The alphorn is a wind instrument, made of solid softwood, usually spruce, with a conical bore and a cup-shaped mouthpiece of hardwood. Although in the early days the alphorn was straight, later on the instruments were made from a tree bent and shaped roughly like the alphorn we know today. Now they are pieced together towards the bell. 

The alphorn’s origins are rather vague, but ancient folklore tells of mountain dwellers in various parts of the world playing primitive horn-like instruments. Today, the alphorn is particularly associated with Alpine regions. It is thought that the alphorn was used in the evenings to call in the herds grazing on the mountains and also as a means of communication between the people of one valley and another. These days they are an integral part of any folklore festival, although you’ll still occasionally hear the soft, low tones of a solitary alphorn being played somewhere up on a mountain or even in the valley. 

These pictures were taken above Tannheim in the Austrian Tirol.

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