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Medieval life and Times

Definition and Description of the Bombard
Definition and description of the Bombard: The Bombard can be described as a large shawm; the bass member of the shawm family. The name, in various forms, was also given to a medieval musical instrument ("bumhart," "pumhart," "pommer"). It was the forerunner of the bass oboe. No attempt was made to bend the tube of the Bombard, and its length, equal to that of an open organ pipe of the same pitch, was outstretched in all its unwieldiness in an oblique position in front of the player.

The great contrabass Pommer was 9 ft. long without the crook and reed, which, however, were bent downwards. It had five open fingerholes and five keys working inside a perforated case; in order to bring the holes within reach of the finger, they were cut obliquely through the tube. The Bombard had a piercing, booming sound well-suited for out-of-doors performances and therefore favored by the Waits. A small primitive oboe called the bombarde, with eight holes but no keys, is used among the Bretons.  

Family of Instruments: The Bombard belongs to the family of Woodwind instruments.

Medieval Musical Instruments - Bombard
Medieval Musical instruments, including the Bombard, would be used by the musicians of the period including the Waits, Minstrels or Troubadours. There were three categories of musical instruments in the Middle Ages - wind, string and percussion. Terms of description were Bas instruments and Haut instruments. Bas referred to soft instruments (literally, "low," but referring to volume, not pitch) which were suitable for the chamber which included the vielle, rebec and other bowed strings, the lute and other plucked strings. Haut referred to loud instruments (literally "high" but referring to volume, not to pitch) which were suitable for outdoors which included the shawm, sackbut, pipe and tabor.

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