This article is about the historical musical instrument. For the register on the clarinet that is named for this instrument, see Clarinet#Range.

A Modern School Chalumeau

The chalumeau (French: [ʃ], English /ˈʃæləm/; plural chalumeaux; from Greek: κάλαμος, kalamos, meaning "reed") is a woodwind instrument of the late baroque and early classical era, in appearance rather like a recorder, but with a mouthpiece like a clarinet's.



The word "chalumeau" was in use in French from the twelfth century to refer to various sorts of pipes, some of which were made of cane and featured a single "reed" cut into the side of the cane itself. (See Similar instruments, below. The etymology is discussed in detail at Shawm#Etymology.)

In the late seventeenth century an improved form of the chalumeau was developed. This baroque chalumeau represents the link between the recorder and the clarinet, and is essentially a cylindrical bore recorder with a mouthpiece like that of a clarinet and two additional "throat" keys controlling notes at the top of the fundamental register. The chalumeau continued to develop for several decades alongside the clarinet, and it has a large repertoire in 18th century orchestral and chamber music.[1]

The clarinet was developed from the chalumeau primarily by displacing the B♭ key up towards the mouthpiece, reducing the size of the hole and inserting a register tube; here it still produces B♭, but functions in addition as a register key, allowing the upper range to be easily sounded.[1] In addition the clarinet's mouthpiece was modified to improve performance in the upper register, and the chalumeau's straight foot joint was replaced by a flared bell. Early clarinets could be constructed with either the upper or the lower range well tuned, but not both. The baroque clarinet therefore was primarily used in its upper range, which had a bright sound and better projection than the mellow sounding chalumeau, aided also by the enlargement of the bell for resonance. Later developments in the keywork allowed better intonation throughout the range of the clarinet, contributing to its increased popularity throughout Europe, and to the demise of the chalumeau by about the mid 1780s.

Both the improvement of the chalumeau and the invention of the clarinet have been attributed to Johann Christoph Denner of Nuremberg, although his contributions are uncertain and in particular the clarinet may have been an invention of his son Jacob Denner.

Modern chalumeau

Although only about eight examples of original chalumeau are known to have survived, modern craftsmen are now producing replicas based on these instruments. Present day makers of replica chalumeau include Peter van der Poel, Andreas Schöni, R. Tutz, and Guntram Wolf. Other makers, including Hahl and Kunath, produce modern adaptations of the chalumeau. Today, the band In Extremo has three chalumeau players: Marco Ernst-Felix Zorzytzky, Andre Strugalla, Boris Pfeiffer.

Similar instruments

Single-tube, cylindrical, single reed folk instruments are found in many Arabic and European cultures; see Albogue, Alboka, Diplica, Hornpipe, pibgorn, and Sipsi. In the 1970s, a similar instrument called the xaphoon (also called "Maui bamboo sax" or "pocket sax") was developed by Hawaiian craftsman Brian Wittman.


The name Chalumeau is used by French organbuilders to denote a short-resonator organ stop used for color effects. It has a number of different pipe forms and possible voices, most of which are described as "Reedy, Buzzing, Clarinet-like, Caney, or soft but bright." The organ stop of this name is not intended to be orchestrally imitative of the clarinette.

  1. ^ a b Rice, Albert R. (1992). The Baroque Clarinet. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 15–38. ISBN 0198161883. 

External links

Reproduction and modern chalumeau makers:

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  • Chalumeau — ohne Klappen nach der Encyclopédie von Diderot Alembert (1767), Abb. ohne Rohrblatt Das Chalumeau (Aussprache: [ʃalyˈmoː]) (pl. Chalumeaux aus franz. Chalumeau, Schalmei/Rohrblattinstrument , das auf altgriechisch κάλαμος …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • chalumeau — [ ʃalymo ] n. m. • 1464; chalemel XIIe; bas lat. calamellus, de calamus « roseau » 1 ♦ Tuyau (d abord de roseau, de paille). Aspirer une boisson avec un chalumeau. ⇒ paille. 2 ♦ Flûte champêtre, roseau percé de trous. Le chalumeau des bergers. ⇒… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • chalumeau — CHALUMEAU. sub. m. Tuyau de paille, de roseau, etc. Les enfans font des bouteilles de savon avec un chalumeau. Quand le Pape communie solennellement, il prend le sang de J. C. dans le Calice avec un chalumeau d or.Chalumeau, se dit en Poésie, De… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • chalumeau — Chalumeau, Auena, Semble qu il vienne de Calamus, ou de Calamellus, diminutif. Chalumeau fait d un tuyau de froment, Calamus. Chalumeau de blé, avoine, et semblables, Culmus. Chalumeau duquel on fait des fleiches, Sagittarius calamus …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • chalumeau — CHALUMEAU. s. m. Tuyau de paille, de roseau &c. Les enfans font des bouteilles de savon avec un chalumeau. boire avec un chalumeau, en certaines solemnitez. Chalumeau, signifie aussi, Pipeau, fluste champestre, fluste de berger. Au son des… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Chalumeau —   [ʃaly mo, französisch] das, s/ s, seit dem Mittelalter bekanntes, v. a. in der Volksmusik verwendetes Holzblasinstrument mit einfachem Rohrblatt und zumeist zylindrischer Bohrung, aus dem sich um 1700 das Klappenchalumeau und die Klarinette… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Chalumeau — (fr., spr. Schalümoh, Mus.), die Schalmey, vgl. auch Clarinette …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • chalumeau — (izg. šalimȏ) m DEFINICIJA glazb. 1. pov. srednjovjekovni puhaći instrument, preteča klarineta 2. mukli, duboki registar na klarinetu ETIMOLOGIJA fr …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • chalumeau — [shal′ə mō΄] n. [Fr < OFr chalemel < L calemellus, dim. of calamus, reed: see CALAMUS] 1. an early single reed wind instrument, forerunner of the clarinet 2. the lowest register of the modern clarinet …   English World dictionary

  • Chalumeau — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Sur les autres projets Wikimedia : « Chalumeau », sur le Wiktionnaire (dictionnaire universel) Chalumeau peut désigner : Chalumeau… …   Wikipédia en Français