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Howard Mayer Brown and Barra R. Boydell

[Kort Instrument, Kurz Pfeiff] (from Ger. kurzes Holz: ‘short woodwind’)

A generic term, referring to double-reed instruments from the 16th and 17th centuries with bores that double back on themselves (as in bassoons). The pitch of such instruments is thus deeper than their length would suggest. Specifically the word ‘Kortholt’ was applied to four kinds of instrument: a dulcian or early Bassoon (especially in England, according to Praetorius (2/1619), where the word ‘curtal’, a corruption of Kortholt, was used); a Racket, according to various late 16th- and early 17th-century inventories cited by Kinsky and Boydell; a Sordun, or ‘courtaut’ as Mersenne (1636–7) called a similar instrument; and a wind-cap sordun.

The instrument Praetorius illustrates as a Kortholt is of the last type; it has a wind cap over a double reed and an apparently cylindrical bore, doubled back on itself within a single wooden column (see illustration). The bore issues through a small lateral hole at the back below the wind cap. The instrument has 16 soundholes in all: the tips of all the fingers and the thumbs cover ten holes, and the joints of the index fingers cover two more; the latter and the little-finger holes are duplicated to allow for left- and right-handed playing (the four holes not in use are presumably stopped with wax). There are two closed keys which extend the range upwards. The range is shown in the illustration as ...



Howard Mayer Brown

[buysine, buzine, busine, etc.]

Medieval name for a herald’s trumpet; it was long and straight with a cylindrical or slightly conical bore. Pictures indicate that the instrument was often one to two or more metres long, and that its tube of brass or silver was made up of several joints, their junctions concealed by ornamental bosses. The bell joint was flared to varying degrees. Buisines are frequently shown bearing the banner of a noble person.

The instrument was apparently introduced into Europe from the Islamic world as a result of contact between Christians and Saracens during the Crusades. In literature before the 13th century the word ‘buisine’ seems to have had a general meaning. It first appears in the Chanson de Roland (c1100); the line there, ‘Si fait suner ses cors et ses buisines’, suggests that the author was distinguishing between horns and trumpets. More probably, however, buisines referred to both types of instruments, and perhaps particularly to the long heavy war-horns made of animals’ horns, wood, bronze or iron. It obviously relates to the earlier word, ...


Howard Mayer Brown

revised by Barra R. Boydell

(Fr. vèze; Ger. Platerspiel)

A wind instrument in which a reed is enclosed by an animal bladder. The player blows through a mouthpiece into the bladder, which serves, like the bag of a bagpipe, as a wind reservoir. Thus the performer does not directly control the reed with the lips; the instrument probably cannot be overblown, but has a compass limited by the number of finger-holes. The bladder pipe is depicted in a number of late medieval and Renaissance sources, but no specimens survive from that period. It is related to the Wind-cap instruments of the Renaissance, on which the reed was also enclosed, but in a rigid wooden cap. Bladder pipes occurred in both straight and curved forms, the latter being more common and bearing a superficial resemblance to the Crumhorn. The bore was mostly conical, though cylindrical bores are also depicted; some instruments had two parallel pipes, with the second pipe apparently serving as a drone or for accompaniments. In most iconographic sources both of the player’s hands cover the finger-holes; thus neither would be free to apply pressure to the bladder, which may have been elastic enough to expand and contract by itself. Pictures do not, of course, make clear whether the instrument had a single or a double reed, and the practice may have varied with the locality....


Barra R. Boydell

(from It. doppio: ‘double’)

A woodwind instrument of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, known principally in Italy. Zacconi (1592) gave the ranges of three sizes of doppioni: soprano (canto), c′–d″; tenor, c–d′; and bass,C–a. These were repeated by Cerone (1613), who translated the name into Spanish as ‘doblados’. Praetorius (1618) referred directly to Zacconi’s description, stating that he had been unable to find such an instrument, but supposing that it might be similar to his wind-cap Kortholt or to the Sordun or the Cornamusa. The restricted range of a 9th for soprano and tenor has led to the assumption that the doppioni had a wind cap (see Wind-cap instruments). Sachs believed that ‘doppioni’, ‘crumhorn’ and ‘dolzaina’ were different names for the same instrument; he claimed that it was called ‘double’ because its pitch was an octave lower than its size suggested (owing to its having a cylindrical bore); that is, it sounded at a pitch one would expect from an instrument ‘double’ the length. Kinsky regarded as untenable Sachs’s theory that the three names referred to the same instrument since Zacconi listed the ...



