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date: 08 April 2020

Crumhorn (from Ger. Krummhorn, Krumbhorn: ‘curved horn’, also Krummpfeife: ‘curved pipe’; Fr. tournebout, ?douçaine; It. storto, cornamuto torto, piva torta)locked

  • Barra R. Boydell


(from Ger. Krummhorn, Krumbhorn: ‘curved horn’, also Krummpfeife: ‘curved pipe’; Fr. tournebout, ?douçaine; It. storto, cornamuto torto, piva torta)

A double-reed wind-cap instrument with cylindrical bore and a curved lower end to the body (hence its name). The crumhorn was the most important wind-cap instrument during the 16th and early 17th centuries and is mainly associated with Germany, Italy and the Low Countries. (See Wind-cap instruments.)

The crumhorn consists of three sections: the body, the cotton reel (or cap housing) and the wind cap; the reed is attached to a brass staple which is inserted into the top of the bore and enclosed by the cap (fig.1). The body, commonly of maple, was made of centre-grain wood to facilitate the drilling of the very narrow bore, and the bend was normally made by heating the wood after the bore had been drilled out. Although basically cylindrical, the bore normally expands slightly in the curved lower section of the instrument, the end of the bore being hollowed out to a flare; this, together with the upcurved end, has a small but significant effect on the tone of the instrument. Owing to its narrow cylindrical bore and wind cap, the crumhorn does not overblow; its basic range is therefore restricted to a 9th unless increased downwards by keys, as on some larger sizes. Agricola (...

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