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A sopranino rauschpfeife being played

The rauschpfeife is a musical instrument of the woodwind family, used in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. In common with the crumhorn and cornamuse, it is a wooden double-reed instrument with the reed enclosed in a windcap. The player blows into a slot in the top of the windcap to produce the sound.

Rauschpfeifes differ from crumhorns mainly in the shape of the bore, which, like the shawm, is conical. This design has the consequence that the instrument is exceedingly loud, which made it an appropriate tool for striking fear in the enemy during battle.

The word Rauschpfeife (German for "noise pipe"), in addition to referring to a specific wind instrument, was sometimes used to denote woodwind instruments in general: for example an order placed for instruments by the Nuremberg town council in 1538 indicated a need for 'rauschpfeiffen', but when the order was filled, it included recorders, cornetts, shawms and other instruments, but none specifically named 'rauschpfeife'.[1]

As with many instruments of this period and genre, the rauschpfeife has undergone something of a revival in recent decades; examples are currently being made and played by early music enthusiasts worldwide.

Sopranino and soprano rauschpfeifes
Sopranino rauschpfeife with windcap removed


  1. ^ * Barra Boydell. "Rauschpfeife", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed February 8, 2006), grovemusic.com (subscription access).

Modern Performance[edit]