Friday, July 31, 2009

Bach's Forgotten Horn, the Lituus

What in the world is a lituus? Apparently, it's an instrument, but we don't have any surviving examples of it. We don't even have any pictures of it. About all we know is that Johann Sebastian Back called for two of them in his cantata, “O Jesu Christ, meins lebens licht”. Well, that isn't good enough for some people. The lituus has been recreated with the help of some advanced software. Click here to read the story and to hear the lituus in performance.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


"A drain pipe suffering from intestinal disorder." -Willi Apel

"The instrument gave a fresh zest to Gregorian Plainsong." -Canon Edme Guillaume

Opinions vary about the serpent. Not all of them are complimentary. It's an unlikely looking instrument with a mouthpiece like a brass instrument and side holes like a woodwind. It gets its name from its snakelike shape, not from its ability to play scales.

Here's a video of a Serpent.

See also The Serpent Website including its photo gallery and the quotes and anecdotes page.