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erica-grace

Senior Member
This is from Mike Verta's "The Race"

These are 4 Horns (2 ea. staff)

hn.jpg

I know what "a2" and "mf" are, but what is "3." and "(-4.)"?

Thanks!
 

bryla

Senior Member
Bottom staff is horns 3 and 4, so it means that it is only the third horn. -4 means that the fourth is dropped out but the 3. designation already shows that.
 

JJP

I put dots and lines on paper.
Personally, I find the "(-4)" indication redundant and confusing. I would not use that unless there was something else in the score that required clarification. (Perhaps there was something in the previous measures of this score that led to the indication being used.)

As a copyist and orchestrator, anything that makes me pause for a fraction of a second to think what is intended is a potential problem.
 

tonaliszt

Active Member
I'm almost certain that the (-4) marking would mean that the 4th horn has the passage cued in their part so that if the composer or conductor wants a bigger horn sound (4 instead of 3) they have that option.
 
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erica-grace

Senior Member
The players will not be seeing this information. It is only for the score.
Oh. So then how would the hn#4 know not to play? I guess the conductor could tell him/her, but is that how it's done? Shouldn't that info be on the page?

And why not just write "a1"?
 
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erica-grace

Senior Member
I'm almost certain that the (-4) marking would mean that the 4th horn has the passage cued in their part so that if the composer or conductor wants a bigger horn sound (4 instead of 3) they have that option.
If that is the case, wouldn't they use the word "cue"?
 

bryla

Senior Member
Oh. So then how would the hn#4 know not to play? I guess the conductor could tell him/her, but is that how it's done? Shouldn't that info be on the page?

And why not just write "a1"?
Players have their own parts. Horn 3 will have music in those two bars. Horn 4 will have rests.
There's no such thing as a1. When two players play the same line it's a2. If three then a3. If only one you designate '1.' Since this is the third of 4 horns then it's designated for the third horn '3.'.

If for horns 1 and 2 it simply said '1'. You wouldn't know if it was the first or second horn.
 

JJP

I put dots and lines on paper.
To clarify @bryla's point, the period after the number lets you know that it is a specific horn playing and not a fingering or some other indication.

"a2" means "by two"
"a1" would mean "by one" which leads to the question, "Which one?" so it's not used.
"1." means first player
"2." means second player
 

JJP

I put dots and lines on paper.
I'm almost certain that the (-4) marking would mean that the 4th horn has the passage cued in their part so that if the composer or conductor wants a bigger horn sound (4 instead of 3) they have that option.
That's not standard notation. This was most likely intended to be a clarification that the fourth horn is removed because it was "a2" previously. Sometimes composers or orchestrators will put things like that in scores to alert the copyists that the 4th isn't playing there, but it is not necessary.

In a studio situation, the copyists may choose to cue the 3rd horn line in the 4th part, but it has nothing to do with the "(-4.)". In contemporary notation the "(-4.)" indicates that the composer or orchestrator does NOT want the 4th horn to play there because they went through the extra effort to add "(-4.)" to make that point clear.
 
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JT

Senior Member
I see this notation all the time and use it myself.

The 3., (-4.) or any other combinations are to be used in the score for the conductor. But you should make separate parts for these horns, not use these abbreviations, and delete the notes in the 4th horn part when applicable. As JJP said, this has nothing to do with cueing.

If you have a combined 3rd/4th part, you might write it as 3rd only & (-4.) for players who might not be familiar with the abbreviation.
 

Daryl

Senior Member
Personally, I find the "(-4)" indication redundant and confusing. I would not use that unless there was something else in the score that required clarification. (Perhaps there was something in the previous measures of this score that led to the indication being used.)

As a copyist and orchestrator, anything that makes me pause for a fraction of a second to think what is intended is a potential problem.
Yes, I would never use the -4. Totally unnecessary, and all it would do would be to get a question from the floor.
 
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erica-grace

Senior Member
Players have their own parts.
Right - that I understand. But don't the first two horn players get the music for Horn 1,2, and the other two get the music for Horns 3,4?

Or are the parts broken down in four parts, one for each horn?
 

JJP

I put dots and lines on paper.
But don't the first two horn players get the music for Horn 1,2, and the other two get the music for Horns 3,4?

Or are the parts broken down in four parts, one for each horn?
For brass and winds it is usually preferable to have each instrument have only their own part. Having two parts on a staff makes it more difficult for the player to read the music.
 

tonaliszt

Active Member
In a studio situation, the copyists may choose to cue the 3rd horn line in the 4th part, but it has nothing to do with the "(-4.)". In contemporary notation the "(-4.)" indicates that the composer or orchestrator does NOT want the 4th horn to play there because they went through the extra effort to add "(-4.)" to make that point clear.
Very interesting, I'm gonna have to use that in my next score.

If one did not want to rely on the copyists to decided to copy the horn part into the 4th's part, would you write "3, cue 4" or something like that?
 

JJP

I put dots and lines on paper.
If you think you want both horns, write it for both. You can always tell one not to play if you decide you don't like it.

I think some people cue way too much. It leads to questions which waste time. "Should I play this cue?"

As one great arranger said, "Get a backbone. Either write it or don't." ;)
 
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