Cornett

Cornett

Overview

The cornett, cornetto or zink is an early wind instrument, dating from the Medieval, Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 periods. It was used in what are now called alta capella
Alta capella
Alta capella were town wind bands found throughout continental Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries, which typically consisted of shawms and slide trumpets or sackbuts. Waits were the British equivalent. These were not found anywhere outside of Europe....

s or wind ensembles. It is not to be confused with the trumpet-like instrument cornet
Cornet
The cornet is a brass instrument very similar to the trumpet, distinguished by its conical bore, compact shape, and mellower tone quality. The most common cornet is a transposing instrument in B. It is not related to the renaissance and early baroque cornett or cornetto.-History:The cornet was...

.

There are three basic types of treble cornett: curved, straight and mute. The curved (Ger. krummer Zink, schwarzer Zink; It.
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The cornett, cornetto or zink is an early wind instrument, dating from the Medieval, Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 periods. It was used in what are now called alta capella
Alta capella
Alta capella were town wind bands found throughout continental Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries, which typically consisted of shawms and slide trumpets or sackbuts. Waits were the British equivalent. These were not found anywhere outside of Europe....

s or wind ensembles. It is not to be confused with the trumpet-like instrument cornet
Cornet
The cornet is a brass instrument very similar to the trumpet, distinguished by its conical bore, compact shape, and mellower tone quality. The most common cornet is a transposing instrument in B. It is not related to the renaissance and early baroque cornett or cornetto.-History:The cornet was...

.

Construction


There are three basic types of treble cornett: curved, straight and mute. The curved (Ger. krummer Zink, schwarzer Zink; It. cornetto curvo, cornetto alto (i.e. ‘tall’), cornetto nero) is the most common type, with over 140 extant examples. It is about 60 cm long and made of a single block of wood (plum, pear, maple etc.) cut into a curved shape and split lengthwise. A conical bore is carved out of each half and the pieces are then glued back together, the exterior planed to an octagonal profile, and the longitudinal joints secured by a series of bindings and a covering of black leather or parchment. The socket for the mouthpiece, which is slightly tapered, was sometimes strengthened by an external brass ferrule, and both the upper and lower ends of the instrument were occasionally adorned with silver mounts. There are six finger-holes and a thumb-hole (nearest to the mouthpiece). The instrument is often curved to the right, and the player’s right hand is placed lowermost, but many specimens are ‘left-handed’, curving the opposite way. Mouthpieces are made of ebony, ivory, or horn, but it is difficult to ascertain which extant examples are original; many are known to be replacements.

One of the specimens generally accepted as original is that of the late 16th-century curved cornett from Ambras. It is turned from horn, 14 mm wide, and is similar to a small trumpet mouthpiece in the deep curvature of the cup, but the rim is very sharp, resembling an acorn cup. Many pictures of cornett players show just such a small mouthpiece, and these depictions, together with instructions in several treatises, suggest that the small cup mouthpiece was usually placed in the corner of the mouth, the centre position being occasionally employed as an alternative.

The straight treble cornett (Ger. gerader Zink; It. cornetto diritto) is made of wood – usually yellow boxwood – with a conical bore as in the curved cornett, but turned on the outside to a circular cross-section, usually without ornamentation. Finger-holes and mouthpiece are as in the curved cornett. This was evidently the least common type, with only 13 extant instruments, although it seems to have been widely used before 1550 especially in Germany.

The mute cornett (Ger. stiller Zink; It. cornetto muto) is made like the straight cornett, but its mouthpiece is not detachable, being turned in the wood at the top end of the instrument instead. The conical cup merges into the bore, usually without a sharp break, causing a softening and veiling of the tone quality. Many fine boxwood specimens are in the Brussels Conservatory museum; most of these are from late 16th-century Venice, where Vincenzo Galilei (Dialogo, 1581) said that the best cornetts of his day were made.

