Follow-up Horn Review by John Cox.
Horn players are always looking for new equipment. And we all look for the same things according to our individual requirements and tastes. We desire an instrument that will sound good and perform great (at least for our creative needs) while being easy and sometimes even fun to play. When we do discover such an instrument, we still have to make the investment of time to allow the blending of player and machine to become sonic art. Jacob Medlin understands this well. A fine hornist himself, his instruments are becoming a true link between musician and art. He endeavors to build horns that meet the needs of the individual for whom he makes them. Every horn of his I have seen shares the same exceptionally fine craftsmanship in their construction. They look beautiful. And they all play superbly. When I asked Jacob to build an instrument for me, I came with a list of wants and needs that included:
- Play with the ease of a medium bell horn
- Have great intonation
- Have a dynamic range that allowed for soft pitch and sound control while being able to deliver fortissimos without ‘breaking up’
- Slur and sustain while having good staccato response
- Have an inherently warm, medium-dark tonal quality
- Be ergonomically considerate of left hand comfort
- Be a pleasure to play
The horn Jacob made for me has exceeded my expectations. The intonation is very good and the sound is even from note to note. Staccatos and slurs both work well, with a wonderful sustained quality for melodic playing. The dynamic range encourages a warm, soft, ringing sound for lyrical passages while permitting fortissimos that avoid edginess. It's easy upper register maintains pitch without pinching when holding notes that require diminuendos, and best of all – the horn is VERY stable. It is a helping partner in playing accurately, which at the end of the day is almost always the prime consideration for a working hornist.
While I still own and use several other very good instruments when I have special repertoire requirements, the Medlin horn has become my instrument of first choice. It meets all my performance demands, it is VERY WELL BUILT, and it even makes horn playing fun again.
-John Cox (Principal Horn, Oregon Symphony.)
August 8, 2012