With the passing of time, the alphorn almost totally disappeared as an instrument used by Swiss shepherds. It was only with the romanticism of the 19th century and the revival of folklore and tourism that the alphorn experienced a renaissance and even became a national symbol. Like the didgeridoo, the Indian bamboo or wooden trumpet and the African horn, the alphorn is one of the original wooden wind instruments. The alphorn in Switzerland was first documented in the midth century by natural scientist Conrad Gesner. Communication with humans and animals The alphorn has long been a tool used by shepherds. It was used to call the cows from the pastures and into the barn at milking time.
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The traditional instruments, alphorn in German or cor des Alpes in French, look like supersized smoking pipes. Over three meters long and built in several connecting pieces to make transport manageable, they are beloved by many Swiss for whom the somber tones conjure images of snow-topped mountain peaks swirling in the clouds. They were used historically by herders to call to their cows and are often blown in the evening, when their resonating sounds that carry for miles seem to usher in the falling dusk.
The alphorn or alpenhorn or alpine horn is a labrophone , consisting of a straight several-meter-long wooden natural horn of conical bore , with a wooden cup-shaped mouthpiece. Similar wooden horns were used for communication in most mountainous regions of Europe , from the Alps to the Carpathians. Alphorns are today used as musical instruments. For a long time, scholars believed that the alphorn had been derived from the Roman-Etruscan lituus , because of their resemblance in shape, and because of the word liti , meaning Alphorn in the dialect of Obwalden. The oldest known document using the German word Alphorn is a page from a account book from the former Cistercian abbey St. Urban near Pfaffnau mentioning the payment of two Batzen for an itinerant alphorn player from the Valais. Surviving artifacts, dating back to as far as ca. The alphorn's exact origins remain indeterminate, and the ubiquity of horn-like signal instruments in valleys throughout Europe may indicate a long history of cross influences regarding their construction and usage. The alphorn is carved from solid softwood , generally spruce but sometimes pine. In former times the alphorn maker would find a tree bent at the base in the shape of an alphorn, but modern makers piece the wood together at the base.
Alphorn , German alpenhorn , long horn played by Alpine herdsmen and villagers, sounded for intercommunication and at daily ceremonies and seasonal festivals. It is carved or bored in wood and overwound with birch bark. Some instruments are straight, reaching 12 feet 4 metres in length; since the midth century, especially in Switzerland , the bell may be upcurved. Others, mainly in the eastern Alps, are trumpet-shaped; S-shapes also occur. The compass and notes are usually those of a natural unvalved French horn in F about three octaves upward from written F below the bass staff. In the 19th century, playing in trios and quartets was introduced.