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What is this instrument? Lewes May Day

Barbara 05 May 11 - 12:28 AM
Gibb Sahib 05 May 11 - 12:49 AM
Barbara 05 May 11 - 01:21 AM
Gurney 05 May 11 - 01:55 AM
Gurney 05 May 11 - 01:57 AM
Valmai Goodyear 05 May 11 - 02:08 AM
Weasel 05 May 11 - 03:06 AM
Will Fly 05 May 11 - 03:40 AM
theleveller 05 May 11 - 04:36 AM
Will Fly 05 May 11 - 05:09 AM
Max Johnson 05 May 11 - 05:47 AM
Mitch the Bass 05 May 11 - 05:56 AM
GUEST 05 May 11 - 06:42 AM
Jack Campin 05 May 11 - 06:52 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 05 May 11 - 07:34 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 05 May 11 - 07:36 AM
Weasel 06 May 11 - 03:53 AM
Mitch the Bass 06 May 11 - 04:53 AM
Jack Campin 06 May 11 - 07:41 AM
Barbara 06 May 11 - 02:52 PM
a gud ole bwoy 06 May 11 - 03:31 PM
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Subject: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Barbara
Date: 05 May 11 - 12:28 AM

Here's the link
Knots of May Garland Day
One of the band members playing for the Garland dancers is playing a black triple S curved thing with a long brass connect and mouthpiece. He uses both hands to finger what are evidently holes in the barrel and it produces a tuba like sound. Could it possibly be a ram's horn? I've never seen one close to that shape.
It first appears about 1:04 into the video and can be seen clearly by 1:10.
Blessings
Barbara


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 05 May 11 - 12:49 AM

serpent


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Barbara
Date: 05 May 11 - 01:21 AM

Thanks, Gibb. I've seen quite a few early music instruments and know their sounds but never ran across this one. Sounds like it would be quite tempermental to play. And the one in the video is quite brash as opposed to the sound samples I found on line. Is it a "traditional" Morris band instrument like button accordions?
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Gurney
Date: 05 May 11 - 01:55 AM

Well, accordeons are free-reed instruments, along with mouth-organs, concertinas and melodeons, and free-reeds were introduced from China in Victorian times, so they are only 'Traditional' because our grandads have made them so..... Or so I understand.


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Gurney
Date: 05 May 11 - 01:57 AM

Sorry, on second thoughts, I don't think mouth-organs are free-reed. The air has to come through a hole, not blow over the reed sideways.


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 05 May 11 - 02:08 AM

Here's another video of the Knots of May dancing a little later that day at the John Harvey Tavern. You hear more of the serpent (Derrick Hughes of the Twagger Band) and also some inventive fiddle playing from Peter Lyons. The Knots will be at Chippenham Festival this year.

The Knots must be one of the most watchable sides in the country and they are on top form at the moment. About thirty years ago they revived the custom of Lewes Garland Day, when children would make garlands of flowers and take them from door to door asking for money with a little rhyme. These days the children make garlands which are judged by civic dignitaries in the Gun Garden of the castle; the children and the Knots then process down School Hill to the town square and a couple of pubs for more dancing. The garlands are usually made by their parents; I'm relieved not to have to get out the secateurs at sparrow-fart that morning now my children are grown up, but it was fun at the time.

There is an English tunes session on the first Tuesday evening of the month at the John Harvey Tavern, opposite Harveys Brewery in Bear Yard.

Valmai (Lewes)


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Weasel
Date: 05 May 11 - 03:06 AM

Greg Butler of Strawhead used to use the serpent's smaller brother, the cornett. Like the serpent, the cornett is made of wood (or nowadays often resin), has fingerholes like a recorder and is played with a brass style mouthpiece.

Clement Freud once described the cornett as a cross between a recorder and a shillelagh.

Cheers,

Weasel


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 May 11 - 03:40 AM

Derrick's partner, Joy, dances with the knots. As Valmai says, he plays, with Joy Lewis, Ian Chisholm, Will Duke and Sue Evans in the Twagger Band.
Derrick and Joy go out as a duo - very popular in Sussex - and Derrick is also a regular at the monthly session in the Bull at Ditchling.

If you look at the opening credits of the 1930s version of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" with Lesley Howard, you'll see a marching band led by a serpent player. Its origins are in Italy and/or France.


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: theleveller
Date: 05 May 11 - 04:36 AM

The serpent was a common instrument in the village church bands that preceded the general introduction of organs. Thomas Hardy refers to this kind of music as West Gallery Music and in several of his novels the rustics bemoan the replacement of their bands with organs and, if I remember rightly, in Under the Greenwood Tree there is talk about the serpent and how difficult it was to play.

I believe that The Mellstock Band still use a serpent.


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 May 11 - 05:09 AM

I believe that The Mellstock Band still use a serpent.

