The cornemuse and chalemie were the bag-pipes in use in France, Italy and the Netherlands before the advent of the musette, to which they bear the same relation as the old Irish bag-pipe does to the union-pipes, or the cornemusa or piva to the sampogna or surdelina in Italy. Two kinds of cornemuses were known in France during the 16th and 17th centuries, differing in one important structural detail, which affected the timbre of the instruments. Père Marin Mersenne has given a detailed description of these varieties and of the musette, with very clear illustrations of the instruments and all their parts. The cornemuse or chalemie used by shepherds, and as a solo instrument (see fig. 1 (1)), was similar to the Highland bag-pipe; it consisted of a leather bag, inflated by means of a valved blow-pipe; a large drone (gros bourdon) 2½ ft. long included the beating-reed, which measured 2½ in., and was fixed in the stock; the small drone (petit bourdon), 1 ft. in length including a reed 2 in. long, also had a beating-reed and was fixed in the same stock as
the chaunter. The two drones were tuned to C. The chaunter had a conical bore and a double reed like an oboe, but hidden within the stock; it could be taken out and played separately, when the compass given by the eight holes (seven in front and a thumb-hole) C to C′ could be increased by a third to E, by overblowing the D and E an octave by pressure of the breath and lips on the reed, now taken directly into the mouth. The second kind of cornemuse was played only in concert with a family of instruments known as Hautbois de Poitou, a hautbois having the reed enclosed in an air-chamber, just as is the case with the reeds of the bag-pipe. This cornemuse had but one drone which could, like the others, be lengthened for tuning by drawing out the joint; the reed was not a beating-reed but a double reed like that of the chaunter; this constitutes the main difference between the two cornemuses. The chaunter had eight holes, the lowest of which was covered by a key enclosed in a perforated box.
Sackpfeife or Dudelsack.
The Sackpfeife or Dudelsack of Germany was an instrument of some importance made in no less than five sizes, all described and illustrated by Michael Praetorius. They consist of the Grosser Bock or double-bass bag-pipe, a formidable-looking instrument with a single cylindrical drone of a great length, terminating, as did the chaunter also, in a curved ram's horn (to which the name was due). The chaunter had seven finger-holes and a vent-hole in front, and a thumb-hole at the back. The drone was tuned to G, an octave below the chaunter.
The Bock, of similar construction, was pitched a fourth higher in C.
The Schäferpfeife had two drones in B♭ and F. Praetorius explains that the upper notes of the chaunter of this sackpfeife had a faulty intonation which could not be corrected owing to the absence of the thumb-hole, usual in all other varieties of the instrument.
The Hümmelchen had two drones tuned to F and C.
The Dudey or treble sackpfeife was the smallest of the family, and had three drones tuned to E♭, B♭ and E♭, and a chaunter with a compass ranging from F or E♭ to C or D.
Praetorius also mentions a different kind of sackpfeife he saw in Magdeburg (see op. cit. Theatrum, pl. v., No. 4), which was somewhat larger than the schäferpfeife and pitched a third lower. There were two chaunters
mounted in one stock, each having three holes in front and one for the thumb at the back. The right-hand chaunter sounded the five notes D, E, F, G, A, and the left-hand chaunter, G, A, B, C, D. The performer was thus able to play simple two-part melodies on the Magdeburg bag-pipe. Praetorius mentions in addition the French bag-pipe (musette), similar in pitch to the hümmelchen, but inflated by means of the bellows.
The Calabrian bag-pipe has a bag of goatskin with the hair left on, and is inflated by means of a blow-pipe. There are two drones and two chaunters, all fixed in one stock. Each chaunter has three or four finger-holes and the right-hand pipe has the fourth covered by a key enclosed in a perforated box; both drones and chaunter have double reeds.
The ancient Greek bag-pipe (see Askaules), and the Roman tibia utricularis, belonged to this class of instrument, inflated by the mouth, but it is not certain that they had drones (see below, History).
