Crumhorns are woodwind instruments characterized by a curved pipe and a short, straight windcap, forming a wide J figure. The windcap contains a structure called a double reed, consisting of two pieces of cane that vibrate against each other to produce sound. Seven finger holes are located along the pipe for controlling pitch and tone, with the bottom hole located on the inner curve. Crumhorns generally have limited pitch ranges designed after the vocal pitch range.
Types of Crumhorns
Kinds of Crumhorns include the following:
Soprano crumhorns have the highest pitch, usually ranging from keys C to E. They have an upward extension key for playing the higher notes.
Alto crumhorns may be tuned to the key of F or G. F-alto crumhorns have one upward extension key, while G-altos have no extensions.
Tenor crumhorns have the same range as sopranos, but have no extension keys. Extensions can be achieved by controlled overblowing on the windcap.
Bass crumhorns have one upward extension key and have a pitch range from keys F to A. They also have an extra key for the lowest note, which is usually reached by the little finger.
Choosing Crumhorns (Buying tips)
Finger holes: Choose a crumhorn with properly spaced finger holes for better pitch control. Make sure they are properly sized and easily reached with one hand. For bass and great bass crumhorns, the bottom hole should rest just below the lower key. Windcap: Choose a crumhorn with a lined windcap to prevent moisture from damaging the interior. Make sure the reeds are properly lodged in the windcap and will not loosen with frequent play.