Renaissance Crumhorn Consort

The crumhorn of the Renaissance period of western music history was not a solo instrument but an ensemble one. These wind-cap double-reed aerophones with a homogeneous timbre were meant to be played together as an ensemble (consort) to perform polyphonic music. The basic design idea of the crumhorn was replicated in a variety of sizes (and ranges) that roughly corresponded to the ranges of vocalists. The Grinnell College consort of four instruments includes the three different sizes (some consorts include up to six or seven sizes) of crumhorns seen in the consort photo: (from top to bottom) bass, tenor and alto. This image illustrates nicely the relative sizes of these three instruments. Renaissance instrumental part music was not written specifically for the crumhorn; instrumentation was not specified, making the music suitable for any consort of wind or stringed instruments. A large repertoire of published music appropriate or edited for crumhorn consorts is available today. Part of this repertoire originated as vocal music, the other part as instrumental music meant for dance accompaniment. Crumhorn consorts today are made up of members of college early music ensembles; a few professional early music ensembles might also include enough players who double on the crumhorn to include program items performed on these instruments. At the bottom of this page are photographs of the individual instruments seen in the consort photo. 


Boydell, Barra R. “Crumhorn,” in Grove Music Online. Accessed December 4 2014:

(by Roger Vetter)

crumhorn - alto

crumhorn - tenor

crumhorn - bass

Title: The Instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance--Mir ist ein schonst brauns Maidelein, by Caspar Othmayr; Musica Reservata of London. Label: Vanguard Classics. Format: CD. Catalog#: OVC 8093/8094. Track: I-80.