See also:SNAKES), now generally used only of dangerous varieties, or metaphorically . See also SERPENT -WORSHIP below . In
See also:music the serpent (Fr. serpent, Ger . Serpent, Schlangenrohr, Ital. serpentone) is an obsolete
See also:wind instrument derived from the old wooden cornets (Zinken), and the progenitor of the bass-
See also:Russian bassoon and ophicleide . The serpent is composed of two pieces of
See also:wood, hollowed out and cut to the desired shape . They are so joined together by gluing as to
See also:form a conical
See also:tube of wide calibre with a diameter varying from a little over
See also:half an inch at the crook to nearly 4 in. at the wider end . The tube is covered with
See also:leather to ensure solidity . The upper extremity ends with a bent brass tube or crook, to which the
See also:cup-shaped mouthpiece is attached; the
See also:lower end does not expand to form a
See also:bell, a peculiarity the serpent shared with the cornets . The tube is pierced laterally with six holes, the first three of which are covered with the fingers of the right
See also:hand and the others with those of the
See also:left . When all the holes are thus closed the instrument will produce the following sounds, of which the first is the fundamental and the
See also:rest the
See also:harmonic series founded thereon: ;=8 Each of the holes on being successively opened gives the same series of harmonics on a new. fundamental, thus producing a chromatic compass of three octaves by means of six holes only . The holes are curiously disposed along the tube for convenience in reaching them with the fingers; in consequence they are of very small diameter, and this affects the intonation and timbre of the instrument adversely . With the application of keys to the serpent, which made it possible to place the holes approximately in the correct theoretical position, whereby the diameter of the holes was also made proportional to that of the tube, this defect was remedied and the timbre improved .
The serpent was, according to
See also:Abbe Lebceuf,' the outcome of experiments made on the cornon, the bass
See also:cornet or Zinke, by Edme Guillaume,
See also:canon of
See also:Auxerre, in 1590 . The invention at once proved a success, and the new bass became a valuable addition to
See also:church concerted music, more especially in France, in spite of the serpent's harsh, unpleasant
See also:tone .
See also:Mersenne (1636) describes and figures the serpent of his
See also:day in detail, but it was evidently unknown to
See also:Praetorius (1618) . During the 18th century the construction of the instrument underwent many improvements, the tendency being to make the unwieldy windings more compact . At the beginning of the 19th century the open holes had been discarded, and as many as fourteen or seventeen keys disposed conveniently along the tube .
See also:Gerber, in his Lexikon (1790), states that in 178o a musician of
See also:Lille, named Regibo, making further experiments on the serpent, produced a bass horn, giving it the shape of the bassoon for greater portability; and Frichot, a French refugee in
See also:London, introduced a variant of brass which rapidly won favour under the name of " bass horn " or " basson russe " in
See also:English military bands . On being introduced on the continent of
See also:Europe, this instrument was received into general use and gave a fresh impetus to experiments with basses for military bands, which resulted first in the ophicleide (q.v.) and ultimately in the valuable invention of the
See also:piston or
See also:valve . Further information as to the technique and construction of the serpent may be gained from
See also:Joseph Frohlich's excellent
See also:treatise 1 See Memoire concernant l'histoire ecclesiastique et civile d'Auxerre (
See also:Paris, 1848), ii . 189.on all the
See also:instruments of the orchestra in his day (
See also:Bonn, 181I), where clear and accurate
See also:practical drawings of the instruments are given . (K .
ALEXANDRE ALBERTO DE LA ROCHA SERPA PINTO (1846–1...
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