Reine Dahlqvist and Edward H. Tarr

[clarion, clarion etc.]

The high register of a trumpet; in its variant forms, the term also designates a kind of trumpet. During the 12th and 13th centuries ‘clario’, ‘clarone’ and ‘clarasius’ figure as instruments in glossaries, chronicles and similar writings, in some instances being equivalent to the ‘tuba’ (the long straight trumpet), but in others implying a different form. ‘Claro’ and ‘clario’ are derived from clarus (Lat.: ‘clear’, ‘penetrating’, ‘loud’, ‘shrill’); ‘clarasius’ is also derived from clarus, but the origin of the ending ‘-asius’ is not certain. (Heyde’s derivation from classicum has no philological support.) If a trumpet is made shorter and given a narrower bore, its tone will become clearer and more penetrating. Thus ‘claro’ etc. may have been shorter than the tuba, a hypothesis contradicted, however, in many sources. The precise meaning of these terms may never be understood completely.

From the medieval Latin clario and claro, the French form ‘claron’ was developed, and in the 14th century such forms as ‘clairin’, ‘clarin’, ‘clerain’, ‘clerin’, ‘clairon’ (with the diminutives ‘claroncel’, ‘claronchiel’ etc.) began to appear. ‘Clairon’ became the most common of these. Very often clairon and trompette (or the like) are mentioned in pairs, suggesting two distinct instrument forms. In ...


Hans Klotz

(b Hanover, bap. Oct 11, 1679; d Hanover, Jan 25, 1756). German organ and harpsichord builder . He learnt organ building from his father, Martin Vater, is known to have worked for Arp Schnitger as journeyman in 1697 and 1700, and he set up on his own in about 1702. He became organist to the court of the Elector of Hanover (later King George I of England) in 1708–9, and court organ builder in 1714. By 1716–17 he had to his credit ‘33 organs, some new-built, some renovated’. Most of his work was done in the electorate of Hanover, the bishopric of Osnabrück and the county of Oldenburg, but he also worked for the landgraves of Kassel and Darmstadt, and in Amsterdam he built a new organ for the Oude Kerk (1724–6) and rebuilt an instrument in the Westerkerk (1726). Like his brother Anton in Paris, Christian Vater was in demand as a builder of harpsichords and clavichords. His son Johannes succeeded him as organ builder to the court of Hanover....


Walter Hüttel

(b Friedericia, c1647; d Mehlis, Thüringer Wald, March 3, 1700). German organ builder of Danish birth. Holbeck established his workshop in Zwickau but worked also in Hamburg, Lübeck, Copenhagen and Stockholm. From 1690 he also held office at the court of the Prince of Gotha-Altenburg. The parochial register of Zwickau describes him as a greatly respected figure and a most distinguished citizen; the account for his organ at Waldenburg refers to him as a famous organ maker. Holbeck’s daughter, Maria Margarethe, married in 1701 the organ builder and clavichord maker Johannes Jacobus Donati, who took over the court appointment and business of his father-in-law.

In the last quarter of the 17th century Holbeck supplied instruments to churches in Saxony, Thuringia and Bavaria, including St Michael in Hof (1679) and St Moritz in Zwickau (1700). In Delitzsch his work was opposed by the examining church musicians, but in general there was no lack of praise and recognition for his achievement as a master craftsman. The comparatively large organ at Schneeberg (St Wolfgang-Kirche, ...


