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Making the mid range of an orchestra sound great is the main purpose of alto and tenor horns. These versatile instruments not only project beautifully but can easily be picked up and played by any horn enthusiast. These horns sound great on their own but are also the perfect support tone for other brass instruments like tubas, trumpets and cornets.
The difference between an alto and a tenor horn is just language. The British and American orchestral traditions have this identical horn named two different ways. The British favor the tenor horn, while the Americans call it the alto horn. Both are tuned in E flat, have a larger than standard mouthpiece and project a deep, resonating tone.
When you’re choosing a horn you need to consider how much you’ll be using it and what for. There are student, intermediate and professional horn designations and each provide the musician with everything they need for their skill level. If you’re just getting started the Besson BE1052 is a great choice. By providing the basic keys and features, this horn allows the student to learn all of the components and makes it easier to get a handle on the fingering and breathing.
If you’re looking to join a marching band or orchestra there are some solid intermediate level instruments available. These models have a few extra features like hand lapped spring pistons and a lyre holder. Options like the Kanstul 941 have all the bells and whistles that will help fill out the sound in your brass section.
If you’re a seasoned pro, deluxe models like the Besson BE950 or the Yamaha YAH-803S are available to help take your practice to the next level. With heavier design valve casings and quality damper systems to ensure an extremely precise sound and optimal projection, these instruments are truly powerful and require a musician who can harness that power.
The clarity of a tenor or alto horn is what makes them so unique. They bring out the mid-range in the brass section and make it shine. Incorporating one of these horns into your setup is an exciting way to develop your skills and to truly sound unique.