Name of Instrument:
Shawm, also refers to a family of free-reed instruments which includes the oboe, bombarde and others. Also called oboes.
How to Play:
In European shawms, a pirouette is used to support the lips and protect the reed. The pirouette is a wooden disk or a lip ring. There are three main techniques in playing the shawm; using the aid of a pirouette, placing the reed between the lips or blowing into a windcap wherein the reed is placed.
The shawm is the ancestor of the oboe and as such it too has a conical bore, only wider. It has 7 to 8 fingerholes and at the end of the bore is a large bell. The sound it produces is quite piercing which is why it was mostly used in outdoor ceremonial events. It comes in varying sizes, each having its own pitch.
First Known Shawms:
Used during the 13th to 17th centuries, it is believed to have originated from the Middle East. Other instruments resembling the shawm include the suo-na of China and the Indian sahnai. Shawms were also used in Europe, especially for dance music and other outdoor events during the 16th century. In Spain, where it was widely used in the 17th century, the shawm was utilized to lead bands for a national dance called sardana.
Music Sheet/Midi Sample:
Listen to the sound of the shawm.