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Thread: Eb Alto/Tenor Horn & The Salvation Army

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    153
    I've always had my eye on the Alto/tenor horn, but never had the opportunity to play one, until a few months ago when I came across a vintage Mahillon from 1927 for cheap, so I dove right in. I absolute fell in love with it and have acquired 3 more since!!! (A BM Symphonic, a vintage Courtois from between 1927 and 1930 and an Olds Ambassador bell-front, wich I suspect is tuned in the key of F, but it is still in transit from the USA to The Netherlands) It is so much fun to play on them, I just can't put it down once I pick one up. It is so unfortunate that it is such an obscure, forgotten even, instrument outside the Brass Band world.

  2. Quote Originally Posted by MarChant View Post
    I've always had my eye on the Alto/tenor horn, but never had the opportunity to play one, until a few months ago when I came across a vintage Mahillon from 1927 for cheap, so I dove right in. I absolute fell in love with it and have acquired 3 more since!!! (A BM Symphonic, a vintage Courtois from between 1927 and 1930 and an Olds Ambassador bell-front, wich I suspect is tuned in the key of F, but it is still in transit from the USA to The Netherlands) It is so much fun to play on them, I just can't put it down once I pick one up. It is so unfortunate that it is such an obscure, forgotten even, instrument outside the Brass Band world.

    100% agree, they are complete fun.
    I don't need more than my one, but I'm really curious: can you describe how the Courtois' sound differs from your others?

  3. Don’t forget that the alto/tenor horn has a prominent role in banda music, performed in Mexico and the southwestern U.S.. If you want to delve into this further, try searching YouTube for “banda saxor”. Saxor is the word used for this horn in the banda world.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EifFb1L8jNk

    Plus, I would love to see Owen Farr and Sheona White in uniforms like these. :-)

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UsFbmjQIU_4
    Last edited by MikeS; 04-09-2021 at 09:02 AM.

  4. Right, I can't unsee that, so, erm, thanks.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    153
    @MikeS: interesting, I had not heard of these "banda saxor" before, but that is good news for alto horn enthusiasts.

    @Shawn: I can't tell you how the Courtois sounds just yet. It has a leak in the leadpipe; always a risk when bidding in online auctions, even when the discription says 'tested and working/playable', but I taped it with plumbers (teflon) tape. The leak is airtight now, but I can't play without mute in my appartement so I have to wait until I can visit my mom in the weekend. Then, it will truly be tested. 😀

    The Mahillon sounds a tiny bit more 'mellow' and has a few more intonation quirks than the BM, wich is a little brighter and better in tune (but still has its issues).

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    153
    Today I have played the three horns at my mom's house. She couldn't hear a difference, but I believe the Courtois has a little bit more warmth in its tone. The BM Symphonic is the best player of the three, both in ease and intonation. But then again, that was made probably in the 1990's and the others some 65-70 years earlier.
    I have recorded me (on my phone) playing the opening bars of "ballade" by John Golland. Don't judge me on my playing, as I am just an amateur...
    (Pictures: 1. Courtois 2. BM Symphonic 3. Mahillon)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 20210410_095527.jpg   20210330_094940.jpg   20210310_190024.jpg  
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by MarChant; 04-11-2021 at 02:23 PM.
    Martin Monné
    • Wessex Festivo, 4-valve compensating (2017)
    • Hirsbrunner HBS 378 Standard, 4-valve compensating (1983)
    • Mahillon Bass Saxhorn, 4-valve (1927)
    • Anton Hüller Tenor Horn, 3-valve (Early 20th Century, HP, wallhanger)


  7. #17
    The variety of F and Eb Alto things is pretty much endless. Regardless, comparing any of them to the French Horn is an insult to the French Horn. Hardly any of these instruments are any match for the Horn in any category.

    Some quick summaries ranked by size.

    Couesnon Cor-Alto (Eb) : Jam your hand up the bell and use something like Horn mouthpiece. Power and projection like a woodwind. Good range. Gives you carpal tunnel if you don't already have it.

    York Concert Mellophone (F/Eb) : With classic mouthpiece in F? Totally useless. With small mouthpiece (JK C1A 9.5mm shank) in Eb? Alto Sax competitor. Plays up to 12th partial. Not as pretty sounding or cool looking as others.

    Marching Mellophone (F) : Worst instrument to ever become mainstream.

    Conn Mellophonium (F) : Iconic instrument with a pretty boring sound. If you have the original Conn 1 mouthpiece and good ears, the intonation is alright. Mile wide pitch center has its benefits.

    DEG Marching Alto (F/Eb) : Basically a Soloist Alto with a massive .490" bore. Beautiful warm sound. Too bad it looks dumb and has goofy ergonomics.

    Conn 14C Marching Alto Horn (F) : Pretty much the (pen)ultimate American Alto. Horrible intonation. Average range. Really good at everything else. Totally worth the struggle.

    Ukraine Rotary Alto Horn (Eb) : Similar to the Conn, but almost unbearably loud. Plays better with a smaller mouthpiece than the Russian version.

    Russian Rotary Alto Tuba (Eb) : Requires a pretty specialized mouthpiece (I use JK PA1B 10.5mm shank), but it's easily the best of them all. Paint by numbers intonation and enough power to blow away an entire ensemble. 8th partial is quite difficult.


    I'm still working on developing a suitable mouthpiece for the King Altonium and Getzen Frumpet. I expect that these instruments will have an extremely bright sound, once I achieve viable intonation. My first attempt was 17.6mm x ~18mm x 4.2mm throat and it still had octave compression (lol). Revision 1 will be 2 cup sizes smaller, and 4.8mm bore.
    Hobbyist. Collector. Oval rotary guy. Unpaid shill for Josef Klier mouthpieces.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    153
    So, I recently started playing around with an Alto Horn and I like it very much. So much so, I'm even considering switching from Euphonium to Alto Horn when the Covid-rules allow band practice again. However, my current Band is a Wind Symphony band an an upright Alto would seem weird. With that in mind, I got a Circular Alto (and no, that is apparently NOT the same as a Mellophone: http://www.alsmiddlebrasspages.com/mellophone/) so it would be less noticeable, but still it is played right-handed so would look odd next to a normal left-handed French Horn. Unfortumately, there are not many Brass Bands in The Netherlands, at least not near me, and the ones that are close already have enough Alto players. So for now, I'm just playing solo's with piano accompaniment (for now only pre-recorded tracks because I cannot play together with a real pianist due to the current limited-visitor covid rule/advice) at my mom's house once or twice a week.
    Martin Monné
    • Wessex Festivo, 4-valve compensating (2017)
    • Hirsbrunner HBS 378 Standard, 4-valve compensating (1983)
    • Mahillon Bass Saxhorn, 4-valve (1927)
    • Anton Hüller Tenor Horn, 3-valve (Early 20th Century, HP, wallhanger)


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