The tenor cornett (Fr. taille des cornets; Ger. grosser Zink; It. corno torto, cornone) was pitched a 5th lower than the treble cornett, and was usually provided with an additional finger-hole, covered by a key, for the little finger of the lower hand. Because of its length (75 to 105 cm) the instrument was generally made with a double curve, having the finger-holes on the inside facet of the lower bend; thus in playing position the bell points downwards to the front, not outwards to the side as in the treble. Its main period of use was, like the treble cornett, about 1550 to 1650, although it gained favor in England only after the beginning of the 17th century; in 1622 the celebrated Norwich Waits possessed at least two. Praetorius did not care for it, describing its sound as ‘most unlovely and bullocky’. Nevertheless, it was widely used. Some 35 specimens survive in museum collections and many parts in alto and tenor clefs specifying ‘cornetto’ are only playable on the tenor-sized instrument. A tenor cornett in serpentine form is in the Paris Conservatoire collection. A straight tenor cornett, of ivory, ascribed to the late 17th century, is in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg.

The bass cornett (Fr. basse des cornets; Ger. Basszink) pitched a 4th or 5th below the tenor, is described only by Mersenne, but it was also known in Germany, where it is listed in many inventories from the last decades of the 16th century.

Technique


The compass of the curved treble cornett was from g to a″ until the 17th century, when parts were taken up to d‴ or even to e‴. But the lowest proper note is a (the thumb-hole and all six finger-holes covered), the g being obtained by slackening the lip. A few treble cornetts seem to have been pitched a whole tone lower, and there is evidence that mute cornetts were normally built so, at least around 1600 (see Weber). It has been widely speculated that such low treble cornetts may have been used as alto instruments. Although little direct confirmation of the theory exists, a Stuttgart inventory from 1589 mentions two cornetts pitched ‘two tones lower than the treble cornett’ (see Spielmann), and the civic ensemble of Bologna had positions for both cornetto di soprano and cornetto di contralto (see Gambassi).

Cornett fingering resembles that of other woodwind instruments of the period, although it becomes highly idiosyncratic in the upper octave. Only a few fingering charts survive, and most of them, such as that in Speer’s Grund-richtiger … Unterricht der Musicalischen Kunst (Ulm, 1687, enlarged 2/1697/R) are from the last century of the instrument’s use. Dalla Casa (1584) states that the cornett, like the voice, can be played piano or forte and in every key (tuono). Similarly Mersenne (1636–7) wrote that it can be sounded as softly as a recorder and can play a scale beginning on any note as ut: the point of these observations was that most other woodwind instruments of the period (shawms, flutes etc.) were, in varying degrees, deficient in those respects. The most sympathetic scales on the cornett are G, C and F major, as they introduce the best cross-fingerings.

In its heyday (c. 1550–1650) the treble cornett was used more than other wind instruments for virtuoso display, resulting in spectacular divisions (or diminutions) as extravagant as those produced on the violin or bass viol, or by the voice. Mersenne went so far as to say that the cornett should almost always be played in diminution. anni Gabrieli’s works, and sometimes in those of his followers (e.g. Praetorius’s Wachet auf! in the Polyhymnia). For the execution of these divisions tonguing reached a high degree of complexity. Instructions were set down in a series of Italian tutors from Ganassi dal Fontego (1535) to Bismantova (1677). They embraced two considerations, force and speed, and with only minor differences, set forth a highly developed and remarkably consistent Italian ‘school’ of articulation. For the fastest divisions the liquid lingua riversa, usually expressed as le-re-le-re, de-re-le-re te-re-le-re, was prescribed. Also recommended for moderately fast passages was the harsher dental te-re-te-re, which, it was said, is easier to hold back in semiquaver runs. Te-che-te-che (the ordinary modern ‘double tonguing’ on flutes and trumpets) was deemed ‘crude and terrifying’, in addition to being difficult to hold back. Te-te-te-te(ordinary single tonguing) was described as good up to quaver speed but too sluggish for anything faster. The model of articulation on the cornett was the human voice, especially the extravagant vocal ornaments known as gorgie, and thus the lingua riversa was sometimes known as the lingua di gorgia. Although the cornett can technically be played legato (i.e. without any lingual articulation), all notes were normally tongued, except in the execution of trills and some cadential ornaments (see Tonguing
Tonguing
Tonguing is a technique used with wind instruments to enunciate different notes using the tongue on the reed or woodwind mouthpiece or brass mouthpiece. A silent "tee" is made when the tongue strikes the reed or roof of the mouth causing a slight breach in the air flow through the instrument. If a...

