Maarten Bauer

HORNS: Bass clef

12 posts in this topic

Hi all,

 

I am reading Cecil Forsyth's Orchestration. I just finished the horn chapter, but I have a question about the horn writing in the bass clef.

My friend plays horn and she dislikes to have notes with more than four leger lines under the staff with the G clef. I therefore change the G clef to the Bass clef, when several notes are below the F.

I am confused by the octave transpositions that Forsyth mentions: I think he said that in 'earlier times' the hornist read the notes in the Bass clef an octave lower than written. Please correct me, when I am wrong!

Do hornists nowadays play the notes in the Bass clef as written or an octave lower?

 

Kind regards,

 

Maarten

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I believe that in the old style, the horn part is written an octave lower than it is to be played (i.e. a 4th below concert pitch). Nowadays horn parts in the bass clef are played in the same octave as written. (A 5th above concert pitch, same as treble clef)

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I can't speak for earlier times, but I was told recently that hornists may not know how to read bass clef, so ledger lines should be used with the G clef instead.

I'm not sure if it's stylistically correct to use an ottava/8vb line below the staff to make things easier on the performer, but it certainly makes the score look nicer in my opinion.

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Bass clef horn parts are in the same octave. Don't worry about them not being able to read it... as horn players, they should be able to, considering that their instrument makes that available for them.

cant say the same about beginners though, haha.

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Thank you all! Can still be confusing, these transposing instruments!

1 hour ago, Noah Brode said:

I can't speak for earlier times, but I was told recently that hornists may not know how to read bass clef, so ledger lines should be used with the G clef ...

 

Indeed, it may be difficult for beginners to read notes written in bass clef, advanced and professional hornists should be able to read it.

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If you're dealing with the professionals, which most of us are, in our writing, bass clef is much preferred, at least from my experience.

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18 hours ago, maestrowick said:

Bass Clef Horn Parts..the bane of my existence.  

 

If I were a hornist, I would actually appreciate notes in the bass clef instead of more than four leger lines!

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^this is true^

I've only ever played in a concert band setting where horn parts are always on ledger lines no matter how low. It's been a big pain to me more than once. 

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I occasionally write rather low notes for my horns, so It's good to know that my instincts about using bass clef in my horn parts as needed were good.  Thanks all for confirming that.  I write a lot for horn, particularly natural horn, and I'm still occasionally mystified by it!    

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There's an it depends in here. Orchestral horn players should have no problem in bass clef. Neither should horn players reading chamber literature.

Concert band is a different story. If you're writing to be published for concert band, where most sales are to the amateur market, you need to keep your horns in treble clef.

Also, regarding the transposition, don't worry about the Forsythe note unless you're reading pre-1900 horn parts where the bass clef is ambiguous.

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