View Full Version : Can somebody please identify this instrument?

Jan-11-2009, 17:04
Hi, this picture was taken at a Folk Festival in Swanage, hence the unusual costumes being worn by the performers and the face painting.


Jan-11-2009, 19:50
Hi Mike,

That is a very unusual looking intrument.

Unfortunately I dion't know what it is called, hopefully someone else will.

BTW did you take the picture?


Corno Dolce
Jan-11-2009, 20:12
Thats an English Bass Horn - A really rare bird!

Jan-12-2009, 04:31
We have an old horn similar to that here in the south USA called the
Serpent which plays the same and shaped like a snake.
judy tooley

Jan-12-2009, 05:09
It's nearly as odd looking as its player.

Jan-12-2009, 21:59
It's a "Russian Bassoon", which is not a bassoon at all. No idea why it's used there though....


Jan-12-2009, 22:11
I'm hoping to catch that folk dance group later in the year at one of the Folk Festivals, must try and beg borrow or steal an audio recording device and get the sound stored as well as the pictures.

Thanks for all the responses, I think from the pictures in Matsoljare's post I will edit my pic to read Russian Basson

Corno Dolce
Jan-12-2009, 22:54
Aloha Mike,

On the following link http://www.yeodoug.com/publications/le_monde_du_serpent/le_monde_du_serpent_notes.html Scroll down till you see *Variations on the pesky Sarpent* - There you will see the Bass Horn

However, there seems to be a reflexive usage of the term Bass Horn and Russian Basssoon for the instrument in question.


CD :):):)

Ps: Here's a Contrabass Serpent in action: http://www.yeodoug.com/articles/serpent/yeoanaconda1.mp3

Jan-12-2009, 23:13
Hmmmmmmmm difficult, I think I'll leave the captioning a bit longer!!

From Googling on Bass Horn, Ophicleide and other similar instruments one gets the impression that the Bass horn was more usually brass, and then you find another site that contradicts it.

From the sound clip it would appear that a lot of puff was needed!!

Jan-13-2009, 00:47
I seem to remember the term Russian Bassoon, too and looked it up in groves, it's what it appears to be to me, too.

Jan-16-2009, 13:55
Never seen the instrument before but to wander slightly from the topic in hand I have seen that troop (I think troop is the correct word) of Morris dancers performing (I think performing is the correct word) down my way before. I remember thinking how great they looked in their black and purple costumes.:grin:

Jan-18-2009, 00:11
That lovely looking instrument reminds me of one I played somewhat facetiously many years ago. The attached picture shows a converted bed post with traditional scroll and one large knob - since there is only one string. Fortunately the wash-tub part remains demurely out of sight. I actually learned how to play simple running base parts on pitch! unlike most wash-tub players who merely thump.

By resting one's head against the top part, the vibrations enter directly into the skull making it easier to quickly correct pitch. (One wonders what this does to the brain). At one time, being a master of the art, I offered to give lessons - for ten dollars with the tub thrown in. No aspiring pupils came forward.

The highlight of my tub-playing career occurred when part of a "concert" in which I performed was broadcast over a US national radio network - my public debut, as it were.

My formal instrument was the flute. These days my wife and I perform as "closet musicians" on several instruments (one at a time) of which one is a Zukerman harpsichord assembled from a kit purchased in New York.

Many thanks for the picture. See what nonsense it stirred up here in cold Canada!

Jan-18-2009, 13:12
dpurq, that reminds me of the Skiffle craze that sprang up around Lonnie Donegan back in 1956, the amateur Skiffle groups (and some of the pros) used what they called a tea chest bass, similar principle to your instrument but much cheaper.

It consisted of a tea chest, or similar sized lightweight box, and a broom handle; played with one foot on one corner of the box and the broomstick in the opposite corner. Tuning did tend to be somewhat hit and miss. The thing played havoc with the fingers, but the amount of alcohol consumed usually deadened any pain ........ until the morning. The rest of the group played guitar, banjo or such other similar instruments they could lay their hands on.

Jan-18-2009, 17:32
1956 is right on - or just about. This picture dates to about then. We picked up a cheap drum set - so that's where I'm sitting. The tub made an appearance later - played exactly as you describe. Galvanized metal wash tubs were common and cheap then. It would be difficult to find one now. One could produce a terrific deep note with them. I played a real base a few times - by ear - what a luxury!
Guess I've wandered a little too far off thread here, but it was fun.

Jan-18-2009, 18:33

Mar-16-2009, 11:36
Dear All,

Hope you have watched this video ..........


isn't it the same person in the photograph.........



Mar-16-2009, 18:51
Maybe this is the instrument you are asking about. Here's a homemade
version.YouTube - The Squarepent - Homemade Tuba (Serpent) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SccBcjTja1c&feature=related)
judy tooley

Mar-18-2009, 01:02
Hi Alex,

It does look like the same person, I agree.

That was an interesting one too Judy.


Apr-06-2009, 17:27
true, there seems to be equal usage out there of the terms bass horn and russian bassoon. http://www.photopile.info/img/c/u.gif