English Horn vs. French Horn: What Is the Main Difference?

The English and French horns are aerophones typically present in symphony orchestras. However, they are two different instruments.

The French and English horns do not belong to the same family and should not be confused with each other.

Today, we’ll help you better understand these two interesting instruments by comparing English Horn vs. French Horn.

English Horn Overview

This instrument is a woodwind instrument that is plaintive and somber expressive. This straight instrument has many holes running down the open-ended duct.

Despite the name being the “English Horn,” these instruments are not of England origin. Instead, it comes from Germany, where people call it the “Angelic Horn.” It sounds like the “English Horn,” which is why it’s called that.

French Horn Overview

The instrument is bold, mellow, and powerful, but it is not French. It is developed from the earlier short and straight hunting horns. The name “French horn” was first used in the late 17th century.

The French Horn is a brass instrument of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell.

This instrument frequently appears in professional orchestras and bands. A musician who plays this horn is known as a horn player or hornist.

The tubing of the modern French horn is about 12 to 13 ft (3.7 to 4m) long. The horn player will blow into its mouthpiece while buzzing his lips together to sound a note.

English Horn vs. French Horn: Which Are Differences?

The English and the French horns are significantly different instruments.

For example, French horns are conical brass instruments that have mellow-sounding and more range than English horns.

If you play the French horn, it is essential to buzz lips in its mouthpiece, which is cup-shaped, to produce sound. You can play specific notes or change pitch thanks to its rotary mechanisms.

On the flip side, English horns are straight woodwind instruments. There are a few holes along their tube that close and open with specific mechanisms to modify pitch. They have woody, somber sounds.

English Horn vs. French Horn: Similarities

English Horn

The English horn is not in the same family as the French horn. So it’s not surprising that they don’t have much in common.

The only thing in common between these two instruments is that they are aerophones (wind instruments), which refer to instruments vibrating air columns inside their tubes to produce sound.

Which Is More Straightforward To Play?

For a beginner, playing any musical instrument can be a daunting task. However, some are easier to begin with than others.

When comparing the French and English horns, the former option is considered more complicated to play as the notes of this instrument are closer together.

As a result, the French horn will ask you to train your ears and to be patient. You also need long practice to figure out how to combat the cracked notes issue.

The French horn’s tubing takes one instrument to trap saliva, and it will cost you time to take this apart for cleaning.

Finally, the English and French horns are both critical to bands and orchestras. So you should learn both if possible.

These instruments are costly. For example, the ROFFEE English horn costs more than $11,000, or the Yamaha YHR567 French horn costs close to $3,400.

Therefore, you should consider them before investing.

Comparison Table

 English HornFrench Horn
Type of InstrumentAerophones (wind instruments)
LooksA straight woodwind instrument.A conical mellow-sounding brass instrument.
ApplicationPopular in professional orchestras and bands.
Sound Woody and somber.Mellow.

Also Read: Trumpet vs. Saxophone: What Are the Similarities and Differences?


Is English Horn in the Same Key as Oboe?

Yes. These musical instruments both feature the same keys and fingerings, and typically, a musician that can play one can play the other.

Does the English Horn Belong to the Brass Family?

Yes. This instrument belongs to the brass family.

Is French Horn Difficult to Learn?

Some people refer to the French horn as one of the hardest instruments to play due to its difficulty level.

In The Nutshell

The English and French horns do not have much in common, although they are prevalent in symphony orchestras.

French horns are powerful, bold mellow sounding instruments. These conical instruments have cup-shaped mouthpieces.

On the flip side, English horns are straight woodwind instruments with bulbous bell ends and have woody melancholy sounds.

Also Read: Trumpet vs. Saxophone: What Are the Similarities and Differences?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.