Return to Musical Instruments Index page


The kortholt (pronounced "kort-holt") is part of the wider family of renaissance "windcap" instruments, using a double reed inside a windcap to produce the characteristic windcap buzzing sound. It is different from the crumhorn and cornamuse in one important respect. It has a U-shaped "doubled-back" bore or windway, like the modern bassoon, which means that the kortholt plays much lower notes than its length suggests. Because of its doubled-back bore, this means that even the smaller alto kortholt in the photograph can play notes lower than the bass recorder.

Photograph of the Kortholt - another of the windcap instruments

Kortholt Sound Clips


play clip size: 80 kb


play clip size: 77 kb

Large printable image of the kortholt

The design of the alto and tenor kortholts in the photograph is based on drawings in Michael Praetorius' book of early musical instruments, Syntagma Musicum, published in 1619.

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