Cromorne is a French woodwind reed instrument of uncertain identity, used in the early Baroque period in French court music. The name is sometimes confused with the similar-sounding name crumhorn, a musical woodwind instrument probably of different design, called "tournebout" by French theorists in the 17th century (Boydell 2001a; Boydell 2001c).


By contrast, the crumhorn (also called crum Horn or crumm Horn or krumm Horn or Krummhorn or Kumbhorn of Krummpfeife or storto or cornamuto torto or piva torto) is a capped double-reed instrument usually shaped like a letter "J" and possesses a rather small melodic range of a ninth (i.e. just over an octave) unless extended downward by keys, or by the technique of underblowing, which increases the range by a perfect fifth (Boydell 2001b). However, it was apparently little used in England or France, and was called a "tournebout" by French theorists including Mersenne (1636), Pierre Trichet (ca 1640), and even as late as Diderot (1767) (Boydell 2001a; Boydell 2001b; Boydell 2001c).


These instruments became an influence on Heckel as he gathered ideas for his Heckelphone, a wide-bore type of baritone oboe in C sounding one (not two, like the basse de cromorne) octaves lower than the oboe, that has been called for by a variety of 20th-century composers including Strauss, Copland, and Hindemith. This instrument is still manufactured by Heckel in Germany.


Jean-François Dandrieu – Basse de Cromorne from Organ Suite in D


Further reading

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