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Monday, December 19, 2011

Instrument Zoo!

Here are some weird and wacky instruments you may have seen in an orchestra... and some you may never see in an orchestra!

1. Cornetts and Serpents

Mute cornett, curved cornett and tenor cornett

Cornetts (also known as cornettos or zinks) are hybrids of woodwinds and brass: they have the toneholes and fingering systems of woodwinds but the cup mouthpiece of brass. 

Their unique sound is very similar to the human voice and were often used to support church choirs. 

The Serpent is the contrabass member of the cornett family.

2. Shawm

Spanish soprano shawm in C', Spanish alto shawm in G, Spanish alto shawm in F
The shawm was a woodwind instrument used in Europe between the 12th and 17th centuries. It's the predecessor of the modern oboe and was developed from the zurma, an early Middle Eastern woodwind. 

Shawms were made in several sizes and ranged from sopranino to great bass.

3. Sackbut


The sackbut was the predecessor of the slide trombone and was in use in Europe during the 15th century, when it began to develop into the trombone we're familiar with today.

Do you play the sackbut? You might be interested in a Sackbut t-shirt!

4. Basset Horn

The basset horn in action

The basset horn is a member of the clarinet family and is still in use today. Mozart used it in several of his works, including Die Entf├╝hrung aus dem Serail, La Clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberfl├Âte

4. Cor anglais 

The cor anglais

The cor anglais (or English horn) belongs to the oboe family. It's pitched a perfect fifth lower than the oboe and is consequently one and a half times the length of the oboe. 

It has a pear-shaped bell and is regarded as the alto member of the oboe family, with the oboe d'amore as the mezzo-soprano member.

5. Contrabassoon

The contrabasson in action
The contrabassoon sounds an octave lower than the bassoon. It's so long that it curves around on itself twice and is supported by an endpin and a strap around the players's neck. Some models cannot be disassembled without a screwdriver.

6. Contrabass Clarinet
Contrabass clarinet in B-flat and Contrabassoon

The contrabass clarinet is one of two largest members of the clarinet family that have ever been used commonly , the second being the contra-alto clarinet. Some contrabass clarinets have a range down to low E or even further to low C. Subcontrabass clarinets, pitched even lower than the contrabass, have been built only on an experimental basis. (Photo from¸)

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