[Johannes; Hans von Basel]

(b Basle, c1460; d Basle, summer 1519). Swiss organ builder. He was the son of a Basle gunsmith and matriculated at Basle University, 1476–7. By about 1500 he was one of the most important organ builders in Switzerland and south-west Germany. He appears to have worked in Mantua Cathedral in 1503. He built new organs in Basle (1487, 1496–9 and before 1510), Mainz (before 1496, perhaps 1490), Brugg (1493 and the following years), Zürich Grossmünster (1505–7), Colmar (before 1513) and Biel (1517–19). He also rebuilt and repaired organs in Basle (1482), Konstanz Cathedral (1489–90; he may also have built a small organ there in 1490–91), Zürich Grossmünster (1511–13), Mainz Cathedral (1514), Berne Minster (1517–19) and Colmar (1513, 1518).

Tugi should not be confused with the German organist Johannes Gross (...


Barra R. Boydell

[doltzana, dolzana, dulcina, dulzaina, dulzan, dulzana] (It.; Fr. doçaine, douçaine, doussaine, douchaine, dulceuse Sp. dulçayna, dulzayna, duçaina etc.)

Term widely documented in Romance languages from the 13th century to the 17th; it was apparently used for a number of quiet double-reed instruments, possibly including the Crumhorn. Tinctoris distinguished the ‘dulcina’ from the shawm, describing the former as having seven finger-holes and a thumb-hole and being ‘imperfect’ since ‘not every kind of piece can be played on it’. The instrument may have resembled a shawm, but with a cylindrical bore; it is possibly identifiable with the English ‘still shawm’ and with a unique instrument recovered from Henry VIII’s flagship Mary Rose. In 16th-century Italy the dolzaina may have had its bore bent back on itself, like the early bassoon or ‘dulcian’. Zacconi described it as having a range of a 9th, from c to d′ (representing a tenor size); this dolzaina apparently had a double reed on a brass crook and may have been not unlike a Sordun...


Robert Anderson, Arturo Chamorro, Ellen Hickmann, Anne Kilmer, Gerhard Kubik, Thomas Turino, Vincent Megaw, and Alan R. Thrasher

The application of archaeological methods to the study of musical instruments, broadly defined. Through analysis of material remains from earlier times, investigators seek to reconstruct, however tentatively, sound-producing artefacts and their functions, and relate these to instruments and practices that still survive. Complicating the picture is the problem that some cultures, including presumably early human, have had no concept of music as a distinct activity, yet virtually all have made use of sound-producing implements; even if not ‘musical’, these are all subjects for investigation, although undoubtedly, many such implements have gone unrecognized for what they are.

The late 20th century and early 21st have seen significant archaeological finds throughout the world, notably in China; many discoveries await thorough analysis, and earlier ones are being reinterpreted. This article outlines some salient aspects of the field; for further discussion and bibliography, see entries on specific regions and peoples (e.g. Latin America, Mexico, Aztec music, etc.) in ...


Barra R. Boydell

[rausspfeife, Rhawschpfeiffe, russ pfeife, russ pfeif, ruuspip, ruyspyp] (from medieval Ger. rusch, also Middle High Ger. rus: ‘reed’, ‘cane’, and pfeife: ‘pipe’; Dut. rietpyp, rytpyp)

A word used in the late medieval period in Germany and the Low Countries for woodwind instruments, particularly the shawm both with and without a wind cap. It was sometimes used by non-musicians – in town or court accounts, for example – where musicians might have used specific instrument names. An order for instruments placed by the Nuremberg town council in 1538 mentioned ‘a large Bommart and associated Rauschpfeiffen’; the use of the word here suggests other sizes of Pommer (shawm). Following their delivery, however, the instruments were itemized as ‘a large pumhart, a vagant, two tenors and two altos … three small pumhart’, recorders, flutes and cornetts; this implies that ‘Rauschpfeiffen’ refers to woodwind instruments in general. Further evidence supporting this interpretation is supplied by a similar order from the Prussian court at Königsberg in 1541. The same conclusion may be drawn from Virdung’s illustration of a small recorder with four finger-holes which he calls ‘russ pfeif’....


Hugh Davies

Instruments specially constructed or adapted for performing music in microtonal tuning systems or to give accurate tuning in temperaments other than the ‘standard’ 12-note Equal temperament (ET). This article covers all such approaches, thus including not only unequal temperaments but also equal subdivisions of the octave that are more (occasionally less) than 12. Although some specialists limit the meaning of ‘microtonal’ to intervals that are less than a quarter-tone, others more logically apply it to all intervals that are smaller than the semitone, adopting the term ‘macrotonal’ for the few tunings that use larger intervals (primarily nine-, ten- and 11-note). This article deals only with Western instruments; instruments constructed in other parts of the world for the performance of music in systems of intonation other than 12-note ET are dealt with under their own headings.

