Alto Cornamuse in F, made of pear wood (Reconstruction by Dominik Bauer, Saarbrücken)
The cornamuse is a single reed instrument dating from the Renaissance period. It is similar in many ways to the crumhorn and rauschpfeife, in having a windcap over the reed; unlike those instruments, it has a single reed (like a clarinet), resulting in a different timbre. Although modern builders usually equip these instruments with a double reed, this is wrong. In Syntagnum Musicum, Michael Praetorius writes: "Die CornaMuse sind () nich mit doppelten/ sondern mit einer einfachen Rohre/" (the Cornamuse does not have a double, but a single reed).
As the few lines (see picture) that Praetorius left us, are the only information we have about the Cornamuse, all reconstructions of the instrument are for the greater part products of imagination and creativity of the builders.
Description of the Cornamuse, a renaissance instrument, by Michael Praetorius
The name is not to be confused with cornemuse, which is the French word for bagpipes.