).

The cornett’s tone quality was often described as being close to the human voice, particularly that of a boy soprano. Mersenne eloquently described it as ‘like a ray of sunshine piercing the shadows, when heard with the choir voices in the cathedrals or chapels’. By modern standards the instrument is not loud, its forte being less strong than a clarinet’s. The mute cornett has a uniquely soft and velvety quality. Roger North (1695) said ‘Nothing comes so near or rather imitates so much an excellent voice as a cornett pipe; but the labour of the lips is too great and it is seldom well sounded’ (see Wilson, 1959). The difficulty of producing and controlling the sound of the cornett undoubtedly became more evident once the instrument began to be pushed aside (in the late 17th century) in favour of the more fashionable stringed instruments. As the number of players decreased, standards began to slip; that they did so precipitously is confirmed by a mid-18th century Bolognese source which complained that the instrument’s daily appearances in the town square had become ‘a public scandal’ (see Gambassi).

Music for the cornett


Historically, the cornett was frequently used in consort with sackbut
Sackbut
The sackbut is a trombone from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, i.e., a musical instrument in the brass family similar to the trumpet except characterised by a telescopic slide with which the player varies the length of the tube to change pitches, thus allowing them to obtain chromaticism, as...

s (2 cornetts, 3 sackbuts), often to double a church choir. This was particularly popular in Venetian
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 churches such as the Basilica San Marco, where extensive instrumental accompaniment was encouraged, particularly in use with antiphonal choirs. Giovanni Bassano
Giovanni Bassano
Giovanni Bassano was an Italian Venetian School composer and cornettist of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He was a key figure in the development of the instrumental ensemble at St. Mark's basilica, and left a detailed book on instrumental ornamentation, which is a rich resource for...

 was an example of a virtuoso early player of the cornett, and Giovanni Gabrieli
Giovanni Gabrieli
Giovanni Gabrieli was an Italian composer and organist. He was one of the most influential musicians of his time, and represents the culmination of the style of the Venetian School, at the time of the shift from Renaissance to Baroque idioms.-Biography:Gabrieli was born in Venice...

 wrote much of his resplendent polychoral
Venetian polychoral style
The Venetian polychoral style was a type of music of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras which involved spatially separate choirs singing in alternation...

 music with him in mind. Heinrich Schütz
Heinrich Schütz
Heinrich Schütz was a German composer and organist, generally regarded as the most important German composer before Johann Sebastian Bach and often considered to be one of the most important composers of the 17th century along with Claudio Monteverdi...

 also used the instrument extensively, especially in his earlier work; he had studied in Venice with Gabrieli and was acquainted with Bassano's playing.

The cornett was, like almost all Renaissance and Baroque instruments, made in a complete family; the different sizes being the high cornettino
Cornettino
The cornettino was the descant instrument of the cornetto family. Cornettini usually featured a primary scale of C or D major, with middle C or the adjacent D the pedal note of the instrument. The regular cornett was the 'treble' instrument of the family....

, the cornett (or curved cornett), the tenor cornett
Tenor cornett
The tenor cornett or lizard was a common musical instrument in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. This instrument was normally built in C and the pedal note of the majority of tenor cornetts was the C below middle C. A number of surviving instruments feature a key to secure the lowest note...

 (or lizard) and the rare bass cornett. The serpent
Serpent (instrument)
A serpent is a bass wind instrument, descended from the cornett, and a distant ancestor of the tuba, with a mouthpiece like a brass instrument but side holes like a woodwind. It is usually a long cone bent into a snakelike shape, hence the name. The serpent is closely related to the cornett,...

 largely supplanted the bass cornett in the 17th century. Other versions include the Mute Cornett
Mute Cornett
The mute cornett was an important variant of the treble cornett and it was used in compositions by European composers in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. A significant number of mute cornetts have survived and are preserved in various European museums...

, which is a straight narrow-bore instrument with integrated mouthpiece, quiet enough to be used in a consort of viols or even recorders.

