The French horn is a brass instrument constructed primarily of one long coiled, conical tube, but it has a variety of different parts that can be used by the player to change the pitch and tone. At one end is the mouthpiece that the player blows into to force air through the horn. At the other end, the tube opens into the flared bell, into which the player inserts his or her hand while playing. The other main parts of a French horn are the valve levers, which are pressed to change the pitch of the notes being played.
The main body is one of the most noticeable parts of a French horn, and it is made up of a single long tube. The tube is typically around 12 feet (3.6 m) long. It descends from the mouthpiece and then coils several times within a circular body before opening out into the bell at the other end.
Another of the main parts of a French horn is the mouthpiece. This portion of the horn is slender and cone-shaped, and can come in different sizes to suit the note range the player wants to achieve. A player can also produce higher or lower notes depending on the amount of lip tension he or she uses, and the amount of air blown into the mouthpiece.
Perhaps the most striking of the parts of a French horn is the wide, flared bell at the end from which the music of the horn is generated. The bell is so wide that it can make transporting the instrument difficult, so most modern French horns have a removable bell to make transporting it easier. Playing the French horn is unique in that the instrument is held across the body so the bell faces backward. Another unusual aspect of playing it is that the player's hand rests inside the bell, which allows him or her to control the amount of air coming out and thus the tone and volume of the music.
The last of the primary parts of a French horn is the levers, which control a series of rotary valves. The player presses the levers to adjust the air flow through the tubing, which in turn alters the pitch of the notes being played. French horns can either be a single horn, which uses three valves, or a double horn, which includes a fourth valve operated by the thumb.