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Horn Book

1. General Information History Types of Horns and Mouthpieces Notable Performers and Recording Artists Fingering Chart

2. Playing Technique Posture and Use of Body Right Hand Usage Breathing and Moving Air Embouchure and Facial Musculature Articulating Notes Mutes Transposing Music Miscellaneous Techniques

3. Repertoire Etudes Concertos Orchestral Audition Excerpts

4. Credits :- Source, List of Authors, License

[1] General Information

The International Horn Society recommended in 1971 that the instrument be recognized in English simply as "the horn". No other language includes a nationalistic reference for the name of the instrument. Here are a few examples of the name of the instrument in other languages:

· · · · ·

French: Cor Spanish, Italian: Trompa, Corno German: Horn Hebrew: Keren Yaar Mandarin: Yuan How



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Mouthpiece: A detachable piece of metal which comes in contact with the player's lips. A large number of different mouthpieces can be bought, each with a unique rim width, cup diameter, cup width and bore size. Mouthpieces can be made to be silver- or goldplated. Typically, silver is for firm, dry contact and gold is for loose, wet contact. Lead-pipe: The pipe of which air enters from the mouthpiece and flows toward the main tuning slide. Valves: Keys which can be depressed to change the total length of the instrument. Pinky-ring: The curved piece of metal which the pinky-finger is placed in to help hold up the instrument. (Note: Some horn players have modified their horns and replaced the pinky-ring with another device that puts less stress on the pinky, allowing the rest of the hand to be more flexible) Bell: The large opening of which the right-hand is placed in and sound emerges from.

General Information >> History

The horn's earliest known ancestor is a Norse battle horn, which was used as early as the 13th century has a shape more like a tuba. Sometime in the 16th century, this instrument migrated into France, and a modified version shaped more like the horn we know of today (with tubing that runs in a circle and a flared bell) appeared, and was used for signalling during hunting. This horn had a high, clear pitch that could carry for long distances, but its sound was harsh and not fit for a concert hall. In the late 17th century, Count Anton von Sprock, an eccentric German noble, heard the horn played during a hunt, and paid for a couple of people to be trained in the instrument. This began the horn's transition to a concert instrument. The horn gradually was modified, through introduction tubing that got wider the farther it got from the mouthpiece and through modification of the metals that were used to make the horn, and transitioned into the Natural Horn. The Natural Horn was originally just used for as a special addition to the orchestra, but during the early 1700s composers began to include horn parts in most pieces, and the Horn became a part of the standard orchestra. The main difference between the Natural Horn and the modern Horn was lack of valves. Since the Horn's partials are so close together, it is possible to get many different notes without modification of the instrument's lenght through valves. However, the Natural Horn could only be played in one key, and to avoid having to switch instruments in the middle of a concert, players began using crooks, which were pieces of tubing that the hornist would attatch to the lead pipe, changing the length and modifying the key. The valves were invented in the early 19th century, and as early as the 1820s valves were integrated into Horns. However, at this point the only valve that was used was the Piston Valve, similar to the valves of the Modern trumpet. On the horn, these valves were very awkward, and did not gain very many

supporters. In the 1860s, though, the rotary valve was invented. These proved to be a much better match for the Horn, and they are still used today. Using valves produces a slightly different sound, though, so for older pieces many players still use Natural Horns. Horn players switched to the valve very slowly. Even halfway into the 20th century, some schools mandated study of Natural Horn, and refused to accept valved horn players. However, at this point all Conservatories will train students to use the valved horn, although some still require students to learn Natural Horn along with the Valved Horn.

General Information >> Types of Horns and Mouthpieces

The natural horn is the ancient ancestor of all modern horns, having no valves whatsoever. Since it lacks valves, only the notes in the harmonic series can be produced without the use of the right hand. In order to play notes outside of the harmonic series,hornists originally used varying hand posistions, a practice still commonly used today on modern horns to make minor pitch adjustments. Today, when playing music written before the advent valves, we see parts written for horn in many keys besides F. While multiple keys consistently challenge players of modern valved horns to accurately transpose by sight, they actually simplify the reading and playing of music for the natural horn. The hornist would just add the correct crook to change the natural horn's key, thereby enabling the player to both read the music as written and more easily play passages with the hand. Realizing that handhorn technique doesn't change between keys can help make transposition much easier. All we need to know is which key combinations are equivalent to the key of the horn part. List of natural horn keys with their corresponding fingering on the modern horn:

