On the single F horn, part III: Gearing up for a recording project

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It took over two months but at this point I am fairly comfortable with playing a period single F horn.

In part I of this series a topic was my being inspired by the discovery of forgotten horn repertoire that I think has potential — quality works aimed at low horn players of the late 19th and early 20th century who still used single F horns. The horn solo works we usually perform from that era strike me as being centered on high horn players and more suited to single Bb (and later double) horns.

Part II of this series addressed among other things the mouthpiece issue. Besides just learning the music a big part of the puzzle has been figuring out the horn and mouthpiece question. I can’t right now say for sure I won’t adjust things further, but I think I have them.

IMG_0265After quite a bit of serious practice I am back on the horn that was made for me by Richard Seraphinoff, described in part I. The alternate instrument I tried was a King F horn that Seraphinoff helped me convert to take crooks, also mentioned in part II. Each instrument has a personality and individual intonation issues, more so than on modern horns. The bottom line at the moment is the Seraphinoff has better valves (especially in slurs vrs. valve changes) and overall it sounds better, it has a bit less of that rough natural horn edge (“bubbles”) on the articulations. A very German horn perfect for the German music on the recording.

(So what is better about the valves exactly? It has to do with “clicks” when the valves move, the way they affect the flow of the airstream blowing through slurs. For more on where I learned to use the term “clicks” in this context, and for an explanation of “bubbles” see this article.)

Of the mouthpieces I have (mentioned in part II), the modified Atkinson H-10 did well on the King conversion horn, and is seen on the Seraphinoff in the photo, but I am leaning toward the Moosewood LGC being the mouthpiece of choice on the Seraphinoff horn. Sound has a bit more “life” and it is easier to play.

(Easier to play? The reason this is an element is kind of along the same lines as the typical discussion in the Horn People group about Geyer/Knopf design horns compared to Kruspe/8D type horns. If you are going to play a horn for hours week after week you need something that plays easily, especially as you get older, rather than expending great physical effort to produce some idealistic sonic concept. On one mouthpiece the horn is a bit more “smoky” and on the other it is more in focus. A topic for a different article, but relevant to current equipment choices for this recording project, as I need to record everything in a three day window of time.)

So the plan as of now is to use the Moosewood LCG on the Seraphinoff horn for the recording. And I now have recording dates set in early July, the recording project will happen! I also have nearly all the literature picked as well. I will hold off on describing it for now to be sure nobody else records them first to undercut my profits (LOL). But seriously, rep is about 90% picked now, almost all of it has never been recorded before and I feel certainly deserves to be performed more often. More on the repertoire as we get closer to the recording date.

UPDATE: I also now am using mostly the E crook described in an earlier article, from when I was preparing to perform this same horn on a recital. Never underestimate the power of a change of crook, it does help sort the overall intonation out better. The only thing that worries me is I have to have the horn main slide pushed in nearly all the way with this crook; I hope the recording studio is not overly cool, it could cause problems.

Continue to Part IV

University of Horn Matters