A Joyful Noise

October 26, 2009

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — midsummersmusicfestival @ 2:30 pm

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hi Everyone,

If the title of this blog seems a bit too early for you, it’s very timely for Midsummer’s Music Festival. Reservations are coming in for “A Renaissance Christmas” concerts on December 11, 12, and 13.

Gary Berkenstock, Founder and Artistic Director of the Chicago Early Music Consort, is introducing a couple of new instruments this year. The first is the shawm which is a loud, extroverted predecessor to the oboe, that was played outdoors in military and town bands.  Imported from the Orient, its heyday in Europe was the 13th through 17th centuries.

The second new instrument, the dulcian, (named for its sweet sound) flourished from 1500 to 1700 and was a direct predecessor to the bassoon.  Although probably invented as an easy-to-carry bass shawm, the dulcian soon developed its own personna and was equally at home playing loud, outdoor music, or soft, indoor music.  As typical of Renaissance instruments, both shawm and dulcian families came in a variety of sizes, from soprano to great bass.  During the 17th century, one member of each family was favored over the others: the soprano shawm and the bass dulcian.  These gradually evolved into the baroque oboe and the baroque bassoon during the second half of the century, and by the end of the century, the shawm and dulcian were mostly extinct.

Photos of the shawm (1st photo) and dulcian are shown below. Of course, these don’t do justice to this unique instruments. Hearing them is key to understanding their tone.  You’ll have a chance to hear them plus other early music replica instruments at “A Renaissance Christmas” concerts. This is an event not to be missed!

Shawm

Shawm

Dulcian

Dulcian

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