The 'cornett': diversity of form, function and usage as portrayed in organological and iconographical sources, c.1500-c.1800

Jarratt-Knock, David George (2014). The 'cornett': diversity of form, function and usage as portrayed in organological and iconographical sources, c.1500-c.1800. University of Birmingham. M.Mus

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Previous scholarship on ‘the cornett’ has emphasised the importance of large-scale church music, the pairing of cornetts with trombones, and the dominance of professional male virtuosi. I argue that there was another side to the usage of cornetts – small, mixed ensembles, typically combining a single cornett with voices, strings and continuo instruments. Secular and sacred vocal music, readily available in printed form, probably formed the repertoire of such groups, and evidence is presented for non-professional usage by both male and female players.

From early straight and curved trebles, the cornett family grew to include a range of sizes and forms. Although curved trebles dominated, the other types were widely used; in particular, I show that straight trebles, and tenor and bass cornetts, were known in England in the late seventeenth century.

A new analysis of pitch information shows clearly that most surviving cornetts play at a higher pitch than modern, and I demonstrate a clear relationship between pitch and dimensions.

The defining feature of this family of instruments appears to be its ability to resist rigid categorisation, and to be equally at home in a range of contexts. The exploration of this diversity offers great opportunities for scholars and performers.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Mus)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Mus
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Music
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR


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