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Double-reed Renaissance woodwind instrument, ancestor of the oboe. Its conical bore and bell are wider than the oboe's. A disk called a pirouette usually supports the player's lips. Shawms were constructed in many sizes, from treble to great bass. They were in use in the Middle East perhaps 2,000 years ago, and they were introduced into Europe during the Crusades. With their powerful tone, shawms were classed with the loud or outdoor instruments and were used in dance and ceremonial music.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on shawm, visit Britannica.com.