Nursery Rhymes

Horns

Medieval life and Times

Definition and Description of the Horns
Definition and description of various Horns: Horns can be described as woodwind instruments of music; originally made of a horn (ox or a ram). The name is now applied to various elaborately wrought instruments of brass or other metal, resembling a horn in shape. Various types of horns date back to antiquity.

Roman musical instruments such as the Buccina which were based on horns developed directly into the trumpet and trombone during the Medieval period and lost no characteristic of importance except for the bent form, which was abandoned when the art of bending hollow tubes was lost after the fall of the Roman Empire. There were four horns known by the collective name of cornu among the Romans which were still used during the Middle Ages:

  • The short animal horn used by shepherds
  • The longer, semicircular horn, used for signals
  • The longer horns which were bent and carried like the buccina, which had the wide bore of the modern tuba
  • The small Medieval hunting horns

Family of Instruments: The Horns belongs to the family of Woodwind instruments.

The Medieval hunting horns were crescent-shaped and worn slung by a leather strap over one shoulder and resting on the opposite hip. When played these horns were held with the wide end curving upwards in front of the huntsman's head. Only one note was played, the various calls and signals being based chiefly on rhythm, and the notes being left to the taste and skill of the huntsman. 

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