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

C alto - none B alto - none Bb alto - T0 A alto - T2 Ab alto - T1 G - T12 or T3 Gb - T23 F - F0 or T13 E - F2 or T123 Eb - F1 D - F12 or F3 Db - F23 C - F13 B basso - F123 Bb basso - none A basso - none Ab basso - none

General Information >> Handhorn Technique

Before starting to learn handhorn get to know the harmonic series of the horn or the notes that can naturally be played without valves. For every pitch there are a few things we can do to give us a near chromatic range:

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To play one half-step lower, close off the bell a bit. This will take some experimenting to figure out how much, but it should be relatively easy. To play one half-step higher, fully stop the bell. For modern horns, we are encouraged to make this sound quite nasally. For the natural horn, it should be much smoother. Experiment to make the note sound more uniform with other notes. This may even require playing some of the open notes slightly more closed. Pitch bending with the lips is required for some notes. For example Beethoven especially likes throwing in low written G's (bottom line base clef in new notation). This is not a note in the harmonic series, but bending the pitch that low is quite possible. Another example that is not used often is for playing the D just below the treble clef staff. It is a whole step away from the C and E which can be played open. Bending all the way to the D from either note is quite difficult, but a half-step bend down from the E is very doable. So if we bend a half-step and then close off the bell a bit we can get a D.

Some repertoire for natural horn:

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Mozart Horn Concerti Beethoven Sonata for Horn


The single horn has three valves which lower the pitch of the instrument two, one, and three half steps respectively. Valves eliminate the need for hand-horning, though stopped horn is still commonly used among modern players. Single horns are usually made in the key of F, though many can be found in Bb alto.


The double horn combines the F and Bb single horns into one instrument. Double horns have four valves; the three valves of the single horn plus an additional valve, played with the thumb, to switch between the F and Bb horn. The double horn is the most commonly used today. It gives players extra versatility by allowing them to use the Bb horn to produce better tone in the upper register and in the low range from the F below middle C to the C a fourth below that. The F horn is typically used in the mid-low to middle register.


The descant horn is a single horn in the key of F, but pitched an octave higher than the usual F horn. It is often used for pieces in which the horn part is entirely in the upper and upper-middle registers.


The triple horn combines the single F, single Bb, and descant horns into one instrument. It has the four valves of a double horn plus a fifth valve to switch to the descant "side" of the horn.

Closely related instruments

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Alp Horn Wagner Tuba

General Information >> Notable Performers and Recording Artists

There have been many great horn players over the years. Here are some virtuosos who have influenced many horn players after them.

Friedrich Adolph Borsdorf (1854-1923) Dennis Brain (1921-1957) Alan Civil (1929-1989) Philip Farkas (1914-1992) Friedrich Gumpert (1841-1906) Joseph Ignaz Leutgeb (1745-1811) Eduard Constantin and Joseph Rodolphe Lewy (1796-1846), (1802-1881) Max Pottag (1876-1970) Giovanni Punto (1746-1803) Karl Stiegler (1876-1932) Franz Strauss (1822-1905) Emil Wipperich (1854-1917) Dale Clevenger Hector McDonald (born 1952) John Cerminaro (born 1947) Hermann Baumann (born 1934) Michael Thompson (born 1954) Barry Tuckwell (born 1931)

General Information >> Fingering Chart

The horn spans four plus octaves depending on the player and uses both the treble and bass clefs. In this chart it is assumed the player is using a double-horn with F and Bb sides. The number 1 indicates that the index-finger valve should be depressed, the number 2 indicates that the middle-finger valve should be depressed and the number 3 indicates that the ring-finger valve should be depressed. There are eight possible valve combinations among the first, second and third valves: 0, 1, 2, 3, 1-2, 1-3, 2-3, and 1-2-3. However, there are effectively seven combinations, because 1-2 will produce the same notes, perhaps slightly out of tune, as 3 alone. One depresses the thumb key to use the Bb side of the horn.

