Dulcians in Syntagma Musicum


The text that describes the dulcians:

Text on dulcians

Praetorius starts with some text on the naming of the instrument. He starts with: "Fagotten und Dolcianen (Italis Fagotto
& Dolcesouno) werden mehrertheils indifferenter also genennet. Sonsten wollen etliche / daß diß die rechte Dolcianen seyn / die vom den Engelländern Zingel Korthol genennet werden: Und sind an der Tieffe / so wol auch am Resonanß / dem Basset in den Pommern gleich ..."
With what he indicates that, to his knowledge, both names, "Fagott" and "Dolcian", are used for the instrument. That in Italy the instrument was called "Fagotto" or "Dolcesouno". And, that some people call the tenor, in England called "Zingel Korthol", the real dulcian.
In the rest of the text on this page he uses both Fagott and Dolcian.
Interesting is that in the table with the compass of the dulcian, and in Theatrum Instrumentorum picture X, Praetorius only uses the names Fagott and Korthol, Dolcian is only used in the header of the compass table.

The text about the name of the instrument is followed by a description how the dulcian sounds: like the shawm, but more quiet.

Further is explained that there are two types of the "Doppel Fagott": a "Quint Fagott" and a "Quart Fagott".

Finally, Praetorius describes that the man who made the "Octav Posaune", now works on a "grossen Fagotcontra", a Contrabass dulcian. In the chapter on the sackbut is described that this maker was Hans Schreiber.

The table with the compass of the dulcians:

Compass of the dulcians

Here Praetorius shows the compass of the Quintbass (1), the Quartbass (2), the Bass (3) and the Tenor dulcian (4). For number 5, only a partial range is given, probably for a g-Alto.   Actual range information for the Alto is missing, the Soprano is not present at all in this table.  This could lead us to the conclusion that Praetorius did not have enough information on the useful range of the smaller instruments.

Theatrum Instrumentorum, picture X:

Picture X

In this picture, the dulcians are numbered 2 .. 7.  For instruments 2 .. 5, the letters next to the holes give the note that sounds when that hole is closed.  Praetorius mentions in the text, that for instruments 6 and 7 the letters next to the holes give the note that sounds when that hole is open.

Instrument 2 is the "Doppel-Fagot bis ins GG", a Quartbass dulcian in C with the lowest note GG.  Praetorius shows us the front of an instrument made in two pieces, and the back of an instrument made from one piece of wood.

Instrument 3 is the "Offen Chorist Fagott. C", a Bass dulcian in F with the lowest note C.

Instrument 4 is the "Gedact Chorist-Fagott. C", a Gedackt bass dulcian in F with the lowest note C.

Instrument 5 is the "Singel Kortholt. Baßet oder Tenor zum Chorist-Fagott. G", a Gedackt tenor dulcian in c with the lowest note G.

Instrument 6 is the "Alt. d.", a keyless g-Alto dulcian with the lowest note d.  In this picture, the holes for the index finger of both hands are missing.

Instrument 7 is the "Discant oder Exilent zum Chor:Fagott. a.", a keyless d-Soprano dulcian with the lowest note a.

The ruler underneath the picture gives the length in "Braunschweigischen Fuss".  At the time of Praetorius, the length of the foot in Braunschweig was 28 cm.

Back to the main Dulcians page.

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© Copyright 1998-1999 by Hans Mons.
Last updated on 17 January 1999