Lincoln Renaissance Band
Audio Samples (May 2012)

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If you would like more information please email the band's organiser: organiser@lincolnband.org.uk

 

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Instruments

On this page you can see pictures of the sort of instruments we play, together with some brief notes.

 

Cornamuse

Crumhorn

Dulcian

Recorder

Sackbut

Viol Family

 


Cornamuse The Cornamuse is a straight instrument which utilises a double reed. Unlike a modern oboe player, the Cornamuse player does not hold the reed between their lips. Instead it is contained within a windcap.

The Cornamuse has a closed bell, with little holes drilled around the sides to allow the air and the sound to come out. This gives the Cornamuse a unique soft buzzing tone which blends well with Recorders.

Cornamusen are usually available in the following size: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass.

Click here to read what Wikipedia say about the Cornamuse.

Picture reproduced courtesy of Carol Noakes, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England

Reed Chamber This diagram shows a double reed, as used in Cornamusen and Crumhorns, The reed is encased by it's wooden windcap.

Krummhorn Crumhorns are a popular reed instrument amongst early music groups today. This is perhaps more due to their exotic curved shape, rather than their range or ease of playing. In actual fact, the crumhorn has a very limited range - usually of just over one octave. Some have keys added to lengthen this range.

The crumhorn is a very challenging instrument to play. It requires very strong breath pressure and a great deal of stamina to play in tune, but once that is achieved, it can be one of the most stately and evocative instruments. The sound made by a Crumhorn is in many ways, similar to a Cornamuse, yet it is a little louder and a little more insistent. The Crumhorn's timbre can range from a warm hum up to a strident, buzz.

It is thought that Crumhorns have been around since before 1489 as, records of an organ stop named "Crumhorn" date from that year. Like Recorders, Crumhorns are available in a range of sizes including: soprano,alto,tenor, bass and great bass.

Click here to read what Wikipedia say about the Crumhorn.

Picture reproduced courtesy of Andreas Sumerauer, Goslar, Germany

Dulcian The Dulcian first emerged in the early 16th century. Like the crumhorn and shawm, dulcians use a double reed, but this time, the reed is not encased in a chamber, it is held directly between the players lips. This gives the instrument a range of expression and emotion that no windcap can muster. The Dulcian's long wind-tube is bent double in order to make the instrument easier to manage. The distinctive sound and agility of the bass Dulcian led to this instrument's eventual development into the modern bassoon.

Maggie Kilbey's book, 'Curtal, Dulcian, Bajč´¸n: A History of the Precursor to the Bassoon', is excellent reading for anyone interested in this expressive and versatile instrument. Maggie is the Administrator of the Galpin Society.

Click here to read what Wikipedia say about the Dulcian.

Picture reproduced courtesy of Hans Mons, Eindhoven, Netherlands

Early Renaissance Recorders The initial members of Lincoln Renaissance Band were primarily recorder players. The Recorder of the Renaissance period is quite different from a "modern" (Baroque) recorder. The main difference is the wider bore, which produces a louder, fuller tone than the baroque recorder. Copies of Renaissance Recorders are easily obtained, and are made in a wide range of sizes from the tiny Garklein, through Sopranino, Soprano (Descant), Alto (Treble), Tenor, Bass (Bassett), Great Bass (Bass) and Contra-Bass.

Picture reproduced courtesy of Andreas Sumerauer, Goslar, Germany

Praetorius Recorders This picture of a consort of Praetorius-style Recorders demonstrates the variety in size between the garklein and tenor. However, in practice, most members of Lincoln Renaissance Band play slightly different - less decorated - recorders, which are generally copies of earlier instruments than these - those shown here.

Picture reproduced courtesy of John Everingham, (Saunders Recorders) Bristol, England.

Praetorius Tenor Recorders The two recorders pictured here are both tenors, but you will notice some obvious differences, although they are both historically correct. One is keyed, the other is not. The key is used to enable the player to reach far-off tone-holes without the need to stretch the fingers uncomfortable distances. The barrel-shaped cover over the key mechanism is called a "fontanelle". It's function is to protect the key from harm.

Click here to read what Wikipedia say about the Recorder.

Picture reproduced courtesy of John Everingham, (Saunders Recorders) Bristol, England.

