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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:40 am 
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Hi all, I'm considering adding a shawm or something similarly squawky & medieval to my arsenal - ideally something in G or D so that I can use it for Morris, but Bb would also have its uses. I've never played any reed woodwinds and need to find out if I can, which also means that I don't want to spend massive amounts of money on my first instrument.

Any advice would be much appreciated!


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:01 pm 
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I've wondered about the Susato Crumhorns and "Kelhorns", especially the ABS plastic models. They're available and relatively inexpensive, but are they good?

http://www.susato.com

Since Moeck exited the historic winds market a few years ago, I don't know if there's a maker of that sort who has filled the niche.

Keep in mind that these instruments are chromatic with recorder-like fingerings. So playing in the common Morris keys should be no problem, regardless of the pitch of the instrument - generally C, F or G, like recorders. The compass is generally a 12th (octave + fifth). The C instrument (corresponding to a D whistle) would be a practical choice.

Capped reeds have very high backpressure compared to other reeds and winds. So be sure your cardiovascular health is good before starting. Seriously, no instrument is worth an aneurysm.

Good luck with your quest!

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:43 pm 
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I bought one of these http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-Medieval- ... 385wt_1002 a while back ... seemed like "value for money", which it is, and good fun, when my lungs feel up to it :wink:

It's about the size of a tenor recorder or Bb clarinet, though it plays in F, an octave lower than a treble recorder. The perforated "bell" is mostly decorative, there's a tonehole in the body of the instrument below the RH little-finger hole which defines the lowest note, that is to say the instrument is probably some six inches longer than it needs to be ... and correspondingly heavier.

I'm not sure how "chromatic" it is, the holes are very small to enable half-holing with any accuracy, though you can cross-finger some reasonable approximations of accidentals with a little practice.

If you do a search on eBay UK for crumhorn there are some "less cheap" alternatives available from UK suppliers.

I must admit, the Susato Kelhorn does look attractively "different", though I'd really like to "try before buying" at those prices, especially once you factor in the costs of getting one into Europe.

I still quite fancy a pibgorn ... just waiting for Gafin Morgan to finalise his design for a plastic one :)

As an "economy starter" it might be worthwhile trying a bagpipe practice chanter, which requires a similar amount of effort to "get it going".

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:55 pm 
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Kypfer wrote:
As an "economy starter" it might be worthwhile trying a bagpipe practice chanter, which requires a similar amount of effort to "get it going".

That's a good idea - especially if you can borrow one to try it out. Too bad that the pitch - somewhere between A and Bb - and mixolydian scale make it unsuitable for general Morris playing.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:58 am 
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Thanks for the responses & suggestions! I'm off to London in a moment, and will pop into the Hobgoblin there to see if they have anything I can try out, e.g. a practice chanter.

MTGuru wrote:

Capped reeds have very high backpressure compared to other reeds and winds. So be sure your cardiovascular health is good before starting. Seriously, no instrument is worth an aneurysm.


Good point... and another reason for starting with something inexpensive. I have no idea how I'll cope with the pressure needed, so really need to try it out.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:50 am 
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The instrument Kypfer bought is called a "Glastonbury pipe", in fact it is a type of Renaissance cornamusa (not to be confused with cornemuse which is French for bagpipe). Basically it is a straight crumhorn, which means, cylindrical bore, soft tone and rather quiet. Due to the cylindrical bore, it does not overblow, therefore the range is restricted to one octave plus whatever the key(s) add to it. This particular instrument in question is pakistan-made but - according to people who own it - surprisingly good quality.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:18 am 
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The very helpful guy in the Hobgoblin recommended the ABS Sans Gralla as a good starter instrument.

I also popped into the Early Music Shop; the staff there were very helpful although neither knew how to play any of the instruments I'm interested in. However, one of them knows a music teacher who has a number of shawms & similar and might be able to give me a taster session, both so I can check out what I actually want and whether I'm capable of playing it!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:26 am 
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Addendum: husband did some research and found the name of Eric Moulder, apparently one of the top shawm smiths in the country. It turns out that a) Moulder was the woodwork teacher who inspired my husband 40 years ago and b) he lives in a place where I'll be gigging with the No.1 Ladies in May, and has invited the husband to come along & visit his workshop.
The world is very much smaller than is generally appreciated.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:22 pm 
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MTGuru wrote:
Kypfer wrote:
As an "economy starter" it might be worthwhile trying a bagpipe practice chanter, which requires a similar amount of effort to "get it going".

That's a good idea - especially if you can borrow one to try it out. Too bad that the pitch - somewhere between A and Bb - and mixolydian scale make it unsuitable for general Morris playing.


A bit late to the party (and probably the OP will be better served by the mentioned ABS gralla dolça), but FWIW it appears Michael Hofmann makes a Hümmelchen practice chanter. Range c'-d'' with baroque recorder fingering (if I got the "barocke Flötengriffweise" right).


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:22 pm 
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Flavius wrote:
(and probably the OP will be better served by the mentioned ABS gralla dolça)

Another option for this is Valencian maker Paco Bessó, who offers a line of affordable gralles / dolçaines / xirimites in ABS which can be ordered from him directly. I've been meaning to try one of his whistles (flabiols, pitos) one of these days.

http://www.pacobesso.net/

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:30 pm 
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Anyanka wrote:
Hi all, I'm considering adding a shawm or something similarly squawky & medieval to my arsenal - ideally something in G or D so that I can use it for Morris,


Very late reply.....

I see that some people are recommending krumhorns or kelhorns. Apart from the fact that people who are serious about their krummies don't think much of kelhorns, beware that those instruments are of modest volume. Shawms and rauschpfeife otoh are extremely loud! (I've played a RP against 10 percussionists, and a dozen of modestly amplified melody instruments. I was heard easily.)

I bought a RP a year ago or so, and at the time Moeck had just stopped making them, and the London Early Music Store had bought up their inventory. They may now be somewhat hard to get.

Good luck,

Victor.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:38 pm 
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Moeck rauschpfeife may indeed get harder to get now they're out of production, but the vastly superior ones made by the aforementioned Eric Moulder are still very much in production, and available either through the Early Music Shop or direct from Eric.

I play a Moulder rauschpfeife for The Powderkegs border morris and it is the business: just be ready for the number of interested people who want to talk to you about it!

As also already said, crumhorns and cornamuse are far too quiet for morris, closer to arecorders in volume.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:49 pm 
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Forgot to mention -there's a section of my website (see sig) dedicated to the rauschpfeife, including some links to Youtube videos of the Powderkegs with me on what a friend once affectionately termed the 'crotchet blunderbuss' ....

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:11 pm 
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Late to this:

1) Susato crummhorns and kelhorns are just barely useable, and certainly not in the Shawm/Rauschpfeife category.

2) The first thing you may need if you get a Shawm or Rauschpfeife is a house about a mile from everyone. Those things are LOUD.

3) The is more than one renaissance painting showing players spitting the blood out of their mouths. The reeds are sort of like two tongue depressors strapped together, and playing them takes lots of support and lots of effort. I think the advice of being sure you can stand the pressure is very good.

4) All that said it is a wonderful sound. I've no idea any more about what is available, though I did know the Moeck RP was gone from the market. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. I've been secretly coveting one or the other for years....


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 1:51 am 
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Thank you all for the 'late' replies and advice - they're not too late as I've been holding off getting anything till we visit Eric Moulder's workshop in May.

I'm getting a bit worried about the physical side of playing! How can I find out if I can do it, without actually buying an expensive instrument?


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