4789131911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 24 — ShawmKathleen Schlesinger

SHAWM, Shalm (Fr. chalumeau, chalemelle, hautbois; Ger. Schalmei, Schalmey; Ital. Piffar cenamelle; Lat. calamus, tibia; Gr. αὐλός), the medieval forerunner of the oboe, the treble members of the large family of reed instruments known in Germany as the Pommer (q.v.), Bombart or Schalmey family. Michael Praetorius, at the beginning of the 17th century, enumerates the members of this family (see Oboe); the two of highest pitch are Schalmeys, the first or little Schalmey being in B♭ (third line) or A, and the second, also called cantus or discant, in E or D below. The shawm or Schalmey had a compass of two octaves, the second diatonic octave being obtained by overblowing each of the notes of the first octave an octave higher; the chromatic semitones were produced by half stopping the holes and by cross-fingering. In some instances the reed mouthpiece was half enclosed in a pirouette, a small case having a slit through which that part of the reed which is taken into the mouth of the player was alone exposed, the edges of the slit thus forming a rest for his lips.

In the miniatures of the illuminated MSS. of all countries, more especially from the 14th century, and in early printed books, Schalmeys and Pommers are represented in every conceivable phase of social life in which music takes a part.

(K. S.)