Serpent (instrument)

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The serpent is a bass wind instrument, descended from the cornett, and a distant ancestor of the tuba, with a mouthpiece like a brass instrument but side holes like a woodwind. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_0

It is usually a long cone bent into a snakelike shape, hence the name. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_1

The serpent is closely related to the cornett, although it is not part of the cornett family, due to the absence of a thumb hole. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_2

It is generally made out of wood, with walnut being a particularly popular choice. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_3

The outside is covered with dark brown or black leather. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_4

Despite wooden construction and the fact that it has finger holes rather than valves, it is usually classed as a brass; the Hornbostel–Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification places it alongside trumpets. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_5

The serpent's range varies according to the instrument and the player, but typically covers one from two octaves below middle C to at least half an octave above middle C. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_6

Characteristics Serpent (instrument)_section_0

The serpent usually has six holes, which are ordered in two groups of three. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_7

On early models, the fingerholes were keyless, like those of a recorder. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_8

However, later models added keys as on a clarinet, although they were for additional holes (out of reach of the fingers), while the original holes remained unkeyed, and are covered or uncovered directly by the player's fingers. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_9

History Serpent (instrument)_section_1

The instrument is claimed to have been invented by Canon Edmé Guillaume in 1590 in Auxerre, France, and was first used to strengthen the sound of choirs in plainchant. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_10

This date for the invention of the serpent did not appear until 1743, in Jean Lebeuf's "Mémoires Concernant l'Histoire Ecclésiastique et Civile d’Auxerre". Serpent (instrument)_sentence_11

Herbert Heyde asserts the serpent evolved from a type of bass cornetto and was invented in Italy in the 16th century. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_12

Around the middle of the 18th century, it began to appear in military bands and orchestras, and Mozart used two serpentini in his 1771 opera Ascanio in Alba. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_13

Richard Wagner used the serpent in place of the double bassoon in his opera Rienzi. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_14

The instrument also appears in operatic scores by Spontini and Bellini, but it was replaced in the 19th century by a fully keyed brass instrument, the ophicleide, and later on by valved bass brass instruments such as the euphonium and tuba. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_15

After that, the serpent dropped off in popularity for a period of time. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_16

Bernard Herrmann used a serpent in the scores of White Witch Doctor (1953) and Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), as did Jerry Goldsmith in his score for Alien (1979). Serpent (instrument)_sentence_17

Luigi Morleo composed in 2012 "Diversità: NO LIMIT" – Concerto for Serpent and String Orchestra, World Premiere at Conservatory of Music "Nino Rota" – Monopoli (Ba) – Italy. Serpent (instrument)_sentence_18

Variations Serpent (instrument)_section_2

Players Serpent (instrument)_section_3

Serpent (instrument)_unordered_list_0

  • Michel Godard, jazz musician and tubist, who also plays the serpentSerpent (instrument)_item_0_0
  • Douglas Yeo, professional trombone player, who also plays the serpentSerpent (instrument)_item_0_1
  • serpent player and maker ca. 1847.Serpent (instrument)_item_0_2

See also Serpent (instrument)_section_4

Serpent (instrument)_unordered_list_1

  • RackettSerpent (instrument)_item_1_3


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serpent (instrument).