[2] Playing Technique

The horn is very difficult to master. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of variables which must be accounted for in order to play well.

Playing Technique >> Posture and Use of Body

Correct posture is important to comfortably producing a good tone on the horn, as with any wind instrument. Using a poor posture can result in wavering pitch, inadequate air support, pinched or hollow sound, and various other playing difficulties. While playing, the player's back and neck must always be in line. It is recommended that hornists (and most wind instrumentalists) sit with their backs off the back of the chair and feet flat on the floor for a slight "leaning forward" feeling. The most important thing to remember is that the posture must be as upright as possible without causing any excess tension; the entire body must be as relaxed as possible to avoid tension creeping into the sound. Only the tips of the fingers should be placed on the valve levers. This allows for faster depression of valves, allowing the player to change pitches properly. Correct posture will allow one to adjust dynamics more correctly and produce a better sound.

Playing Technique >> Right Hand Usage Origins and reasoning

The original horn had no valves. The technique for playing notes between the open partials of the harmonic series was opening and closing the throat of the bell with the hand. When valves were added to the instrument, horn players opted to keep the hand in the bell. They had three primary reasons for doing so:

1. The tone is darkened significantly, recreating the timbre of the Natural Horn. 2. Pitches are more easily controlled. The deeper the hand goes into the bell, the lower the pitch. 3. The hand is in place to perform extended techniques like stopped and echo horn.

Steps in putting hand in the bell correctly

The American method

1. Assemble right hand as though it is going to be shaking another hand. 2. Bring the thumb in so it points in the same direction as the other fingers. 3. Place the hand inside the bell with the metal touching the back of the hand.

Some of the weight of the horn should be held up by the thumb and possibly the index-finger.

The French method

1. Hold right hand out flat with palm down and drop thumb to create a 90-degree angle with fingers. 2. Place the hand inside the bell until the thumb hits the bottom wall of the bell.

Some of the weight of the horn should be held up by the first knuckles and the back of the hand. If you experiment with both of these positions, you will quickly learn how much the placement of the hand in the bell affects the overall timbre and volume of the instrument.

Miscellaneous Information

The hand should certainly "disrupt" the sound coming out of the bell. Otherwise, there would be no point to having the hand it the bell. However, the hand should not be disturbing the sound enough to cause it to sound stuffy. Visually depicted, one should imagine as though sound is emerging as a stream of water and the palm is carefully guiding the stream along the back of the forearm.

Playing Technique >> Breathing and Moving Air

When you breathe for air when playing the horn, make sure that you do so, grabbing as much air as possible in the shortest time possible, without changing your embouchure. A good way to do this is though the nose, or on the sides of the mouth, if your mouth is big enough. But it is important that you never 'fall' from a note to take a breath. What you can do to conserve more air, is to sit at the very tip-corner right side of the chair. Cushions (sofas, loveseats, etc.) are unacceptable because it is too easy to slouch, even when you do not realize it. So, it is best to play on a actual 'chair', ideally with no backing.

It is often the best to include several breathing exercises in your daily warm-up routine. All are done in common time. When inhaling, make your mouth wider, but when exhaling, make it smaller, so that you have to push air though your mouth. Here are some exercises: Assume 'b' is beat Assume 'c' is crescendo Assume 'dcr' is decrescendo

Breathe in for 4b, release for 4b Breathe in for 4b, release for 8b Breathe in for 4b, release for 12bc Breathe in for 2b, release for 4b Breathe in for 4b, release for 10bcd and so forth.

Playing Technique >> Embouchure and Facial Musculature

Embouchure is extremely important to producing a good sound on the horn. There are many different opinions as to which embouchure is "correct". However, a standard technique exists that most other embouchure styles are based upon:




The corners of the lips must do the majority of the work of forming the embouchure. If the corners are not firm, then the player will be forced to push the mouthpiece hard against the lips, which will result in an unpleasant tone quality. No part of the embouchure should be tight except for the corners. In particular, the lips must not be jammed together. If the lips are too tight and/or jammed together, the horn will sound very bad, if it can produce a sound at all. Thus, a good embouchure has firm, tight corners, and the rest of the embouchure is loose. The lips should be SLIGHTLY apart in the center so that the air can vibrate the lips easily. Forcing the air is a bad idea. The lips must be able to vibrate constantly and freely without requiring the pressure of the mouthpiece.

