Brief review: Horn Technique by Jeffrey Agrell

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Those familiar with older horn publications will recall a classic 1962 book by Gunther Schuller titled Horn Technique. It is so compact that you can practically put it in your pocket, quirky in ways, but full of interesting information, and a good book to examine in comparison to the Farkas book.

Fast forward to today, we have another book of the same title, but different in practically every way. And those that have already seen Horn Technique by Jeffrey Agrell of the University of Iowa will also know that the idea of doing a brief review of such a massive volume is almost a humorous idea. But here goes!

The title Horn Technique is apt as the Agrell book, much more so than the Schuller, is fundamentally a book about actually building technique on the horn.

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One thing I will say right away that I LOVE is the font size. As I get older I really appreciate books printed so that they are easily readable, as the temptation is for the publisher to cram more text on less pages. The result is, however, that this is almost certainly the longest horn publication since the 500+ page Dauprat  Méthode de Cor alto et Cor basse of 1824 (in three volumes — more info here). The table of contents alone is more than eight pages long, there are 48 chapters divided into ten parts, the entire publication is well over 450 pages!

Having helped build very large websites I realize fully that organization is always a challenge with large projects. In this case, the book is full of interesting content that flows logically, but, still, purchasers may find things a little intimidating. An index would have been helpful. I mention all this as organization might have benefited by following the lead of Dauprat, breaking the content down into perhaps two or three distinct volumes.

Setting all that aside, the big positive is this book really is fresh and new. One complaint I have had about many horn publications is that authors seem almost afraid to say something different than Farkas. Agrell on the other hand really goes for it, there is much here that will be very new to readers. Bravo!

Horn Technique by Jeffrey Agrell is an impressive publication, one with much to offer. Printed and bound well and cleanly edited, it is as advertised truly “a new approach to an old instrument.” Serious students of the horn should check out this book — a huge bargain selling for only $19.99 as a print version and $9.99 for Kindle.