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Leslie Ross Instruments and Music Bass and Tenor Curtals Bocals and Reed-Making Tools

Bass and Tenor Curtals, front
  • Bass Curtal, 440 curly maple
  • Bass Curtal, 466 curly maple
  • Tenor Curtal, 440 curly maple

Bass and Tenor Curtals

The bass curtal in F and the tenor curtal in C were designed for the renaissance and early baroque part music and for the more demanding 17th century solo and continuo repertoire.

The bass curtal is free blowing and agile with straight-forward fingering and a reliable high register up to g. The instrument can be tuned to play Bb with either the bassoon forked fingering or the simple one-fingered Bb.

The tenor curtal is versatile enough in tone and range to play parts from low G and alto parts that do not rise above c as well as the prescribed tenor parts. It can be used to blend smoothly in a vocal ensemble or ring out in a shawm band.

Both instruments are pitched at either A-440Hz or A-466Hz and built with the standard two brass keys under key covers. They are available in cherrywood, pearwood or maple.

Bass and Tenor Curtals, back
tres peces
3 peces

This 3-piece jointed 18th Century bass curtal accompanied by a bocal is based on the instrument in the Borja Cathedral Museum. Like earlier curtals, it was of primary importance in liturgical music and was played not just in Spain but throughout the New World as well.  

Its' tone hole placements, similar to earlier Spanish bass curtals, suggests a Dorian modal scale. In addition with newly examined treatises and repertoire, Josep Borras has made a strong case that these instruments were in fact tuned to Chorton, or choir pitch -one tone above chamber pitch. His discovery of an 18C fingering chart not only corroborates this but offers another indication of how late these instruments were in use.

This 3-Piece curtal has 5 keys and two brass ferrules. A fingering chart for the instrument can be accessed here.