At great feasts they are to play upon shagbut, cornetts,
Richard Brathwaite, 1621
click image for alto shawm sound (134kb wav)
- dance tune by Fabrito Carioso
feste burg - three settings by Walther
Unlike the medieval shawm, the late Middle Ages and Renaissance shawm uses a broad cane reed controlled by the player's lips. With the smaller size shawms, the reed could be placed inside a pirouette, a funnel shaped protector against which the player places his lips. This pirouette not only protects the reed, but also helps avoid lip fatique.
|The shawm band enlivened the palace courtyard and market square
of the sixteenth century and added to the general din and confusion associated
Clown: Why, masters, have your instruments been at Naples, that they speak i' th' nose thus?
Musician: How, sir, how?
Clown: Are these, I pray, call'd wind instruments?
Musician: Ay, marry, are they, sir.
Clown: O. therey hangs a tail.
Musician: Whereby hangs a tale, sir?
Clown: Marry, sir, by many a wind instrument that i know. But, masters, here's money for you; and the General so likes your music, that he desires you, of all loves, to make no more noise with it.
|All shawms have several vent holes between the hole for the lowest
note and the end of the bell. This section of the instrument is very long
and contributes to the tone and carrying power of the instrument. A large
fontanelle protects the key mechanism of the lowest note(s), and the crenellated
metal band often found wrapped around the bell not only helps protect the
instrument but also helps make the shawm a sturdy weapon for settling disputes
among town musicians.
Musica Antiqua's shawms include a soprano in c1 by Hermann Moeck, two altos in f by Moeck, a tenor in c by Moeck, a soprano in c1 by John Hanchet, and an alto in f by Collier.