AskDefine | Define althorn

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. An alto or tenor saxhorn


  • Spanish: trombón alto

Extensive Definition

Althorn redirects here. For the village in Essex, see Althorne.
Genis redirects here. For the Tales of Symphonia character, see Genis Sage.
Known in the U.S. as alto horn, in the UK as the Tenor Horn, and in Germany as althorn this brass instrument pitched in E has a conical bore (gradually widening), and normally uses a deep, cornet-like mouthpiece. It is most commonly used in marching bands, brass bands and similar ensembles, whereas the horn tends to take the corresponding parts in symphonic groupings and classical brass ensembles. In the U.S. and Germany the name tenor horn is identical to baritone horn as well as the Tuba and euphonium. To avoid confusion, the instrument is also occasionally referred to as E horn.


The alto horn (in E (flat)) has a conical bore like the orchestral (French) Horn (in F) and uses deep funnel or cup shaped mouthpieces depending on the model. It is used in British Brass bands and is very rarely included in the orchestra where its place is taken by the orchestral horn. However, it is regularly found in concert bands, where it has the same status as the Horn. The conical bore and deep mouthpiece produces a mellow, rounded tone which is most often used as a middle voice, supporting the melodies by the trumpets, cornets or flugelhorns, and fills in the gap above the lower tenor and bass instruments (the trombone, baritone horn, euphonium and tuba). Solos for the alto horn are very occasional, and are usually taken by the solo horns. Most alto horns are pitched in E and are transposing instruments. Their typical range is from the A an octave and a minor third below middle C to the E an octave and a minor third above middle C (A2 to E5). The standard bell-up horn comes in two basic shapes, one with the beginning of the bell looping over the top of the valves and the other looping below the valves.

Naming issues

In the UK, the term alto was dropped, even though the little E horn was originally advertised in Sax’s catalogues as an alto horn. The reason this was done is that in British brass bands the E cornet is referred to as the soprano, the B cornet as the alto (unsaid but implied), the E horn as the tenor, the small-bore B horn, formerly the tenor horn, became the baritone, the baritone mysteriously disappeared from the Saxhorn lineup, and so on. The name tenor could apply only to one instrument, of course, and as it had been reassigned to the E horn. Sometimes the name is shortened to just E horn to avoid any confusion.
And yet, in other countries, there are yet more names for the alto horn; for example, 'Althorn' in Germany and even just 'E Horn'. But just remember that the alto horn is pitched in E, unlike the baritone and euphonium, which are pitched in B. Also, the UK baritone horn (sometimes referred to as the tenor in the US) horn has the smallest bore, followed by the US baritone horn, and the euphonium has the largest tuba-like bore of the three.
In the U.S., it is colloquially known as the "peck horn". This name is mentioned in The Music Man.


It was invented as the alto voice in the saxhorn family in the mid-1800s by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian who is best remembered for the saxophone. It has been made in various forms: most common is a sort of mini-tuba shape, with the bell pointing upward, which may help the voice blend before reaching the audience; the solo horn looks like (and indeed effectively is) an enlarged flugelhorn, with the bell pointing forward, projecting more toward the audience; another variant has the bell facing backward (for military marching bands that preceded the soldiers, thus helping them hear better and keep better time in marching). Of these types only the standard upright instrument is seen in UK brass bands and remains the most common configuration seen.
Other saxhorns include the baritone horn.

Lists of important players

Today's premiere players
These are some of the most universally respected and influential tenor horn players in the world today:
  • Lesley Howie formerly of Black Dyke Band and Leyland Band (Horn Tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music)
  • Martin Armstrong of BHK Horden Band
  • Owen Farr of The Cory Band
  • Sheona White - formerly of YBS Band and now with Foden's Richardson Band
  • William Rushworth
  • John Thomas - Black Dyke Mills Band (1993) and winner of The World Brass Soloist competition (1988)
  • Phil Randell - former British Open Horn Champion
  • Bruce Myers - current Australian Open Horn Champion and Solo Horn for Gunnedah Shire Band
  • Melvyn Bathgate of Brighouse and Rastrick Band
  • Karlheinz Hoeflich Soloist
  • Sandy Smith of the Black Dyke Band
  • Django Bates

External links

althorn in Dutch: Althoorn
althorn in Japanese: テナーホルン
althorn in Norwegian: Althorn
althorn in Russian: Альт (духовой инструмент)
althorn in Swedish: Althorn

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

alpenhorn, alphorn, alto horn, ballad horn, baritone, bass horn, brass choir, brass wind, brass-wind instrument, brasses, bugle, bugle horn, clarion, cornet, cornet-a-pistons, corno di caccia, cornopean, double-bell euphonium, euphonium, helicon, horn, hunting horn, key trumpet, lituus, lur, mellophone, ophicleide, orchestral horn, pocket trumpet, post horn, sackbut, saxhorn, saxtuba, serpent, slide trombone, sliphorn, sousaphone, tenor tuba, tromba, trombone, trumpet, tuba, valve trombone, valve trumpet
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