II. The second class of instruments, inflated by means of a small bellows worked by the arm, has as prototype the musette (see fig. 1 (3)), which is said to have been evolved during the 15th century; from the end of the 15th century there were always musette players at the French court, and we find the instrument fully developed at the beginning of the 17th century when Mersenne gives a full description of all its parts. The chief characteristic of the musette was a certain rustic Watteau-like grace. The face of the performer was no longer distorted by inflating the bag; for the long cumbersome drones was substituted a short barrel droner, containing the necessary lengths of tubing for four or five drones, reduced to the smallest and most compact form. The bores were pierced longitudinally through the thickness of the wood in parallel channels, communicating with each other in twos or threes and providing the requisite length for each drone. The reeds were double “hautbois” reeds all set in a wooden stock or box within the bag; by means of regulators or slides, called layettes, moving up and down in longitudinal grooves round the circumference of the barrel, the length
of the drone pipes could be so regulated that a simple harmonic bass, consisting mainly of the common chord, could be obtained. The chaunter, of narrow cylindrical bore, was also furnished with a double reed and had eleven holes, four of which had keys, giving a compass of twelve notes from F to C. This number of holes was not invariable. After Mersenne's time, Jean Hotteterre (d. 1678), a court musician, belonging to the band known as the Musique de la Grande Écurie, in which he played the dessus de hautbois, introduced certain improvements in the drones of the musette. His son Martin Hotteterre (d. 1712) added a second chaunter to the musette, shorter than the first, to which it was attached instead of being inserted into the stock. The Hotteterre chaunter, known as le petit chalumeau, had six keys, whereas the grand chalumeau had seven, besides eight finger-holes and a vent-hole in the bell. All these keys were actuated by the little finger of the left hand and the thumb of the right hand, which were not required to stop holes on the large chaunter. The grand and petit chalumeaux are figured in detail with keys and holes in a rare and anonymous work by Borjon (or Bourgeon), who gives much interesting information concerning one of the most popular instruments of his day. The bellows, he states, borrowed from the organ, were added to the musette about forty or fifty years before he wrote his treatise. The compass of the improved musette of Hotteterre was as shown:—
the eight holes of the grand chalumeau.
the seven keys of the grand chalumeau.
the six keys of the petit chalumeau.
The four or five drones were usually tuned thus:
- L'Harmonie universelle, vol. ii. bk. v. pp. 282-287 and 305 (Paris, 1636-1637).
- Syntagma Musicum, part ii., De Organographia (Wolfenbüttel, 1618); republished in Band xiii. of the Publicationen der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung (Berlin, 1884), chap. xix. and pl. v., xi., xiii.
- See E. Thoinan, Les Hotteterre et les Chèdeville, célèbres facteurs de flûtes, hautbois, bassons et musettes (Paris, 1894), p. 23. It is probable, however, that M. Thoinan, who makes this statement, has not considered the possibility of the word musette applying in this case to the small rustic hautbois or dessus de bombarde, also written muse, muset, musele, which occurs in many ballads of the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. See Fr. Godefroy, Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue française du IXe au XVe siècle (Paris, 1888).
- Musettes de Poitou; probably the cornemuses used in concert with the Hautbois de Poitou.
- Op. cit. vol. ii. bk. v. pp. 287-292.
- See Ernest Thoinan, op. cit. pp. 15 et seq. (cf. Jules Ecorcheville, “Quelques documents sur la musique de la Grande Écurie du Roi” in Intern. Mus. Ges., Sammelband ii. 4, p. 625 and table 2, “Grands Hautbois”).
- Méthode pour la musette, &c., by Hotteterre le Romain (Paris, 1737), 4to, chap. xvi.
- Traité de la musette avec une nouvelle méthode, &c. (Lyons, 1672), pp. 25-27 and plate. A copy of this work is in the British Museum.