For modern horn players, the principal challenge with historically informed horn playing of the early eighteenth-century is how to accommodate the intonation issues inherent in horns of the period. Lacking valves, these horns were restricted to the notes of the natural harmonic series, several of which did not conform to standard tuning temperaments of the time. This does not appear to have been an issue for musicians at the time as these notes appear frequently and consistently in music from the early eighteenth century. The lack of documentation from this period has led to the persistent use of historically questionable techniques in modern day historically informed performance: vent-holes or hand-stopping. While vent-holes have been acknowledged as modern additions, the authenticity of using hand-stopping during the early part of the eighteenth century is the subject of ongoing debate, in the absence of clear evidence about when it came into use.
This research project investigates whether horn players during the early eighteenth century instead played the horn without the aid of vent-holes or hand-stopping to correct intonation, and contends that this practice greatly influenced the performance of baroque horn repertoire in the same way that hand-stopping influenced the performance of classical horn repertoire. Understanding these techniques and practices is necessary in adopting a more considered approach to historically informed horn performance, and is achieved through investigation of historical techniques available to eighteenth century horn players, the strong cultural associations that players and audiences afforded the horn in its position as an instrument of the hunt, and practical experimentation on appropriate replicas of historical instruments and mouthpieces.