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Associate of the Museum Klingende Sammlung Bern, Switzerland
Although mass Alphorn production today is done with the assistance of CNC-controlled machines, there is still a number of manufacturers who make the instruments in the traditional manner.
Each instrument is unique, hand-made in 80 to 100 hours. Typically, a traditional Alphorn maker only produces a small number of instruments per year.
The “Ranz de Vaches”, in German “Kühreihen”, evolved from the function of the Alphorn as a herdsman’s tool. Simple beckoning calls and individual motives based on the scale of natural overtones were passed on orally over centuries. Some were written down by travelling academics as early as 1545. In the early 1900s the Ranz de Vaches almost disappeared due to its loss of practical use and the mainstream preference of well-tempered harmonies, borrowed from choral and wind band listening habits. Lately the Ranz de Vaches has found a new interest in music circles, as it shows some characteristic qualities that makes it the unique melodic art form that represents the original Alphorn music.