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meet some of the historical instruments

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By Sean Jones
and Jon Swayne

Jude's bagpipes are an example of a popular form of pipe that would have been played by street musicians from the middle ages onwards. Chiefly used for dancing and social occasions, they make a sonorous yet earthy sound and are not nearly as loud as their Scottish Highland cousins. These pipes are currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity in the UK, especially in early and folk music.

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Forerunner of the modern oboe, the shawm was a popular medieval and renaissance member of the double reed mouth-blown woodwind family. Shawms were highly favoured by town waits and court bands for state occasions. Having the embouchure directly in contact with the reed gives the shawm a degree of expression and dynamic control that is unavailable to members of the windcap family.


By Eric Moulder



From the German krumm meaning crooked, the crumhorn is a member of the windcap family and is probably the most well-known of the group for its distinctive curved shape and buzzy timbre. The sound is produced by blowing down a wooden cap and into the reed inside. All windcaps enjoyed a relatively brief period of usage as they failed to develop into a modern instrument family. This is probably because there is precious little control over dynamics unlike their reed-blown counterparts.


The curtal or dulcian is the precursor of the bassoon. It is thought that the name curtal arose from the idea that curtals curtailed the ever-expanding length of the larger bass shawms. They were popular instruments in the Renaissance and early baroque periods and were played in mixed consorts. The dynamic range of the curtal means it sits equally well with consorts of loud or quiet instruments.


By Eric Moulder

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By far the loudest member of the windcap family, the rauschpfeife has a distinctive strident tone. They were originally known as schreierpfeifen; schrei is german for scream or shriek, which gives you an indication of the nature of the beast! They have an expanding conical bore with a small bell and despite having a capped reed, can overblow at the octave. Rauschpfeifen are a useful instrument to have in a waits band. They also mix well with bagpipes.


By Eric Moulder

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Little ones, big ones; we love the recorder here at JR HQ. The recorder often gets a lot of flak owing to generations of school children taking it up as their first instrument. However the recorder is a wonderful instrument capable of making a wide spectrum of sounds. When exploited it to its full extent, the recorder is as challenging to play as any other instrument in the woodwind family.

The pipe and tabor (also known as the whittle and dub) is a pair of instruments held in such a way that enables you to play tune and rhythmic accompaniment at the same time - the original one-man band! The tabor is the drum that hangs from the arm of the pipe-hand or is suspended across the body using a baldric, leaving the other hand to beat the drum. The three-holed pipe is played with thumb and two fingers and produces different pitches by overblowing notes in the harmonic series.


By Barry Lloyd

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From the late 17th to 18th centuries, somewhere between shawms and modern oboes (with a fair amount of overlap in-between), you get the baroque oboe. More refined and elegant than its predecessor the shawm, the three-keyed baroque oboe is fully chromatic but (much like the recorder) requires plenty of cross fingering to get you there! With its plaintive and highly expressive sound the baroque oboe was a perfect fit for both ensemble playing and virtuoso solo use.


By Tony Millyard

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Jude’s first love, often confused with bassoons or clarinets and the butt of many a joke. The oboe is officially on the government’s endangered instruments list in the UK. Maybe because it is expensive and notoriously demanding to play. However the oboe is a wonderfully expressive instrument with an ancient and fascinating history. Jude started on the oboe and got hooked on double reeds from then on. If you feel the need for more reed in your life, please get in contact!


By Marigaux


Jude can also double on other modern woodwind. The cor anglais / English horn is a larger member of the oboe family and plays a fifth lower than the oboe. The saxophone, flute and clarinet need no introduction; Jude loves to play them all!


Jude’s hurdy gurdy is modelled on the instrument featured in Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. It can therefore be called a bona fide ‘hell’ gurdy (how very metal)! The hurdy gurdy is a keyed string instrument which uses a cranked wheel to bow the strings. Many gurdys have an extra bridge, which give a snappy buzz to add rhythmic accompaniment and drive to the melody and drone strings.


By Neil Brook


Jude has been known to bash out a bawdy ballad or carol a carefully crafted catch when singing with folk band Pilgrims’ Way and renaissance consort PIVA. Jude has also supplied backing vocals for numerous session recordings.

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For booking enquiries and other info, use the contact form, drop Jude an email or check out her Facebook page.

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