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Cornamusen (Cornamuse) and Cortol (Kortholt) Pictures and Tunes Played by Carlton Crouch

I was lucky enough to have the following instruments on loan for a few months (thankyou Sam). Cornamusen are members of the reedcap family of woodwind instruments (the "Crumhorn" is the most famous of the reedcaps). Cornamusen are thought to have been played in the Middle Ages and at the time of the Renaisance.


From top to bottom: Soprano Cornamuse, Soprano Cornamuse, Tenor Cornamuse, Bass Cornamuse and Bass Cornamuse. The tape measure is included to give an idea of scale.


The top of cornamusen bodies, reed caps and reeds. Bass, tenor and soprano (from left to right).


Close up of cornamusen reed caps and reeds: soprano, tenor and bass (from smallest to largest).


Picture showing exploded exploded view of bass, tenor and soprano cornamusen


Partially exploded view of bass, tenor and soprano cornamusen with the double reeds shown in position. The end stoppers have been removed. When playing the removal of the end stopper makes the instrument louder, but some would say that the sound is less beautiful.


Reed caps, reeds and body tubes for bass, tenor and soprano cornamusen.

The Cornamuse


The cornamuse is a double reed, reed cap, woodwind instrument. The design dates from the medieval period, although no original instruments survive. Cornamusen are played in consorts (like recorders). The fingering is similar to the recorder, but with some differences and blowing a cornamuse is harder than blowindg a recorder.

The range of a basic cornamuse is an octave and a tone (a 9th) which can restrict playing, or lead to invention.

Cornish Folk Tunes Played on the Cornamuse


Bodmin (bass cornamuse)
Rogues March (tenor cornamuse)
Delkiow Sevy (soprano cornamuse)

The Cortol (Kortholt)

The cortol is a twin bored, double reeded member of the reed cap family. The twin bore means that a low pitch can be obtained from a surprising small instrument: the bore being twice as long as might be expected.


Picture showing the front view of a cortal. The fingering holes on the front function similarly to the cornamuse. There are also some holes filled with wax. I'm not sure what function these have. Two brass extension keys increase the range of the instrument upward.


Picture showing the back view of a cortal. There are two thumb holes and the two larger holes that let the sound out.

I'm not an experienced cortol player, and haven't the stamina for accurate or conserted playing. The following recording reflects my level of ability and experience!

Heva Cornische (cortol)


Cornamusen at Stuart House

email: carlton.cr@virgin.net