Shawms - Jim Parr I have not tried to copy specific instruments, but rather to make a set of shawms representative of those played in the renaissance. It is now far harder than it was to measure and examine the originals and I have been unable – so far – to do so, but I have had access to numerous careful drawings, measurements and photos of many surviving European instruments (courtesy mostly of Eric Moulder, whose generosity has been incredible). As well as original instruments, my making has been informed by surviving instruments form the folk tradition, particularly the Catalan tiple and tenora, which have influenced my thoughts on reeds. The shawm project is a work in progress; I have a D soprano, G and F altos and a tenor up and running at A 440, but as yet no bass, no C soprano and no instruments at high pitch. Watch this space!

Instruments are of maple or sycamore. Timber of the right size to make bells in one piece is not commercially available and I don’t have space to store huge sections of tree, so the bells are "blocked up". All brasswork, including staples, is done in-house by me. Shawms are supplied with two reeds and fingering/care charts.

D soprano – a bright but controllable and flexible instrument. Excellent intonation and free blowing.

G alto – based around an original in Nuremberg, scaled to modern pitch and tweaked to make it behave itself. Capable of great power and volume, but also of an expressive musicality in the right hands.

F alto – I originally swore I wouldn't make C or F instruments, but a customer pleaded with me and I gave in. And Praetorius did say someone should make them! Obviously this shawm has a bigger finger stretch than the G, but musically and tonally it is really good – I'm very pleased with it.

Tenor in C - single key tenors are rare among surviving originals, but the cost of making an extended tenor would be prohibitive. This tenor worked well right from the outset – a bright and powerful sound, faultless tuning and very controllable. Everyone who plays it loves it.

Shawm - Jim Parr Shawm Key - Jim Parr Shawm - Jim Parr

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