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CHAT: English horn and such (Re: Re: English is a crazy language)

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Thursday, April 25, 2002, 8:36
> I think you have the details mixed here. The English horn (cor anglais) > is indeed an alto oboe with two bends in the sound pipe (unlike the > ordinary oboe, which is straight); it is supposed that its name > was originally "cor angle'", the bent horn, and was changed in > French by folk etymology, which was then translated into English. > There is no documentary proof of this, however.
And someone mentioned that English horns are now straight. The bocal, or small metal tube that connects the double reed to the instrument body, is still bent slightly, at about a 30 degree angle. Now an instrument that I'd LOVE to use in my compositions is a Heckelphone, which is one octave lower than an oboe or one octave higher than a bassoon, and has a dark rich sound more like the latter. As far as I know the Heckel company of Germany is the only country that makes a double-reed in this range. The instrument has a bocal that's bent even more (now about 45 to 60 degrees), as well as a rubber foot peg anchored inside the bell, which like the English horn, is bulb-shaped. I've heard short samples of a Heckelphone and the sound is really something else, and makes me think of a more "baroque"-sounding tenor saxophone. (Okay that had NOTHING to do with languages, but anyway...)
> In Dutch, there are two words for it with exactly the same meaning: > "Engelse Hoorn" and "Althobo". My father, who was an oboist, always > called it "althobo", and I have the impression that most professional > oboists do so.
I wish everybody called it an "alto oboe", and just call the so-called French horn just "horn" like real musicians do. ;)
> The name of the oboe is also interesting. It is Italian in origin, >and came into English as usual by copying the spelling and applying >an English pron /owbow/; the French version was "hautbois", which >was at the time /o:bwe/, very like the Italian pron. (English >took up "hautboy" for a while but eventually abandoned the word.)
I think I saw a word even more archaic or obscure: "highboy"!
> In Dutch we say "hobo" (with stress on the last syllabe). So, don't be > surprised if a Dutch musician will tell you in bad English, that s/he > is "playing hobo" ;)
Tech uses a borrowed French word for oboe, |oobwaa|, but English horn is called |mec'oobwaa| [mEdz_<o:vwa:] "middle oboe" (here the mec'- prefix is an adjective that breaks the rules and *precedes* the noun; compare to the differing meanings of French _l'homme pauvre_ and _le pauvre homme_). The bassoon is called |fagott'| but |barytoon| is sometimes used. That and clarinet |k'larinett'ah| (the -ah/-at feminine suffix is added) are borrowed words, but their word for flute is a native one, and I haven't figured it out yet.... ~Danny~


Jan van Steenbergen <ijzeren_jan@...>CHAT/OT: Heckelphones (was: English horn and such)