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Horn Design

JULY 2005 / JUNE 2007 · by THÜ HÜRLIMANN As a professional visual artist with degree in graphics design and over 20 years of working experience I, am generally a very visual oriented person. One of the reasons of my love for the french horn, besides it's wonderful tone, is, it looks great! Searching around on homepages of all known manufacturers, I decided to pick out which ones are the most beautiful horns available. No question, each full double horns I've found is a king of instruments, but there are some details that can make the difference between a nice looking horn and an absolutely perfect beauty.

This is a horn beauty contest
I did a study about the differences between available horn designs and analyzed what are the reasons that one horn looks esthetically more pleasing than an other one. I've found some specific factors which are responsible for this. Each one gives a horn a beauty point if accomplished. The best designs with all factors completed earn the title of a "Perfect Beauty". Of course all of this has nothing to do with playability and sound or crafting qualities of these horns, as I said, this is just a visual analysis. Only F/Bb double horns (maybe with A stopp valve in some cases) are taken into consideration.

horn graphic

BALANCE FACTOR
If the rotary valves horizontal axis stays too close to the middle of the instruments body, the valve keys must be placed too far away. Most tubes stay on the left side while the right side contains not much more than a long junction between valves and keys. The Alex 103 is a typical and very extreme example of this factor, but as it is one of the most professionally played instruments, it also shows this design factors have nothing to do with the sounding qualities of an instrument.


KNOTED TUBES FACTOR
FOTO: HOYER 6801 Here is the reason why no Kruspe wrapped horn (except one) made it into the Top 10 beauties. The B rotary valves position causes much tubes to search entangled ways in and out of the B valve. Usually you get something that looks like a plumbers work. But it is still possible to make a Kruspe without knoted and outstanding tubes, as McCracken shows with his Model 7 double.

HOLE FACTOR
This is a problem mainly for the Geyer horns. The tubes that go into the first valve and come out the last valve often go straight, which causes two big empty spaces B then hide behind the big final wrap tubing what causes another empty space A. Horns like the Paxman 23 don't hide this tubes and go with a bend into the valves, filling the spaces and generally looking much more interesting than a stright tubing. Some horns close the one or other space more or less. Those having a stopping valve clearly have an advantage, as it usually sits exactly there to fill space A. With the Engelbert Schmid double, we can even see an unusual big space A, because the whole valve section sits very far back in order to leave space for the version that includes a stopping valve.


TUBE ART FACTOR
Engelbert Schmid TripleFOTO: E. SCHMID TRIPLE The less the tubes look like a tinmans or plumber's work, the better. Therefore this one is related to the "knoted tubes" factor where it can be seen how a plumbers work looks: 180° curves that first go into a straight tube before connecting through joints to something. And many joints in general. Beautiful are rounded, curved tubes that are connected directly flowing from the curved form, they look more tlike art then simply functional.

Holton
Holton 478ER
Conn 8d
Conn 8d
Alexander 403
Alexander 403

SEE FOR YOURSELF
Here are three different full double horns, only one of this made it to the Perfect Beauties. What do you think which one is it?


DECORATIONS (this is not a factor)
Keith BergFOTO: KEITH BERG First looking to a horn that has a detachable bell with garland and valve caps with decorations and then looking to a horn without any of this things, the second horn seems like a naked one. The ring of a detachable bell makes a nice partition exactly at a part of the horn that (without ring) looks boring from certain angles. But of course this is not a factor for this contest because it's a question of personal taste. Garland, bell cut and valve cap decorations can be put any time additionally to any horn.

Details

INTERESTING GREAT DETAILS
In my opinion the more balanced a horn is in placing of the rotary valves, the more interesting it looks, therefore I find the Cornford C28, Hpyer C12 or the Ricco Kühn 294 with displaced first and fifth valves or the Alexander 403 with three valves in front and Bb-Valve on backside the most interesting of these horns.


Keith BergTHE THEIN M
Should I put the Thein M among the Perfect Beauties or not? It was difficult to decide because there are very few photos around of this horn. I finally got some pictures from Malte Mory who designed it, and it became clear that the Thein M deserves to be among the perfect beauties, I personally believe it to be the most beautiful horn of them all.


The Perfect Beauties

Alexander 200
Alexander 200
 
Alexander 403
Alexander 403
 
Cornford C28
Cornford C28
 
Kalison kbc 26
Hoyer C12
McCracken Model 7
McCracken 7
 
Paxman 23
Paxman 23
 
Paxman Series 3
Paxman Series 3
 
Ricco Kühn 294
Ricco Kühn 294
Ricco Kühn 294
Thein M
 
Yamaha YHR 667v
Yamaha 667v
 

 


 

Top esthetic horns
in alphabetical order

PERFECT BEAUTY
Alexander 200
Alexander 403b
Cornford C28
Hans Hoyer C12
McCracken Model 7
Paxman 23
Paxman Series 3
Ricco Kühn 294
Thein M
Yamaha 667v


  ALL PARTICIPANTS
in alphabetical order

Alexander 103
Alexander 104
Alexander 200
Alexander 403
Alexander 503
Atkinson 102
Atkinson NN 508
Atkinson NYR 502
Atkinson AG 2000
Atkinson A 700
Atkinson A 800
Atkinson NR 501
Cerveny 645
Conn 10d
Conn 11d
Conn 8d
Cornford C23
Cornford C28
Daniel Kunst Double
Dieter Otto 160
Dieter Otto 180
Dieter Otto 180K
Dürk D3
Dürk D4
Finke Brendan
Hans Hoyer 5801
Hans Hoyer 7801
Hans Hoyer 801
Hans Hoyer C12
Hans Hoyer dk122
Holton H105
Holton H177
Holton H192
Holton H379
Holton 478ER
Holton 479ER
Kalison kbc 26
Kalison A2000
Lawson 804
Lidl 346
Lidl 347
Lidl 842
Lidl 847
M. Jiracek 102
M. Jiracek 101
McCracken Model 7
Paxman 20
Paxman 23
Paxman 23
Paxman series 3
Pizka Classic
Ricco Kühn 294
Ricco Kühn W253
Ricco Kühn W293
Schmid double
Sorley G1
Thein M
Thein R
Willson CS 200
Willson CS 240
Willson CS 250
Willson CS 262
Yamaha 667v
Yamaha 668v
Yamaha 567

If you produce or own a horn you don't see here and you think it could be one of the top horn designs,

Thanks to Thompson Edition for the photo of the McCracken and to Malte Mory for the pictures of the Thein M.

Thom