Difference Between Trumpet and French Horn

Brass instruments, also known as labrophones are the musical instruments that produce sound by sympathetic air vibration caused by the player’s lip movements.


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They consist of tubing through which the sound propagation takes place. Several factors can affect the length of the tubing.

There are various types and styles of brass instruments available. They are fitted with different shapes and sizes of the mouthpiece that suits them. Most of them have a removable mouthpiece.

The selling point is that trumpets, tubas etc. are fitted with a cup-shaped mouthpiece, while horns are fitted with a cone-shaped mouthpiece.

Basically, brass instruments are directional in terms of sound propagation, i.e., the sound travels in a straight direction outwards through them.

This makes the recording of a brass instrument a little difficult as the sound flow in all directions is not even.

These instruments are mainly made up of brass, and later, polished in order to prevent corrosion. Some of the high-quality ones are plated with gold or silver to serve the purpose.

Other alloys that contain high amounts of copper or silver are also used in place of the brass.

Some of the common brass instruments include Cornet, Trumpet, Tenor Horn, Euphonium, French Horn etc. These are widely used in the orchestra or big musical events.

Coming to Trumpet and French Horn, both these instruments differ in their built and many other aspects too.

Key Takeaways

  1. Trumpet and French horn are brass instruments, but they differ in shape and sound.
  2. Trumpets have a straight tube, while French horns have a coiled tube with a flared bell.
  3. Trumpets have a brighter and more piercing sound, while French horns have a mellower and warmer sound.

Trumpet vs French Horn

The difference between Trumpet and French Horn is that Trumpets produce bright and energetic sounds with a shorter tubing as compared to the French Horn, whereas, French Horns can produce both loud, delicate, harsh as well as smooth sounds.

Trumpet vs French Horn

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonTrumpetFrench Horn
OriginTrumpets came to be known in the 1500s. French Horns came to be known in the 1600s.
Sound ProductionThey mainly produce bright and energetic sounds. While they produce both delicate and loud sounds, also intense and smooth sounds.
TubingThey have tubing that is 4.5 feet long. They have a longer tubing of about 12 to 16 feet.
Bell PositionWhen held in hand, the bell of a trumpet faces forward. Whereas, here the bell faces backwards.
ValvesValves are played with the right hand. The valves are played with the left hand.
PlayingFor playing the trumpet, it is held horizontally and the lip movements aid the sound propagation. Whereas for playing the French horn, it is held downwards with the bell and the lips on the mouthpiece do the job.
PitchThey play the highest pitches of sound. They can play high as well as low pitches.
RequirementAround two to four trumpets are present in an orchestra. While around two to eight French horns are required for the same.

What is Trumpet?

Trumpets have been there in human societies for very long. The ancient people commonly used them as alarms for gatherings, war calls and parades as well.

Earlier, trumpets were made of shells, animal horns, wood etc., very different from the modern trumpet.

The origin of trumpet dates back to the 1500s. Later on, construction of the trumpets with brass with proper tubing began. This is what a modern trumpet is like.

It consists of about a 4.5 feet long tubing along with three valves. In the earlier times, there was no means to change the tubing length, while in the modern ones, the valves help change the pitch.

Several types and styles of trumpets are manufactured. Bb trumpet is the most common among them. Others include A, C, D, Eb, low F and G trumpets.

The smallest trumpets are called piccolo trumpets. Every type of trumpet has its piccolo trumpets built.

Trumpets are used both in big and small bands. They have the soprano range amongst the whole brass family. Around two to four trumpets are played in an orchestra in total.

Trumpets have some excellent features when it comes to sound propagation and tone quality. Those features create a difference.

The attack time, pitch frequency, the harmonic content etc. help maintain and produce brass-like sounds.


What is French Horn?

As the name suggests, a French Horn is a France-based brass instrument which originated in the 1600s. Initially, it was used as the Hunting horn.

Its sound range varies from loud to extremely delicate, and from intense to very smooth. This is why French horns are popular among masses for their versatility.

Someone who plays the French horn or any other horn is referred to as a Hornist. The French horns are often used by professional players of bands in orchestras.

They consist of around 12 to 16 feet long tubing. Most of them come with rotary valves except the older ones, which come with piston valves just like Trumpets.

The three valves present help control the airflow in the single horn. Moreover, there are also double and triple horns available which come with four and five valves respectively.

In an orchestra or a similar musical event, around two to eight French horns are played, and at least two Hornists are present over there. The horns play in an alternatee high-low pattern to provide a joyful tune.

A study found that players who primarily perform on brass instruments, specifically French horns, are at a high risk of having musculoskeletal problems.

French horns pose the highest percentage of threats in this aspect as compared to other brass instruments.

french horn

Main Differences Between Trumpet and French Horn

  1. Trumpets produce energetic sounds, while French horns produce both loud and soft sounds.
  2. French horns have longer tubing.
  3. The bell faces forward in trumpets, and backwards in French horns.
  4. Valves are played with right and left hands in trumpet and French horn respectively.
  5. Trumpets play high pitches, whereas, French horns play both high and low pitches.
Difference Between Trumpet and French Horn
  1. https://asa.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1121/1.1939648
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