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Introduction to the Double horn

The horn is a brass instrument consisting of about 12 feet (3.7 m) of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. A musician who plays the horn is called a horn player (or less frequently, a hornist).

Descended from the natural horn, the instrument is informally known as the French horn, but since 1971 the International Horn Society has recommended the horn.

Horns have valves, operated with the left hand, to route the air into extra tubing to change the pitch. Most horns have lever-operated rotary valves, but some horns like the Vienna horn use piston valves (similar to trumpet valves). A horn without valves is known as a natural horn, changing pitch along the natural harmonics of the instrument (similar to a bugle), but with a wide range of notes due to the long tubing.

Three valves control the flow of air in the single horn, which is tuned to F or less commonly, Bb. The more common double horn has a fourth valve, usually operated by the thumb, which routes the air to one set of tubing tuned to F or the second set of tubing tuned to Bb. Triple horns with five valves are also made, tuned in F, Bb, and a descant Eb or F.

Despite the introduction of valves, the single F horn proved difficult for use in the highest range, where the partials grew closer and closer, making accuracy a great challenge. An early solution was simply to use a horn of higher pitch—usually Bb. The use of the F versus the Bb horn was a hotbed of debate between horn players of the late nineteenth century, until the German horn maker Ed. Kruspe produced a prototype of the "double horn" in 1897.

The double horn also combines two instruments into a single frame: the original horn in F, and a second, higher horn keyed in Bb. By using a fourth valve (usually operated by the thumb), the horn player can quickly switch from the deep, warm tones of the F horn to the higher, brighter tones of the Bb horn. The two sets of tones are commonly called "sides" of the horn. Using the fourth valve not only changes the basic length (and thus the harmonic series and pitch) of the instrument, it also causes the three main valves to use proportionate slide lengths.

In the USA, the two most common styles ("wraps") of double horns are named Kruspe and Knopf, after the first instrument makers who developed and standardized them. The Kruspe wrap locates the Bb change valve above the first valve, near the thumb. The Knopf wrap has the change valve behind the third valve, near the pinky finger (although the valve's trigger is still played with the thumb). In effect, the air flows in a completely different direction on the other model. Kruspe wrap horns tend to be larger in the bell throat than the Knopf type. Typically, Kruspe models are constructed from nickel silver or German Silver, while Knopf type horns tend to be of yellow brass. Both models have their own strengths and weaknesses, and while the choice of instrument is very personal, an orchestral horn section is usually found to have either one or the other, owing to the differences in tone color, response, and projection of the two different styles.

In Europe the most popular horns are arguably those made by Gebr. Alexander, of Mainz (particularly the Alexander 103), and those made by Paxman in London. In Germany and the Benelux countries, the Alex. 103 is extremely popular. These horns do not fit strictly into the Kruspe or Knopf camps, but have features of both. Alexander prefers the traditional medium bell size, which they have produced for many years, whereas Paxman do offer their models in a range of bell throat sizes. In the United States, the Conn 8D, a mass produced instrument based on the Kruspe design, has been extremely popular in many areas (New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Philadelphia). Since roughly the early 1990s, however, for reasons ranging from changing tastes to a general dislike of Conn's newer 8Ds, orchestras have been moving away from the popular Conn 8D. Knopf model horns (by Geyer, Karl Hill, Keith Berg, Steve Lewis, Dan Rauch, and Ricco-Kuhn) are used in other areas (San Francisco, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, Houston).
Conn Vintage 8d Series Double Horn V8ds Nickel Scr
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Conn 11ds Symphony Series Screw Bell Double Horn L
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The 11D Symphony Series offers the player a brighter sounding instrument that works well f ...
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The 11D Symphony Series offers the player a brighter sounding instrument that works ...
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$5500.00
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The 11D Symphony Series offers the player a brighter sounding instrument that works ...
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Conn 10ds Symphony Series Screw Bell Double Horn L
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$6400.00
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The 10D Series provides control and focus with the flexibility of sound necessary i ...
Conn 10ds Symphony Series Screw Bell Double Horn L
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$6200.00
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Conn 10d Symphony Series Fixed Bell Double Horn 10
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$5725.00
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The 9D features a 12.25 medium throat bell and nickel finish for a more open, dark ...
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