The do indeed. From hearing it at close quarters, my impression is that it's quite resonant in the lower end, but seems to get a little weaker in projection in the higher notes. It was superseded by the ophicleide and similar instruments. The Old Swan Band use a bass sax in their lineup - and that's a really powerful instrument! I played in a jug/jazz/juke band in London, sitting next to a bass sax player. He told me that he had to anticipate the beat and blow a fraction in advance of when the sound was needed - such was the length of the tubing!


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Max Johnson
Date: 05 May 11 - 05:47 AM

I believe the cornett used to be made of ram's horn - hence the name. I'm sure I saw several examples back in the '60s and'70s when 'early music' was fashionable. And early.


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Mitch the Bass
Date: 05 May 11 - 05:56 AM

I believe mouth organs are free reed -

The Hornbostel–Sachs classifications lists
412 Interruptive free aerophones
412.1 Idiophonic interruptive aerophones or reeds
    412.13 Free-reed instruments
       412.132 Sets of free reeds.
          including -
             * Accordion
             * Bandoneon
             * Concertina
             * Harmonica
             * Harmonium
             * Melodica
             * Reed organ
             * Sheng

In contrast the serpent is a
423 Trumpet
   423.2 Chromatic trumpets - The pitch of the instrument can be altered mechanically
      423.21 Keyed trumpets
       including
       * Cornett (or Cornetto - just one)
       * Serpent


I would love to hear the big brother contrabass serpent http://www.music.ed.ac.uk/euchmi/ujt/ujt2929.html

Mitch


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: GUEST
Date: 05 May 11 - 06:42 AM

I would love to hear the big brother contrabass serpent

Oh dear. Derrick's going to want one of those.


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 May 11 - 06:52 AM

I believe the cornett used to be made of ram's horn - hence the name.

Ibex horn, maybe. The shape is nothing like a ram's horn, nor is the sound anything like a musically-adapted ram's horn (the shofar). It's more like a trumpet with vent holes. Most surviving and reproduction cornetts are made of wood (either one-piece or glued-together strips).

Some old wooden cornetts have bumps carved into them to simulate the appearance of an ibex horn.


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 05 May 11 - 07:34 AM

Looking up the derivation of Zink (by which cornetts are known in Germany) I came across THIS which boggled the mind rather. Being an Acme man myself I'm agog at the prospect of an very expensive fowler-call as used by ...contest callers and hardcore goose hunters alike who appreciate the rare combination of fast reed response and a deep, goosy low end. Nothing to do with geese, or swans, but the Mute Cornett has an integral mouthpiece like certain Monette trumpets favoured by many players today.

Back on thread, the Serpent was adapted by the Goons as The Mukkinese Battle Horn, though I've seen elaborately keyed serpents which don't look too different.


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 05 May 11 - 07:36 AM

Wrong link! Try:

http://www.zinkcalls.com/products/GooseCalls.php


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Weasel
Date: 06 May 11 - 03:53 AM

Jack Campin said "Most surviving and reproduction cornetts are made of wood (either one-piece or glued-together strips)."

Whilst it's true that most high quality reproduction cornetts are made of wood, by far the most common ones you see are made of resin and are considerably cheaper than the wooden ones.

I can hear a slight difference in sound quality between the two, but that may be more because those players who go to the expense of buying wooden instruments tend to be the better players who take cornett playing a little more seriously. (A generalisation which is as accurate and inaccurate as any generalisation can be).

Cheers,

Weasel


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Mitch the Bass
Date: 06 May 11 - 04:53 AM

Looking at my own link http://www.music.ed.ac.uk/euchmi/ujt/ujt2929.html I saw to my surprise that this remarkable instrument was not only made in my home town of Huddersfield but was played for 20 years in Almondbury church where I was a choir boy. I don't think the dates overlapped though. Serpent 1840 to 1860, me about 1960.

Mitch


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 May 11 - 07:41 AM

I read some early music expert a few years ago saying that there was no time in history when there more people who could really play the cornett properly than would fit in a phonebooth.


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: Barbara
Date: 06 May 11 - 02:52 PM

And then there's this variant, for those of you of a creative bent; or maybe I should just say, those of you who are bent... this way. "American Anaconda" pvc serpent
This one is made of PVC water and sewer pipe. Plumbing the depths as it were. I found a link to it yesterday that I can't find now that tells us that the creator of this in 1986 was someone with a name like Steven
Stein...brenner? ...berger? Anyhow, that's him holding it; and the text described his creation as " surprisingly playable". Hee.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: What is this instrument? Lewes May Day
From: a gud ole bwoy
Date: 06 May 11 - 03:31 PM

Re: The Melstock Band mentioned above. Yes, Phil Humphries plays the serpent and hits the note every time, a real achievment. By sheer fluke I sat next to him at a Melstock Band West Gallery music workshop, he was the instrument for the bass part. I'm sure he must be the best by far.


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