Integrated approach to the analysis of eighteenth-century horns
The revival of interest in historical performance practice has led to much speculation concerning how early instruments might have been made, played and in particular how early ensembles might have sounded. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the hunting horn became increasingly accepted as an integral member of the orchestra. This new role led to changes in the design of the instrument and also in player technique which in turn led to a change in the sound quality or timbre of the instrument. There are many surviving examples of eighteenth-century horns in museums and private collections worldwide and the significant variation amongst these instruments is evidence of this new and innovative era in the development of the horn. Perhaps the most significant and contentious debate in the discussion on horn technique from this period concerns how and in what situation the hand should be employed within the bell of the instrument. This is the central issue on which the following research has been based. A multifaceted approach was adopted in order to gain a broader insight into the mysteries surrounding the eighteenth-century horn. The various methods used include: acoustical analysis of the effect of the hand in the bell of the horn on intonation and ease of playing in the high register, and analysis of variation in tonal characteristics; ergonomic analysis which lends a practical perspective to the issues surrounding playing technique; bore profile analysis in order to efficiently and effectively compare a large amount of data concerning this fundamental aspect of horn design. The results have shown that an integrated approach to the analysis of eighteenth-century horns, performed systematically on measurements from a large database of over one hundred instruments, has the potential to provide an insight into the development of the horn from a number of different perspectives. A large scale analysis such as this allows trends to be observed which shed new light on regional variation in horn design and playing technique over time.