The cornett was also used as a virtuoso solo instrument, and a relatively large amount of solo music for the cornetto (and/or violin) survives. The use of the instrument had declined by 1700, although the instrument was still common in Europe until the late 18th century. Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

, Georg Philipp Telemann
Georg Philipp Telemann
Georg Philipp Telemann was a German Baroque composer and multi-instrumentalist. Almost completely self-taught in music, he became a composer against his family's wishes. After studying in Magdeburg, Zellerfeld, and Hildesheim, Telemann entered the University of Leipzig to study law, but eventually...

 and their German contemporaries used both the cornett and cornettino in cantatas to play in unison with the soprano voices of the choir. Occasionally, these composers allocated a solo part to the cornetto (see Bach's cantata O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht, BWV 118). Alessandro Scarlatti
Alessandro Scarlatti
Alessandro Scarlatti was an Italian Baroque composer especially famous for his operas and chamber cantatas. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of opera. He was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti.-Life:Scarlatti was born in...

 used the cornetto or pairs of cornetti in a number of his operas. Johann Joseph Fux used a pair of mute cornetts in a Requiem.
It was scored for by Gluck
Christoph Willibald Gluck
Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck was an opera composer of the early classical period. After many years at the Habsburg court at Vienna, Gluck brought about the practical reform of opera's dramaturgical practices that many intellectuals had been campaigning for over the years...

, in his opera Orfeo ed Euridice
Orfeo ed Euridice
Orfeo ed Euridice is an opera composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck based on the myth of Orpheus, set to a libretto by Ranieri de' Calzabigi. It belongs to the genre of the azione teatrale, meaning an opera on a mythological subject with choruses and dancing...

(he suggested the soprano trombone
Trombone
The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player’s vibrating lips cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate...

 as an alternative) and features in the TV theme music Testament by Nigel Hess
Nigel Hess
Nigel John Hess is a British composer best known for his television, theatre and film soundtracks, including the theme tunes to Wycliffe, Dangerfield, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates and Ladies in Lavender.-Biography:...

, released in 1983.

History


The word ‘cornet’, literally ‘little horn’, suggests an animal-horn ancestry for the instrument. Of the numerous cow-horn-shaped instruments in medieval pictures some are shown with finger-holes, resembling horns still used by Scandinavian herdsmen. In Sweden such instruments go back to at least the 10th century, according to the date determined for a 22 cm ox-horn with four holes, now in the Dalarnas Museum, Falun (no.7279). There are fairly clear 11th- and early 12th-century illustrations (mostly English) of such instruments (see Galpin); further examples were depicted in the next two centuries and contemporary French romances contain expressions such as cor à doigts, which presumably refer to them. The octagonal exterior form is seen in a carving from about 1260 in Lincoln Cathedral, showing an angel apparently playing two instruments at once (see Gardner). One of the Angers Tapestries (1373–82) shows a curved cornett with the lowest hole duplicated so that either hand could be placed uppermost (see Harrison and Rimmer). This feature, known on recorders from the earliest examples (although rare on subsequent cornetts), suggests that the cornett at that time was made by professional instrument makers. The classic curved model is seen from the mid-15th century, for instance in a Spanish breviary (GB-Lbl Add.18851; fig.1 [not available online]), and by the end of that century references to cornett players are fairly numerous in most European countries. The Germans, however, seem at first to have preferred the straight cornett. In a letter of 1541 the Nuremberg maker Georg Stengel ‘genannt Neuschel’ referred to ‘welsche krumme Zincken’ (see Eitner, 1877), as if the curved form were considered French or Italian in origin. Virdung’s Musica getutscht (1511), the title-page of Arnold Schlick’s Spiegel der Orgelmacher und Organisten (Speyer, 1511) and Maximilian’s Triumphal Procession by Burgkmair and others (begun 1516) all show the straight form, in the latter two instances accompanying choristers.

Earlier evidence of straight cornetts may exist in a number of 11th- to 13th-century pictures showing small straight instruments (with finger-holes) that terminate in the carved head of a dog or wolf. Most of the sources are German or Swiss; two less clear examples are French (see Hammerstein). Whether the medieval instruments in fact represent forms of cornett is impossible to prove, but a number of extant 16th-century Italian curved cornetts which end in a beast’s head might be considered supporting evidence. Mute and tenor cornetts were both known by 1550 in Italy and Flanders, and no doubt also in other countries.

