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date: 15 November 2019

Buccina [Bucina] (Gk. bukanē)locked

  • James W. McKinnon


[Bucina] (Gk. bukanē)

A curved Roman brass instrument (an Aerophone). It is less easily definable than its contemporaries owing to the scarcity of iconographic evidence and the ambiguity of the literary references, some of which confuse it with the Cornu. The majority of evidence, nevertheless, points to a distinct instrument. Originally it was a curved animal’s horn but it came to be covered with brass and even to be fashioned entirely from brass. Its musical capability seems to have been limited to a few pitches of the overtone series; this would agree with the literary references, which consistently attributed to it a signalling function.

In earlier times it was associated with country folk, particularly shepherds, and although it became primarily a military instrument, it maintained something of this early association throughout the classical period. Roman authors described the herding of sheep and the summoning together of rural communities as among its early uses. The later, more common, military references give the impression that it was used within the camp, unlike the more powerful tuba (...

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C. Sachs: The History of Musical Instruments (New York, 1940)
Galpin Society Journal