Playing Technique >> Articulating Notes

Regular tonguing

On most notes, the tongue is used to start the note. Release the air used to start the note with the syllable "tah". Make sure that the T is not too audible. Once the note has started, the tongue must be out of the way of the sound. Unless otherwise noted in the music, this is how all notes should be tongued. If a passage is to be played legato but not slurred, then the tongue should be light. In this case, it may be more helpful to think of "dah" rather than "tah".


When a slur is called for in the music, simply do not tongue any of the notes in the slurred passage. Slurs should sound beautiful and have a gradual transition from note to note. Slurs are indicated by a curve connecting the first note of the slur to the last note of the slur. It is generally acceptable to start a slur with the tongue.

Accents / Sforzandos

Accents should have more air behind them, but also are produced by tonguing harder. This will push more air at the beginning of the note. A sforzando is simply an exaggerated accent. An accent is indicated by a symbol looking a bit like > above or below the note. A sforzando is indicated by sf or sfz below the note. fp or sfp indicate that a note should be played sforzando then quickly reduced to piano (quiet).


Staccato notes may be slightly accented, and they should be short and separated. The shortness of the note is created by stopping the airstream. Do not stop the note with the tongue. Tonguestopping will result in a choked sound.

Double and triple tonguing

Double and triple tonguing is useful in fast phrases where regular tonguing is not fast enough. For double tonguing, the first note should be tongued with the syllable "tah" like normal, but the second note is tongued with the syllable "kah". With practice, the tongue will be able to double tongue very quickly, allowing long sixteenth-note passages to be playable by simply silently saying tah-kah-tah-kah with the tongue. Triple tonguing is similar; it is produced with the syllables tah-kah-tah. This will come in very handy in passage in fast 6/8 time or passages with lots of triplets. Whenever double or triple tounging is used, there must be more air behind the "kah" or else it will result in an extremely weak articulation.

Playing Technique >> Stopping Mute

Stopping mutes are often made of metal and are somewhat pear-shaped. Its use will have the same effect as completely closing off the bell with your right hand ("hand-stopping"), which is generally preferred over using the mute. It is very important to note that this will cause the note to jump up a half-step, so you will need to finger down a half-step. If, when hand-stopping, you find that the tone jumps down a half-step rather than up, it is because you are not completely closing off the bell. Make sure that there are no gaps between your fingers. It is not uncommon for there to inadvertently be a gap between your thumb and your index finger. If you want proof that jumping down a half-step is not correct, try playing a concert E arpeggio with open valves, hand-stopped. A + sign over the note indicates to start using the stopped horn (either hand stop or use the stopping mute) and o means to return to regular, unstopped horn. In other words, + means stop, and o means go.

Straight mute

This type of mute does not require as much explanation. There is no alternative to the straight mute in music that calls for it. Straight mutes are usually cone-shaped and made of wood, but some are made of metal. con sord. (short for con sordino, Italian for "with mute") means to insert the straight mute. senza sord. (senza sordino - "without mute) means to remove it. Most straight mutes have wrist straps. It is strongly recommended that you hang the mute on your right wrist before beginning a piece that calls for it.

Practice mute

Practice mutes are never used in concerts, thus their name. They simply make your sound much, much quieter to avoid disturbing others when you have to practice in hotel rooms, etc. With any type of mute, it is a good idea to twist it slightly when you insert it into your bell. This will make it more secure and prevent it from falling out.

