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Experimental Alphorn

This content was published on March 20, 2007 - 10:30

What has been happening in art after World War II - the breaking with traditional forms - should have paved the way for experiences in music, too. Composers started to make use of electrophonic instruments, but already in the 1980s employed them only rarely. In the meantime the folk movement, which had reached Switzerland after the 1968 revolution, brought classic composers into contact with traditional instruments. In 1972 the first concerto for alphorn and symphony orchestra, the one by Jean Daetwyler, surprised the public. Jam-sessions between Jazzbands and country musicians could be observed. The curiosity to know other musical instruments and other styles and to mix them followed.

While, at the beginning of the 1970s, the National Yodeling Association and its sub-unit, the traditional alphorn players, had just accepted the polyphonic blowing, the "Alphorn-Fa" and female candidates at their competitions, professional musicians were starting to enhance experimental improvisations with the alphorn. Jürg Solothurnmann's Jazz band "The Alpine Jazz Herd" was enlarged by alphorn, hammered dulcimer and bagpipe. Roger Zanetti was playing the alphorn as a street musician with the accompaniment of play-back. The jazz trumpetist Hans Kennel and the three other members of the "Contemporary Alphorn Orchestra" converted the alphorn into an idiophone in scraping the rattan-windings with the mouthpiece. The professional wind player Balthasar Streiff was roaring while blowing the alphorn and in the ensemble "Gelato misto musicale" the alphorn player used to turn his instrument in order to sing through the bell as if it would have been a megaphone.

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