The other one is thicken the lips & thus also shorten the vibrating portion of the lip, thus resulting in higher pitch but not making the flesh thinner. The contrary is the case. You will have some kind of "cushion" & not so much tension. Use the "ring" muscles a lot.

How to use the double horn pt.2:

How can I double the forte efect ?
Have you ever thought, if d# & E-flat or c# & D-flat are equal notes ? How to make a difference between enharmonically equal notes ?
How to get the high F2 in tune on the B-flat side and safe ?
How to produce the D2 with correct intonation?

1.: start the passage on the F-side, even the note which is set with the enormous fortissimo in the later part (example: the culminating g2 of the main motive from Zarathustra), then in the last note, hit the thumb valve
switching to B-flat where the fortissimo is required, open your throat & let the air flow with all the power. Now watch the new effect.
Just fingering different. D# is a note leading upwards (as in E-major), while E-flat is rather leading downwards (as in c-minor). So the fingering could be different: using 2 on the F-horn for D# in the upper octave means using the 10th harmonic, while using the 1 on B-flat for the E-, such the 8th harmonic (B-flat horn , written F top-line, diminished for a full
High F2 in tune & secure: use the 1st valve in combination with the B-flat horn, thus using the 9th harmonic (written g2) lowered by the first valve for a full step.
The D2 is absolutely in tune played as an open note on the F-side, thus using again the 9th harmonic, but of the F-horn. The 9th harmonic has a certain tendency to be right sharp.

To make it clear, if I talk about names of notes (pitches), this is for notation in F. Surely, if there is a rapid technical passage, one cannot care about all of these special fingerings (for me they are normal !), but
if there is a longer held note or a lyrical line or a solo, one should take care.

How to use the double horn pt.3

Mahler Symphony no.2 third movement:  There are several calls for the brass in different keys. Rehearsal number 39: written B-nat. major sounds as E-major & is best with the 2nd valve on the F-side. written E-major sound as A-major & is best with the 2nd valve on the B-flat-side, rehearsal number 49: notated G-major sounding as C-major is done easiest on the G-horn as to finger 1-2 on the B-flat-horn combined with using the 1st valve alone also. This for the brass calls. The notated C#-major 16 measures before number 27
in the 5th movement is much easier if you use the F-side with 2nd for F# & 1+2 for the A & C# & the 2nd valve alone for the c#2 because of less movement. Yeah, there is the Pastorale-like little triplet solo in the 5th movement: d2-d2-g1-d2, d2-g1-d2-g2-d2-g1-d2-d2-2-d2-d2-d2. Make it easier & precise by playing the d2 on the F-side as open note, but the g1 & the g2 on the B-flat-horn with 1st valve.

How to make "gestopft" passages in a fortissimo brass passage
"audible" ?

Very simple solution:
at first: play the "gestopft" on the F-side only, as the half step down transposition works good only on the F-side only. at second: do it "by hand", as the brass stop mute is too soft regarding sound output third: close the bell tight with the right hand but lift the ball on the thumb so more air & sound can escape, thus keeping the "brassy" character but increase the loudness.

Grown up with the hand horn first & later studying horns with valves & playing both types - different to others who studied the hand horn after the valve horn - I might have a different & perhaps more natural approach to the relevant technique than others.

The theory & the practical use of the "gestopft" technique are two different pairs of shoes. We should not resume the discussion about it. For those interested into what really happen inside the horn acoustically, I might recommend to contact Dr. Robert Pyle.

But for all others: we should stay with the PRINCIPLE that stopping rises the tone for a half step & thus requires transposing it down for a half step to compensate the pitch difference. We should not become disturbed by the fact,

that gradually closing the bell (and this again works on the F-horn length ONLY - in principle) LOWERS the pitch for a half step.

But this is called MUTING not STOPPING.

MUTING by hand requires a transposition for a
semitone upwards.

Admitted, adding tube length by the use of the valve & using the "gestopft" technique, will result in slightly higher pitch, off course. The same is the case, but more audible, using the Bb-tube-length, but here again reduced a bit by adding tube length by the use of the valves, resulting in a double confusion.

But we have to compensate this anyway. How ? The solution for the Bb-horn is quite simple: the extra stopping valve, which is more or less a semitone, as
it can be used as a fixed valve for transposition to A. Does it not say, that the pitch is risen for a semitone when using the "gestopft" technique ?? But how about a fingered passage ? Is not that all out of tune ? It is out
of tune as well as are all other notes except the natural harmonics on the F-horn.

BTW: stopping on the longer tube lengths (F-side plus added valves !) will NOT result in flat notes but in SHARP notes, as the hand position does not corres-pond to the longer tube !

How can we overcome the problem ? Do we have ears ? Do we have lips, which can be with more or less tension ? Yes, we do. So we have to adapt the pitch instantly by using our ears, the lips & slightly modifying our right hand position (opening a bit more or closing tighter). This is the same technique we should use for the "open" notes anyway.

Please give up the solely technical approach to the horn. The horn is not a keyboard instrument where you can hit a certain position & the same note comes again & again. Years of experience - many years - and a still critical ear will enable you to hit the notes in the right pitch NEARLY every time you want to do it, even on a brand new & different horn than yours, after you tried it just for a few minutes before. All in conjunction with lip
position, right hand position, dogmatic or altered fingerings, even modified horn holding position (lifting it up a bit e.g.), even air output, sharpness of the air stream , certain inside-mouth positions (changing the
cavity !), etc.

The reaction & thus adaptation must be spontaneous, but working lifelong. This makes a good musician. If this ability is missing or lost, there is no chance.

One should also remember, that many of the above mentioned reactions or corrections CANNOT be taught, but initiated only. Every individual has to find his or her own exceptions for improvement.

There is only one thing to be judged: the "audible output", called the played music. So, many deviation from the "dogmatic path" may be allowed, if they work SECURE & COMFORTABLE & EASY.

So I repeat:
If something is to be said about the horn technique, it must be a principle, a so called "dogma", for a horn of AVERAGE size, here bell size, and an AVERAGE hand of AVERAGE size. Off course, if one factor is out of the AVERAGE (bell size too big for a hand, which is too small, or bell too small - rare - and hand too big) COMPROMISES will be necessary and allowed off course. The PRINCIPLE about stopping is possible for the AVERAGE range of the horn only as written e1 to g2 (notated in F), as all other notes tend to create intonation problems, no matter on the F-horn or the Bb-horn, no matter if F-side on the modern double or single-F-Horn. But one should not mix up full double horn with Bb-horn with F-extension, which is for the F-natural tones only.

But here I was not speaking of the use of the F-side mainly, but of opening the "ball on the thumb".

One should also realise, that we should avoid combination fingerings where possible (another principle) as they tend to be sharp anyway as every valve slide is calculated separately but NOT for the combination, where the shorter slide will be much too short regarding the overall elongation by the longer valve.

If there are principles, those do not exclude exemptions, which might work better for particular persons or with particular instruments or in particular situations.

 Dec.2nd 1998 by Prof.Hans Pizka


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