Shawm bands, accompanied by percussion, are an essential—and seriously loud—feature in the soundscapes of life-cycle and calendrical ceremonies in many parts of the world, appearing often on this blog. So in lieu of an unwieldy tag, here’s a roundup of some of the main posts.
Shawms (with a wooden body and a flared bell, small unlipped double reed enclosed in the mouth, and a pirouette, overblowing at the octave) are more common than oboes (like Chinese guanzi and Armenian duduk), although the distinction is complex, also involving cylindrical or conical bores (zzzzz)—see here.
Names for shawms are often variants of zurna, but there’s a wealth of local terms. The musicians are low in social status.
For China, large shawms are particularly imposing in the north, as shown in my two books Ritual and music of north China. The starter post is
I analyse the complex melodies of the Hua family band in
and, observing a certain scholarly reluctance to countenance such orally-transmitted cultures,
The Shaanbei bands feature in my post on the great
and, adding nearby Gansu, cf.
and for trouble in Shandong,
Some of these styles also appear on the Playlist in the sidebar (##5, 6, 11, and 15, with commentary here).
For Xinjiang, see
and for Tibet, as well as the monastic shawms and long trumpets (still only featured at the end of this post), the courtly gar features in
Elsewhere, most traditions have spread with Islam from the Middle East. See
- The Janissary band
- Köçek in Kuzguncuk!
- Musicking of the yayla
- Bartók in Anatolia
- South Asia
- and for north Indian shehnai, Raga for winds.
Among a wealth of audio-video tracks on the playlist of
is a fine taksim on the Turkish zurna.
Additive shawm metres from Turkey and east Europe feature in
For Azerbaijan, see under
and for Morocco, under
In Europe, Spain features in
And for Italian shawms (not least the 1963–64 recordings from the USA!):
And cf. the extensive trumpet tag.