Cornetts with trombones, bass shawms and strings, accompanying choral music. The cornett appeared along with trombones and organ as support for choral music throughout its main period of use. In England cornetts and trombones doubled the voices of the choir in the Chapel Royal, in the cathedrals at such places as Canterbury, York and Durham, and in provincial and collegiate churches until at least the time of the Commonwealth. In Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Latin America the cornett was widely used to double voices in cathedrals until well into the 18th century. When the cornett did not double voices it either substituted for them or, especially after 1600, played instrumental lines, often together with or in place of the violin or with an ensemble of trombones. Giovanni Gabrieli was a pioneer and master of elaborate obbligato writing for the cornett, but his example was followed more in Germany than in Italy, where obbligato use of the instrumental after 1650 is rare. The cornett was given leading parts in Schütz’s early works, and continued to hold an important position in German and Austrian sacred music through the end of the 17th century. At the Imperial Court in Vienna cornetts and cornettini were given obbligato parts, of sometimes awe-inspiring difficulty in their exploitation of the high register, by such composers as Bertali, Biber, Georg Muffat and Schmelzer. Cornetts and trombones also formed an independent ensemble of five to eight parts for ceremonial music: in France they were used thus up to Mersenne’s time; in England for such music as John Adson’s Courtly Masquing Ayres (1621), and Matthew Locke’s music for ‘His Majesty’s Sagbutts and Cornetts’ (1661); in Germany for Turmmusik by J.C. Pezel (e.g. Fünff-stimmigte blasende Music, 1685) and by Gottfried Reiche; and in Italy in most important cities until the mid-18th century, including Bologna, where the Concerto Palatino was active until 1779 and Rome, where the Concerto Capitolino survived until 1789. In Germany the cornett-trombone ensemble continued to play Turmmusik into the 19th century; and it is in this ancient and humble duty that it is last heard of (see Kastner). Examples of cornetts (and trombones) used by the American Moravians are in the Moravian Museum, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The decline of the cornett as an orchestral instrument can be followed in the published scores of the Leipzig Kantors from Schein to Bach. Although Bach wrote for the cornett he used it, except in the motet O Jesu Christ, mein Lebens Licht BWV118 merely to reinforce the trebles of the choir. Handel’s cornett parts in Tamerlano (1724) and Gluck’s in Orfeo (1762) had eventually to be performed on other instruments. In the 1880s V.-C. Mahillon made the first attempt to restore the cornett for use in such music. For a performance of Orfeo in Brussels he constructed a straight cornett on modern lines, with flute keywork (now in the Brussels Conservatory museum).

The pioneering work in reviving the cornett was done in the 1950s, in Britain by Christopher Monk and in Germany by Otto Steinkopf, one of the first to perform publicly on a reconstructed instrument.

Folk Cornetts


Various wooden instruments that are sounded like cornetts are found in the Baltic countries and parts of Russia. They are bound in birch bark, have four or more finger-holes, and may generally be seen as variants of the cow-horn with finger-holes (see §2 above). The rozhok (‘little horn’) of the Vladimir and Tver (Kalinin) districts, however, may be a rural offshoot of the straight cornett; it has a separate mouthpiece (which some players place to the side of the lips) and is made in two or more sizes for playing music in parts. This playing tradition may go back only two centuries, to judge by estimates of the age of Russian improvised part-singing in rural areas.

Playing the cornett


"At every stage of its development the cornett was an instrument of professional musicians"

The cornett is generally agreed to be a difficult instrument to play — it requires a lot of practice. It embodies a design that survives in no modern instrument; that is, the main tube has only the length of a typical woodwind, but the mouthpiece is of the brass type, relying on a combination of the player's lips and the alteration of the length of the sound column via the opening and closing of the finger holes to alter the pitch of the musical sound. Most modern brass instruments are considerably longer than the cornett, which permits the use of harmonics, the sound being altered by slides or valves to control the pitch.

The Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 era was relatively tolerant of bright or extroverted tonal quality, as the surviving pipe organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

s of the time attest. Thus the Baroque theorist Marin Mersenne
Marin Mersenne
Marin Mersenne, Marin Mersennus or le Père Mersenne was a French theologian, philosopher, mathematician and music theorist, often referred to as the "father of acoustics"...

 described the sound of the cornett as "a ray of sunshine piercing the shadows". Yet there is also evidence that the cornett was sometimes badly played, although it also seems to have been played much more expertly than any other woodwind instrument. Its upper register sounded somewhat like a trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

 or modern cornet, the lower register resembling the sackbutts that often accompanied it. Cornett intonation is flexible, which enabled it to be played perfectly in tune in a range of tonalities and temperaments.

As a result of its design, the cornett requires a specialized embouchure
Embouchure
The embouchure is the use of facial muscles and the shaping of the lips to the mouthpiece of woodwind instruments or the mouthpiece of the brass instruments.The word is of French origin and is related to the root bouche , 'mouth'....

 which is, initially, very tiring to play for any length of time. Cornetts were often replaced by violins in consort music and cornetts could be similarly used as substitutes for violins in consort music and sacred music. The cornett and the violin were considered interchangeable; and a good cornettist doubled between either cornetti and trumpets or cornetti and recorders.

Cornetts were used to reinforce the human voice in choirs, and many commentators suggested that the sound of a well played cornett, heard at a distance, could be mistaken for a "choice castrato
Castrato
A castrato is a man with a singing voice equivalent to that of a soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto voice produced either by castration of the singer before puberty or one who, because of an endocrinological condition, never reaches sexual maturity.Castration before puberty prevents a boy's...

". The place of the cornett was never really filled by any other instrument and it was not until the second half of the 20th century that the cornett revival gave music lovers a chance to hear the sound of this instrument again in its proper context.

The cornett and authentic performance


As a result of the recent historically informed performance
Historically informed performance
Historically informed performance is an approach in the performance of music and theater. Within this approach, the performance adheres to state-of-the-art knowledge of the aesthetic criteria of the period in which the music or theatre work was conceived...

 movement, the cornett has been rediscovered, and as before attracts the finest players. In many pieces (particularly those of early to mid Baroque composers such as Claudio Monteverdi
Claudio Monteverdi
Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi – 29 November 1643) was an Italian composer, gambist, and singer.Monteverdi's work, often regarded as revolutionary, marked the transition from the Renaissance style of music to that of the Baroque period. He developed two individual styles of composition – the...

, Giovanni Gabrieli
Giovanni Gabrieli
Giovanni Gabrieli was an Italian composer and organist. He was one of the most influential musicians of his time, and represents the culmination of the style of the Venetian School, at the time of the shift from Renaissance to Baroque idioms.-Biography:Gabrieli was born in Venice...

, Francesco Cavalli
Francesco Cavalli
Francesco Cavalli was an Italian composer of the early Baroque period. His real name was Pietro Francesco Caletti-Bruni, but he is better known by that of Cavalli, the name of his patron Federico Cavalli, a Venetian nobleman.-Life:Cavalli was born at Crema, Lombardy...

, Girolamo Frescobaldi
Girolamo Frescobaldi
Girolamo Frescobaldi was a musician from Ferrara, one of the most important composers of keyboard music in the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. A child prodigy, Frescobaldi studied under Luzzasco Luzzaschi in Ferrara, but was influenced by a large number of composers, including Ascanio...

, Giovanni Battista Riccio
Giovanni Battista Riccio
Giovanni Battista Riccio was a musician and composer of the early Baroque era, resident in Venice, most notable for his development of instrumental forms, particularly utilizing the recorder....

, Dario Castello
Dario Castello
Dario Castello was an Italian composer and instrumentalist from the early Baroque period who worked and published in Venice. As regards his instrument, it is not clear whether he played the cornetto or the bassoon...

, Antonio Bertali
Antonio Bertali
Antonio Bertali was an Italian composer and violinist of the Baroque era.He was born in Verona and received early music education there from Stefano Bernardi. Probably from 1624, he was employed as court musician in Vienna by Emperor Ferdinand II. In 1649 Bertali succeeded Giovanni Valentini as...