Three main periods can be distinguished in the development of Western microtonal instruments: the work of theorists in the 16th and 17th centuries, acoustic research in the second half of the 19th century, and the explorations of composers, performers and researchers throughout the 20th century. Until the end of the 19th century there was little interest in microtonal composition based on more than 12 equal divisions of the octave; but this has been the main preoccupation in the 20th century in this area, and many composers who are not primarily concerned with microtonal systems have nonetheless included microtonal inflections in their works at some time, whether for traditional instruments or in electro-acoustic music....


Barra R. Boydell


Wind instruments on which the reed, usually a double reed, is enclosed within a rigid cap (Ger. Windkapsel, Mundkapsel; Fr. capsule à vent) normally of wood. The player blows through a hole at one end of the wind cap, causing the reed to vibrate freely; because there is no contact between the lips and the reed the tone cannot be affected by direct lip pressure as it is with an open reed. Overblowing is not usually possible, so the range of most wind-cap instruments is restricted to those notes that can be fingered directly, normally a 9th; in some cases this range is increased by the use of keys, and there is evidence that the range of crumhorns was extended downwards by underblowing (blowing with less than usual wind pressure). The wind cap also protects the reed from damage.

Wind-cap instruments are related to the Bagpipe and the Bladder pipe...



Laurence Wright

[gyterne] (Fr. guisterne, guitarre, guiterne, guiterre, quinterne, quitaire, quitarre; Ger. Quinterne; It. chitarino, chitarra; Sp. guitarra)

A short-necked lute of the Middle Ages outwardly similar to the 16th-century Mandore. Like its relative the lute, it had a rounded back but was much smaller, and it had no clear division between the body and neck. This lute-shaped gittern (or ‘guitar’ – the two words were then synonymous) was displaced in the 15th and 16th centuries by the Renaissance Guitar, which combined the small size of the gittern with the body outline of the much larger vihuela. Thus the medieval gittern bore much the same relationship to the lute as the Renaissance guitar did to the vihuela. It has since become customary to call the medieval instrument ‘gittern’ and the later one ‘guitar’, a useful but artificial distinction.

Confusion over the identity of the gittern has existed since the 19th century. It has been referred to, inaccurately, as the mandore, mandora or mandola (an instrument with a different tuning which became common only around ...



William Waterhouse

[rackett] (Fr. cervelas; Ger. Rackett, Rankett)

A double-reed woodwind instrument of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The Renaissance or ‘pirouette’ type, though never in widespread use, appeared sporadically in central Europe from about the middle of the 16th century to the middle of the 17th. Its structure is ingeniously compact: within its squat cylindrical body (fig.1), nine parallel bores drilled lengthwise (consisting of eight ranged concentrically around one) connect at alternate ends to form a continuous undulating tube as shown in fig.2; into the central bore is inserted a short staple bearing a bassoon-type reed, surrounded by a large ornamental pirouette of a kind peculiar to the instrument. The double reed causes the cylindrical bore to function as a stopped pipe whose fundamental sounds an octave below that of an open pipe; thus the racket, in spite of its modest size, was rivalled only by the organ in the depth of its compass.

The nomenclature of the instrument is involved. An alternative though less used name is ‘rankett’, a word also applied to an ...


Mark Lindley


When pitch can be intoned with a modicum of flexibility, the term ‘just intonation’ refers to the consistent use of harmonic intervals tuned so pure that they do not beat, and of melodic intervals derived from such an arrangement, including more than one size of whole tone. On normal keyboard instruments, however, the term refers to a system of tuning in which some 5ths (often including D–A or else G–D) are left distastefully smaller than pure in order that the other 5ths and most of the 3rds will not beat (it being impossible for all the concords on a normal keyboard instrument to be tuned pure; see Temperaments, §1). The defect of such an arrangement can be mitigated by the use of an elaborate keyboard.