Playing Technique >>Transposing Music


Many older pieces for horn were written for a horn not keyed in F as is standard today. As a result, a requirement for modern horn players is to be able to read music in other keys. This is most commonly done by transposing the music "on the fly" into F. A reliable way to transpose is to liken the written notes (which rarely deviate from written C, D, E, and G) to their counterparts in the scale the F horn will be playing in. Commonly seen transpositions include:

· · · · · · · ·

B alto ­ up a perfect fourth A alto ­ up a major third G ­ up a major second E ­ down a minor second E ­ down a major second D ­ down a minor third C ­ down a perfect fourth B basso ­ down a perfect fifth

Some less common transpositions include:

· · · · · · ·

A alto ­ up a minor third G ­ up a minor second D ­ down a major third (used in some works by Berlioz, Verdi and Strauss (Der Rosenkavalier)) B ­ down a tritone (used by Brahms) 3 A basso ­ down a minor sixth (used in some works by Verdi) A basso ­ down a major sixth (used in some works by Verdi) G basso ­ up a minor seventh (used in some works by Verdi)

It has been speculated that one of the reasons Brahms wrote for horn in the awkward key of B was to encourage the horns to use the natural horn; he did not like the sound of the new valved horns. An example of this is when Brahms picked the second horn player, Wilhelm Kleinecke, in the Vienna Opera for a performance of the Horn Trio in E flat, op. 40 over the first horn, Richard Lewy, because Lewy only played the valved horn. Sometimes it is ambiguous whether a piece should be transposed up or down (i.e. B alto versus B basso when only B is written). It is usually safe to assume that the most common and reasonable transposition is the intended transposition (i.e. it stays in the normal horn range). More can be decided from the history of the composer. For example, Verdi and other opera composers used many low and odd transpositions. For Haydn symphonies that have trumpets, the lower transposition for the horns is usually correct; otherwise the high transposition is usually correct. After gaining much experience, this decision-making should come easily to the horn player.


In older scores (many times German), B alto and basso are written simply as "B."

E horns were used extensively in military bands in the early 20th century, therefore band parts written for chromatic E horns are common.



Brahms indicated the key of B as "H."

Learning to Transpose

Many ideas are out there as to how to think of transposing. Here a few are presented. Pick the ones that work for you and use them. In the end, knowing what note to play is what is important.

Note by Note

Once you figure out how far you need to transpose, just think that in your head for every note. For example, for D horn you need to transpose every note down a minor third (three half steps). When you come to a third space C, you think a minor third below that and play an A.

Clef Transposition

Pretend the written music has a different clef.



B Horn - If you have a double horn, as most people do, you can use F horn fingerings on the B side of the horn. This does not work for all fingerings, but if you are in doubt, it can come in handy. C Horn - This is similar to B horn, but instead uses B fingerings on the F side of the horn. Again this is not fool-proof and does not work for all fingerings.


Old Notation

Old Notation was the practice of notating bass clef Horn parts a fourth BELOW sounding pitch instead of a fifth ABOVE sounding pitch, which is the standard today. These parts should be played an octave above the written pitch. A good indicator of old notation is the presence of a pedal C (C2) or lower. In modern composition, old notation should never be used. It is outdated and unnecessary.

Playing Technique >> Miscellaneous Techniques

Inexpensive stopped muting

Many horn players own stopping mutes for when the music calls for them. If ever you are playing stopped passages, these come in handy. However, mutes can be expensive. A similar device can be created inexpensively. Materials:

· · · ·

a Styrofoam cup a pencil or pen a straw (optional) a pair of scissors (optional)

1. Puncture the bottom of the cup with the pen or pencil. 2. Optionally, insert the straw into the hole. Cutting the length of the straw with scissors to desired length is recommended. 3. Move the straw in and out of the cup while the "mute" is in the horn and you are playing. Tune the mute by adjusting the straw with an electronic tuner. This is not a perfect substitute for a real stopping mute, but works when in a pinch.

Water emptying

As a consequence of a hornist blowing warm, moist air through metal pipes, a great deal of water condenses and comes together in liquid form inside the instrument. When too much water has condensed, airflow is obstructed and one can hear unmusical flops and pops while playing. The water must then be removed. Hornists usually use gravity to their advantage when removing water. Often, the horn can be rotated so that the water can pour out of the lead pipe. While every horn is different, there is one trick for emptying water out of the horn that is universal across all double-horns. 1. Hold the horn so that the bell is above everything else and the valves are pointed straight to the ground. 2. Depress all three valves. Hold it this way for at least two seconds. 3. Lift off the first two valves while keeping the third down. 4. Rotate the horn back to its normal position and keep rotating until the valves are no longer parallel to the ground. 5. Remove the third-valve pipes. All the water was moved into these pipes and can be dumped quickly.