, Pavel Josef Vejvanovský
Pavel Josef Vejvanovský
Pavel Josef Vejvanovský Czech composer and trumpeter. Contemporary and associate of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber.Some notable works by Pavel Josef Vejvanovský:...

, Jan Křtitel Tolar
Jan Krtitel Tolar
Janez Krstnik Dolar 1673, Vienna) was a composer and contemporary of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Andreas Hofer and Pavel Josef Vejvanovský....

, Michael Praetorius
Michael Praetorius
Michael Praetorius was a German composer, organist, and music theorist. He was one of the most versatile composers of his age, being particularly significant in the development of musical forms based on Protestant hymns, many of which reflect an effort to make better the relationship between...

, Johann Hermann Schein, Samuel Scheidt
Samuel Scheidt
Samuel Scheidt was a German composer, organist and teacher of the early Baroque era.-Biography:...

, Sebastian Knüpfer
Sebastian Knüpfer
Sebastian Knüpfer was a German composer. He was the cantor of the Thomanerchor in Leipzig from 1657 to 1676, and director of the city’s music.-Life:...

, Johann Schelle
Johann Schelle
Johann Schelle was a German baroque composer.Schelle was born in Geising and died in Leipzig. He was the cantor of the Thomanerchor from 1677 to 1701....

, Johann Andreas Pachelbel, Giovanni Felice Sances
Giovanni Felice Sances
Giovanni Felice Sances was an Italian singer and a Baroque composer. He was renowned in Europe during his time....

, Johann Joseph Fux, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer was an Austrian composer and violinist of the Baroque era. Almost nothing is known about his early years, but he seems to have arrived in Vienna during the 1630s, and remained composer and musician at the Habsburg court for the rest of his life...

, Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, Andreas Hofer
Andreas Hofer (composer)
Andreas Hofer was a German composer of the Baroque age.Hofer was born at Reichenhall. He was a contemporary of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, whose predecessor he was in Salzburg in his office of Inspector and "Hofkapellmeister", i.e. director of the court orchestra. Like Biber, Hofer was...

, Alessandro Stradella
Alessandro Stradella
Alessandro Stradella was an Italian composer of the middle baroque. He enjoyed a dazzling career as a freelance composer, writing on commission, collaborating with distinguished poets, producing over three hundred works in a variety of genres.-Life:Not much is known about his early life, but he...

, Matthew Locke
Matthew Locke (composer)
Matthew Locke was an English Baroque composer and music theorist.-Biography:As a boy, Locke was trained in the choir of Exeter Cathedral, under Edward Gibbons, the brother of Orlando Gibbons...

, John Adson
John Adson
John Adson was an English musician and composer. Little is known about his early life; indeed, the first certain reference to him comes in 1604, when he was in service to Charles III, Duke of Lorraine as a cornett player...

 and Heinrich Schütz
Heinrich Schütz
Heinrich Schütz was a German composer and organist, generally regarded as the most important German composer before Johann Sebastian Bach and often considered to be one of the most important composers of the 17th century along with Claudio Monteverdi...

) the cornett is indispensable in performance, and the music suffers if other instruments substitute for them. The violin was the usual substitute for the cornetto in historical music. The recorder, modern B-flat trumpet, oboe, and soprano saxophone have all been used as substitutes for the cornetto in modern performances.

External links



Extant cornetts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Modern Performance

  • The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble, a performance group that makes use of the cornett
  • City of Lincoln Waites (The Mayor of Lincoln's own Band of Musick)
  • Johann Rosenmüller Ensemble
    Johann Rosenmüller Ensemble
    The Johann Rosenmüller Ensemble is a German early music group formed by the German cornetto player and conductor Arno Paduch in 1995.The group's performance and discography focuses on the rediscovery of unknown music of the 17th and 18th centuries....

    , a performance group directed by the German cornetto player Arno Paduch
  • Ensemble La Fenice, A French period performance group directed by cornettist Jean Tubery.
  • L'Arpeggiata with Christina Pluhar as conductor, (winner of the 2010 Dutch Edison) makes excellent use of one or two cornetts!
  • His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts, an ensemble based out of London, recording and performing on their own, but also along other period instrument ensembles