Instruments | Cornett | Early Baroque | Classical

Not to be confused with the modern valved brass-band cornet, which is a kind of small trumpet, the cornett (with that extra final ‘t’) was made of two carved, lightly curved pieces of European hardwood (such as pear) bound together and wrapped in leather.

The instrument is further unusual in that it has an octagonal finish. To the body was added a mouthpiece, made variously of ivory, bone or silver. The result, a kind of wooden horn (for the mouthpiece does not contain a reed, like a shawm), belongs mostly to the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. It was played by fingering six holes at the front and one thumb hole at the back. The compass was g’’ until the seventeenth century, when the music shows it reached d’’’.

Variants of the Cornett

There were also two variant cornetts: the straight cornett, usually made of boxwood, and the mute cornett, also of boxwood and straight, but with no detachable mouthpiece.

The cornett frequently appeared in the company of the sackbut. The instrument is associated with virtuosic display music, particular from Venice, where composers wrote demanding and exciting music for cornetts and sackbuts.

Styles & Forms | Early Baroque | Classical
Instruments | Oboe | Early Baroque | Classical


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