I've played horn for 8 years as a student through middle and high school and rarely come across the bass clef, except maybe twice when playing Sonata op. 10. When it comes to this piece (Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity) there are a lot of sections with clef changes, and I'm struggling to read it and play the correct notes

When this happens, do I play as if I were in bass clef by following the notes and such, or do I transpose?

In any case, does anybody know any reliable fingerings? Should I play on my Bb side or F side when playing passages this low?

Any help is greatly appreciated!

1 Answer 1


The transposing nature of the horn doesn't change depending on the clef. If a notated C sounds as an F, it always sounds as an F (until the next instruction like "muta in D").

Unfortunately, notation has historically been inconsistent with regard to the octave to play when in the bass clef. Some copyists assume that if a horn transposes down a fifth, it will continue to transpose down a fifth when written in the bass clef. Others think that the F horn transposes down a fifth in the G clef, but up a fourth when written in the bass clef (which leads to very low notation).

This difference is almost never made explicit (since many copyists are aware only of their own method and not of others). However, an editor will usually enforce that the convention will at least be consistent throughout a work, so you can usually make a pretty good guess by knowing which notes are actually possible to play.

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