Regular playing of the alphorn is thought to ward off lung diseases like asthma. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
The alphorn is one of the largest wind instruments. It's composed of a long wooden conical tube bent at one end. Traditionally it was built with the wood of a young pine tree which had grown curved on the hillside. Today’s alphorn makers prefer to carve and shape better quality woods. Originally the instrument was used for herding animals and to communicate to herdsman on neighbouring alps or across valleys.
As an instrument, the alphorn uses natural harmonics. The pitch is varied without the help of finger holes or additional tubes or valves. Natural harmonics are achieved by the player only through the speed and force of the lip vibrations which are transferred through a mouthpiece to the air inside the cone. This generates its unique natural sound.
Some experts believe that regular playing of the alphorn can have a positive effect on the body. The force needed to blow inside the instrument helps the release of muscles in the chest and oxygenates the entire respiratory system.