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This brass instrument, the ancestor of the modern trombone, dates back to the 14th Century, when it was popular right across Europe. Variously spelt "sackbut" or "sagbut", it is basically a slide trumpet which allows the player to alter the length of the sound tube as he/she plays. As the sound tube is extended, the notes get lower. During the 17th Century, a consort of sackbutts would normally include an alto, tenor and bass. In England, King Henry VIII had his own consort of ten sackbutts at court, and by the early 1600s England was considered to be a centre of excellence in sackbutt playing.

Sackbutt Sound Clips


play clip size: 91 kb


play clip size: 92 kb

Large printable image of the sackbutt

Large detail image of the sackbutt - 1

Large detail image of the sackbutt - 2


Text copyright © James McCafferty 2000 Photographic images copyright © John Credland and James McCafferty 2000