Woodstop® French Horn Mutes and Siegfried's Call team up! July 15 2013, 0 Comments
Over the past year and a half or so, we have been working with some of the great mute makers of our time with the goal of having on hand an unparallelled opportunity for our customers and clients to have a real choice of sound and performance at nearly every budget range.
We are proud to announce that as of this summer, we are now able to offer Woodstop® French Horn Mutes. This is a very exciting venture, as these all wooden mutes are among the best we have seen or heard.
Kevin Warren, the craftsman behind Woodstop® Mutes, is a seasoned horn player whose close work with Karl Hill, and other horn playing colleagues, developed an innovative system to make both the stopping mute and the traditional Rittich style tunable straight mute using 100% natural wood.
Therefore, when testing the different straight mutes, you can feel the difference the wood material offers in terms of performance, sound qualities, etc. We are extremely pleased with the results of his collaboration with other craftsman and artists. It is defined by the beauty of the final product.
We place the relationships with our customers and clients as a priority, not a necessity. Mr. Warren of Woodstop® Mutes shares a similar philosophy, which is now the foundation of our joint efforts.
Sound Advice: Mutes...
The Woodstop® Maple Stopping Mute
A work of art. It could be a conversation piece sitting around the coffee table.. The mute has a leather strap knotted as not to slip off... with enough room for the thickest of hands to slip around the wrist. The cork on the bottom is expertly trimmed and glued to the wood, and the taper seems to fit snugly in any bell size. The finish gives a 3 dimensional effect to the natural wood grain and is durable.
OK THAT"S NICE, HOW DOES IT SOUND?
With my preliminary testing, I found that in order to get the edge on the sound with Woodstop® Stopping Mute, I needed a fairly significant amount of air pressure to support the creation and maintenance of that edge. However, the quality of the sound in general is unlike anything I have ever tried in a stopping mute. It isn't just a nasal sound with edginess. It actually maintains the colors of your horn, your sound, and projects that as a core with the edginess and cutting power on top of that core. I am truly impressed. I started playing scales with the intent to maintain this solid and edgy sound concept in all registers. I found that if I let up on the air pressure even a little bit, the edge was gone, but if I maintained it, the sound was smooth and even. Wait until you try this mute, it will pleasantly surprise you.
The Woodstop® Tunable Straight Mutes
Available in three woods, Maple, Cherry, and Walnut. The tapers and size of these mutes are equal, but what makes them so unique is that there isn't any other type of material in them to corrupt the sound the wood material has on performance. A fine leather flat cord loop can securely fit around your wrist during fast mute change passages. The 4 strips of cork are wider at the bottom and taper to a narrower width as they progress towards the top opening. Each side of the cork strips are precisely bevel cut and hand sand finished to soften any sharp corners. The opening has a wooden ring insert that maintains a perfect circle and the edges are rounded and smoothed out by hand sanding. Reaching in to the mute with your finger, a delicate narrow Popsicle stick type of slider is capped by a thick piece of cork. The tuning mechanics are all wood, and they slide smoothly and hold position well. You won't find large clumps of glue or adhesive on these mutes, they just don't belong. The fit and finish are prime examples of a craftsman who takes pride in his work.
OK THAT'S NICE, HOW DO THEY SOUND?
Maple: There is a seriousness to her sound and she doesn't want to be taken for granted. If you do, you may slide off a note in the middle low register, but if you are mindful and respect what Maple is telling you, not only will your intonation be spot on, in any register, but you can play with a similar breath support in all registers. Why? because Maple doesn't fight back. The lowest of notes have the same diphthong as the highest, and you don't feel the typical acoustical bouncing off of the bottom plate of the mute. Arid and crisp, agile yet stubborn, Maple is a true solo performer as well as a team player.
Cherry: One time visiting relatives in Rimini, Italy, I happened upon a small eatery and I was served a plate of the most wonderful Gnocchi I had or probably ever will have. The texture was consistent bite to bite, soft and supple Parmesan potato pillows of heaven. Cherry reminded me of this experience. Soft and supple, yet with just enough firmness to hold everything together going gnocchi to gnocchi... I mean, note to note... (boy I shouldn't write these during the lunch hour) The softness makes me feel that Cherry is more forgiving than stubborn, and the softness in texture and color only masks the ideas that creep in as you play, that Cherry has a darker side...
Walnut: A commitment. The wedding is on and the bride has a veil over her face... her name is Walnut, and you are not allowed to lift that veil. Not yet... but once you start to give Walnut your full attention, the veil lifts and you see her for exactly what she is. A glorious and dynamic mute with color, depth, softness, edge, complexities abound. Vows said need to be spoken aloud and for everyone to hear... and they will, because as soft and subtle as Cherry, Walnut carries with her a tremendous voice at louder dynamics.... Walnut is a life long commitment that is sure not to disappoint you.
Ok, so I had a little fun with that...
Final thoughts about the straight mutes: Philosophically I have always thought that a mute needs to be a horn sound, muted. Meaning, don't change my diphthong, don't make my sound into something heard in a Merry-Go-Round Carnival ride... don't screw with my intonation... (it's hard enough) just mute me. For both dynamic reasons and effect. I still want to sound like a French Horn please. The Woodstop® horn mutes are exactly aligned with this philosophy. For that reason, I have to give tremendous accolades to Kevin Warren and those close to this project. They truly have done a wonderful job.
-Scott H. Bacon
Just a little of my Sound Advice.
PS: You can find Woodstop® mutes in our shopping cart or by clicking these links below: