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Selecting a Horn

Selecting  a Horn

When it comes to choosing your equipment, I am a fan of the go-with-your-gut theory. If you pick something up and after a few minutes do not like it, it is probably not the best choice for you. In a world where there are just so many types of horns that exist and new builders entering the scene on a regular basis, it can be hard to know what you like and what will work for you.
A good place to start is just to try everything you can get your hands on. See what your school owns, what your friends own, and get a sense of what you do and do not like. It can be useful to make a list to keep handy, but at the same time, two horns that should be exactly the same can play very different. Also check out local music stores in your area to see what they keep in stock regularly and if they would be willing to get a few things in for you to try.
The best way to try the most variety is horn workshops/conferences/symposiums. The horn society website is the best place to find a list of upcoming events. At these events, there are usually quite a few people who bring a variety of used horns they have for purchase, as well as several horn makers who you can place orders through that would have some samples for you to try. Again, TRY EVERYTHING! You never know what you could fall in love with. Prices vary so much with horns so make sure you stay within your price range, but do not be afraid to try something new. Leave your biases at the door and come in with an open mind.


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Overtone Series

Overtone Series
All instruments are created around a naturally occuring series of notes. Each fingering on every instrument allows a certain series of notes to be produced and that series is called the overtone series. With the correct setup and everything working in the right way, the attempted note should come out. However, there are various issues that can cause incorrect notes to come out. Have you ever heard a reed instrument squeak? That is a note within their overtone series that came out instead of the note they were attempting. On the horn, the overtone series on the open F side of the horn looks like this: (photo credit : Maurice Limon)
This series works for each fingering on the F side of the horn and goes down by half-step as you add fingerings in order (2, 1, 12, 23, 13, 123) and this is how the fingerings for all of the notes on the horn are determined.
There are many exercises that are based around the knowledge of the overtone series. Some of the notes are not perfectly i…