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How to play the Hosepipe

OAE Horn player Martin Lawrence making a hosepipe horn
OAE Horn player Martin Lawrence making a hosepipe horn

Making a brass instrument from a hosepipe may sound like something from a cartoon, but if you think about it, even the most expensive brass instrument is not much more than a bit of pipe with either keys, or a slide to make the pipe longer.

For horns and trumpets these fancy extension devices are actually modern additions to the instruments—they both used to be a plain piece of pipe, with a mouthpiece at one end and flared ‘bell’ at the other:

Baroque trumpet and natural Horn. Museum of Musical Instruments. Berlin [Source: Wikipedia]

To make a brass instrument, all you need is a length of hosepipe—a trumpet will need about four feet whilst a tuba requires about 10-12, a funnel and some duct tape. The small end of the funnel should be small enough to insert into the pipe. If it is at all loose, duct tape it into place. At the other end you need to create a mouthpiece. You can either do this by rolling he duct tape into a cone shape. A better solution, if you have one already, is, however, to use a mouthpiece from a real instrument. Again, if loose, use a bit of the tape to secure the mouthpiece in place.

Here’s a great video explanation of the whole process by Horn player Martin Lawrence from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment:

So what music can you play on your fancy new instrument? Quite a bit, it turns out. You could start off with one of the most famous horn pieces in the repertoire:

Mozart Horn Concerto No.4

Or for a more trumpety effect, try Jeremiah Clarke’s Prince of Denmark’s March

Some smooth jazz, this time on a trumpet+hosepipe hybrid:

And here’s one written specifically for the hosepipe!

Hardy Schneiders: Watering the Periwinkles

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