Serpent (musical instrument)

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The serpent

The serpent is an ancient, low-sounding wind instrument in an 'S' shape. It looks a bit like a snake or serpent. It is made of wood, but had a mouthpiece similar to a trumpet and is classified as a brass instrument. The serpent has a range from C below the bass clef to around F above middle C.[1] It was perhaps invented by Frenchman, Edme Guillaume, in the late 1500s. It made a comeback in the late 1800s and can be heard in Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique.

The nearest musical instrument to the serpent is the ophicleide, which replaced it in the 19th century. Its place was taken later on by valved bass brass instruments such as the euphonium and tuba.

References[change | change source]

  1. H. Heyde 2007. Zoomorphic and theatrical musical instruments in the late Italian Renaissance and Baroque eras. In: Marvels of sound and beauty: Italian baroque musical instruments. Florence.