Friday, October 19, 2012

"Baltimore Rhapsody" Block #9 - the French Horn

My original pattern series, "Baltimore Rhapsody," is continuing to grow (you can read the back story here).  The French horn is my favorite brass instrument.  My younger brother, Riley, played French horn and now my daughter does too.  I never get tired of hearing her practice!

As with all the blocks of this series, this one finishes 15 inches square.  Even though I choose to hand applique, they can be done by machine.

Embroidery details make the fuchsia blossoms come alive!
The French horn got it's characteristic shape from it's ancestor, the hunting horn, and even before that, the conch shell.  If you were to straighten out all the tubing, you would end up with a horn of 12 - 16 feet in length...not very convenient to play at high speed from horseback while signaling the hunters!  Some unknown genius solved this problem by winding the tubing around his shoulder and under his arm.

Early "natural horns" had no valves.  To slightly change pitches, the player would loosen or tighten his lips, or simply stuff his hand a little further into the bell of the instrument.  In order to play in more than one key, the player had to stop and insert another "crook," which helped to make the tubing just enough longer or shorter to change all the pitches on the horn (the virtuoso of the time carried many with him).  Later these inconvenient crooks were replaced with valves.

When the French horn started showing up in symphonies, the French people thought it originated from Germany and called it the German horn, and the German people thought it came from France and called it the French horn.

French horn building...tubing and valves.
Bach and Vivaldi first infused their music with the French horn, followed by Haydn and Mozart.  Because it blends beautifully with strings, woodwinds, and other brass, the horn became widely popular in both symphonic and chamber music.  The low tones are deep and solemn, the middle range is rich and mellow, and the high range can be brassy and brilliant.

The characteristic beautiful tone is still being employed by composers (lots of nice horn "licks" in the soundtracks of all the "Harry Potter" movies...).

Bird building 101...
I am making up birds and flowers right and left in this quilt!!  I was looking at pictures of Paradise birds when dreaming this one up...kind of small, exotic birds with pretty head feathers.  I'm just a modern-day Darwin...

I am still working on the pattern printing.  I hope to have the first dozen patterns available on my web site soon, either individually or in discounted bundles.  I am now thinking about sashing for the first 16 blocks...traditional tiny sawtooth sashing or simple strips...hmmm...

Then, on to the borders!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. I just cannot believe how quickly you are stitching these!!

  2. Another beauty. I love the peacock and his head feathers are perfect!

  3. lovely details! the fuchia is really amazing! the bird is a beauty too
    love seeing what you are doing with these blocks!

  4. How absolutely wonderful! You amaze me with each new block.

  5. I played the french horn in school, and always loved the look of it. It's complicated but still graceful! Your block is stunning, and the bird is fantastic! Wonderful colors!

  6. Teresa, each and every block is just more and more beautiful! I'm amazed at your talent, not only in your lovely handwork, but your designing as well. This is going to be a masterpiece when it's completed. I'm so enjoying seeing this "rhapsody" come to life!

  7. These blocks just keep getting more and more beautiful. I love reading about the history of each instrument. Thank you for educating us and sharing that. Not being a musically inclined person, but one who loves to listen to music, I'm really enjoying the history.

  8. Teresa - what a beautiful quilt. You are so talented in so many ways. Love the French Horn - my brother played it in a town band and I always remember him intending to use Vasoline on the valvues. Only problem was he grabbed the Vicks instead. When he pulled out his horn at band practice - the aroma of Vicks filled the air. Still tease him about that - 55+ years later.

  9. So pretty! Love all the detail, and your fabric choices.

  10. Well, this may very well be my favorite block! I love the bird sitting on the mouth piece!!

    Go Girl!!!!

  11. Any more I can't get the needle threaded due to other things going on. When do you sleep? You must work more hours at your craft then what I do. Beautiful! Chris

  12. Teresa, this block is stunning. I just love the flowers coming out of the horn.
    who knew it would be so long if you unwound it. love reading about each instrument.

  13. Can I just say that all of these blocks are incredibly beautiful? Yes, I can, and I do.....THESE BLOCKS ARE INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL!

  14. I love french horns too and this one is especially wonderful. The fine line of the tubes are exquisite.

  15. I, too, love the sound of the french horn. Thank you for all the history of the horn. Your block is absolutely awesome.

  16. I am in awe of the patterns and details you can convey. Do you have a blog posting showing the details of how you do it? I enjoy applique and would like to improve.
    Again very lovely applique.

  17. the blocks are just amazing love looking at your fabric choices and wow the details amaze me!
    I can tell your just having way too much fun

  18. What beautiful work! Of course, as an ex French horn player, I was drawn to the design as well. It's such fun to discover new blogs,

  19. The block is just wonderful and love keep my eye on your fabrics choice!!

  20. Teresa, I'm looking for fabric with a natural horn (no valves). My daughter wants a patch to decorate her horn case and we will also use on in a quilt. Any ideas where to look?


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