The Rackett

In sound racketts are quite soft,
almost as if one were blowing through a comb.

Praetorius, 1619

The ingenuity of the Renaissance instrument maker was never exceeded after the development of the rackett or Wurstfagott (sausage bassoon). The instrument's narrow cylindrical bore consists of nine parallel channels drilled in a wooden cylinder and connected alternately top and bottom. Because of the internal convolutions, the size of the rackett is amazingly small compared to its pitch. The tenor rackett is only about four and one-half inches in height, yet its lowest note is F, two below middle c1. The many-channeled nature of this instrument makes for unusual fingering patterns. Another problem encountered by the rackett player is the removal of moisture in the inner passageways of the instrument. Some racketts have tiny brass tubes extending from the body for the player's fingers or thumbs.
 
A wide reed about the size of a bassoon reed is placed inside a pirouette in a manner similar to the shawm. The outlet of the bore is at the bottom of the instrument. The rackett has a warm, rich tone, and is capable of a wide range of tone color and dynamic range, from loud and buzzy to soft and gentle. Thus it is a highly versatile instrument.

A painting of the Munich court band during the latter sixteenth century depicts the rackett in consort with flute, recorder, cornetts, sackbut, lute, viols, and harpsichord.

Musica Antiqua owns a tenor and a great bass rackett by Hermann Moeck of Germany.

Musica Antiqua Instruments


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