In theory, each justly intoned interval is represented by a numerical ratio. The larger number in the ratio represents the greater string length on the traditional ...



Richard Hudson

[tempo rubato] (It.: ‘robbed or stolen time’)

The expressive alteration of rhythm or tempo. In an earlier type the melody is altered while the accompaniment maintains strict time. A later type involves rhythmic flexibility of the entire musical substance. Both originated as a part of unnotated performing practice, but were later sometimes indicated in scores. Some modern writers refer to the earlier and later types as melodic and structural, borrowed and stolen, contrametric and agogic, or bound and free.

In 1723 Tosi referred to rubamento di tempo in Italian arias of the late 17th century. Galliard explained the technique in his translation of 1743: ‘When the bass goes an exactly regular pace, the other part retards or anticipates in a singular manner, for the sake of expression, but after that returns to its exactness, to be guided by the bass’. Ex.1 , one of Roger North’s illustrations of Tosi’s ‘breaking and yet keeping of time’ shows the following features: (1) the ...


Robert Falck and Martin Picker

(from medieval Lat. contrafacere: ‘to imitate’, ‘counterfeit’, ‘forge’)

In vocal music, the substitution of one text for another without substantial change to the music.

Robert Falck

The term is most commonly applied to the practice of composing new poems to older melodies, particularly in the secular monophonic repertory of the 12th and 13th centuries. But it is found equally in the plainchant repertory, where the texts of new feasts, for example, were routinely adapted to older melodies. Many sequence and hymn melodies too were retexted numerous times. Contrafacta are also found in medieval polyphony. A number of 13th-century motets, for example, survive with both Latin and French texts; thus Philip the Chancellor’s Agmina milicie appears with the texts Quant froidure and L’autr’er cuidai. The constant re-use of older, particularly sacred, melodies is so fundamental to both the technique and spirit of medieval music that it does not constitute a special usage.

Although the word ‘contrafactum’ (or ‘contrafacere’) is not part of the classical language, it was used in the Middle Ages to mean imitation in general, though often with the more negative connotation of counterfeit, its nearest English equivalent. Although the term is not used in medieval music theory, melodies are occasionally identified in rubrics such as ‘un lais de Nostre Dame contre le Lai Markiol’, which accompanies the Marian contrafactum ...


David D. Boyden, Robin Stowell, Mark Chambers, James Tyler, and Richard Partridge

[descordato, discordato] (It., from scordare: ‘to mistune’; Fr. discordé, discordable, discordant; Ger. Umstimmung, Verstimmung)

A term applied largely to lutes, guitars, viols and the violin family to designate a tuning other than the normal, established one. Scordatura was first introduced early in the 16th century and enjoyed a particular vogue between 1600 and 1750. It offered novel colours, timbres and sonorities, alternative harmonic possibilities and, in some cases, extension of an instrument's range. It could also assist in imitating other instruments, and facilitate the execution of whole compositions or make possible various passages involving wide intervals, intricate string crossing or unconventional double stopping. North American and Scottish fiddlers commonly adopt ‘open’ tunings such as ae′–a′–e″, which emphasize particular keys ( ex.1), for greater resonance when playing chords and arpeggios and to facilitate the use, as drones, of open strings adjacent to the one on which the melody is being played.

The term scordatura has also been applied to instruments which had no standard tuning, such as the ...


Barra R. Boydell

(Fr.: ‘turned end’)

(1) A French name for the Crumhorn used by Mersenne (1636–7) and subsequent writers including Diderot (1765), whose engraving of a tournebout ( fig.1 ) is copied from Mersenne. The word is found only in theoretical sources.

(2) The name given to a number of instruments in modern collections (Brussels Conservatory; Musikhistorisk Museum, Copenhagen; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musikmuseet, Stockholm), superficially similar to the crumhorn. These lack any wind cap, have a very wide bore and are covered in black leather. Sachs (1920) and Kinsky (1925) considered them to be examples of the French 17th-century Cromorne . Weber (1977) showed that they can be made to play only when treated as bladder pipes, using a single reed; it is most unlikely that such instruments would have been played at the French court. Their close similarity to the ...