An Easy High C

This works on most horns: 1. Play a C in the treble staff, using the F side of the horn. 2. Press the first valve lever partially down. 3. Continue to push it further down until the note jumps up an octave on its own. While learning this one, remember that your lips are not buzzing the high C, they are buzzing the C in the staff the whole time.

Whistle Through Your Horn

This one is quite useless: 1. Remove the tubing from one of your tuning slides. 2. Push down the valves in such a way that the airstream would go through the tubing you removed. 3. With your mouth in the mouthpiece, form an embouchure that is like whistling and also is like a recorder's mouthpiece. 4. Blow lightly.

[3] Repertoire

The horn has a very wide variety of music written specifically for it. Its relatively great range and dynamic contrast has allowed composers to write music of many styles for it. The Horn WikiBook, due to copyright law, cannot include actual music for each and every piece of music listed.

Repertoire >>Etudes

Etude Collections

Kopprasch Maxime-Alphonse Pottag Gallay

Repertoire >> Concerto

· · · · · · · ·

Mozart Horn Concerto No. 2 Mozart Horn Concerto No. 3 Mozart Horn Concerto No. 4 Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1 Strauss Horn Concerto No. 2 (very difficult) Haydn Horn Concerto No. 1 Haydn Horn Concerto No. 2 Glière Horn Concerto

Repertoire >> Orchestral Audition Excerpts

The following is a list of standard excerpts that are regularly asked for in auditions:

Bach, J. S.

· ·

Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 Mass in B minor

Beethoven, L. v.

· · · · · ·

Symphony No. 3 Symphony No. 6 Symphony No. 7 Symphony No. 8 Symphony No. 9 Fidelio Overture

Brahms, J.

· · · · ·

Symphony No. 1 Symphony No. 2 Symphony No. 3 Symphony No. 4 Academic Festival Overture

· · · ·

Concerto for Piano No. 1 Concerto for Piano No. 2 Variations on a Theme by Haydn Tragic Overture

Bruckner, A.


Symphony No. 4

Dvorak, A.

· · ·

Symphony No. 8 Symphony No. 9 Concerto for Cello

Franck, C.


Symphony in D minor

Grieg, E.


Grieg Piano Concerto

Haydn, F. J.


Symphony No. 31, "Hornsignal"

Holst, G.


The Planets

Mahler, G.

· · ·

Symphony No. 1 Symphony No. 5 Symphony No. 10

Mendelssohn, F.

· · ·

Symphony No. 3 Symphony No. 4 Nocturne from a Midsummer Night's Dream

Mozart W. A.

· · · ·

Symphony No. 40 Horn Concerto No. 2 in E-flat Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat Horn Concerto No. 4 in E-flat

Mussorgsky, M.


Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Ravel)

Rachmaninov, S.

· · · ·

Symphony No. 2 Piano Concerto No. 1 Piano Concerto No. 2 Piano Concerto No. 3

Ravel, M.

· · ·

Concerto for Piano in G major Bolero Pavane pour une Infante Défunte

Schubert, F.


Symphony No. 9/7, "The Great"

Schumann, R.

· ·

Concertstück for 4 horns and orchestra Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish"

Shostakovich, D.


Symphony No. 5

Strauss, R.

· · · · · ·

Also Sprach Zarathustra Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration) Don Juan Don Quixote Ein Heldenleben Till Eulenspiegel

Stravinsky, I.

· ·

The Firebird Suite The Rite of Spring

Tchaikovsky, P. I.

· · · ·

Symphony No. 4 Symphony No. 5 Capriccio Italien 1812 Overture

Wagner, R.

· · · · ·

Siegfried's Rhine Journey (the "Short Call") Lohengrin Das Rheingold, Introduction Siegfried (the "Long Call") Die Walküre, Ride of the Valkyries

Weber, C. M. v.

· ·

Der Freischütz, Overture Overture to Oberon



Content Source: About authors 1. Horndude77 - Began project. 2. Ross Uber - Done some, with a great deal of sources derived from the hard work of Professor David G. Elliott 3. Hornandsoccer-will do some transwikiing from wikipedia, add what i know 4. SandySandy- Everything else, like copy paste, layouting, converting to DOC/PDF

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