Publication Date

8-2010

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies

Department

Interdisciplinary Studies

Major Advisor

Lisa McClain, Ph.D.

Abstract

Thirty years ago, ocean archaeologists excavating the sunken wreck of the Tudor flagship the Mary Rose uncovered a “mystery instrument,” later revealed as the only extant douçaine. This exciting discovery catalyzed this work and a new career direction for the author. The douçaine is a cylindrical bored early double reed instrument mentioned frequently in literature and chronicles from the thirteenth to early seventeenth centuries. Unfortunately, none of the known references included a definitive description or iconographical depiction. Despite the emergence of the extant douçaine, relatively little scholarship exists on the instrument. Furthermore, only one contemporary instrument maker uses the extant Mary Rose model design precisely to produce douçaines commercially. There are fewer than thirty such replicas in the world played by a handful of musicians.

The presence of an eighth front finger hole separates the fingering system of the douçaine from all other known early and modern wind instruments. The complex and unique fingering system therefore presents a challenge to even experienced musicians who learn to play the douçaine. The fingering chart and first installment of a modal technique method contained in the thesis will aid musicians’ efforts to embrace the unique technical challenges of the douçaine when playing medieval, early modern, and contemporary music.

In conjuction with performances and recordings on the instrument, this thesis will help to lift the douçaine out of obscurity among music historians, contemporary musicians, and enthusiasts.

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