From the Mailbag: On that 1860 onwards CD project


Received recently was a message with questions on my CD project that I mentioned in the summer/fall. It is coming! The articles on this project start here. Only a little more editing, just have not had time to get in the studio to do it yet this year. A reader had a few questions, which I will try to answer below.

Interesting project, from the photo of instrument and mouthpiece, I guess your using a modern mouthpiece. This would contribute to the intonation problems, after all the mouthpiece your [sic] using is not historically correct. Besides performers of that era would have been used to correcting the pitch with hand and lips. It is only modern players who seem to complain about out of tune instruments, back then you just got on with it.

In part II of my series on developing this CD project (here) I mentioned that I was trying several mouthpieces on the horn but to clarify I settled on the Moosewood LGC model which is a copy of a historic mouthpiece (now out of production) based on I recall a Courtois mouthpiece. Just I would never use that mouthpiece on a modern horn, I would never use a modern mouthpiece on the Seraphinoff horn either — a modern mouthpiece is not a good acoustical match.

IMG_0265I think the reader has a point about tuning though, natural horn has out of tune notes and if you started on it, correcting those notes always, then when you switched to a valve horn back in the day (late 19th century) that would seem pretty normal. Horns just had bad notes and you dealt with them. For for modern horn though, really, a good horn certainly has very good intonation.

But back to the photo in question (also seen in part III, here), that day that moment I was playing the modified Atkinson mouthpiece which is a bit more like a modern mouthpiece, I will grant you that. But it was not used on the actual recordings.


Look forward to hearing the completed project. I do have one question. What criteria did you use to decide whether the solo was intended for natural horn or valve horn? Or could some of the solos have been intended for either instrument?

They are defiantly all valved horn solos. Some say Ventilhorn right on the music, but the from gamut of notes used in every piece it is also very evident they are valved horn solos. The requested written pitches being the main criteria to know if a work is for the valved horn or the natural horn.

I will be swamped for a few weeks but hope to get the final edits done and the CD mastered by the end of February and released not too long after that. More then.

University of Horn Matters