History of the Serpent

History of the Serpent

At present, ancient musical instruments have begun to arouse great interest in the circles of musicians and listeners. A lot of musical innovators looking for a new sound, collectors and simple lovers of the original sounds of music around the world are trying to “tame” little-known old instruments that have long been out of a wide performing arsenal. One of these instruments, which has recently attracted more and more attention of listeners, will be discussed.

Serpent – Brass musical instrument. It appeared in France in the XNUMXth century, where it was invented by the French master Edme Guillaume. It got its name from the French word “serpent”, in translation – a snake, because. externally curved and really somewhat reminiscent of a snake. History of the SerpentInitially, its use was limited to an accompanying role in the church choir and amplification of male bass voices. However, after some time, the serpent becomes incredibly popular, and by the eighteenth century, almost all of Europe knows about it.

Along with the penetration into the professional music industry of that time, the instrument is also popularized in the domestic environment, it enters the homes of wealthy people. It was considered extremely fashionable in those days to be able to play the serpent. At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, thanks to the famous French composer Francois Joseph Gossec, the serpent was accepted into the symphony orchestra as a bass instrument. In the course of modernization, the authority of the instrument only increased, and by the beginning of the XNUMXth century, no full-fledged orchestra could have been imagined without an instrument in the form of a snake.

The first outlines, forms and principle of operation, the serpent took from the signal pipe, which has been used since ancient times. Outwardly, it is a curved cone-shaped tube made of wood, copper, silver or zinc, covered with leather, History of the Serpentwith a mouthpiece at one end and a bell at the other. It has finger holes. In the original version, the serpent had six holes. Later, having undergone improvements, three to five holes with valves were added to the instrument, which made it possible, when they were partially opened, to extract sounds with a change in the chromatic scale (semitones). The mouthpiece of the serpent closely resembles the mouthpieces of modern wind instruments, such as trumpets. In earlier designs it was made from animal bones, later it was made from metal.

The range of the serpent is up to three octaves, which is a sufficient reason for its participation as a solo instrument. Due to the ability to extract chromatically modified sounds, which affects the ability to improvise, it is used in symphony, brass and jazz orchestras. Dimensions vary from half a meter to three meters, which makes the instrument very bulky. According to its sound classification, the serpent belongs to the group of aerophones. Sound is produced by vibration of the sound column. The rather strong and “unkempt” sound of the instrument has become its hallmark. In connection with its sharp roaring sound, among musicians, the serpent has acquired a slang name – double bass-anaconda.

By the end of the XNUMXth century, the serpent was replaced by more modern wind instruments, including those constructed on its basis, but not forgotten.

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