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Guide to Alphorns

Alphorn : What is it?

Alphorns

Alphorns consist of wooden horns, conical bores, cup-shaped leadpipes or mouthpieces, and curved bells. A typical alphorn is carved from solid wood and features no lateral opening. It usually measures four to 10 meters in length.

Originally played by mountain dwellers, alphorns were first used in Switzerland, Sweden, and other European regions as folk and pastoral instruments. Today, they are used in European art music repertoire and symphonic orchestras.

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Types of Alphorns

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Kinds of Alphorns include the following:

Grada buchel alphorns

The grada buchel alphorn is made from the trunk of the fir tree. It is straight and hollow with a wide, curved bell at the end and produces a soft and smooth sound. Most grada buchel alphorns are wrapped in birch bark for durability and protection.

Buchel alphorns

The buchel alphorn is also made from the trunk of a fir tree that has been straightened and hollowed out. It features a smaller horn with a coiled shape. It produces higher pitches and faster tempos. 

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Choosing Alphorns (Buying tips)

Durability: Choose an alphorn made of solid, high-quality hardwood such as maple or cocobola. Polish it to extend its life.

Length: Choose an alphorn with a length proportional to your height and handling ability. If you are an average-sized person, look for a six- to seven-meter alphorn. A longer one is heavier and may be difficult to handle. 

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