Episode 5 – The Tenor, errr Alto Horn

Matt and I take a look at the Alto Horn, A.K.A the Tenor Horn (or Peck Horn, or Blatweasel) and why it’s not used anymore in American bands.

From Bandestration


9 thoughts on “Episode 5 – The Tenor, errr Alto Horn

  1. Eric Falley

    I was mentioned in the podcast! Indirectly anyway. Lots of really cool stuff in there, especially the combinations with different instruments, mutes, etc. Makes me want to consider using this quartet, but the lack of instruments in the US makes that difficult.

  2. Leifsrfalling

    I was also intrigued about the comment about filling the C3 to C4 gap and how that range is written for in the band. I think I agree. Does that range just need to be bolstered by additional instruments, or do composers typically just not write for that range well? In addition to alto and baritone horns, I see alto clarinet, bassoons (although I consider the C3 to F4 range the weakest on the bassoon), tenor sax, bari sax, bass oboe (if available), trombones, and euphoniums covering this range comfortably. This sounds like a fair number of instruments available, so what would you suggest to cover this range better? In my head, I hear Grainger covering this range well, although I might just be conflating covering this range with the association with his reedy sound.

  3. The Michigan Marching Band used Alto Horns up until the mid 1990’s (exact date not known, based on my younger contacts from the band), when they were finally replaced with mellophoniums. They were affectionately (derisively?) called “peck horns” because they often had the after beats in marches so they “pecked” at the music. The instruments marched were Eb, 3 valve instruments as you described, but these had forward-facing bells. Full instrumentation of the band in that era was:
    6 Piccolos
    24 Clarinets
    18 Alto Saxes
    12 Tenor Saxes
    48 Trumpets
    12 Alto Horns
    12 Euphoniums
    36 Trombones
    12 Tubas
    8 Snare Drums
    4 Bass Drums
    4 Cymbals
    24 Flags
    4 Twirlers
    1 Drum Major
    196 Instruments
    225 Total on field
    There was NO auxiliary instruments (i.e. pit)

    1. I’m really surprised that these lasted all the way into the 90s. I know the type of horn you’re talking about. Probably like the old bell-front Euphoniums seen in countless band halls.

  4. Mark

    My middle school owns several alto horns, and the high school band teachers son plays it in addition to french horn.

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