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I'm just wondering, how fast can a French Horn play 16th notes? Like, I've got this 1 measure passage of a descending 16th note chromatic scale at 152 bpm - is that too fast? It's to be played legato. Can the performer move the valves that fast?

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How long a run and how good a player? A short run of 16ths at 152 bpm is no problem A longer run would be OK for a good amateur or above. He'll have played worse in etudes.

This example isn't as hard as it looks. And if anything is holding your players back from emulating it, it isn't the mechanics of the valves.

(Obviously, don't write concertos in the ensemble of a middle-school band piece! But a short chromatic run is really no problem.)

  • The passage is one measure and, since it's an orchestra piece, I've got it dovetailed so that 2 horns play the first 8 notes, landing on the third beat, where the other 2 play the next 8 sixteenths. That ok? – Miguel May 26 '18 at 21:12
  • That's OK. But if you want to hear a continuous scale, don't be afraid to write it all for all the players. Or for two of them, or one of them, depending on what effect you want. If a hornist can play half a chromatic scale, he can play all of it. Save dovetailing for when there's a danger of one player running out or breath. – Laurence Payne May 26 '18 at 21:18
  • Yeah, it's mostly because I just don't want the sound of 4 horns because I want the horns to blend in with the rest of the orchestra, so just 2 at a time. It's also right before the horns get a big melody, so I guess it's also partially for balance, partially for balance. Make sense? – Miguel May 26 '18 at 21:24
  • @Miguel Horns have a wide dynamic range, and four horns are not necessarily much louder than one. If you want them to play pp, just mark the part pp! – user19146 May 28 '18 at 9:37

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