Sackbut The Sackbut is often called the forerunner of the Trombone or the "Primitive Trombone". Unfortunately, both these statements are rather confusing. The sackbut was certainly not primitive, it was the single most advanced brass instrument of the day, and remained so for hundreds of years. Compared to other instruments, the Trombone has changed less than any other member of the brass family, and the typical trombone shape is easily recognisable in instruments of any period. The important differences between the Sackbut and the Trombone are principally: (i) The addition of a venturi to center the sound, (ii) The fashion to favour a wider bore, which produces a fatter, more brassy timbre (Sackbuts have a more vocal quality than modern Trombones), and (iii) the ever increasing bell flare diameter, which amplifies the instrument's volume. Despite these changes, the basics of how this instrument works (the telescoping double slide) have remained the same since the mid 15th century.

"Sackbut" (in it's various forms) was a very English term, but even we English eventually adopted the more widespread Italian name "Trombone". In Italy the name of this instrument has always been "Trombone" and likewise in Germany where it is called a "Posaune".

The Trombone existed, in it's current shape and form, long before the development of many other wind instruments was complete. As early as 1468 the "trompette saicqueboute" was used to play music at the wedding of Charles the Bold and Margaret of York. which took place in Bruges. That was some 346 years before Heinrich Stoelzel applied his piston valves to the trumpet (and horn) and some 363 years before the emergence of the Hekel key system for Bassoon.

Three main factors led to the Trombone occupying it's position as Prince Among Brass: (1) The ease with which a skilled sackbuteer could play chromatically in any register (at a time in history when the trumpet [and later the horn] were limited to the tones of the harmonic series); (2) The method of changing from one note to another - using a double slide, allows the musician to play with perfect tuning at more or less any pitch, whereas instruments with finger holes are usually made to work optimally at just one pitch. This adaptability would be a huge asset when the pitch (of other instruments) might vary enormously from one location to another, or even within one establishment. The simplicity of a moving slide also allows for further adjustments to correct faulty tuning, or to choose between mean-tone and equal-temperament tuning without the need for complicated cross-fingering techniques; (3) The range of expression and dynamics available on this instrument allowed it to transcend the usual groupings of "loud" or "soft" instruments during the Renaissance period.

The trombone was held in high regard right from it's earliest days, as this quote from Tinctoris (circa 1487) demonstrates:

However, for the lowest contratenor parts, and often for any contratenor part, to the shawm players one adds brass players who play very harmoniously, upon the kind of tuba called ..trompone in Italy and sacqueboute in France. When all these instruments are employed together, it is called the loud music.

In the 17th century, Michael Praetorius described the sackbut as the:

wind instrument par excellence in concerted music of any kind.

The Sackbut's versatility was a key factor for it's supreme position. It could be played quietly enough to accompany solo voices, strings or flutes, yet the same instrument would accompany the shawms and cornetts in tower music and martial parades.

Even well into the 19th century, the Trombone still retained wide acclaim with many composers. For example:

In my opinion, the trombone is the true head of the family of wind instruments, which I have named the 'epic' one. It possesses nobility and grandeur to the highest degree; it has all the serious and powerful tones of sublime musical poetry, from religious, calm and imposing accents to savage, orgiastic outburst. Directed by the will of the master, the trombones can chant like a choir of priests, threaten, utter gloomy sighs, a mournful lament, or a bright hymn of glory; they can break forth into awe-inspiring cries and awaken the dead or doom the living with their fearful voices. (Hector Berlioz)

Click here to read what Wikipedia say about the Sackbut.

Viols The picture shows three Viols in different sizes. The viol first appeared in Europe in the late 15th century. It became one of the most popular instruments of both Renaissance and Baroque musicians. Viols were heard primarily in ensemble, or consort, music.

The viol remained a popular ensemble instrument until the 17th century, when the violin displaced it. Viols became practically extinct until interest in early music started to grow in the 20th century. The viol differs from the violin in the manner of playing, in its shape, and in having frets and typically six strings, tuned in fourths with one third, rather than in fifths. Viols are usually played upright, resting on or between the knees. The viol is well suited to intimate settings, but lacks the dynamic range of the violin. The main sizes of viol are treble, alto, tenor, and bass. Textual descriptions of the double bass viol, the Violone, date its existence to at least 1566.

Click here to read what Wikipedia say about the family of Viols.