The Festival Consort
Renaissance Band
Our Instruments

The instruments that the Festival Consort plays are replicas of instruments that date from the fourteenth through early seventeenth centuries. These instruments are made by builders in the United States and Europe, including:

For those unfamiliar with Medieval and Renaissance instruments, here is a brief glossary:

Woodwind instrument of the family known as fipple flutes. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple. It is distinguished from other fipple flutes by having holes for seven fingers and one for the thumb of the uppermost hand. A soprano and an alto recorder are shown in the lower left-had corner of the photograph above.
Double-reed oboe-like instrument with a conical bore and a flared trumpet-like bell. This instrument can play very loudly, and was used in town bands, sometimes played from the tops of towers. The bells of two shawms can be seen on the right in the photograh above.
The Renaissance guitar. In the sixteenth century, the guitar was smaller than it is today, and had fewer courses, or groups, of strings. The instrument shown in the photograph above has four courses of strings, the lowest three doubled, for a total of seven strings. The frets are actually pieces of gut tied around the neck.
Another double-reed instrument, but this one is distinguished by having the reed enclosed in a chamber under a cap at the top of the instrument. The player blows into a hole in the top of the cap covering the reed, and the resulting pressure causes the reed to vibrate. Needless to say, the player must be careful to maintain constant, steady pressure while playing, and must learn to adjust this pressure to play the crumhorn in tune. The body of the instrument is usually curved outward away from the player, and the bore is small and cylindrical, producing a relatively soft tone.
The instrument with the most amusing name is, in fact, one of the most ordinary ones. The sackbut is simply the Renaissance version of the slide trombone, and has changed relatively little in the last few hundred years.
Cornett or Cornetto
The cornett is an interesting blend of the brass and woodwind families: the tone is produced by buzzing the lips as in brass instruments, but the rest of the instrument is decidedly woodwind-like. The instrument is usually slightly curved, and has a conical bore and finger-holes. The resulting sound has a singing trumpet-like quality but without the bright brassiness that trumpets have. Cornetts were frequently played with sackbuts, forming the Renaissance version of a brass band.
The Renaissance precursor of the modern bassoon. The curtal has a double-reed attached to the instrument through a curved metal bocal, and the main bore of the instrument, which is conical, doubles back on itself. Curtals sometimes played the bass-lines for shawm bands.