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Rauschpfeife - an owner's story

History | Mine | Sounds | Images

I'd wanted a rauschpfeife for years.

Ever since I came across David Munrow's Early Music Consort of London through a copy of the LP 'Two Renaissance Dance Bands' in the Southend-on-Sea public library in the late 1970s, I've been hooked on the wonderful sound of Renaissance wind instruments, particularly the extraordinary buzzing of the windcap instruments. A couple of years later I went to a Proms concert by the New London Consort which featured a consort of rauschpfeifen, and from that exhilaratingly deafening moment on I was hooked.

I played flutes and whistles, and some people were kind enough to indicate that they quite liked the sound of me playing flutes and whistles ... but the itch was still there. At gigs, dances, concerts and festivals musicians such as John-Pierre Rasle of the Cock and Bull Band and Paul James of Blowzabella kept the rauschpfeife in my field of vision.

But early in 2001 I realised that I was getting older and still hadn't done anything about it, and if I didn't one day, I never would. However many decades playing I've got left I was faced with the unavoidable prospect that eventually I’d reach a point where my remaining teeth would have dropped out, my lungs would go so I couldn't blow any more, my fingers would be so arthritic that they couldn’t even clutch an instrument barrel let alone dance across the vent holes and form intricate and beautiful melodies, my brain would have deteriorated so I couldn’t remember the tunes I wanted to play, and I still would never have owned one of those extraordinary instruments.

And then the final straw was when I was playing in a pub music session one Wednesday night. Due to the general background noise of people talking and enjoying themselves, one of the accordion players lost the thread of the tune I was playing on low whistle: and he said to me afterwards, ‘You really ought to play something louder’.

So now I do :-)

About eighteen months later I also bought a sopano cornamuse (by the maker Wood); my friend John McNeill calls the cornamuse a house-pfeife, as it has much the same tonal quality of the rauschpfeife, but at a quieter, more indoor volume.

To while away the time I spent on the maker's waiting list for my rauschpfeife, I spent a bit of time looking round the web for rauschpfeife material - and I didn't find very much. So to increase the rauschpfeife quotient on the WWW I therefore decided to devote a small corner of my website to this most splendid, idiosyncratic, and above all, loud, wind instrument.

Whilst I've tried to ensure that any material is historically accurate this is not intended as an academic Renaissance music information site - it is, rather, an owner's site, sharing my enthusiasm for the rauschpfeife with the interested passer-by.