The common bleting musicke is the drone,
Stephen Batman, 1582
|By the end of the sixteenth century the dulcian had become a part
of the town band. The bass shawm was did not last because it was too cumbersome
and heavy. The dulcian could be used not only as an outdoor band instrument,
but also in church to double the bass line on motets and masses, and in
the courtly chamber for more intimate secular music. To counteract the
bottom-heavy sound created by its conical bore, and to allow it to play
with softer instruments, a perforated mute or bell cap, looking much like
a pepper shaker, may be inserted in the open end. According to Praetorius,
this makes the tone considerably softer and more beautiful.
The dulcian was made in several sizes and has a range of about two and one-half octaves (C to g1). As the name indicates, the tone has a dolce quality when compared to the shawm. The bass size was the one which lasted as the forerunner of the bassoon.
Musica Antiqua Instruments