Using The New French Horn



The new Synful French Horn is the first fully expressive instrument to use our new Synful synthesis engine. The alternate string sounds (pizz, tremolo, harmonics, etc) use this new engine, but all the other Synful Orchestra 2.5 sounds use the old synthesis engine. Over time we will upgrade all of the instruments to use the new engine. The new French Horn is easier to use, has a greater variety of timbre, and is higher fidelity than the older instruments. It is based on new 24 bit recordings which have been translated to a new generation additive synthesis format.

No Delay for Expression

The new French Horn does not use Delay for Expression (DFE). The DFE button can still be clicked and the sound will be delayed one second, but this is only for synchronizing with other Synful instruments. It has no affect on the sound. We believe we have been able to achieve a level of natural phrasing as good or better than our DFE instruments without the need for the delay.

Old and New Horns

The new Horn programs are called “horn”, “horns4”, and “horns8”. Of course you can change the number of players from 1 to 16 in any of these programs. The old Horn has been renamed “old_horn”. When you open an old project with horn programs those programs are renamed with a prefix old_ and they use the old horn sound. You must explicitly select one of the new horn programs if you want to use the new horn sound. Of course you can modify, rename, and copy the new programs for your own customizations.

Expression Brassiness Control

The Synful Orchestra Expression Brassiness control is used to set the overall brassiness and loudness of the Horn sound. You can change this continuously from a very dark sound to an extremely brassy sound. For many phrases the Expression Brassiness control can be set once and does not need to change during the phrase. This makes the new horn much easier to use than many older Synful Orchestra instruments. You can also use the control to generate dramatic crescendi over the course of a single note or a phrase. The Gain also changes the loudness of the instrument but does not affect the timbre.


Velocity changes the shape of a note. A soft velocity produces a gentle attack with a fairly steady sustain. A hard velocity produces a sharper attack with a more pronounced decay. High velocity notes are also louder than low velocity notes, but to go from a pianissimo sound to a fortissimo sound requires that you change the Expression Brassiness control or Gain control.


Examples Settings

  1. Brassy and Heroic Sound. Set expression to the max 127 and use high velocity.

  2. Full Loud Sustained Sound. Set expression to about 90-100 and use low to med velocities.

  3. Dark Soft Sustained Sound. Set expression to around 60-70. Use a variety of velocities.

Of course you can move continuously between any of these settings to achieve a nuanced performance.


Gliss and Rips

The new horn introduces a continuous Gliss Rip control. Set all the way to the left the control is OFF. If you play a slur (two overlapping notes) with a rising pitch, when the Gliss Rip control is on, then a gliss rip sound is generated. The position of the control determines the speed of the gliss rip. It is most natural to map this control to a keyboard slider, the Mod Wheel, or a pedal.

Example Settings:

  1. Classic Horn Rip. Set gliss rip control to around .8 or .9. Set Expression Brassiness to a high value. Play a rising interval slur of about one octave or more. Set num_players to something like 8.

  2. Bluesy Bends. Set gliss rip to a low value .1 or .2. Play a rising interval slur of a third or fourth.


The new horn introduces a Trill control. The position of the control corresponds to the speed of the trill. To generate a trill, play a first note and hold it and then play a 2nd note. If the Trill control is on when you play the 2 nd note then a trill will occur between the two notes as long as you hold both notes. The trill can occur between any two pitches with a speed determined by the Trill control position. It is most natural to map this control to a keyboard slider, the Mod Wheel, or a pedal.

Example: Play C one octave above middle C. Move Trill control to about .8. Continue holding the C and play D. You should hear the trill.

Mute and Stopped Sounds and the Wah Control

The new French Horn has four playing modes: normal, mute1, mute2, and stopped. Like all playing modes these can be changed from the playing mode menu, using keyswitches, or with MIDI program changes. When you select a mute or stopped playing mode the Wah control becomes active. The Wah control has the effect of gradually removing the mute or hand from the bell of the horn. When the Wah control is all the way to the left the mute/hand is fully in the bell. As the Wah control is moved to the right the mute/hand is gradually removed from the bell. When the Wah control is all the way to the right the sound is the same as the normal playing mode.

Horn Solo and Horn Sections

Three horn programs are provided : “horn”, “horns4”, and “horns8”. These are for convenience. They are all based on the same horn instrument. If you turn the num_players control in the “horn” program from 1 to 8 it is identical to the “horns8” program. You can have a solo horn or sections from 2 to 16 players. All the usual player positioning controls apply.

The Horndemo Files

Included in the version 2.5 release are horndemo project files and a horn demo midi file. The horndemo consists of a number of different examples on the single track. If you open these to view the single MIDI track in an editor you will notice that the first two examples “Heldenleben” and “Mozart” use very little Expression Brassiness control. It is set at the beginning of each example and doesn’t move during the phrase. The third example “Hannibal Rips” makes more extensive use of this control. The horndemo project files are in Logic, Digital Performer, Protools, Cubase, and Sonar Formats.

If you do not use one of these sequencers you can open the horndemo midi file in a project then do the following:

  1. Create an instance of Synful Orchestra.

  2. Unlock channel 1 on the Synful Orchestra Control Panel channel grid

  3. Set the MIDI CC control of gliss rip to Mod Wheel

  4. Switch to the horns8 program on channel 1.

  5. Switch temporarily to the stopped Playing Mode of horns8. Set the MIDI CC control of wah to 73.

  6. Set KeySwitch to 88 Keys

  7. Add a reverb

  8. Play the horndemo from the beginning.

The horndemo midi file automatically changes to the correct programs and settings.


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