QUOTE(bflat @ Aug 27 2008, 10:12 AM)
Regarding your comment about sight singing, I'm personally amazed at how well my ear has progressed since starting the horn.
I believe that was how it worked for me too. I did very little singing before taking up the horn; then, when I got to college, I found that I was one of the best sight readers in the choir. Of course, every instrumentalist should be rock solid on the time values, of both notes and rests (though sadly it seem that some amateurs of middling experience work out rest values by adding up the note values and subtracting from the duration given by the time signature) but among the common orchestral instruments, the horn makes most demands upon the pitch capability of the inner ear.
Is the tenor horn similar to the horn when played? I haven't encountered one before...
The tenor and baritone horns (known as alto and tenor in the US) are part of the family of saxhorns. These were patented by Adolphe Sax, the Belgian inventor, designer and manufacturer of musical instruments, in 1845, though his claim to original invention was challenged at the time; the sopranino and soprano members of the family resemble the corresponding cornets, differing, in some of Sax's versions, by being upright. The largest member of the family is a contrabass in Bb; the tubas resemble the low saxhorns in form, but were invented independently and have a somewhat larger bore, giving a more robust sound. Especially in the US, instruments intermediate in bore and sound between baritone horn and tenor tuba (= euphonium) exist.
The Eb alto saxhorn (= tenor horn, UK) covers the top end of the range of the orchestral horn, the limit upward being determined by the player on both instruments. Because the instrument has only three valves, there is a gap in its chromatic range. The lowest "unfaked" note above the gap, and the practical limit for most players, is A space in bass clef, with the theoretical limit being an octave lower. The full double horn in F and Bb alto has a practical limit for most players around a tenth below that, but some players can descend further. The theoretical limit is a concert B, nearly an octave below the theoretical limit on the tenor horn and nearly two below the practical one. Orchestral horns exist in a large variety of valve configurations, so theoretical limits also vary widely, practical ones considerably less so.
The tenor horn is a much easier instrument to play than the orchestral horn, so much so that it is the traditional beginner's instrument in some brass bands, where the player can observe the others and later transfer to the one that attracts him/her, or the one on which a vacancy appears. From tenor horn moves to baritone horn are easy, to cornet slightly more difficult. The sound is mellow to the point of blandness and less varied than that of the orchestral horn. The tenor horn can be muted, but the orchestral horn has the additional option of hand stopping, which allows portamento as a special effect (used in the Britten "Serenade").